Today was a day to do a little walking into uncharted territory. While Jack was off for yet another massage, I set off on the main street in front of the Lebua Hotel/State Street Tower to see what the neighborhoods nearby had to offer. Along the way, I hoped to find some gifts and souvenirs at reasonable, non-tourist prices.
Once I left the main shopping district that surrounds the hotel the scene turned local, with various shops and small restaurants catering primarily to a local audience. After walking for about 45 minutes, suddenly there was an unidentified temple ahead. Tour buses were parked outside and a throng of tourists milled around in the courtyard.
A ticket to enter was only 40 baht. This turned out to be the temple housing the Golden Buddha. The Golden Buddha is officially titled Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon and is the world’s largest solid gold statue, with a weight of 5.5 tons. The temple is called Wat Traimit and is located just outside Chinatown, where we had been the day before. Later, when I continued my walk, I ran right into Chinatown and wondered how I could have walked so far when it was a long cab ride the day before.
There are two main buildings here, one for the big Buddha and a second for a smaller Buddha statue. At both there were a number of people lighting incense and praying.
When I reached the outskirts of Chinatown, it was time to make the long trek back, although my knees and feet were lobbying for a tuk-tuk ride. Instead, I walked through some industrial-like side roads, lined by one machine shop after another, the smell of oil and lubricants heavy in the air.
My rambling eventually brought me to the river and then back to the main street where I started. But just before hiking the final mile, I came across a small gifts and souvenir chop, staffed by one 30-something woman who spoke a little English. She had some things worth buying, including t-shirts and baseball caps and we proceeded to negotiate the prices. She came down a good bit but I’m sure she was fairly compensated for all I purchased.
Meanwhile, Jack had fulfilled one of the items on his bucket list – a Nuru massage (you will have to Google it). Later, we would both return to the same massage parlor for me to get a sample.