As we spilled out of the tightly packed market and onto the road after taking the River Boat, I couldn’t quite figure out where I was. According to my map, I was supposed to be at the foot of the Grand Palace, but all I could see was a long road running alongside some tall cement walls. I figured that the attraction had to be on the other side of the wall, so I began to walk. After a block or so, the street life began to dwindle as the road transitioned into a residential one. Back I went in the other direction. Walking down the tuk tuk-lined road, and alongside the mysterious large cement wall, I had a feeling that I was headed in the right direction.
I spotted a crowd of people surrounding an apparent opening to the wall, so I picked up the pace to join them, figuring that they were in the right place. The crowd was multiplying by the minute with hundreds beginning to gather behind me. As I looked around, I noticed a little old lady who had latched onto my backpack, hoping to catch a ride in. She scrunched her eyebrows and waved her hand forward to tell me to face forward and push through the crowd. I became extremely claustrophobic as I felt the crowd compress while battling to get to the gate. The gates opened and the crowd shuffled in, as did I along with the little old lady who clung tightly to my arm. As I passed through the tall gates, I felt a strong hand grip my arm and pluck me out of the crowd. I was almost denied entry because my shoulders were uncovered – what a huge disappointment that would have been! I quickly whipped out a linen wrap that I had, and reluctantly draped it over myself in the sweltering heat. I went through the second gate, and the crowds dispersed, leaving me mesmerized. I looked up and up, far enough for my neck to reach full extension.
The intricate designs of the glitzy tiles that lined the enormous buildings and temples within the complex left me in jaw dropping awe. Rich with colour and lavishly gold, it was evident that these buildings were home to Thai royalty. The gardens were meticulously organized and so beautifully designed.
I hoped to get into the temple, but it was unfortunately closed to tourism and reserved for private worship because of the National Holiday.
Although it was a struggle to enter the Grand Palace, it was a treat to see such an enormous representation of the Thai culture – not only because of the structure itself, but also the people and the way they gathered to worship on such a special day.