When I was a child I used to let time pass by perusing photo books and travel diaries, and researching about the places that struck me. It was my way of escaping from my then-reality. I used to fantasize entering the ancient castles of England or the fairy-tale-like villages in Germany. I still dream of them today, but the main difference is back then I didn’t have the means to actually travel to those places. Europe is still unattainable at the moment, but as long as I get to pack my bags and hop on a bus or plane to a faraway place, I consider it a blessing already.
So when Chad asked me to go to Thailand with him, I was more than excited. It won’t just be the normal out-of-town trip that we usually do when he’s in the Philippines–it would be my first time to fly outside the country, the first stamp on my passport. For someone who grew up surrounded by rice fields and hills, it was such a momentous time. I can finally tell people what it’s like to be unfairly treated by a NAIA immigration officer and how ugly our airports look when compared to another developing country’s. Haha! Nonetheless, I still love the Philippines no matter how crooked our government officials can be.
Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Chad and I queued to the Immigration area. I was nervous as hell, having read so many horror stories about immigration officials. The officer who interviewed me, however, was nice and smiling. He welcomed and wished me a pleasant visit–that was when I was to able to breathe properly. We didn’t plan for this trip at all. When we got out of the gates, we were both clueless as to where we were gonna stay. I must say, though, it’s quite a fun experience. Thankfully I had this app called AirBnb on my phone, I managed to save there the address of this cute hostel in Bangkok, otherwise we would have to rely on suggestions from taxi drivers. So off we went!
It took us a while to find the hostel. The cab driver dropped us off on an unfamiliar street. The maps we had were no use at all. The street names were spelled differently than what was written on the maps so we had to ask a number of people. What’s surprising was even the Thais were unable to decipher the spelling. After asking for directions from five people and walking a kilometer or two, we successfully found the hostel. At that point we were unsure if they accept walk-ins, but we asked anyway. The staff at Baan Nampetch were really pleasant and accommodating. Fortunately they still had one available room. Hurray! We booked the room with two beds for three days and two nights, which cost us around 1400 Baht (approx Php 1900). Not bad, I think, considering they offer free breakfast and WiFi. On that same day we explored Khaosan Road (I’ll show the pictures later).
Below are just some snapshots I took on our second day. Chad is a Buddhist, and one of the reasons he chose Thailand is he wanted to visit the temples. With the help of the staff at Baan Nampetch, we found our way to The Grand Palace on Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, where the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is located.
Beautiful, colorful things welcomed us before entering the temple. Prior to our trip I was on a portion control diet, but when we arrived in Thailand I could no longer control my appetite. Everything is delicious in that place, I can’t even!
The Grand Palace was built in 1782 after King Rama I ascended to the throne. Currently, the whole 218,000 square meter-complex houses 35 temples, offices, shops, restaurants, throne halls, and the royal residence itself. I’ve seen some temples in the Philippines, but they’re not as crowded and big as this one.
Outside the palace, tens of thousands of people were going in and out. We didn’t know this was a favorite tourist destination until…
we saw what’s inside of those walls–multicolored, bejeweled pillars and structures.
Have you ever seen something so beautiful that you cried? I was in so much awe, I wept. A LOT. Chad was so surprised at my reaction, he thought something was wrong. Haha!
At some point I felt sad and jealous that a country like Thailand can preserve and maintain such an exceptionally vast piece of land, as it clearly demands extensive and continuous care. If only some of the Philippines’ historic landmarks were given the same amount of care and attention, we would have probably prevented them from deteriorating.
As we were going around each temple, we found a group of monks praying. I could tell Chad wanted to join them. Before we became a couple, he was actually fixed on traveling to Nepal and living there permanently as a monk. But then his plans changed when we met…again.
A kind and humble man, he would have easily done it if we had not met. He’s always been the same pensive, highly introspective kid I met 13 years ago–always in deep thought, never had a care for material and superficial things. And that’s what I love most about him, aside from the fact that he’s very intelligent. He never brags about it, but you’ll know when he speaks or writes. There’s not a day I don’t learn from him.
Chad and I were unable to explore all 35 structures as it was already getting dark when we exited the Royal Monastery. Someday we will come back to this place. I will be posting more about our trip in the coming weeks, so visit again soon! 🙂