Yesterday I finally made it to downtown Bangkok. I didn't realize how far we actually were from central Bangkok. I didn't actually calculate how long it took us to get there but we took many forms of transportation. First, we had to find a sung tao (I'm not sure of the spelling) which is basically a truck that has benches in the back. We took that to the bus and took the bus to the Skytrain. The Skytrain is their rail service that goes above the city so you can actually get a good view of the surroundings. Compared to the rest of the city it was very clean and the air conditioning was a nice luxury. The Skytrain took us through downtown and dropped us off in front of the river where we had to take a river taxi to get to the Grand Palace. So basically we had to take trucks, buses, trains and boats to get to our destination.
The Grand Palace is one of the major tourist destinations. Unfortunately, I didn't study up much on the history or the significance of the Palace but you really don't have to know much about it to appreciate it's beauty. There was lots of gold and intricate artwork. We were able to go inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which was the first time I had actually been in a Buddhist temple. You wouldn't expect a Buddhist temple to look so ornate but everything was decked out in gold and bright colors.
While we were walking around we saw a monk in his orange robes. Women are forbidden to touch monks in Thailand because they are supposed to resist any temptations of the flesh so I try to avoid going anywhere near them. I was very surprised when he started talking to us in English, asking us what we thought of the palace. We ended up talking to him for quite a while and he even let us take a picture with him. He was from Sri Lanka and I think that the rules are quite different for monks in Sri Lanka than they are for monks in Thailand because he handed me something which I had heard is forbidden. The whole time I was thinking how crazy it was that I was walking around Thailand talking to a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka!
The heat was quite unbearable yesterday. I keep waiting to get used to the heat but I don't think you ever really do. Instead, I think you just resign yourself to feeling sticky and hot all the time. I can't wait until October when it starts to cool down. I took lots of pictures yesterday and I'll try to upload them later for you all to see.