Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 7: Wat Pho, Bangkok

Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 7: Wat Pho, Bangkok

This is part of my travelogue on my solo overland backpacking trip to Thailand & Laos in 2013.

Previously: Part 6 – Along the Chao Phraya River


Still Day 4: Thursday, 29 August 2013

The boat stopped at Jetty No. 8, Tha Tien. From here, we walked across the jetty and exited to the main road. Our destination? Wat Pho.

Bot kami berhenti kat Jeti No. 8, Tha Tien. Dari sini, kami jalan keluar dari jeti ke arah jalan besar. Tujuan kami? Wat Pho.

The entrance to Wat Pho.

Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest wats in Bangkok, with a total area of 80,000 square metres, this is definitely one of the largest religious complex that I have ever been to in Bangkok. The idea to visit this wat came when I read my Lonely Planet book, stating that this wat is where one of the reclining Buddhas in Thailand is.

Wat Pho ni salah satu daripada wat yang paling besar dan tua kat Kota Bangkok ni. Besar weyh… 80,000 meter persegi. Besar lah tu kan? Asalnya tak terfikir pun nak ke sini, tapi lepas baca buku Lonely Planet kat hostel malam semalam, terus rasa nak melawat memandangkan ada masa lagi dan kat sini ada reclining Buddha.

Amazing architecture with giant stupas.

Read here for my visit to one of the ancient temples with reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya [in Bahasa]

Although I have seen reclining Buddha before when I visited the ancient city of Ayutthaya in 2011, this wat is different in the sense that it is situated in Bangkok and the fact that when I read the Lonely Planet book, I knew for a fact that this is the wat where the first season of The Amazing Race was shot. (My research proved I am correct, this is the location for the 9th leg of the race).

Aku pernah tengok reclining Buddha masa aku ke Ayutthaya tahun 2011 dulu. Tapi, aku nak jugak tengok yang kat Wat Pho ni sebab selain dia kat Bangkok, wat ni pernah keluar The Amazing Race musim pertama. Serius! Bila aku baca buku Lonely Planet tu, aku rasa macam pernah pergi sini. Ingat-ingat balik “Haaa, aku tengok dalam TV!”.

Amazing detailed roof.

After paying the entrance fee and collecting a free bottle of mineral water, both Florian and I proceeded to wander inside the wat complex. We were captivated and overwhelmed by the vastness of the wat and soon, we decided to plan our tour properly. As the temple of reclining Buddha is the major attraction here, we decided to save the best for the last.

Lepas bayar bayaran masuk kompleks Wat Pho ni dan ambil sebotol air mineral percuma yang diorang bagi, aku dan Florian pun terus jalan-jalan dalam ni. Kagum aku tengok saiz wat ni yang besar giler. Sebab besar sangat, aku dan Florian bincang dan kami buat keputusan, tengok reclining Buddha last sekali. Sebab ramai sangat orang kat situ.

Never ending doors.

We walked along the corridors of the wat complex and engulfed ourselves in the sunny but beautiful experience. I always have ‘a thing’ about Thai architecture especially in the wats. The curved roof, the colourful rooftop, the detailed tiny pieces of tiles. It never failed to enthral me.

Kami jalan kat sepanjang koridor wat dan di bawah panas terik matahari, aku kagum tengok senibina Thailand ni terutama senibina wat-wat diorang. Dengan bumbung lentik-lentik, bumbung yang warna-warni dan gelas-gelas, jubin-jubin kecil kat bangunan ni, ishh memang terpegun aku.

Inside one of the temples.

Wat Pho is so amazing that even art students come here to give their hands some practice in painting the view of the temple. I sat with one of the students to see how he was doing. The outcome was fabulous. A talented young artist in a wonderful complex only mean one thing: attractive painting.

Punyalah cantik suasana dalam Wat Pho ni sampaikan pelajar sekolah pun buat latihan amali melukis kat sini.

Future artist.

Florian and I continued walking inside the complex, into some isolated areas where a lot of small Buddha statues were in place. There were sculptors, repairing one of the damaged statues, putting one small glass piece after another, a detailed work only for a detailed eyes.

Kami jalan je dalam ni tanpa arah tuju, lepas tu sedar-sedar sampai kat satu kawasan sunyi sangat. Ada banyak patung Buddha kat sini. Jalan ke depan sikit, kami nampak ada patung yang tengah dibaiki. Teliti sungguh pakcik yang repair tu.

A lot of Buddhas.

Wat Pho is also famous for being the first public university in Thailand, historically. This is the place where students learned about religion and literature through sculptures and murals. One of the oldest massage schools in Thailand is also located inside this wat compound, explaining the massage centre that we saw as well as the smell of massage oil.

Wat Pho ni sebenarnya dianggap sebagai universiti awam pertama kat Thailand. Dulu, diorang belajar pasal agama, pasal kesusasteraan melalui mural-mural dan skulptur-skulptur yang ada kat sini. Sekolah urut paling tua pun ada kat sini dan sampai sekarang ada kursus mengurut. Patut masuk tadi, ada bau minyak urut.

A monk hiding behind a tree.

Walking around this wat aimlessly, we found ourselves at the monastery area, where the monks live before finding ourselves walking at a canteen of what seemed like a kindergarten to me.

Ada sekali tu, kami jalan-jalan, tersampai pulak kat tempat tinggal sami. Keluar balik, lepas tu jumpa macam kantin tadika pulak. Pelik sungguh. Lol.

Trust me, the bird is NOT part of the statue. Lol.

When we got tired walking in this huge complex, we sat at the benches provided and refilled our mineral water bottle at the free water dispenser. Indeed, this is a big complex that a bottle of mineral water is not enough. After finished wandering around, snapping photos of the awkward-looking statues scattered inside the compound, we proceeded to the main star of the place, the reclining Buddha.

Bila dah penat, kami duduk, refill air mineral. Banyak tempat refill air kat sini. Percaya cakap aku, sebotol tak cukup. Lepas dah rehat, kami jalan lagi, tengok patung-patung pelik yang ada. Last sekali, kami masuk tempat reclining Buddha tu.

Weird looking/position statue.

After opening up my shoes and put it in the bag provided, I slowly entered the temple. The reclining Buddha was enormous. I was shocked with its size and wonder how faith led people to build such a huge statue. It was wonderful and at the same time, I was awed by the fact that I have stepped foot into the place featured in The Amazing Race.

Lepas bukak kasut dan letak dalam beg yang diorang kasi, aku masuk dalam tu. Giler besar patung Buddha tu! Terkejut tengok. Kaget bak kata orang Melayu. Haha. Tapi, stail jugak rasa sebab aku dah jejak kaki kat tempat yang pertama kali aku tengok dalam TV, masa The Amazing Race musim pertama.

It is HUGE!

The downside of the place is that it is full of people most of the time, that it was hard for me to take photo without having other people’s faces inside the frame. But, I managed.

Tapi, nak ambil gambar bukan senang tau. Ramai sangat orang. Nasib baik berjaya jugak ambil gambar tanpa ada ‘alien’.

Detail feet.

It is such a big statue that even foot has a lot of details inscriptions, showing the symbols associated with Buddha such as elephant, altar and flowers. The foot is also inlaid with the mother of pearl. On top of that, there are 7 tiered umbrella over the Buddha statue, resembling the authority of Thailand.

Cuma aku nak cerita, patung reclining Buddha tu punyalah besar sampai kat kaki pun sangat teliti. Penuh dengan ukiran yang berkisar dengan Buddha. Siap ada mother of pearl lagi. Kat atas patung tu, ada payung 7 tingkat, simbolik kekuasaan Thailand.

This is the part which I remember from the Amazing Race show where the contestants need to count the coins inside these bowls. 108 bowls indicating 108 auspicious characters of Buddha.

The visit was very meaningful to me as it stood as a proof that there are a lot more to see and do in Bangkok, and it will never be enough.

Tak bosan ke tengok wat je bila pergi Thailand? Bagi aku tidak, sebab setiap lawatan tu beri aku pengalaman yang berbeza. Dan lawatan aku membuktikan yang banyak benda kita boleh tengok dan buat kat Bangkok. Takkan pernah habis punya.


To be continued – Part 8


To go to Wat Pho, disembark at Jetty No. 8: Tha Tien. Exit the jetty and passed the market. Upon exit, keep walking straight towards the main road. When you reached the main road, the entrance to Wat Pho will be on the opposite side of the road.

The entrance fee to Wat Pho is THB 100 [as of August 2013].

Keep your free mineral water bottle as there will be water dispensers inside the wat’s compound [and trust me, you will want to drink a lot of water].

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