Today we took the river taxi up the the dock near Wat Pho, which is just south of the Grand Palace. Wat Pho's claim to fame is the giant Reclining Buddha, but there is a lot of other cool stuff there as well. For example, there is this 'mountain' that demonstrated various yoga and massage positions. This is here because Wat Pho was actually established as a university, and is still the foremost school for learning Thai massage. They also have their own website.
Here is a general view of the compound. We found Wat Pho much more charming that Wat Phra Kaew, because while the latter is very nice, it is kind of too perfect, whereas Wat Pho is a little more worn, and seems more real. Also unlike Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho has resident monks, which adds to the feel, I think.
These guys were my favorite. They are farangs, and are said to represent Dutch traders from the Ayutthaya period, when the capital of Thailand was located in that city, which is north of present day Bangkok. In fact, this temple is older than the city of Bangkok itself.
Of course, the big star is the Reclining Buddha. He is reclining because the is represented in the position in which he achieved enlightenment. And boy is he big, at 150 feet long. It's very impressive.
His feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and show the 108 auspicious signs of Buddha.
Behind the Reclining Buddha, there are 108 pots (one for each of the signs) and, by tradition, you get a small cup of satangs (which are Thai pennies, basically, it's the only time I saw any) and you put a coin in each pot for good karma. This was a lot of fun, although I ran out of coins just before reaching the end. Hopefully Buddha will let it slide.
Here is a brief video I made of the compound. We were delighted to find that, although the area around the main entrance, where the temple housing the Reclining Buddha is located, was very crowded, if you went into the Wat a little farther, it was not crowded at all, and was nice and peaceful. And trust me, in Bangkok you want all the peace you can get, 'cause it's a loud city.