Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas in Thailand: Palatial celebrations

Christmas was, unsurprisingly, not very Christmassy here in Thailand, with 90 degree weather and golden sun and flowers blooming everywhere. We tried, though: fake tree, holiday party at our house, paper snowflakes, presents, carols on the ipod, eggnog in the fridge (which took some doing, let me tell you!), Christmas eve with friends, Christmas dinner with the neighbors.

Christmas day itself dawned hot and smoggy. Petra and I enjoyed pancakes while tearing into our small stash of loot, and then took an intermission to let our bodies void said pancakes (turns out the milk was bad). This sadly made us miss the visiting hours at the detention center where my students are being held, so their presents remain undelivered. Instead, once we were back on our feet, we decided to visit the Grand Palace of Thailand, since we had shockingly not made it over there yet.

The Grand Palace is right in the middle of the older part of Bangkok, on the other side of the city, about an hour total of walking, boat trip, and taxi. We hadn't been before because there's a steep ($10) entrance fee, and they require very conservative clothing to enter. But with the mindset for a Christmas treat, and with pre-planned wardrobes, we were good to go.

It was rather big, very sparkley, very crammed with buildings, lots of which had pointy bits on top. There were hundreds of other visitors, but there was enough space that it never felt overcrowded. Orange-robed monks wandered through regularly. Petra especially enjoyed the murals that covered the inside of all of the outer walls. I especially enjoyed the frogs in the decorative ponds.

Not your average Christmas, but it'll do.

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