Temples of Bangkok

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Because we never defined what we were doing in up and moving to Thailand (it really was like, "Hey, let's do this!" randomly one day), we've had a hard time settling into roles as travelers, tourists or expats. The first few weeks were spent settling into our place, meeting people and trying to find sources of income. We were having all these new experiences and acclimating to a very different culture, but it dawned on me one day that it had been two weeks and I still hadn't seen any of the incredible temples that I'd been reading about for months. Now that we've decided to stick around for a while, I'd definitely put us in the expat category, but that doesn't mean you still can't be a tourist in your own city sometimes. Especially when your city has places like this...

The smell of incense burning wildly intoxicated me as we made our way through the lush courtyard surrounding the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun). That dizzying feeling followed as we climbed the steep steps to the top of the wat to take in the expansive views of the Chao Praya River and the juxtaposition of ancient vs. modern Bangkok at its finest.

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Since we moved to Bangkok about a month ago, there's been two moments where I've had to stop and take a deep breath to embrace the sheer magnitude of my surroundings and accept my place as something so small in this big, beautiful world. It happened once when I was off wandering on my own. Even standing above the street on a walkway bridge, I got an overwhelming feeling that the seemingly-endless, sprawling metropolis could swallow me whole. The next time I felt more at peace as I found myself at Wat Pho staring up at the 49-foot-high, 141-foot-long reclining Buddha while people around me knelt beside it, honoring its breadth and all it represents.

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On the same grounds as The Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew) is the most revered Buddhist temple in all of Thailand and one of the most gorgeous, gold spectacles I've ever laid eyes upon. I could've spent hours marveling over the jewel-toned intricacies and decorative characters guarding the exteriors of the buildings, but unfortunately we arrived shortly before closing time. We've already had quite enough of the pushy salespeople and scammers commonly found at tourist destinations in Asia, but this is one place I'll definitely be playing tourist in again.

| PHOTOGRAPHY | by Amanda Boleman and Casey Gaarder