October 31, 1961 – Thailand

Rama Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand – Clear, warm

     I woke up feeling good today and anxious to see more of Thailand.  While getting ready to go eat Edith made small talk about something she said she had forgotten to put in her letter to the Herald but the problem was she hadn’t been there to see it.  So I knew she had used the letter I had started to Ramona to copy which wasn’t the first time.  I knew I would just have to keep them hidden after this all the time.

      At breakfast Mr. Herdsman had given us a warning about how we were to dress in preparation for our tour today.  He told us that men should wear a coat and necktie and ladies were requested to avoid slacks and shorts.  He’d also told us that movie cameras would not be allowed when we went to see some places. 

      As we walked outside this morning to leave on our tour at 9:30am I noticed that it had rained during the night and made the air smell very fresh. 

     Bangkok it turned out was a city of wats, Buddha’s and baubles.  Mr. Herdsman informed us that according to the last census there were over 300 wats or temples all over in splendid and ornate profusion.  He said Bangkok’s Buddha’s came in an assortment of positions such as sitting or reclining and were made of various materials including emerald and solid gold. 

      Our tour today took us first to see the world famous Wat Phra Keo or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.  The guide explained that this Buddha had long been venerated by Buddhist and non-Buddhist travelers alike, having first come to light in Siam in the 15th century.  He told us it had been stolen by the Laotians and was later recovered by King Rama I who then installed it in the current temple where we saw it.  The king used this temple as his personal place of worship.  In truth it turned out to be made of a huge piece of Jasper rather than emerald and was guarded by bronze lions but it was fantastic nevertheless.  I had seen many Buddha’s on the trip so far but this turned out to be my favorite one. 

Wat Phra Keo Temple of Emerald Buddha

Temples with Emerald Buddha

      After spending time enjoying the Emerald Buddha, we went to see the Grand Palace which was likewise quite beautiful.  The construction had begun in 1782 under the reign of King Rama I.  Here in Bangkok we’d seen so many beautiful places and today just added to the total magnificence we’d experienced here. 

Bangkok Temple on Palace Grounds

Part of the Grand Palace

Model of Angkor Wat Ruins found in Cambodia

      After our morning tour we returned to the hotel where we were to have the rest of the day to ourselves.  We all had lunch together and then went our separate ways.  I made plans to go shopping again with Ethel later since Edith told me she wanted to rest all afternoon.  Edith and I returned to our room where she laid down on her bed and I decided to finish my letter to Ramona:

      Oct 31, Happy Halloween.  We just got back from the last tour in Bangkok and this was the most fabulous of all – just like fairy land.  This temple and there are many temples houses the Emerald Buddha, an emerald 24 inches high carved into the Buddha.  I took 10 pictures and then didn’t get everything I wanted.  Everything is gold paint on solid gold standards.  If the Commies every get Bangkok they will melt all these gold things down for sure. 

     Edith is still writing to the newspaper but yesterday I had this letter lying in the drawer.  This morning she said, “Oh! I forgot to put in my news letter how the people jumped in the canal while it was raining.”  So I knew she had read my letter because it so happened that she did not see that.  She hasn’t asked me to do any more letters for the Herald but I found she is copying mine and sending them in as hers – not lacking in nerve.  I’ll have to be more careful. 

     This afternoon Ethel and I are going shopping.  They have gold here very cheap but the little charms are about the same price all over.  We will go to a Thai silk place where I bought a little silver necklace and white enamel earrings. 

     I’ve missed two of your letters so far.  One in Hong Kong and one in Manila.  I got a letter from Anna W telling me how things are.  We go on to Calcutta tomorrow.  Open the packages from Singapore.  The red material is for Janice for a dress.  It is hand woven. 

Have a happy birthday, Love Mother

     After finishing the letter I made a point of sealing it up to mail out when I went downstairs.  I was tempted to leave it out for Edith to read so she would know that I know what she was doing but I didn’t.  Instead Ethel and I met up at 2pm as planned and headed out by cab to the Thai silk area where I’d been the day before.  Today I wound up buying two ties and Ethel bought some material.  I liked what she bought but resisted the temptation to go buy the same material too.  I found out that a baht is a tical and a tical is a nickel in American money.  After shopping we explored a little further where we found a fish market and a gem cutting factory that was interesting to see in action.  Ethel and I then visited the Thai Silk Factory where we enjoyed watching silk being made.  Ethel and I had had a great time walking around together and I found we got on very well.

Ethel and Our Tour of Silk Factory in Bangkok

Another View of Ethel During Tour of Silk Factory in Bangkok

Bangkok Basket Shop

     Back at my hotel room I found Edith awake and looking well rested.  She asked me if I’d mailed my letter and then seemed disappointed when I told her I had made a point of mailing it on my way out.  I lay down on my bed to rest till it was time to go to dinner.  It felt good to put my feet up after walking around so much earlier today.

      Dinner came and went and was very good.  After dinner Edith wanted to go along with a few others to see some entertainment but I stayed behind with Flo, Curt and Ethel.  We decided to play some Canasta before turning in for the night.  We were going to have to get up early to leave for Calcutta and I didn’t feel like making it a late night. 

      I was in bed and asleep by the time Edith finally came in.  I was sure Edith would be tired in the morning after being out so late.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Joseph
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 06:57:48

    Wow, how is it there were no other people at the temple!?
    I suppose, 1961 is a while back now!
    Every photo I have of the place is crowded…

    Thank you for sharing!


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