BANGKOK TOUR: Grand Palace and Wat Pho

On our second day in Bangkok, we decided to do a Do-It-Yourself tour since the locations were already in the city. In the morning, we visited the Grand Palace. Then, in the afternoon, we went to Wat Pho, one of the famous temples in Bangkok. The second day was very interesting for us because we had just visited the old grand palace the day before. Seeing how the current palace looks like definitely gave us a new perspective on the culture of Thailand.

Here’s a summary of the first part of our itinerary for the second day:

8:00-9:00 – Grab/Uber ride from the hostel to the Grand Palace
9:00-11:30 – tour inside the Grand Palace
11:30-1:00 – walk along the restaurants located near the entrance/exit of the Grand palace and have your lunch.
1:00-1:30 – walk towards Wat Pho. We used google maps to direct us towards the temple. But, if you ask the locals in the area, they are very helpful in pointing the direction. Also, there are also street signs that lead towards the temple.
1:30-3:30 – tour inside Wat Pho

Here are some of the photos from our DIY tour. :)

GRAND PALACE
Address: Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, 10200, Thailand
Open: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Dress Code: NOT allowed – Slippers, shorts, Clothes that reveal the shoulders and chest, Jeans with ripped parts or holes, Skirts or dresses higher than the knees, and leggings or tight fitting jeans.
Entrance Fee: 500 baht (One ticket includes entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.)


WAT PHO
Address: 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District, Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Open: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Dress Code: NOT allowed – Slippers, shorts, Clothes that reveal the shoulders and chest, Jeans with ripped parts or holes, Skirts or dresses higher than the knees, and leggings or tight fitting jeans.
Entrance Fee: 100 baht

I Got Stung by a Bee

For the first time in my life, I got stung by a bee. You know how it is in the movies, when everything around you suddenly moves in slow motion, while your eyes widen and your jaw drops, as you clearly see something approaching you? Well, it happened to me when I was in Bohol Bee Farm.

I didn’t have time to process what was happening because it happened in five seconds. Out of the hundreds of bees flying in front of me, one crazy bee decided to end its life by flying towards my face and stinging my forehead. (Yes, unfortunately, bees die immediately after they sting someone.)

My friend, Zee, tried to keep me calm as our tour guide attempted to remove the stinger stuck on my forehead. I remember freezing and saying “oh my gosh! Aaaaahhhh!! Help. Help. Help.” after I felt my blood rush towards my face. “Is this deadly? What should I do? Am I going to be okay? May wedding pa akong pupuntahan bukas! :O”

I started to panic as I continued to feel the pain for the next 30 minutes. Thankfully, it happened at the last stop of our tour at the bee farm. So, at least, I didn’t have to endure going through the tour with an aching forehead.

But, I honestly struggled during that time because even though I was clearly experiencing pain and discomfort, the tour guide who was assisting Zee and I took it lightly. He even continued to joke about it and said that he normally gets stung by a bee, so I shouldn’t worry or make a big deal out of it.

During the early parts of the tour, our guide joked about him wanting either of us to get stung by a bee. It might have been a funny introduction to the tour, but when it did happen, it wasn’t funny anymore.

The small wound on my forehead was starting to get sore and the skin near it was red. I tried to tell our guide that I really wasn’t feeling comfortable and I felt that I needed to drink medicine, such as a painkiller or anti-histamine drug. I even suggested putting ice on my inflamed skin. But, he continued to laugh about it and tell me not to do anything with it and just let it fade away.

When I heard him say those words, I immediately called my mom, who is a dermatologist. She advised me to apply virgin coconut oil since it helps heal inflamed skin or to drink an anti-histamine medicine. To make the long story short, I eventually bought medicine from the souvenir shop in the farm and as soon as possible, Zee and I left the place and headed to our next destination.

During the car ride, we still couldn’t believe it happened. It may seem like a simple concern, but, it was my first time to experience it, so it really was nerve-racking for me. However, the experience taught me a few things:

1. Getting stung by a bee is still better than getting stung by a lot of bees at the same time. After doing much research, the venom injected by a one bee wouldn’t have major negative effects on one’s body unless one is allergic to bees/bee stings. It will just sting and become sore for a few hours.

2. When faced with troubles, I shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help. When the bee stung my forehead, I wouldn’t know how to remove it from me. But because I asked for help, the tour guide assisted me by removing the bee. Also, when I was doubtful of the advice given to me, I called my mom to double check and seek help again.


3. There are moments in our lives where we encounter people we don’t always agree with. Sometimes, we even meet difficult people. But, how we respond to them matters most. In my case, I struggled with being joyful towards our tour guide because of how he made fun of the situation instead of showing sincere concern for me, his customer. However, I was humbled by the Lord that day as I prayed and remembered the importance of keeping calm and not initiating “war” against our guide.

Our guide might have missed out on providing excellent customer service that day, but it didn’t give me any right or privilege to be an entitled, arrogant, and demanding customer. By God’s grace, I went out of the place thanking God for the crazy and memorable experience. (By the way, I tried sending my feedback to their Facebook page, but they haven’t replied to me yet.)

A month after the incident, I saw three bees hanging around a flower in Bangkok. Surprisngly, I didn’t feel any kind of trauma. Instead, I immediately remembered getting stung by a bee and how it taught me about humility.

We can never put God in a box. He reveals himself to us and teaches us important lessons even through the most random and painful experiences. It just boils down to our hearts and how we choose to respond every time it happens.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Godʼs will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬

BANGKOK TOUR: Temples at Ayutthaya

Part 1 of the Ayutthaya tour can be seen HERE.

THIRD STOP: The Old Royal Grand Palace & The Old Royal Temple (Wat Phra Si Sanphet)

Ms. Pookie shared that during a war many years ago, the city of Ayutthaya was burned by the Burmese for a week. We didn’t know the story about the ruins that we were visiting until she told us about it. It was a tragic time for the people of Thailand. Until now, some of them don’t feel good about visiting the city of ruins because of the memories from before. However, UNESCO helped make the city a heritage site and planned to maintain it to the best of their ability, instead of replacing it with new temples.

The next stop we went to had three bell-shaped chedis, known as the symbol of Ayutthaya. This place was where royal ceremonies were held before. They also kept gold in the buildings which were later stolen by the Burmese.

FOURTH STOP: Wat Mahathat

This place was the residence of the leader of the Thai Buddhist monks. It was originally filled with buddha statues. But, according to our tour guide, the heads of the statues were stolen by western treasure hunters. Also, this site is known mostly for the buddha statue surrounded by the roots and trunk of a tree.

LAST STOP: Wat Ratchaburana

An interesting fact about this place is that the two brothers of King Borom Ratchathirat II died here while they were fighting for the throne. After they died, King Borom built this wat which also included a vault full of treasures. Unfortunately, these were again looted by foreigners.

WHAT I APPRECIATED ABOUT OUR TOUR AND GUIDE:

1. Our private tour was very convenient for us. They were able to adjust the schedule when our flight got delayed. Also, they provided a cooler of cold bottles of water and wet disposable towels for us. These came in handy especially after being exposed to the sun all day.


2. Our tour guide, Ms. Pookie, was very friendly, accommodating, kind, and passionate. Despite the heat and lack of time, she still happily toured us around and did her best to help us maximize the tour. Even though we were running late for our last stop, she still managed to bring us there on time and even encouraged us to go down to the vault where the historical paintings were. I appreciated how she explained details in the stories that she shared and how she sincerely wanted us to know more about their culture.

Ms. Pookie also knew how to take great photos which we highly appreciated. Touring around beautiful sights like these wouldn’t be complete without awesome documentation. She also knew how to speak good English. Lastly, she bought food for us before we went back to the hotel. This was a very thoughtful gesture because she wanted us to try good food from the market even though meals weren’t included in the tour package. We definitely recommend Ms. Pookie and the Thai Tour Guide group!

3. Coordination with the Thai Tour Guide group via email was fast and easy. They did reply within 24 hours and they answered every question I asked about the trip. No wonder they received the Excellence award in TripAdvisor. Their customer service is really good.


4. The Temples at Ayutthaya and the Summer Palace were lovely. It was my first time to see them and they made a lasting impression on me. I really enjoyed the tour because it helped me see a different side of the world; a new culture with interesting stories on the royal family, national treasures, and the architecture in the city.

NOTES:

*I’m not sure about the entrance fees for each temple that we visited because they were part of our packaged tour. I’ll update this part as soon as I can. :)
*The temples open at 8:30 am and close at 6 pm.
*The weather is very hot. Remember to bring water, a small towel, and a fan with you. You can also bring shades, a cap, and an umbrella to help protect you from the sun.
*DRESS CODE. There are NOT allowed: Slippers, shorts, Clothes that reveal the shoulders and chest, Jeans with ripped parts or holes, Skirts or dresses higher than the knees, and Leggings or tight fitting jeans.

BANGKOK TOUR: Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and Private Boat Ride

When my sisters and I planned our trip with mom to Bangkok, we aimed to know more about and experience the country’s culture. After much research on various options for tours, we decided to avail a private tour guide for the temples at Ayutthaya. We chose this over a DIY/Shared tour because of the timing and convenience.

In this post, I’ll be sharing about the temples that we visited and some of the things that I appreciated throughout our tour.

OUR TOUR GUIDE: Ms. Pookie from www.thaitourguide.com

INCLUSIONS:
With Private Minivan 9,300 Baht for 4 persons
+Private tour as indicated in itinerary
+Pick-up and drop-off at the hostel
+Private qualified and experienced english speaking tour guide
+All admission fees as indicated in itinerary
+All transfers and taxes

Our meet-up with Ms. Pookie was scheduled at 10 am. But because of our delayed flight, we met her a few minutes before 11 am. Thankfully, she still enthusiastically welcomed us and proceeded with the tour. Because our hostel was about two hours away from Ayutthaya, our tour guide took advantage of the travel time to brief us about Thailand, Bangkok, its history and culture even before we arrived at Ayutthaya.

FIRST STOP: Bang Pa-In Summer Palace

This place was huge. I can’t even begin to describe how many mansions, lakes, and parks I’ve seen inside it. Ms. Pookie patiently toured us around the place for two hours under the heat of the sun. She shared stories about the royal family, historical events in Thailand, the people’s freedom, and the backgrounds on each area inside the compound.

It was very interesting to see how the Royal family lived and how the King had a great impact on the countrymen. Another interesting part of their culture is the way they show respect in their temples. Before we could go inside their temples and some of the royal family’s houses, we needed to remove our shoes and wear conservative clothes first.

Inside the Summer Palace, we also saw different structures that were influenced by other people such as the English and Chinese allies of Thailand. Another observation that I noticed was that the palace was filled with photogenic places, including lakes that show beautiful reflections of the houses and temples.

Also, going around the Summer palace can be done by foot or by riding a golf cart (with additional charge).

SECOND STOP: Private Long-Tail Boat around the historic ruined city (where Wat Chaiwatthanaram can be seen)

It was a lovely 20-minute boat ride where we witnessed the livelihood of the people near the ruined city. Most of them were fishing huge catfish and were doing their laundry in the river. A lot of the houses beside the river also had a Thai-inspired design. It was also a good thing that the river didn’t smell bad, so cruising along it was a breath of fresh air after a hot tour in the city.

(Part 2 of the itinerary can be seen HERE.)