My Amazing Life-Chapter 13, Wat Arun Temple of Dawn

As we boarded the Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok shuttle on the Chao Phraya river, my curiosity intensified. We were on our way to see the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun. It was our first day and we had a full schedule. Tour Wat Arun. Tour a portion of the backwater khlongs. Have lunch. Tour Bangkok Chinatown. Get a massage. Inspect a hotel and eat at one of the top 50 retsaurants in the world. This was on the back of a 27 hour three-legged flight for me and about three or four hours sleep. At first it appeared huge, but a drab grey in appearance and I wasn’t sure if it was going to really enjoy the tour.

 

Photo Approaching the Temple of Dawn

Photo Approaching the Temple of Dawn

 

As we disembarked and walked toward the Temple of Dawn, named from the morning light reflecting off the Temple, I began to change my impression. It’s a magnificent architectural structure in my humble opinion and one cannot visit Bangkok without devoting an hour or so to strolling through it’s grounds. It has so many various segments, stone statues and ornate trimmings that I couldn’t stop taking photos. I was simply shocked by the close up appeal, after viewing what I thought would be a drab Temple from far away. I was not prepared for what it contained.

 

Central Prang of Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

Central Prang of Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

 

As you enter the Ordination Hall is off to the side and is a remarkable structure in design and appearance. You can’t help but go that direction first and investigate what lies inside the gorgeous building.

 

Ordination Hall

Ordination Hall

 

Walking toward the Ordination Hall you pass this portrait of the King of Thailand and several more. I am curious though since the government overthrow has transpired, if any of these portaits remain, were defaced or if they were removed to avoid damage. If you have been since the coup please leave a comment below and let us know. Sawadee!

 

Before the Coup

Before the Coup

 

Rounding the corner and heading towards the Ordination Hall you are met with this rather imposing set of guardian figures, ornately decorated with vivid colors, unique accessories and elaborate adornments of a warrior genre. I was hypnotized by these majestic figures. They towered over the visitors attending and I took way too many photos trying to capture the demeanor of the imperial sentinels, as they watched over all that entered. I truly hope in some small way, I was successful.

 

Yaksha Guardian Figures at the Entrance of Ordination Hall

Yaksha Guardian Figures at the Entrance of Ordination Hall

 

As I grew closer and scanned the apex of the entry I again was mesmerized by the architecture and how detailed the design was. I will have to become more of a historian and be able to interpret the symbolism behind all the various trim and palatial work. Thailand has over 31,200 Temples and I was just beginning to realize the talent behind their construction.

 

Ornate Top of Entrance to the Ordination Hall

Ornate Top of Entrance to the Ordination Hall

 

Throughout the grounds I came across various and sundry stone statues, figurines and artistic structures that were stunning to view and diverse in design, purpose and placement. Again I took photos of what seemed hundreds of stone characters and had to limit my inclusion in this post to the more distinctive, at least in my opinion. I sincerely hope you enjoy the photos, but highly recommend a visit if given the chance. I would not want to tangle with this individual in real life.

 

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

Nor would I have any inkling to become combative around this individual in real life. Although he is immobile in his present form I am positive he would do severe damage to my body if we engaged in some type of duel or combat.

 

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

“A covered passageway, phra rabiengkote, lines the walls around the ubosot. The passage is lined with 120 Buddha statues in the sitting position. These statues were cast in the reign of King Rama II. The remains of deceased are kept in cubicles below the statues.”  This is a quote taken directly from a post on Tour Bangkok Legacies and explains the shrines below.

 

Buddhas Inside the Temple

Buddhas Inside the Temple

 

Additional stone figures are scattered throughout the grounds and some are regal in nature as compared with the warrior/guard figures at the entrance. They are both intricate and detailed in design. I was fascinated by the sheer numbers of figures and their various themes.

 

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

These ferocious stone carved guardians resembled dogs to me and were present right at the entrance to the Temple area. It would make sense that these sentries were positioned to announce wayward or stray people animals or evil trespassers.

 

Stone Sculptures in Wat Arun Complex

Stone Sculptures in Wat Arun Complex

 

As I approached the entry to the Temple I glanced down the side and caught this structure’s opening with two stone almost obeliscal formations. I thought it was cool the way the front structure framed the stone towers in the back of the area.

 

A Unique View On the Side of the Hall

A Unique View On the Side of the Hall

 

I removed my shoes and walked into the Temple and was completely caught off guard by the array of wall paintings, chandeliers and artwork present inside and displayed for all to view. It really was beautiful and I am afraid I didn’t capture the true essence of the shrine. I hope that you can at least partially comprehend its magnificent beauty!

 

Inside the Ordination Hall

Inside the Ordination Hall  

 

As one walks into the actual main Prang area this gentleman awaits you and the sign portrays what is acceptable dress and what is not acceptable for the ladies. It also had a directional sign for the restrooms. My bladder was about to burst, so Sammy our guide and I went and paid our $.10 to go. Ha!

 

Guardian Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Guardian Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

This cherubic Buddha waited outside the entrance to the large Prang greeting everyone and bringing great luck and prosperity. He gladly accepted donations to ensure your tour was favorable. The lady on the right thought it was funny that I was taking this photo and grinned at me. I would bet anything she or her boyfriend/husband took one also!

 

Laughing Buddha at Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

Laughing Buddha at Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

 

When you first see the porcelain tile applications it puzzles you, as you do not expect this decoration to be so beautiful or well defined. I was impressed at the mount of detail put into the overall structure and cannot begin to capture what it looked like in person. I am definitely not that good of a photographer. I do hope that a sampling is conveyed and you can realize the extreme work that went into the construction of this facility. The following photos are of various sections and appliques on the Prang and hopefully convey the quality of work involved.

 

Amazing Porcelain Tiles On Wat Arun

Amazing Porcelain Tiles On Wat Arun

 

 

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

 

 

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

 

 

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

 

As I turned around to leave I took this photo. I did not climb the steps past the first level and I have no idea how many steps there are, as every web site I viewed on Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn did not have this information. I Googled it and still could not find my answer. If you take a close look you can tell how steep the steps are by the way the people are holding on for dear life as the descend. I knew in that instant I was not going up to the top!

 

The Long Walk and Steps to the Top of Wat Arun

Part of The Long Walk and Steps to the Top of Wat Arun

 

At the bottom there is a traditional market filled with stalls selling every imaginable souvenir one could associate with the shrine, Thailand or its history. It was very interesting and slightly cooler than being out in the Bangkok heat and humidity!

 

Souvenir Stalls

Souvenir Stalls

 

A sample of local snacks that one could purchase. Not sure if they were healthy or not, but they were unfamiliar to me and I held back on testing anything new, as we had a wonderful dinner planned later that night At one of the to 50 restaurants in the world.

 

Snacks for Sale

Snacks for Sale

 

This stall had many wood carvings of elephants, Buddhas and other items we found at every shopping place we visited. I am not entirely sure, but I hope the “tusk carving” wasn’t real ivory. Elephants represent good luck throughout Thailand.

 

Various Souvenirs for Sale

Various Souvenirs for Sale

 

The mango stand was unique and I really wanted to buy a bag of mango to snack on, but against any concept of appetite I passed. I really, really wanted to sample it, as I love Mango. Fortunately I ate my fair share later.

 

Sliced Mangoes for Sale

Sliced Mangoes for Sale

 

This stand was selling coconut water and a few of the members our group tried it and stated that it was the best they had ever consumed.

 

Coconut Drinks for Sale; Some of Our Group Said It Was the Best Coconut Water They ever Had!

Coconut Drinks for Sale; Some of Our Group Said It Was the Best Coconut Water They ever Had!

 

 

My initial impression of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, from a distance was so ill conceived I was embarrassed. I thought I would be bored to tears and not really interested in seeing this vast complex. It just goes to show you the best laid plans of men and mice go astray! I cannot stress enough how important it is, if you visit Bangkok you absolutely have to visit Wat Arun. The Temple of Dawn. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

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22 responses to “My Amazing Life-Chapter 13, Wat Arun Temple of Dawn”

  1. Frank says:

    Nice photos! I’ve climbed Wat Arun to the top and it IS steep…you get a good idea of that when you get to the top, look down, and realize that you have to make your way back down those steps. I actually froze for a few seconds before getting up the balls. I will say that it’s worth the climb though, you get some great views over the river and the temples on the opposite side.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Frank,
      Thank you kindly for the compliment on the photos. I am glad you had the “balls” to climb all the steps. Had a heart attack 10 years ago and I get wobbly when I am doing this type of thing. Didn’t want to take any chances, especially when I saw healthy people gripping on for dear life! I am jealous that you had that view and I would bet it was spectacular! Thank you for stopping by and I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. Eat more BBQ !!! Adios amigo!
      Mike

  2. Renate Flynn says:

    Mike, these photos are so filled with color and light! I will definitely add the Temple of Dawn to my list of must-sees!I love the closeups of the beautiful porcelain tiles. I will look forward to following your adventures.
    Best to you, Renate

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Renate,
      It is a beautiful and magnificent structure. definitely make sure you visit the Temple! Thanks for stopping by.
      Mikew

  3. Dennis Kopp says:

    Those are really great photos! I loved visiting the Temple of Dawn and the views from the top. But how steep the climb really was, only became apparent on the way down. I must have spent quite a while watching other people struggling with their ungraceful descend before feeling ready myself to brave this part of the visit… 🙂

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Dennis,
      I am glad that you could muster the strength and fortitude to make the climb. It was more than I could do. Thanks for your thought.
      Mike

  4. Vanessa says:

    Two things that really struck me: how green and lush everything is and how clean everything is! You often don’t get one, let alone both of these things, in a major city and at an important site for travellers. I was in Bangkok for two days last December when the protests had just started. We were essentially confined to hotel after our bike tour was cancelled (understandable) and this worked out for us just fine as we were exhausted after our time in Myanmar. So unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of the city but that little we did see was also surprisingly clean and green as well.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Vanessa,
      I was there in November, just a month earlier and the protests were just originating at that time. I have been to Bangkok several times and absolutely love the city. Yes it is very green and tropical so the humidity is huge! Side factor is the Thai food. I love it! Glad you got rest though. That is important while traveling! Hopefully I will get to Myanmar next spring. Thanks.
      Mike

  5. Mike,
    Bangkok has long since been on our bucket list. Once we get ourselves into international travel, it will be one of our first stops. We are going to make it a mission to stop at this temple. Love all the shocking colors of this place. Need to see it in person. Thanks for this post!

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Lauren,
      Trust me you will never get enough of the city. Bangkok is a wonderful city and I love everything about it (especially the people. the food and the smiles)! Can’t wait for your feedback, once you get to Bangkok! Thanks.
      Mike

  6. Mike – gorgeous photos love all the bright colours! This brings back memories of my trip to Wat Arun. I couldn’t go up the stairs either – the height PLUS the look of the almost 90 degree angle made my knees quake!(and I was standing on the ground!) Can’t wait to read about the rest of your journey through Thailand.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Mary,
      Thanks. I am glad I am not the only one scared of the angle of the steps! Ha! I appreciate your thoughts.
      Mike

  7. I’m happy to hear that your initial impressions were incorrect and you enjoyed your visit there. Your photos are beautiful, love the colours and details. I haven’t been but if I’m in that part of the world, I’ll be sure to visit.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Megan,
      Thank you for your thoughts on my photos. This wasn’t my first trip to Bangkok. I have actually been going there since 1973! Don’t laugh!

      I love the people, the culture and the food!. Hope you get there soon. Thanks.
      Mike

  8. Bev says:

    The detail on the temple always astounds me. I hope I get to see it in person one day.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Bev,
      I hope you get there one day also. Bangkok has so many, many great things to do and see. Not to mention the wonderful food! The detail is quite amazing and when you see it in person it will astound you!
      Mike

  9. Great post about one of my favorite places in Asia. Wat Arun is a must stop every time in Bangkok.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Ted,
      Thank you for commenting on my post amigo. I love Wat Arun and I agree its worth a stop each time I visit Bangkok also!
      Mike

  10. Aggy says:

    Mike, my exactly initial thoughts of Wat Arun are the same as yours! But I found the temple to be gorgeous and enchanting – the steep steps were quite scary though! Love this piece, reminded me of my trip to Bangkok earlier this year.

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Aggy,
      I am so glad that you were stimulated to remember your trip to Bangkok. The steps were more than scary to me. I was petrified and could’t even think about walking up those steps. Glad I wasn’t the only “fraidy” cat! Ha!
      Mike

  11. Stephen says:

    I absolutely loved Wat Arun when I was there. I felt like it was one of those places you could point your camera in any direction randomly and still get a great picture. Thanks for sharing!

    • NOMADICTEXAN says:

      Stephen,
      I can’t argue with your thought. Wat Arun is one of the most spectacular Temples I have visited! Thanks for stopping by!
      Mike

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