Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wat Traimet Golden Buddha & Bangkok Flower Market

Located near Bangkok's bustling Chinatown and famous Flower Market, Wat Traimet houses the world's largest gold Buddha weighing five and a half tons. The Buddha was discovered by accident in 1955 when it was dropped while being moved, revealing under a casing of plaster, a solid gold Sukhothai-style Buddha. Made during the 13th-century, it rested undetected in an Ayutthaya temple for centuries. Between the 14th and 18th-century, Ayutthaya was persistently invaded by Burmese armies who ended up destroying the city, so it's thought to prevent the golden statue from being detected, it was covered with plaster in the hope of concealing its true composition. The disguise was so effective that it was forgotten for hundreds of years. A member of King Rama III's court had the statue in its original plaster cast moved to Bangkok and installed in a temple which fell into disuse and was later abandoned around 1931. When the image was being hoisted into its new home at Wat Traimet  the ropes broke, dropping the statue. Some of the plaster was chipped off, revealing the gold underneath, and it now sits in a new chapel, opened in 2010, perched high atop a four story marble-clad ziggurat for all to admire after 900 years of obscurity.

The Wat Traimet Temple in Bangkok his home to the 5.5-ton Golden Buddha

The golden spire of Wat Traimet Temple

Rows of bells hang on the top terrace of the temple, to be rung by those wanting to have their wishes granted by the Buddha

The spectacular 5-ton 18-carat 1-foot tall Golden Buddha from Sukhothai was encased in plaster for over 500 years, disguising it from Burmese invasion of Ayutthaya in 1767 and its true nature was only discovered in 1955

The ceiling above the Buddha with gold parasol

Two magnificent sculpted reliefs flank the exterior of the temple, 
depicting scenes from the Ramayana, the Thai national epic derived from the Hindu Ramekin 

Street vendor in Bangkok's Chinatown, a short walk from Wat Traimet

Side street of Chinatown's Flower Market, known as 'Pak Khlong Talad', 
is the biggest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in Bangkok

The Bangkok flower market, known as 'Pak Khlong Talad', is named after the canal that it surrounds known as the Pak Klong, and was originally home to the largest wholesale vegetable market in Bangkok. There are still many vendors selling fruits, vegetables and spices from the roofed market nearby, but the neighbourhood has completely changed since the flower market become the biggest fresh flower market in the city, selling local flowers such as jasmine, chrysanthemum, gerbera, orchids, lilies, roses and imported varieties such as tulips, snapdragons, iris, lisianthus, delphiniums and more. The prices are incredibly cheap with many vendors specializing in flower arrangement services, catering to lavish weddings and other big events in Bangkok.

Mounds and mounds of fresh orchids for sale along the street 

Ladies threading orchids and jasmine flowers

Ladies cutting and arranging flowers for sale

Beautiful flower garlands handmade using local jasmine, orchids and chrysanthemum 
and are used as temple offerings

A monk in the flower market amid garlands and bags of hanging chrysanthemum 

One of the key flowers to be used in temple offerings, chrysanthemum are found throughout the flower market and at 30 Baht, a bag goes for $1

Bags of orchids being unpacked and bound into bunches

Basket and basket of purple orchids for sale at the flower market

Vendors selling vegetables and spices are active in the area also

Towering mounds of hot Thai chilis

Pak Waan, a popular sweet Thai leafy green used in soups and salads

Behind the scenes at the market were hundreds of workers shredding and packing vegetables for sale at shops closer to the street, like this tower of julienned ginger

A pussycat keeping a watchful eye for scraps of food or unsuspecting mice

Ginger is sold in a variety of sizes including these enormous roots that are largest I've ever seen

The ginger was so fresh and intoxicating, I was tempted to bring back a root or two

A steady stream of baskets of herbs and vegetables are transported from the back of the market to street side vendors by an army of hardworking young people

Vendors selling mangoes and apple shaped 'chompoo', also known as 'rose apples'

Beautifully carved fruit is sold everywhere in Bangkok, packaged in cellophane bags to eat on the street