Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Tuesday 16th March
Things are hotting up on the politics front... The prime minister was flown out by attack helicopter to avoid a confrontation and has refused to comply with the ultimatum. The opposition have stated that blood will be shed. In an interesting twist on the usual understanding of that statement they're now drawing 10cc's of blood from every protester and are going to empty the resulting 1000 liters of blood over various government buildings, palaces, etc. This is a reference to a statement previously made by the prime minister that he would never walk on the blood of his people. It's going to be rather messy.
Walking the streets this morning everything is peaceful, if a little loud over some of the PA systems.
We visited the Grand Palace this morning and into the early afternoon. It's pretty big (the walls are nearly 2km around) and contains the temple of the emerald Buddha (which is actually made out of jade, the abbot who originally discovered it was a little enthusiastic), and a number of other temples, palaces and mansions. It is incredibly glitzy, literally every surface is either covered in gold leaf or reflective tiles in silver, green, red and blue. Around the outside of the religious area is a colonnade whose walls are covered with murals of the Ramakien (the Thai variant of the Ramayana). Where in Phnom Penh all of the murals in the Royal Palace were faded and badly damaged by damp, here they are continually being restored with brilliant colours and masses of gold leaf.
After the Grand Palace we walked a little further south to Wat Pho which is a big temple complex, one of which contains the statue of the reclining Buddha, the biggest one in the world. It is really quite large... It's smile is over 2m in length. It's feet are inlaid with mother of pearl outlining the 108 marks that denote the true Buddha. Behind the Buddha are a line of 180 metal offering bowls. If you drop a coin into each bowl then you'll have lots of good luck, long life, low fuel bills etc. You can buy your 180 coins and then walk along the Buddha's length dropping them in. The low level plinking of the coins sounds rather good!
Wat Pho is the oldest school of massage in the world, and obviously Caroline wouldn't consider a trip here complete without at least trying it... One foot massage later we both limped back to the hotel.