which the houses are built right next to, over, and cantilevered out above the river are
quite interesting.There are low-rent districts and really plush ones with houses that must
cost in the millions. The neighborhoods are protected by water locks against high
tides and these are quite interesting to watch in operation. Almost every house is
decorated with riotously flamboyant flowers and shrubs. Children play in riverside
playgrounds and attend schools that border the water as well. We were happy to have seen
that part of Thai life.
The Grand Palace and Grounds are amazingly splendid—the palace itself, the temples, the
stupas, and the public buildings. The carvings, the outrageously colorful inside and outside
walls, the enormous statuary, the radiant golden roofs atop all the structures—everything
was opulent and awe-inspiring. The Thai people love their king who is in his 80s and
was in hospital while we were in his country. The beauty of his abode could incite
envy and resentment among his people except for this love they bear him. All are hopeful
that he will be returning to the Palace in good health. Apparently, he did return home shortly
after we left his country for the last time but we have no idea how impaired he was/is
from the stroke he suffered.
Bangkok is a wonderful transitional transportation hub! And, Thailand is very important in
the history (and present) of four of the countries we were visiting. For the Bhutanese,
Bangkok is the nearest modern Mecca for superior health care. For the three Southeast
Asian countries, Thailand is an historic friend, enemy, influence, and trading partner.
It also shares the Buddhist faith of all these countries so the religious practices are
similar in many ways that educated us and mystified us.
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