The Look: Gaudi; The Materials: Chinese; The Location: Thailand

We rode the riverboat for some distance up the Chao Phraya River, watching the spires of Wat Arun reaching to the sky in the distance.  We understand why it is the most recognizable building in Bangkok. A Wat has existed at this location since the 1600’s, but the prangs (Khmer-style spires) next to Wat Arun that we were seeing weren’t built until the early 1800’s.  

What at some distance looked like a carved stone spire turned out to look like a magical piece of grand mosaic by Gaudi when viewed close-up.  The photo of the glazed ceramics embedded in the prang gives you an idea of the detail.  We follow that photo with one taken at longer-range to show the same area in context.

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We read that Chinese ceramics were brought to Thailand as ballast in the trading ships, and then used in the prangs.  Seashells were added as decoration as well.  Was it planned to use these all along to decorate the spires or did the builders merely use “found objects?” 

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We studied the variety of ceramics that came in the form of plates, bowls, cups, and broken pieces of different sizes, designs, and colors. 

Visitors can climb to different walkways around the central prang.  We’re warning you these are very steep steps! So busy were we studying the decoration that it wasn’t until much later that we stepped back and took in the building design and decoration as a whole.

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We detoured off for a cold drink and a rest in a little garden in the gardens next to the wat.

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We had visited the prangs first and saved our visit to the Buddhist temple, Wat Arun, for the end.  We slipped off our sandals and entered.  To our surprise, front and center was a digital clock placed at the foot of the Buddha, ticking off the seconds in neon green.  

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Well, everything about Wat Arun HAD been a surprise!

 

December 2013

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Thailand and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Look: Gaudi; The Materials: Chinese; The Location: Thailand

  1. Susan Waldock says:

    Hello Beth and Joe,

    I came across your excellent blog by chance after doing a Google search for “Chinese ceramics inThailand” and would like to congratulate you on the quality of your photos and posts. I have been travelling for 3 months a year, during the European winter, since 1992 but retain a base in Europe. I am about 10 years older than you. When I was still working, I made shorter trips all over Europe and North Africa. In later life, Mexico was my favourite for many years and I’ve seen almost all of the archaeological sites. I have also travelled extensively in South America (Chile, Peru, Colombia) Peru being my favourite. In Colombia I met a lovely young American couple who travelled from the US to Patagonia – on 2 motobikes !!! I go everywhere by bus and rent simple apartments with kitchens, whenever possible. Last winter I made my first trip to Asia and enjoyed the North and North West of Thailand. This winter I’ll be returning to Thailand and also visiting Laos for a month. I feel as though we have quite a lot in common apart from the fact that, unfortunately, I’m not very good at travelling light !

    With kind regards

    • Susan,

      Yes, we DO have a lot in common and so glad you made the connection! We’re especially excited to hear you’ll be spending a month in Laos this winter as we plan to be there in Jan or Feb 2018. We’d love to hear where you plan to go and what arrangements you make. On that same trip we’ll go back to Cambodia, which we enjoyed a lot on our 1st trip.

      We do love travelling fulltime and plan to keep it up for a few more years. One gap in my future plan is a place to go in Europe for the month of March. Any suggestions?

      Best regards and thanks for joining us on our travels, Beth & Joe

      • Suramdel says:

        Hello Beth and Joe,

        Great to hear from you. As I had a knee operation in April (total prosthesis) I’ll be taking it easier than usual in Laos this year. I only plan to visit Luang Prabang for a couple of weeks and I’ll be spending Christmas and New Year in Vientiane. I’ll be travelling by air between the 2 cities as the roads and buses in Laos are rough and uncomfortable. I didn’t find any suitable Airbnb accommodation in Laos so will be staying in hotels with refrigerator and airco. (See the Vientiane Hemera hotel which looks really nice). I booked it on Booking.com and will pay when I get there. When I don’t have cooking facilities, I buy food at the local markets and supermarkets. I hardly ever go to restaurants as I prefer my meals plain, without too much salt and sauces. I take my own “daisy” steamer with me so that I can steam my vegetables and fish when I’m in apartments. I’ll think about where in Europe you could go in March. What sort of climate are you looking for ? If you don’t have any objections, I would prefer to correspond with you privately rather than on the blog.

        With best regards.

      • We’d love to keep us the correspondence off-line. Our email is jbvolk@aol.com. We’ll not publish your response from yesterday unless you want us to.

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  4. Barbara says:

    The ultimate in “craft attacks!”

  5. jwbeach says:

    Thanks for the great post and pictures. It looks like an amazing place to visit!

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