Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Massage in Bangkok? Go to Temple...

Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Bangkok ©Solange Hando

Head for the Wat Po, or Temple of the Reclining Buddha, in Bangkok and you can experience a traditional Thai massage, just 260 bahts (barely USD 8.00) for 30 minutes. But don't expect private rooms and fluffy robes.

Walk into the parlour and it's like an overcrowded hospital ward, fully dressed bodies lined up on beds, barely two feet apart, and a whole army of masseurs and masseuses kneading and pummelling to their heart's content. Close your eyes and enjoy the peace, except for the occasional groan of pain.

But these guys certainly know what they're doing for when I emerged, as good as new, into the sunlight, my backpack and its content seemed to have lost half their weight. I was floating on air.

Shrines at the Wat Po ©Solange Hando
Yet, there's more to the Wat Po than a Thai massage. Allow plenty of time to explore this most atmospheric temple in Bangkok, sit under the trees and marvel at overlapping roofs and chedi (shrines), over 90 of them, covered in glittering tiles and Chinese ceramics.

There's only one souvenir shop but lots of free bottled water for tourists and if you must keep in touch with the outside world, free WiFi as well.

Wat Po Reclining Buddha, Bangkok ©Solange Hando

Then be sure to see the famous Reclining Buddha, 150 feet long, but forget the crowds struggling to photograph the whole thing before they rush off to the next temple.

Just stop and gaze at the face, so relaxed and peaceful, and listen to the tinkling of coins dropped into the alms bowls to gain merits, now and for the afterlife.

Guardians at the Gate, Wat Po ©Solange Hando

Then when you  finally step out through the gate, past the fearsome guardians, just wander around the amulet market and pick up a good luck charm for memory's sake.

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