Wednesday Walking around the old Palace: musing on our paradoxical culture.เดินรอบรั้ววัง

in Photography Lovers2 months ago

The new lockdown in Bangkok is much stricter than earlier this year. This means that all temples and museums including restaurants are closed for two more weeks. Fortunately some bus services are still running but the long haul buses and trains have now stopped operating. I depend on a few buses to take me around the old part of Bangkok and Chinatown for my walks and for reminiscing about the past.



After my failed attempt to visit the National Museum, I decided to take a walk around the old Grand Palace. The road in front of the Palace was closed for a major construction project which would build a tunnel for pedestrians to cross to the other side. In the past hundreds of Chinese tourists held up traffic for hours as they walked across the road to enter the Grand Palace. Because of the pandemic, everything seemed to be frozen in time. It’s a bit surreal seeing the contrast between the old architecture and piles of construction materials.


The weather looked like a rain storm was in the offing. But I did enjoy the strong wind and cooler temperature of late afternoon. The dark grey clouds made the atmosphere more dramatic and gave me a a sense of urgency and danger. I had to find my way to a nearest bus stop; the diversion of traffic flow due to the construction project made a mess of the bus routes as buses had to do a detour. I could not see any bus stop along the road which runs parallel to the river, at the west side of the Grand Palace. I couldn’t help feeling somewhat out of place in that situation. I started praying to the rain god to take his clouds away from me as I didn’t bring an umbrella.



This road is called Maharatch which was originally an Indian word meaning ‘great King’. Many Thai names and words have their roots in Indian words as Buddhism came to old Siam from India. The Indian cultural influence was much older than that of Chinese culture. The old Indian astrological influences were also reflected in the design of Palaces and court rituals. Hindu rituals have become a part of Buddhist religious ceremonies and Thai astrology. But it seems paradoxical to me as Buddhist teaching talks about non-attachment to rituals and ceremonies but religious ceremonies have become an important part of Thai Buddhist cultural practice. It might because people are still too insecured to stand on their own feet emotionally, so these Hindu-influenced ritual and religious ceremonies give people the sense of belonging and certainty in their life. These religious ceremonies also help to fortify social cohesion in society.


However, I still prefer to follow the Buddha’s teaching while being aware of our social reality. Sometimes beautiful religious ceremonies performed with good vibes and pure intention could be beneficial to people and give them new inspiration to learn more about Buddhist teaching. Desperate people often waste money on superstitious ceremonies offered by fake mediums and astrologers. Funny how my mind started reflecting on this matter during my walk along the Palace wall.


This was because several of my rich friends had been deceived by astrologers performing elaborate ceremonies to improve their karma and help them with some problems. I had been too hard on my friends and told them not to be too superstitious and gullible. I even told them that what they did was contrary to Buddhism and would create bad karma! . In one case, my friends asked to me help prevent their mother from paying more money to a group of mediums. I had to become a detective, at the risk of my own safety, and quietly searching the whole building for clue of fishy evidence. Luckily, there were so many potential clients in the evening that I could slip in and out of the building within being noticed. I told my friends what I saw and that I was convinced this was a professional gang. However, o did find out that they did use black magic in their ceremony. I was quite shocked at first but I just couldn’t let this dark ceremony take place successfully.


So, I did my meditation in the middle of almost eighty people who were waiting for the invited spirit to come through the medium. The medium and two assistants in strange costumes tried to chant even louder while the medium’s face began to turn red from agitation. After ten minutes, the medium realised there was something unusual going on. He started looking around the hall trying to find the culprit who had been sending strange vibes to obstruct the seance. I got up from my sitting position and looked at him in the eyes without any emotion.



He suddenly told his audience that it was not suspicious for a seance; my friends turned to me with a smile; I saved them a big sum of money that day. The gullible clients went up to offer trays of flowers and money to the medium. Later on, my friends told me that his mother stopped going there every week and all the gang had disappeared. That was my first experience with deep meditation power which was incredibly protective and powerful. Luckily I had no need to help out any friends in this way again. But I had a few invitations from psychic people to join in their healing practice though I never told them about my psychic ability. I always walked away from people who make money out of this gift.



Just like any old royal courts, rituals and ceremonies performed by ‘holy’ or ‘spiritual’ people would become an important part of aristocratic culture. That’s one dimension of reality. But I had to get on a bus before the downpour of rain. The car park of the Navy’ clubhouse is by the Chao Phraya River. The old tamarind trees along the road have been fallen down and replaced by younger trees. There were very few people walking around this area. An old lady told me to stand by the curb and wave at the bus driver. He would stop the bus for passengers; so I could get on my bus which swung around the Grand Palace in the east side. There were nice old buildings lining the avenue. I could take photos only when the bus slowed down.



This bus led me back to the back of Chinatown with many old shops along Chareonkrung road or New Road. By the time I got off the bus in Bangrak area, I was so famished that I headed towards my favourite Chinese snack in the side alley. It’s time for a bowl of bean curd in ginger syrup! I wished I could have two bowls instead of one!



สองสัปดาห์ก่อนเราไปที่พิพิธภัณฑ์สถานแห่งชาติ แต่ที่นั่นปิด เราก็เลยได้เดินเล่นผ่านถนนพระจันทร์และถนนมหาราช เพื่อไปหาซื้อยาหม่องและสมุนไพรไทยโบราณที่ร้านเก่าแก่แถวนั้น พอเราได้ยาตามที่ต้องการแล้ว เราก็เดินต่อไปทางท่าช้างเพื่อไปหาป้ายรถเมล์ เราเดินผ่านด้านข้างของพระบรมมหาราชวัง ตรงทางเข้ามีเครื่องจักรและวัสดุก่อสร้างกองเต็มพื้นที่ อากาศเริ่มแปรปรวนมีเมฆฝนดำทมึนมาแต่ไกล ลมก็พัดแรง แต่เราชอบมากเพราะเดินแล้วไม่ร้อน





ถนนมหาราชนี่มีสถานที่ราชการที่อยู่ติดริมน้ำ เป็นของราชนาวีสโมสร เขามีที่จอดรถกว้างขวางมาก สมัยก่อนเราเคยมากินข้าวเย็นกับเพื่อนไปรุ่นเดอะ ป่านนี้หลายคนคงไปนั่งเลี้ยงหลานหรือทำสวนที่ต่างจังหวัดกันแล้ว เราเดินไปคนเดียวตามถนนที่เปล่าเปลี่ยว มองไปที่กำแพงวังก็อดใจหายไม่ได้ ทุกอย่างเปลี่ยนแปลงไปกับกาลเวลาจริงๆ ขนาดต้นมะขามที่โบราณก็เริ่มแตกหัก และโค่นล้มลงมาเอง เขาก็ปลูกต้นไม้ใหม่เสริมเข้าไป. เราภาวนาขอให้พระพิรุณพาเมฆฝนไปที่อื่นก่อน เราจะได้เดินเล่นโดยไม่เปียกเพราะเราไม่ได้ติดร่มมาด้วย



เรามองหาป้ายรถเมล์ไม่เจอเลย เราก็เดินไปเรื่อยด้วยความเมื่อยล้า เพราะยังไม่ได้หยุดกินข้าวกินขนมเลย กำแพงวังดูวังเวงและหงอยเหงา. ข้างในคงเงียบมาก ทุกอย่างค่อยๆปิดเพื่อป้องกันโควิทแพร่ระบาด. เราได้เดินตากแดดบ้างทำให้รู้สึกว่าแข็งแรงขึ้น สงสัยจะคิดไปเอง คนที้ถนนบอกว่าให้ยืนโบกรถเมล์ให้หยุด เขาจะจอดให้ขึ้นเอง เราก็โชคดีมาก ที่ได้รถเมล์ดังใจ คนขับก็สวิงรถในเขตพระนคร ผ่านวัดโพธิ์ด้วย และตึกของหน่วยบัญชาการรักษาดินแดน เขาทาสีตึกสวยงามมาก พอรถเมล์จอดนิ่งๆเราก็ได้โอกาสถ่ายรูป รถเมล์วิ่งเข้าสู่ถนนเจริญกรุง ที่แล่นขนานไปกับถนนเยาวราช
เราก็ชอบดูร้านรวงเก่าแก่แถวนั้น คนจีนที่อยู่ตามตึกแถวไม่มีที่ปลูกต้นไม้ เขาก็เอากระถางต้นไม้มาตั้งที่หน้าบ้านเลย ก็เลยเป็นอะไรที่แปลกตา เราหิวมาก พอรถเมล์ไปถึงบางรัก เราก็รีบไปหาของกินเต้าฮวยในน้ำขิงร้อนหนึ่งถ้วย เราจึงมีแรงเดินทางกลับบ้านต่อไป





Wishing you peace, good health and prosperity.

Stay strong and cheerful.

#wednesdaywalk created by @tattoodjay.


Manually curated by ackhoo from the @qurator Team. Keep up the good work!

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Oh Wow, Dark days!!!

Yo! Yeah! I need help from my UFOs friends!!🌲👽🛸😎

So much to see and tell on this walk, stay safe

Thanks for joining Wednesday Walk :)

Thank you very much! Trying to stay very safe! LoL


The sky doesn't look very friendly.

Interesting and culturally rich place. 😊

Yup! Those clouds were scary but they went their ways! Stay dry! It’s rainy season.


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