The latest in the series of snippets from the blog of my erstwhile travelling companion, Burness, as well as a short interview, on his views on a World Wonder. This time: the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
I’ve been to The Grand Palace before, I liked it on my first visit, but knew it wasn’t a world wonder. This was maybe why I didn’t give it a proper go and why I can’t really remember much about the visit. We got a one hour tour which was good, our guide spoke excellent English, he was very informative, was pretty sharp and really got our humour, with some great comebacks to a couple of our wisecracks.
I remember on my first visit I went alone, my friend Sally wasn’t keen on a repeat visit, she wasn’t really keen on The Grand Palace at all, telling me it was “over the top”. I liked it though, it is over the top, but it’s a palace, it’s meant to be over the top. It’s just over the top in Thai style with bright colours and lots of gold. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is an impressive building and very pretty to look at. Like the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, it’s all about the bling, the gold and of course the emerald Buddha itself which is worth hundreds of millions of pounds. But it’s just not a world wonder for me, I don’t think it’s a building of architectural prowess, it’s not iconic enough and not unique. Your average person on the street couldn't identify it, it doesn’t stand out from the crowd and it’s very similar to other palaces in South East Asia.
Had you heard of the Temple of Emerald Buddha before travelling?
Yes, I’d been there before [When?]. Probably about 2005.
What were your expectations back then, and what were they on this re-visit.?
My original  expectations were low. My friends I was travelling with, Sally and Miles, they’d been before, and they told me they didn’t like it, they thought it was over the top so didn’t recommend or advise me to go. But as it is one of the main tourist attractions of Bangkok, I decided to go. [On the revisit?] Better than last time, because when I revisited it I knew what to expect, and I enjoyed the experience.
What was your first impression?
Originally, I remember thinking it was over the top, Thai style. I’m thinking of the whole Grand Palace here. Because it was my first time in Thailand, I enjoyed seeing something totally different and palaces and temples are meant to be over the top. Certainly in Thailand anyway. [On the revisit?] Just as I expected, to be honest. We'd been travelling through Asia and I'd been to Thailand before, and I was a lot more used to seeing this type of architecture, and it didn't seem that unique.
What did you like most about the Temple of Emerald Buddha?
What didn't you like about the Wonder?
I don’t think it’s a building of architectural prowess, there are quite a few buildings like that around, like in Cambodia.
Would you regard the Temple of Emerald Buddha as a World Wonder?
No, I wouldn’t. It’s not iconic enough. If you showed somebody in Britain a photo of the temple, I bet not many would identify it. They might recognise it’s Thai, maybe. I would put it on the same level as St Paul’s.