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Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok - Thailand

Wat Phra Kaeo, Bangkok

The Grand Palace is Bangkok's biggest tourist attraction and is a dazzling complex of richly decorated buildings.  Within the walls are several throne halls, courtyards and palaces as well as Wat Phra Kaeo, home to the Emerald Buddha.  All the buildings are still in perfect condition as there's a constant restoration process going on, keeping the buildings fresh and new, with incredibly detailed work on an enormous scale. 

The outer gallery of Wat Phra Kaeo is filled over a kilometer of scenes from the Ramayana religious epic with many of the characters rendered in gold leaf.  Massive grotesque guardians stand guard at each of the entrances while the golden chedis supposedly houses a piece of the Buddha's breastbone.  The central sanctuary contains the Emerald Buddha itself, sat on a towering mass of gold and flanked by many other Buddha images.  This focal point of Thai religious life is surprisingly small and dressed one of 3 costumes depending on the season – the other are on display in the nearby museum.

The Dusit Throne Hall is no less impressive, although only the roof is brightly decorated in greens and golds.  Inside is surprisingly sparse aside from the huge throne and matching throne for the Emerald Buddha.

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