Bangkok's 400 Buddhist temples rise in golden spires and domes above perhaps 10 million busy, modern lives. This is where Buddhist Thais, said to amount to more than 90 per cent of the population, draw inspiration. My dear guide and companion resident Krisawat Sang Krajang, explains that they lead people to “try to live in harmony”.
The hauntingly spectacular Wat Po (or Pho) is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand. Work began on it in 1793 by King Rama I, the founder of the dynasty which the current king, Rama IX, continues. And what haunts me most is the golden face of the 50m-long reclining Buddha, built in the reign of Rama III and covered in 24 carat goldleaf. This was the position the Buddha - "the great philosopher of the world", as Krisawat describes him - assumed before entering Nirvana in 623BC. And he assumed this pose in order to leave a lasting, positive image in his followers' minds. It still succeeds.
Devotees light a candle, a reminder that all lives come to an end and at the end we are all equal.
There are 150 Buddhas in the temple complex's main building and entry costs about $1.
WAT PHRA KAEO
Wat Phra Kaeo is also a beautiful temples complex - but at its heart is the Emerald Buddha. This 58cm-tall statue of the Buddha was carved from a single piece of high-quality imperial jade. The statue is said to date back to 1434, and has a dramatic history, including being taken to Laos from 1552 to 1778. It has been in Wat Phra Kaeo since then.
The Temple of Dawn - Wat Arun - sits alongside the Chao Phraya river near the centre of busy Bangkok, and is easy to catch a boat to. It has a 67m-tall pagoda and a peaceful village atmosphere.
Witnesses said they saw the Thunder River Rapids ride flip and crush passengers.