THE GRAND PALACE
After King Rama The First ascended to the throne in 1782 The Grand Palace was built. The Grand Palace includes the royal residence, the royal throne halls, some government offices, and the world famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Galleries area contains the elaborate depiction of the war waged by Rama of Ayothaya to rescue his wife Sita who has been abducted by Ravana. On the Upper Terrace there is a to-scale replica of Angkor Wat in Cambodia created by the order of King Rama The Fourth. Within the entire Grand Palace area I found the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddah, the Upper Terrace, Subsidiary Buildings, The Galleries, the Phra Maha Monthian Group of buildings where kings coronation ceremony takes place, the Chakri Group of buildings, The Dusit Group of buildings, the Borom Phiman Mansion and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles.
The textile museum created by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is dedicated to showcasing the art of textile in South and East Asia with the majority of emphasis displaying the clothing worn by Her Majesty and the Royal Court. I have always had some interest in the ancient art of sewing, even when as a child going to state fairs and always wanting to see what the mothers and grandmothers have sewn. But this museum has clothing like you have never seen before. Dresses of gold thread, unbelievable gowns of silk, some with the stitching so tight that you cannot see the thread anywhere. Some of the clothing and textiles seem almost magically created.
BANG PA SUMMER PALACE
King Prasat Thong (1629-1656, lived 27 years) the illegitimate son of King Ekathotsarot had a palace constructed on the Bang Pa island in the Chao Phraya River. The story goes that King Ekathotsarot when he was boy was shipwrecked on that island and a woman who was living there bore him a son who when he grew up founded a monastery Wat Chumphon Nikayaran on this island belonging to his mother and then had the palace built south of the monastery. Over the years various Thailand kings have renovated the area until today it is a first class area revived like it was new.
The pictures of the Chinese style two story mansion was built by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1889 and presented to King Chulaongkorn. The upper floor has an altar with the name plate of King Mongkut and his queen. King Mongkut was very close with Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The movie and play The King and I depicts this story and the real life love that neither could admit to.
UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1351 to 1767. In the sixteenth century, it was described by foreign traders as one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East. The court of King Narai (1656–88) had strong links with that of King Louis XIV of France, whose ambassadors compared the city in size and wealth to Paris.
The kings of Ayutthaya were absolute monarchs with semi-religious status. Their authority derived from the ideologies of Hinduism and Buddhism as well as from natural leadership. The king of Sukhothai was the inspiration of Inscription 1 found in Sukhothai, which stated that King Ramkhamhaeng would hear the petition of any subject who rang the bell at the palace gate. The king was thus considered as a father by his people. At Ayutthaya, however, the paternal aspects of kingship disappeared. The king was considered the chakkraphat (Sanskrit chakravartin) who through his adherence to the law made all the world revolve around him. According to Hindu tradition, the king is the avatar of Vishnu, destroyer of demons, who was born to be the defender of the people. The Buddhist belief in the king is as righteous ruler (Sanskrit: dharmaraja), aiming at the well-being of the people and who strictly follows the teaching of Gautama Buddha.
By 1550, the kingdom’s vassals included some city-states in the Malay Peninsula, Sukhothai, and parts of Cambodia. In 1765, a combined 40,000-strong force of Burmese armies invaded the territories of Ayutthaya from the north and west. Major outlying towns quickly capitulated. The only notable example of successful resistance to these forces was found at the village of Bang Rajan. After a 14 months’ siege, the city of Ayutthaya capitulated and was burned in April 1767.
Ayutthaya’s art treasures, the libraries containing its literature (including ancient Vedic palm writings from India), and the archives housing its historic records were almost totally destroyed, and the Burmese brought the Ayutthaya Kingdom to ruin as we see it today in my pictures.
RIVER SUN CRUISE
From near Ayutthaya, where I arrived by bus, I took a a lovely three hour voyage down the Chao Phraya River to Bangkok on a large comfortable tourist boat. The boat was quiet and devoid of music, only the light chatter of the guests. Lunch buffet was wonderful for a vegetarian and watching the Thai country side and temples glide by was very nice.
While on the bus to various places I snapped a few of my non-artistic “snappies” out the window of the bus. As you have already seen, my camera work is without doubt just snappies, no setup, no framing, just instant memories. I took no pictures of the southern Thai beaches, or boat rides to the famous iconic islands. By then, after the tours in Bangkok I had lost interest in taking pictures, which if you know me is typical for the over 136 countries I have now visited, of which only 20% of those I took pictures of. The images and visual textures of those trips, taken only by myself, live only in my memory.
SO MUCH MORE
I visited and experienced so much more while in Thailand that is not documented here. The Smile Massage store near the Dream Hotel where I stayed while in Bangkok is one of the finest massage places in Bangkok and almost daily I went for the one hour foot and leg massage or the back massage. The very skilled ladies who massage there do classic Thai massage, and while I was touring my excellent guide from getyourguide.com (who I have used in many countries and greatly admire) took me to the ancient and original Siam massage teaching school. As with most of my travels, such as Sri Lanka for nearly three weeks, or Cambodia, I sometimes just stop taking pictures and don’t document my travels. This web site with some of my pictures is only seen by the very few people who even occasionally remember I exist, so taking a lot of pictures really has no purpose, as no one but me really cares.
I had several guides from getyourguide.com while in Thailand. My primary daily guide who was my private guide, was such a kind, knowledgeable gentleman is Swai, who you can see smiling broadly and holding up his hand. My other guide was Peter who has the hat on while standing in front of the group at the Summer Palace. I pay for guides for the knowledge I receive from them, and for their ability to look after me while I am out in unknown places. I’ve now had guides all over the world, Swai is one of the finest, most qualified guides I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.