Friday, 31 August 2012

Fit for a King

Although I was only in Bangkok for two days on my recent visit, I made the tough decision to relinquish a whole day there for an expedition to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. I took the easy way out and opted for a coach trip. An added attraction was that the return trip included a river cruise along the Chaophraya, which provided a wonderful perspective of the city of Bangkok. On top of that, we also visited the beautiful Bang Pa-in Summer Palace.

The present day palace dates from the reign of Rama V, King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910). He was one of the royal children tutored by a series of European tutors, including Anna Leonowens, an episode which gave rise to the story of The King and I. He subsequently sent his own sons to be educated in Europe and made two visits there himself, the first Siamese king to do so.

The European influence can be clearly seen in the buildings that make up Bang Pa-in Palace. The literally 'palatial' building are exquisite, but I must admit I was particularly taken with the buildings on the other end of the scale  - a delightful pavilion, the royal raft, and the colonial cottage-style houses of the consorts and concubines. (King Chulalongkorn had 99 consorts and 77 children.)

It could be anywhere in the south of Europe, an Italian lake perhaps,  but this is Devara-Kunlai (the God King Goes Forth) Gate, the principal entrance to the Inner Palace.

Phra Thinang Varobas Bimarn, Residential Hall. The covered bridge to the right separated the Inner Palace from the Outer Palace and allowed the court ladies to look out without being seen themselves.

Aisawan-Dhipaya-Asana Pavilion

Beautiful pots of bougainvillea on one of the bridges.

Phra Thinang (Royal Residence) Uthayan ... 

Another view of the covered bridge and Phra Thinang Varobas Biman, Residential Hall

The Sages'  Lookout, Ho Withun Thasana

Phra Thinang (Royal Residence) Wehart Chamrun (Heavenly Light)
Two of my favourites:

The Royal Raft (just wait till you see inside) ...

And Bubpa Papas Pavilion - how gorgeous is this? 

Here is a little more of the Royal Raft. It had been opened up by the time I walked back.

How wonderful it would be to have this moored in your backyard. You could just cast off when you needed extra peace and quiet to finally start work on that novel!

Inside the raft

Here are some of the houses of the consorts and concubines. I love these little painted wooden cottages with their shutters and verandahs.

Finally, a closer look at the garden...

Potted Allamanda

Adenium, the Desert Rose, which has cropped up everywhere on my travels lately.

As a patriotic Aussie, I couldn't resist a photo of these topiary kangaroos.

Not sure of the name of this, and I hadn't realised it grew as large, but fabulous patterned leaves
(Mystery solved, thanks to Virginia C .  This is  Erythrina variegata) .

A more typically Thai subject for these topiaries and one of my favourite tropical trees, the Breadfruit, in the background.

You know - me and water features.... (love the Chinese pot and stand but hate seeing the protective chain around this.)

This seemed to be a very dainty variety of wisteria.

I have a new favourite tropical flowering tree - the Indian cork - more posts on this to come.

Finally, one of my fellow tourists, a Buddhist nun snapping away on her i-Pad.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to the Bang Pa-in Palace.


  1. What a lovely place! You took me back to my childhood watching the King and I with Yul Brynner.
    All the intricate details of the buildings, and the majestic looking palace....such beauty.
    We have small painted wooden houses here too, we call them chattel houses.
    Loved the Royal Raft...very intriguing...I could float around in that all day.
    Of course the topiaries caught my eye, as well as all the lovely potted plants.
    I loved that Indian cork too, I think I want one of those in my garden.
    The unidentified tree with the beautiful veined leaves is an Erythrina variegata...grows quite large and makes a mess when the flowers drop.

  2. I grew up with The King and I too. My dad loved musicals and was very proud of his record collection. Knowing a little of that story made it interesting to trace the connection between the various Siamese kings mentioned at some of the different places I visited to that king, King Mongkut (or Rama IV). And thanks for the ID on that tree. Another mystery solved!

  3. Lovely. So great to see the place associated with the movie.



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