Monday, May 11, 2015

King's Summer Palace Visit

On preparation day we visited Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, also known as the Summer Palace.

I have been pining to visit this location since I became aware of it during our visit to Thailand about 5 years ago. 

I arranged to borrow a van and we invited 10 other Senior missionaries to go with us.  We left at about 8 in the morning for the 40 mile drive.  The palace is located in Ayuthaya Province in the Amphoe (equivalent of a county) of Bang Pa-In.  After entering the property we rented three 4 person golf carts (2 couples to each cart).  Elder Seppi drove the cart we rode in.  Since I drove the van to the site, I thought it appropriate to have some one else drive.  Plus he was a regular golfer - therefore I knew had has golf cart driving experience.  We truly enjoyed ourselves and I got the chance to eat Ice Cream twice during our 2 plus hour stay.

King Prasat Thong constructed the original complex in 1632, but it fell into disuse and became overgrown in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, until King Mongkut began to restore the site in the mid-19th century. Most of the present buildings were constructed between 1872 and 1889 by King Chulalongkorn.  It is a huge site with vast gardens and beautiful landscaping.  The palace remains largely open to visitors, as the current King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his family use it only rarely for banquets and special occasions.

Sister Meeker, Elder Meeker, Elder Seppi, Sister Seppi
Absolutely Beautiful - Oh and there is some nice buildings and landscaping there too
She wanted a picture of the large leaves on this tree

"Heavenly Light Royal Residence" from the first level of the observation tower

 The "Heavenly Light Royal Residence" was built by the equivalent of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1899.  We were not allowed to take pictures inside the building.  It is a two story mansion with ornamented tiles floors, massive ebony furniture, gold, silver and porcelain are used for decorative purposes.  There is delicate fretwork on the columns and on the windows.  The ground floor contains a Chines style throne, the upper story houses an altar enshrining the name plates of King Mongkut and Chulalongkorn with their Queens.  This was the favorite residence of the King during the years of 1910 thru 1925.  Very impressive  building.

Carved wood with a Chinese flavor - mythical creatures with lots of color
Yes those are monks in the bright colored robes - they are touring the site - complete with expensive camera gear.

Excellent and shining Heavenly abode

The building is a Neo classical style one story mansion (very tall ceilings with huge chandeliers).   The mansion was built in 1876.  It was built as a Residence and a Throne hall.  The private apartments in this building are still occasionally used by the royal family, whenever they reside at the palace.  We talked with a tour guide inside this building.  There is a huge 30 foot long dining room table and we asked here does the royal family eat at the table.  She gave us this .... how am I supposed to know look.  She said when the royal family comes they shut down the entire site from visitors and she does not come to work.  No pictures allowed in this building also.

Changing of the Guard

The site is a royal residence, thus it is guarded by the army.  The guards are not dressed like those in England but they do have little guard shacks scattered around the residence.  We even happened to be leaving as the changing of the guard was happening.  We were in the van and stopped on the road. 

The  Large Display building
After we saw the changing of the guard, we had a short drive (about 15 kilometers) to the Bang Sai Arts and Craft Center.  We started there, with lunch in an open air cafeteria (Thai food of course).  Then we visited multiple areas where artisans make all kinds of hand made crafts of different materials and methods  (ceramics, leather, carving, jewelry, furniture making etc). We finished up in the large display building.  It is air Conditioned and has museum pieces and a well stocked gift shop.

One of the areas was dressing making

Patterns in the dress making area

Oil painting of the King and Queen  - Era when Elder meeker was here the 1st time

On Site Museum - Awesome Glass encased Thai Village

Great top view except for the reflection of the celling lights


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