We had a lovely day yesterday (even though it was their last day!!). Tracey really wanted to go and visit Vimanmek which is the worlds largest golden teak palace so we decided that it was a lot better to keep occupied rather than dwell on the fact that they were leaving. It was a brilliant call the place is absolutely beautiful and there is a lot more to see than just the Teak Palace!!
It was originally built on the small island of Ko Si Chang but King Rama 5 had it transported to Bangkok where it became his favourite place to stay and he spent long periods of time here between 1902 and 1906 (There was not one nail used in it's construction....I guess that's why they could transport it!!) it also has Thailand's first indoor bathroom, the earliest typewriter with Thai characters and has some of the first portrait paintings ever done in Thailand (The Thai's used to believe that portraiture was a way of stealing part of the sitters soul!!).
The entrance to the Palace is not the most welcoming - there are a lot of tourist police and you have to put all your stuff into a locker before being allowed onto the compound but boy is it worth it!! When you visit you have to go on a compulsory tour - I have to say that this was quite shambolic (we were rushed through, other language tours kept catching up with us, sometimes over taking us, and it was really difficult to hear what the guide was saying) so we went round twice......it was just as well we did or we would have missed a whole section (The carpet on the stairs was being repaired the first time we went round but had been completed the second time so we got to see the Kings Chambers). In saying that.....I wouldn't have missed it because the place is absolutely beautiful and well worth visiting!! (If you do go remember to dress appropriately - same dress code as The Grand Palace)
One of the nice things about going here was that most people came to see the Teak Palace and then buggered off so we really had the rest of the grounds to ourselves. Several small throne halls have been turned into tiny museums featuring all kinds of things (to be honest we didn't go into any of them because we wanted to go inside Anantasamakom Throne Hall).
The Anantasamakom Throne Hall has played an important role in Thai political history as it reflects the bond between Royal and political institutions (It was ordered by King Rama 5 but not finished till the reign of King Rama 6) - when King Rama 7th gave the Thai people their first constitution the first meeting of the Thai parliament was held here and it's still used for state council meetings. It is absolutely stunning inside (You can't take photo's but I found this one online) and is a real mix of east and west - It's such a shame that people only go to the Teak Palace when they visit this site!!
We headed home, had dinner and ran around making sure that everyone had everything. All too soon it was time for them to head off to the airport - It was brilliant having them here (See you next year guys!!)