Bangkok Time

Bangkok Time, The imposing domed National Assembly building or Throne Hall was commissioned by King Chulalongkorn. Faced in marble imported from Italy, this impressive building is today used for ceremonial state functions. The parliament is now housed in a modern, more functional, but less elegant building not far away.

by Wayne Burns

Immediately behind the National Assembly building is Vimanmek Palace, built by King Chulalongkorn as an escape from the then crowded and antiquated Grand Palace compound. This breathtaking mansion, reputedly the largest golden teak building in the world, gives visitors an intimate glimpse of the lives of the former king and his queen and consorts at the turn of the century. The king lived here for several years before moving to the newly - built Dusit Palace nearby.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit found this imposing building in a sad state of abandonment and began the job of restorationm opening the magnificent edifice to the public in late 1985. Please note that admission is included in the ticket price paid to tour the Grand Palace. Tours are conducted in English, Japanese, Chinese and French.

Across the street is Dusit Zoo, a shady retreat from the sun and street noise. The collection of animals is rather meagre, but the park affords the tourist an interesting glimpse of Thai couples and families at leisure.

Not far from the zoo is Wat Benchamabopit, the Marble Temple. This jewel-like structure occupies one corner of the grounds of Chitralada Palace, the home of the King and Queen of Thailand.

In one corner of the intersection of Rama V and Rajwithi Roads are the grounds and colorful buildings of Vajirafudh College, built as a prep school by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), the eldest son of King Chulalongkorn. Across from the College, in Rama V Road, is the Royal Handicrafts Center, where an enormous selection of arts and crafts products from each corner of the kingdom is offered for sale.

The entire area with its spacious attractions - Vimanmek, the zoo, the Marble Temple and the Handicrafts Center - offer the visitor a pleasant district of tree-shaded streets, huge old mansions with walled gardens and green It is definitely a more serene corner of the metropolis, but distances make walking feasible.

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