We had gotten up at the crack of dawn and presented ourselves at the fabled Four Seasons Hotel, Bangkok. I’ve traveled a lot for pleasure and work, but this was the most ornate hotel lobby I’d ever seen. I was in imagination overload because of the great spy novels I've read that had scenes here. We goggled at the huge arrangements of orchids while waiting to be collected for a daylong tour of Bang Pa-In Palace and Ayutthaya.
The bus picked us up. It was a blissfully air-conditioned hour ride through the Thai countryside to the Bang-Pa In Palace. While paying the entrance fee, I got pulled aside by a Thai guard. My shirt showed too much of my upper arms, so I was helpfully provided with a Shirt of Shame – sleeves to the elbows, so I’d be properly, modestly, dressed. Since it was already one thousand degrees, I was really happy to be the hussy wearing two shirts. Plus - everyone in Thailand was smaller and thinner than me. It was like putting on an upper arm girdle.
“So what are we looking at here?”
I consulted my handy flyer. “It’s the Excellent and Shining Heavenly Abode. King Chulalongkorn had a real Versailles jones, didn’t he?”
“Ya think?” said my Daughter.
Then we ambled across the reproduction of the Bridge of Angles in Rome. We paused to roast in the sun and realized that the built in speakers had (thank you Jebus) quit playing the Kings original jazz compositions but were playing Christmas Carols. “What am I hearing?” I asked my Daughter. “It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year,” she sang back at me.
Thailand meets Versailles as Silver Bells blared in the background. The pagodaish building’s name is Divine Seat of Personal Freedom. I was nearing sarcasm overload.
I’m dreaming of a White Christmas warbled as we discovered the topiary elephants.
Thankfully, the Chinese Suck-Up Mural, a gift from the Emperor to King Chulalongkorn was out of earshot from the loudspeakers.
We liked this Chinese dog guarding the mural.
I want this downspout at my house. Regular gutters are so boring.
We needed a break from Christmas Carols and the broiling heat. There was not much shade in the European landscaping. We were hearing "Joy to the World"
We came to Ho Withun Thansana. It was the Kings 3 story lookout point to see the surrounding area and watch his harem frolic in the evenings. Um – ok.
The guide pamphlet was so earnest that we convulsed with laughter. Memorable Quotes copied exactly:
• Unfortunately while undergoing a minor repairs it was accidentally brunt down. Only the Gothic water tank survives.
• Queen Sunandakumariratana drowned when her boat sank. The King himself designed her memorial in both Thai and English. ???
• A consort of the King drowned a year later so the King had a marble cenotaph bearing their portraits built next to the earlier memorial to the Queen.
If Mr. W did that, I’d be pissed. Just sayin....
About then, these school kids went wild, pointing and screaming. A handsome man near us started to laugh. He walked over to where their teachers were barely holding them back and started signing autographs. A few weeks later I saw him on Thai television. I have no idea who he was, but the kids were going nuts.
Silent Night was blaring from the speakers. We’d seen enough. As I turned in my Shirt of Shame, I noticed that someone had been de-pantsed to get into the Palace. It was the perfect last view of the weirdness at Bang Pa-In Palace.