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  1. #1
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    talking

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Sentinels of history
    The Nation, Published on Sep 19, 2003
    Phatarawadee Phataranawik

    Four teak Thai houses that serve today as museums quietly guard an elegant past.

    Hidden amid its concrete caverns, Bangkok clings to a few remarkable wooden Thai-style structures that serve as museums, each awaiting its chance to share a bit of history. They can hardly compete with the big shopping malls for your attention, but they do offer something valuable and far more rewarding: food for thought.

    Weekend suggests taking a break from shopping to enjoy a day-trip to these four impressive museums, all of which are located near the Skytrain. A mere Bt500 is all you need to get into them, take in the sights and even have lunch.

    It’s a great way to learn more about Thailand’s rich history, from the heritage of the rural Lanna people to the pageantry of Rama V’s family, and from the legacies of a prime minister to that a farang silk king.

    Khamthieng House

    Getting There

    BTS station: Asok. A 10-minute walk to Ekkamai Road to the museum on grounds of the Siam Society.

    Telephone: (02) 661 6470-7

    Website: www.siam-society.org

    Open: 9am to 5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays

    Fee: Bt100 (adults) and Bt50 (children/students)

    Your voyage of discovery can kick off at the 19th-century Khamthieng House, an ethnological museum located on the grounds of the Siam Society headquarters.

    After two years of extensive renovation and the addition of many hi-tech frills, one the best surviving examples of the Northern-style teak Thai house has found new life as a showcase for the rural way of life that once existed in Thailand.

    The 150-year-old building is supposed to be haunted by the spirits of three elderly Lanna ladies who remain attached to their former residence.

    Its five main exhibition areas are filled with traditional Lanna chants, music and dance, all recorded by living exponents of these traditions. The well-designed exhibitions use soundscapes, video presentations and 3-D animation to illustrate a disappearing way of life.

    “We have several collections, most of them simple agricultural and domestic items,” says museum director Albert Paravi Wongchirachai. “Their innovative presentation helps visitors travel back into history.”

    Through the adventures of an animated 3-D cartoon gecko, visitors learn about the relationship between the house and the village community. Visitors are met with traditional tunes of courtship as they approach the veranda, underlining how courtship customs were linked to the division of the house’s outer and inner spaces.

    It remains a marvel to most that Lanna homes were built without a single nail. This 150-year-old house was disassembled at its original location on Chiang Mai’s Ping River, transplanted here and reassembled.

    Kukrit House

    Getting There

    BTS station: Chong Non-si. Walk past the Narathivat Rajanakarin intersection and turn left on Soi 7. It’s about a 15 minute walk to the house.

    Telephone: (02) 286 8185

    Website: www.tat.org.com/kukrit house

    Open: Daily 10am to 5pm on weekends

    Fee: Bt50 (tourists/adults) and Bt20 (Students)

    Occupying five rai in the Sathorn area, the home of former prime minister MR Kukrit Pramoj has a long history. The house reflects both the owner’s background and his complex personality.

    Set in a beautifully landscaped garden highlighted by a Khmer stone statue and bonsai trees, the living quarters comprise five separate elevated teak houses collected from different parts of Thailand.

    Since this was indeed Kukrit’s personal residence at one time, much evidence and ambience lingers of “The Grand Old Man” – his way of life and his personality. Numerous historical black-and-white photographs line the shelves and walls. Pictured are many prominent figures in Thai politics and society, as well as diplomats who attended dinner parties or were entertained by classical stage performances.

    Overlooking the front garden is the official reception room, in which Kukrit would receive his guests in surroundings of remarkable cosiness. Simple bamboo furniture scattered with silk cushions is surrounded by priceless pieces from Kukrit’s vast collection of Thai artefacts.

    Suan Pakkad Palace

    Getting There

    BTS station: Phaya Thai. The palace is about a 10 minute walk down Sri Ayuthaya Road and located next to a Honda showroom.

    Telephone: (02) 245 1775-6

    Website: www.suanpakkad.com

    Open: Daily 9am to 4pm

    Fee: Bt100 (tourists) Bt50 (students/Thais)

    Thailand’s first museum, Suan Pakkad Palace once belonged to Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Chumbhot of Nagara Svarga. It was opened as a museum in 1952.

    Occupying six rai on Sri Ayudhya Road, this fascinating garden and equally well-tended Thai-style house boasts a Royal collection of antiquities that have been passed down through successive generations.

    The palace is a combination of fine art and ancient artefacts from the era of HRH Prince Paribatra Sukhumbandhu, son of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and Queen Sukhumala Marasri.

    More than 4,000 artefacts from Thailand, Cambodia, China, India and Europe combine to fill the biggest of the museums profiled in this feature and comprise an invaluable collection for historians and art lovers.

    The highlight is a collection of prehistoric art from Ban Chiang: rare painted pottery, bronze bracelets and axes, arrowheads and beads, as well as a fascinating collection of minerals, shells and fossil fish.

    A must-see is the Lacquer Pavilion to the south of the compound. Brought here from Ayutthaya, where it is believed to have been built by a member of the royal family around the mid-17th century, it served as a library for scriptures. Its lacquer room has wall panels on three sides painted in gold on black lacquer.

    Elsewhere there is a panel of mother-of-pearl inlaid work in the late Ayutthaya style. Among the rare pieces are an U-thong-style Buddha and a 14th-century walking Buddha, in the Sukhothai style.

    A khon collection features several art forms and crafts in the context of the great “Ramayana” epic. There are full-size khon masks, puppets, clay figurines, audio-visual presentations and a computer kiosk.

    Jim Thompson House

    Getting There

    BTS station: National Stadium. Walk to Kasemsan Soi 2 (opposite the stadium) and then to the end of the soi.

    Telephone: (02) 216 7386

    Website: www.jimthompsonhouse.com

    Open: Daily 9am to 5pm (last tour at 4.30pm)

    Fee: Bt100 (tourists/adults) and Bt50 (children)

    Long a Bangkok tourist attraction, the Jim Thompson House is always packed on weekends. The home of the late James HW Thompson, regarded as the “King of Thai Silk”, features marvellous Thai architecture and tropical greenery. Since Thompson’s mysterious 1967 disappearance in Malaysia, the house has continued to teach people about his remarkable life and business acumen.

    The house is actually a complex of six traditional Thai-style houses, teak structures that were purchased from several owners and brought here from various parts of Thailand prior to 1959. Visitors will find antiques in every corner, fine furniture and delicate motifs, as well as Thompson’s extensive art and antique collection. Among the highlights are an eighth-century bust of the Buddha in brown limestone from Lop Buri’s Dvaravati School, a 17th-century Phra Bot, or sacred cloth, 16th-century Chinese porcelain and Thai ceramics of the Sukhothai period.

    Visitors can settle in for lunch or soft drinks at reasonable prices, or sip cappuccino in the coffee corner while appreciating the gorgeous exteriors of the home. Before leaving, visit the souvenir shop out front for some Jim Thompson silk products, postcards or cultural books.

  2. #2
    Scolli Guest
    Wow this sounds great. I will have a look when i'll be back.
    Thanks for the tip.

  3. #3
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    There was a Teak house I visited in Thailand called the Vimanmek Teak Palace. I highly recommend visiting that one. It's really beautiful. They also have Thai dancing and muay thai kickboxing shows.
    "Random Witty Comment"

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