Saturday, February 26, 2011

Isaan Odyssey, Part 3 : The Palace At Bang Pa-in (2)

Wehart Chamrunt (heavenly light) Hall from Ho Withun Thasana Tower

[This is Part 3 of a series. If you found this via a search or just happened upon it some other way you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.]

In part 2 you saw some of the featured buildings at the Royal Summer Palace at Bang Pa-in, including the detailed beauty of Wehart Chamrunt (heavenly light) hall. Before heading back out onto the open road we'll see some of the others, but not all of them; I think it's always nice to have things to discover on your own. Like I said, the grounds are extensive and beautiful - but we're on a road trip.

I hadn't read anything about this place so there were a lot of pleasant surprises for me as well as we wandered the grounds, one of them being the view from the Ho Withun Thasana (sages' lookout) tower, shown below.

Ho Withun Thasana - 75 steps up to the mid-point balcony

The top photo today is a panorama from as high as I could climb up the spiral staircase inside the tower - which was 75 steps up, at the mid-way point. You can see a view down the well-worn wooden stairway below.

It was a relatively clear day, and the views from the tower were impressive:

Panoramic view from the Sage's Lookout

There were a lot of carefully maintained topiary displays on the grounds, such as the chang (elephants) in the center of the picture above - but I liked the small bunch of bunnies below that were placed by the water near the Wehart Chamrunt hall.

As I also mentioned before it can be quite warm there in the middle of the day, and the refreshment stand below selling water, sodas and ice cream was a very welcome sight, as were the tables and chairs at another refreshment spot we came across a while later. The open doors allowed a breeze to help cool me off as we sat and rested a bit.

There were musicians playing in a small room along one of the walkways. The windows all around the room allowed visitors to watch and the music to carry over the grounds. They seemed to play quite a while without taking a break and were strictly focused on their task while they were at it - not talking or even breaking a smile between each other as they played.

There were drums and the traditional hardwood ranat (xylophones) as well as khong wan lek (small gongs in a rattan frame) and an oboe-type instrument that I believe is known as a pi nok.

Here's a short clip of them playing:

I'll wrap the photos up today with a shot of Aisawan Dhiphya-Asana Pavilion that sits out in the water surrounding the Wehart Chamrunt Hall. The Thai name means "the divine seat of personal freedom", and it certainly looked like a nice place to sit, meditate and think.

By the time I'd finished wandering around being bowled over by the beauty of the place it was past lunchtime and I was hungry. Pot probably was, too, but being the patient person he is he hadn't hurried me along - and for that I was grateful.

Nevertheless, Pot still had things planned for me to see this first day, so I plunked myself back down into the passenger seat of his truck and looked around the nearby area one more time as he started the engine and drove us back out of the parking lot and onto the highway.

Being as close as it is to Bangkok I hope you'll consider a day trip to this lovely spot. If you don't feel adventurous enough to try it on your own you should have no trouble finding a tour service to go there via van or bus. It's worth it.

Next up in part 4: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol

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