Monday in Bangkok 2/12/2007
Having a terrible time getting internet connection here -- here's yesterday's adventures, anyway!
Monday in Bangkok
Busy day here! I still have very little speaking voice, so let’s hear it for microphones!!! In the morning I was at the Prasarnmit campus of Srinakharinwirot University (that name is such a mouthful, even Thais just say Prasarnmit!), a downtown campus with very nice facilities – a beautiful Bösendorfer in the lecture room! Talked about Memorization to a group of Seniors, of course all getting ready for degree recitals. Last time I talked here I used a translator – this time they said they could get along without it, maybe because they are all seniors they have a little more English skill, I don’t know. But they seemed to follow me ok. I’m trying to talk more slowly, never easy for me and especially difficult when I don’t have much voice! Lunch afterwards in the faculty ‘dining room’ and then some sight-seeing time! Went first to Suan Pakkad Palace, nicknamed the Cabbage Patch Palace because it was built on the site of a cabbage farm. It’s a lovely oasis in the city, beautiful gardens surrounded by a succession of small buildings, now housing extensive antique collections – ranging from 3000 BC Thai pottery and jewelry (mostly bronze or beads), to gorgeously-executed traditional musical instruments, lacquerware, silver, mother-of-pearl inlay work, Bencharong (special old Thai ceramic), Buddhas, etc. One building contains an exquisite small lacquer temple that was discovered in the ruins of Ayutthaya and restored here. Amazing work. A lovely and interesting visit.
Then, we went to what is probably my favorite temple in Bangkok, Wat Benjamabophit, the "Marble Temple." It’s the last great temple built in Bangkok, late 19th century, the prince who designed it was a well-trained architect, and it shows in the marriage of devout worship and the attention to artistry in the design and execution of everything about the place. There are definitely Western influences present; stained glass windows (depicting Buddha, of course), Italian Carrera marble construction. But it remains a thing of great beauty. I especially like the main Buddha, set against a dark blue wall, with a gold aura around it and softly lit – the serenity and beauty of it is remarkable.
Traffic in Bangkok has gotten worse in the past four years since my last visit – our afternoon was already shot when we finished at the temple, since the public attractions close at 4 PM. But there was still time for some good shopping – in both an indoor market (that is, lots if individual vendors selling handcrafts and other items) and my third (and I think final!) visit to the officially-sponsored handcraft center. They make so many lovely things here, it takes quite a while to see it all! My favorites are the Bencharong ceramics (hand-painted in 5-color designs), lacquerware, carvings from water buffalo horn, wood work, real orchid jewelry, pewter, and silks. Gold shopping will start on Wednesday. :-)
And then dinner, and back to Anne and Jon’s house for the night. It’s been another busy and interesting day! The weather remains hot and fairly humid, but not unbearable. Evenings cool off and tend to be breezier, which helps a lot!
Love to all,
Last updated 12/07. Copyright
2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org