Carlyn in Thailand 2003!

Carlyn at Bang Pa-In, Thailand

Here are photos from my trip to Thailand. I had a lot of professional obligations, but found plenty of time for sight-seeing!


I've put a very large number of photos up on this page, and I realize (after some prodding) it's a bit overwhelming. For the faint of heart, or those who just aren't interested in looking at 200+ photos, here are a few of my favorites.

The People

The folks at Chintakarn Music Institute made my time in Thailand a real pleasure. Thai people normally use just their first names, so I'm doing so here.

The Grand Palace, Bangkok

Wat Po

Wat is the Thai word for temple complex, and Wats dot the landscape in cities, villages, and along riverbanks. Thailand is about 95% Buddhist, and the people really live their religion. I visited quite a few of the most famous and beautiful Wats, as you will see.

Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn

Wat Suthat

Wat Benjamabopit, The Marble Temple

This beautiful temple was the last major temple to be constructed in Bangkok. It was completed in 1910, utilizing such western elements as Italian marble for floors and to cover the exterior of the main temple building, and stained glass windows. The beautiful golden "aura" surrounding the main Buddha image makes this one of my favorites.

Wat Ratchanawda

Wat Traimit

The Buddha at Wat Traimit has an amazing story behind it. In the 1950s, workmen were moving the 15-foot tall plaster Buddha when the sling holding it broke, and the image crashed to the ground. The stucco craked, revealing glimpses of gold underneath. It turned out that the Buddha was solid gold, over 10,000 pounds in weight! (It's no wonder the sling broke.) This is quite an old Buddha, dating back to the 1300s or so. No one knows the whole story, but presumably it was covered in stucco when the Burmese invaded Thailand in the 1700s, to protect it from being looted. Imagine being the one to rediscover the gold underneath!

Spirit Houses

Spirit houses are found in front of nearly every dwelling and business in Thailand. They hark back to early Thai religious beliefs. They believe that countless spirits inhabit the land, and if you build something on a piece of land, you need to provide a place for the spirits to live, so that they will protect you and your property from harm. Brahman priests determine the proper size and style of spirit house for a particular location, and bless it when it is put in place. Offerings of food, flowers, toy animals and human figures (the latter to serve the spirits) are left to keep the spirits contented. Here are a few examples.

Vimanmek Palace

Vimanmek Palace, or Teakwood Palace, is in the heart of Bangkok, but its lovely grounds and high walls create an oasis of quiet and beauty. The palace was built by Rama V in the late 19th century. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures of the beautiful interior rooms.

Around Bangkok

North of Bangkok: Bang Pa-In, a Royal Summer Palace

North of Bangkok: Ayutthaya, the old capital city

Ayutthaya was the capital city of Thailand from c. 1350 until the Burmese destroyed it in 1767. The destruction was so complete that the population dropped from over 1 million to less than 10,000 in a year's time. The king decided to move the capital to a safer location, Bangkok, and so the old capital city was never rebuilt. The ruins are picturesque and lovely. It's interesting to note that the lighter-red bricks are from restorations done in the 1600's - the original bricks were the dark red lava-stone.

North of Bangkok: On the Chao Phraya River

From Ayutthaya we took a pleasure boat back down the Chao Phraya to Bangkok. They served us a beautiful lunch, and we had a relaxing time watching the scenery float by. I'm including too many pictures from this segment, but I enjoyed the architectural variety so much, I couldn't decide which to leave out. Of course, you don't have to look at all of them.

West of Bangkok: a Floating Market

West of Bangkok: The Rose Garden and an Elephant Show

West of Bangkok: Standing Buddha and Phra Pathom Chedi

Thai Handiwork

The Thais produce many beautiful handmade items. The Queen has been particularly interested in preserving traditional crafts, and has helped to train new generations of artisans. Most places did not allow photography, but here are a few examples of Thai workmanship in various media.

Carlyn did do some work, too

Actually, I did a lot of work! I performed a Mozart concerto with the Thai National Symphony Orchestra, gave workshops at the five main universities around Bangkok, and a series of masterclasses (8 in all, if I'm counting correctly) at Chintakarn Music Institute. Unfortunately, I didn't often remember to get photos while I was doing the work part of my trip. Here are a few.

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Last updated 11/04. Copyright 2003-4 by Carlyn G. Morenus. Questions? Send email to