Since we'd hit some of the biggie top sights the last time we were in Bangkok (the Royal Palace, for instance), on this visit, we made it to a few of the sights sometimes considered lower-tier.
Of these, my favorite was the Jim Thompson House. It's kind of hard to get pictures good enough to convince you to visit, since most of the house is off-limits to cameras, so please trust me when I say that the house is beautiful.
Jim Thompson was an American designer who lived in Bangkok and worked to bring the high-quality Thai silks to a larger international audience. He was also a designer (there is now a line of fabrics and clothing that bear his name) and a man of exquisite taste, with a budget that allowed him to purchase stunning antiques and the sense to put them together in a way that somehow makes them all shine.
Basically, what I'm saying is I WANT THIS MAN'S HOUSE.
Nice, lush garden in the middle of heaving Bangkok, too.
I love a back yard that needs a machete.
Also visited: the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center.
Such a nice building! So thoroughly air-conditioned - a good thing in April in Bangkok!
...and such a strange hodgepodge of art! When we visited, there was a large ehibition of AIDS-related art.
And a collection of photographs by the talented and fascinating Philippe Ramette.
No Photoshop, I should mention.
Ah, yes, we also went and saw some of the Thai history, too! The Royal Barge Museum was a hoot, though this may have been one of those cases where the journey was more special than the destination...
The walk was a half-mile along little canals directly in front of people's houses, teetering on broken concrete blocks and around fences, following increasingly difficult to find signs.
The strangest museum entrance I've ever seen.
The museum itself, though the collection of barges was small, was very interesting. Barges are very important to the Thai royal family, given that Bangkok is set up around a giant river. And the boats are just as impressive as you'd think they'd be.
This one's new - it's a garuda choking a naga. (Ooh, I've learned a teeny weeny bit of Thai religious vocabulary- look at me!)
Also visited: the Kamthieng House, run by the Siam Society to show how the Lanna Buddhists of Northern Thailand lived.
The house is built in a very specific way to take advantage of breezes and keeps the heat source of the kitchen well away from the rest of the house. Why the hell don't we do this in Austin?!
Strangest thing in this museum: the Lanna men often wear undergarments with particular prayers drawn onto them, to help with illness or travel or the harvest. Kamthieng House has a small collection of these. And one common motif?
Ladies having, uh, personal time with horses.
Again, why don't we do this in Austin? Oh wait...
The Lanna are also famed for their tattoos and their weaving prowess.
Like many Thai homes and businesses, the Kamthieng House has a small spirit residence set up out front, where daily offerings are made to the ancestors.
This one was particularly pimped out.
There is just so much to see and do and eat in Bangkok - thanks for making our second visit so great!