Thai Kings of the Chakri Dynasty
On the Western outskirts of Bangkok, in Nakorn Pathom Province, there are a number of big tourist attractions. These include the Rose Garden, Samphran Elephant and Crocodile Farm and the Thai Human Imagery Museum. All of these attractions are close to Don Wai Market and it is possible to do a combination of these in one day. From Bangkok, it takes about 45 minutes to reach here along Highway 4. Just follow the signs for Nakorn Pathom. After you pass the Rose Garden on your left and cross the mighty Nakhon Chaisi River, look out for Highway 338 on your right. The museum is a short way up this road on the left. Incidentally, if you continue on this road back to Bangkok, you will pass the giant standing Buddha called Puttha Monton. Unfortunately, when I was there recently, it was covered in scaffolding.
One of the Revered Monks
The Thai Human Imagery Museum is the Thai response to the famous Madame Tussauds in London. However, the sculptures featured in this museum are not made from wax for obvious reasons. Instead, the artists made them from fibre glass. The first figure was created in the early 1980’s and was of a revered Thai monk. More were to follow. In 1989 the museum was finally ready to be opened to the public. Nearly twenty years later they now have over 120 sculptures of famous people from Thailand and around the world. They also have some extraordinarily lifelike sculptures of people in every day situations such as playing chess and sleeping on a bench. The attention to detail is amazing and I had to look twice as I thought they were real people at first. Even the meditating monks look so real.
Traditional Children’s Games
The highlight of the museum, is surely the sculptures of the first eight kings of the Chakri Dynasty. The first three never had their pictures taken and so they are based on paintings. But, from King Mongkut onwards, they are very recognizable and it was an honour to be in their company. The youngest of the group was King Rama VIII who wasn’t on the throne for so long. In a nearby hall there is a sculpture of the late Princess Mother. Upstairs, there are showcases such as Children’s Games, Thai Literature and Sunthon Phu and the Abolition of Slavery. Most scenes have bilingual notices, though there is a lot more information written in the Thai language.
Abolition of Slavery
Although there is plenty to learn and to admire, I wouldn’t make a special trip all the way here just for this one tourist attraction. Make sure you see other things at the same time. Admission is 50 baht for Thai people and 200 baht for Foreigners. A sign says that if you can show your work permit then you will be offered a 100 baht discount. I didn’t notice that at first and as usual I asked politely in Thai whether I could get the Thai price as I was a teacher. Despite not having a work permit with me to show them, they let me in for 100 baht. Although I do not normally like museums that sneakily have two prices, I think 100 baht was worth the admission.