|architect Mew Aphaiwong and the relief sculptures were
created by Italian Corrado Feroci who, as Silpa Bhirasri, gives his name to
Feroci combined the square-jawed ‘heroes of socialism’ style popular at the time with Mew Aphaiwong’s art deco influences.
There are 75 cannonballs around the base to signify the year BE (Buddhist Era) 2475 (AD 1932); the four wings of the monument stand 24m tall, representing 24 June, the day the constitution was signed; and the central plinth stands 3m high (June was then the third month in the Thai calendar) and supports a chiselled constitution.
Each wing has bas-reliefs depicting soldiers, police and civilians who helped usher in the modern Thai state.
During the era of military dictatorships, demonstrators often assembled here to call for a return to democracy, most notably in 1973 and 1992.
OCTOBER 14 MEMORIAL MONUMENT OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (cnr Th Ratcha- damnoen Klang & Th Tanao; 24hr; klorng boat to Tha Phan Fah) F A peaceful amphitheatre commemorates the civilian demonstrators who were killed by the military during a pro-democracy rally on 14 October 1973.
Over 200,000 people had assembled at the Democracy Monument and along the length of Th Ratchadamnoen to protest against the arrest of political campaigners and continuing military dictatorship.
Although some in Thailand continue to deny it, photographs confirm that more than 70 demonstrators were killed when the tanks met the crowd.
The complex is an interesting adaptation of Thai temple architecture for a secular and political purpose.
A central chedi (stupa) is dedicated to the fallen and a gallery of historic photographs lines the interior wall.
MAHAKAN FORT FORT OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (Th Ratchadamnoen Klang; 24hr; klorng boat to Tha Phan Fah) F The white-washed Mahakan Fort is one of two surviving citadels that defended the old walled city.
The octagonal fort is a picturesque, if brief and hot, stop en route to Golden Mount, but the neighbouring village is more interesting.
This small community of wooden houses has been here for more than 100 years.
But since the mid-1990s it has fought the Bangkok municipal government’s plan to demolish it and create a ‘tourist’ park.
The community blocked progress and even proposed the development of another tourist attraction: a lí·gair (bawdy dance-drama) museum honouring the dance tradition that traces its creation to a school located here in 1897.
Some of the homes were eventually demolished, resulting in the park you see today.
But behind the fort many others remain (for now).
Visitors are welcome.
Climb the ramparts (not for children) running away from the fort and walk to the far end, where stairs lead down and into the village.
QUEEN’S GALLERY ART GALLERY OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (www.queengallery.org; 101 Th Ratchadamnoen Klang; admission 30B; 10am-7pm Thu-Tue; klorng boat to Tha Phan Fah) This royal-funded museum presents five floors of rotating exhibitions of modern and traditionally influenced art.
The building is sleek and contemporary and the artists hail from the upper echelons of the conservative Thai art world.
The attached shop is filled with fine-arts books and gifts.
KING PRAJADHIPOK MUSEUM MUSEUM OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (2 Th Lan Luang; admission 40B; 9am-4pm Tue-Sun; klorng boat to Tha Phan Fah) This museum uses modern techniques to relate the rather dramatic life of Rama VII, while neatly documenting Thailand’s transition from absolute to constitutional monarchy.
The museum occupies a grand neocolonial-style building constructed on the orders of Rama V for his favourite firm of Bond St merchants; it was the only foreign business allowed on the royal road linking Bangkok’s two palace districts.
The exhibitions reveal that Prajadhipok did not expect to become king, but once on the throne showed considerable diplomacy in dealing with what was, in effect, a revolution fomented by a new intellectual class of Thais.
The 1st floor deals with the life of Queen Rambhai Barni, while the upper two floors cover the king’s own life.
It reveals, for example, that the army-officer-turned-king spent many of his formative years in Europe where he became fond of British democracy.
Ironically, those plotting his downfall had themselves learned of democracy during years of European education.
A coup, carried out while the king and queen were playing golf, ended Thailand’s absolute monarchy in 1932.
Prajadhipok’s reign eventually ended when he abdicated while in England in 1935; he died there in 1941.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE BANGLAMPHU Banglamphu means ‘Place of Lamphu’, a reference to the lam·poo tree (Duabanga grandiflora) that was once prevalent in the area.
Banglamphu Sights | Eating | Drinking & Nightlife | Entertainment | Shopping | Sports & Activities EATING Banglamphu is famous for its old-school Thai food – the dominant cuisine in this part of town.
For something more international, head to Th Khao San, where you’ll find a few international fast-food franchises as well as foreign and vegetarian restaurants.
THIP SAMAI $ THAI OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (313 Th Mahachai; mains 25-120B; 5.
30am; klorng boat to Tha Phan Fah) Brace yourself – you should be aware that the fried noodles sold from carts along Th Khao San have little to do with the dish known as pàt tai.
Luckily, less than a five-minute túk-túk ride away lies Thip Samai, home to some of the most legendary fried noodles in town.
Closed on alternate Wednesdays.
CHOTE CHITR $ THAI OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (146 Th Phraeng Phuthon; mains 30-200B; 11am-10pm; klorng boat to Tha Phan Fah) This third-generation shophouse restaurant boasting just six tables is a Bangkok foodie landmark.
The kitchen can be inconsistent and the service is consistently grumpy, but when they’re on, dishes like mèe gròrp (crispy fried noodles) and yam tòo·a ploo (wing-bean salad) are in a class of their own.
ROTI-MATABA $ MUSLIM-THAI OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (136 Th Phra Athit; dishes 17-111B; 9am-10pm Tue-Sun; Tha Phra Athit, Banglamphu) This classic Bangkok eatery may have become a bit too big for its britches in recent years, but it still serves tasty Thai-Muslim dishes such as roti, gaang mát·sà·màn (Muslim curry), a brilliantly sour fish curry, and má·tà·bà (a stuffed Muslim-style pancake).
An upstairs air-con dining area and outdoor tables provide barely enough seating for its loyal fans.
KIMLENG $ THAI OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (158-160 Th Tanao; mains 20-60B; 10am-10pm Mon-Sat; klorng boat to Tha Phan Fah) This tiny family-run restaurant specialises in the dishes and flavours of central Thailand.
It’s a good place to whet your appetite with an authentic yam (Thai- style salad) such as yam Ъ lah dùk foo, a mixture of crispy catfish and mango.
Located on Th Tanao across from the October 14 Memorial.
PHEN THAI FOOD $ THAI OFFLINE MAP GOOGLE MAP (Th Rambuttri; mains 50-90B; 11.
30am-10pm; Tha Phra Athit, Banglamphu) If you’re looking for authentic Thai but don’t want to stray far from the comforts of Th Khao San, this street-side eatery is your best bet.
Simply look for the overflowing tray of prepared dishes, point to what you want and Phen will plate it up for you.
The clientele is decidedly international, but the flavours wholl