Northern a broad gauge line. The Northern, being much the older line, has acquired a very large and finely built terminal station. Hence we set forth for Ayudhya, Lopburi, Suwankaloke, Sukothai, Chiengmai, or whatever be our northern destination. Running out of Bangkok northwards, the line cuts the various roads to the country and crosses the vague klong and the ordered canal, and passes through the vast rice plain and the occasional orchards. The lotus blooms in the ponds near the line, and the whole padi industry is revealed to the travellers, the thrashing floor with buffaloes in a slow circle treading out the golden grain, the padi being reaped or sown, or the ground being prepared for it, the nursery of the padi with its green springing blades and the bare stubble after harvest. At Don Muang is the principal aviation ground of the Siamese Army. Over the great plain the Irrigation Department has been at work, and locks have been constructed between canals, where a floating huddle of boats awaits their opening. The blue water hyacinth is very noticeable here, clogging small streams and floating in great masses down the rivers, following the klongs and generally, in virtue of its rapid growth and drifting habit, interfering with navigation and the flow of the watera a most noxious weed.
BAN PA IN.
Beyond the aerodrome at Don Muang station is Ban Pa In, where the King has a summer palace, a series of pavilions amongst the lakes and moats and ponds, with watergates off the Menam.
a Oh, who would live turmoiled in the Court and can enjoy such pleasant walks as these ? a is the reflection made after seeing it and sitting in its gardens. Outside its walls, at ten minutesa walk from the station, is a rare gem of a little wat, which those who have no permit for the palace, ten minutes beyond the wat, may equally enjoy. This picture wat is not even spoiled by the horribly efficient cement bridge across a klong before we come to it. Set amongst tall trees, on whose tops sit croaking herons, through whose branches sing birds and coo doves, Wat Chum Phon faces west, and its gable catches the full glow of a rosy setting sun on its gold and emerald mosaics and its two prachedis.
Ban Pa In palace pavilions house two collections of porcelain. In the midst of the lake is set a pavilion on piers holding a gilt statue of His late Majesty King Chulalonkorn, and in the grounds is a touching inscription in English on a white marble cenotaph, dated 1881, and recording the Kinga s grief at the death of his Queen Consort. Onefof the houses has a series of curious Chinese roofs in porcelain, with a charmingly delicate powder-blue effect, and in it is a magnificent set of Chinese tables, stools and chairs inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The gardens are at their best in the wet season, and in a drought are maintained with difficulty.
Photo. Siamese State Railways.
Lake Pavilion at Ban Pa In.