Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thailand: Ancient City

Mueang Boraan (Ancient City) is a Thai skansen, an open-air ethnographic museum in suburban Samutprakarn, Thailand. Only an hour or so drive from Bangkok it is a true gem rarely visited by tourists.

It is a meticulously tended safari park with exact replicas of all Thailand's important historical and architectural buildings and monuments. The work is ongoing and every time I visit there are a more and more houses you can enter to admire their painstakingly reconstructed interiors. This park is a veritable time machine, you can find yourself in any period of lovingly recreated Thailand's history.

Deer and peacocks roam freely among the exquisite themed gardens, shady groves and reconstructed villages. Numerous gazebos dotting the premises offer a place for a sweet midday nap in the shade. In the high season, picturesque restaurants serve Thai food at very reasonable prices. One built on stilted wooden platforms amidst a scenic pond with water lilies, eels and gold fish is my favourite.

You can easily spend there a whole day sampling traditional Thai drinks not available any more elsewhere, wandering from a full-size copy of an ancient South China Sea pirate ship to a man-made mountain with a replica of the Preah Vihear temple and sweeping vistas of sprawling residential neighbourhoods and Bangkok's skyscrapers.

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