Thursday, 30 April 2009

Cool hotels 10

East meets West

What if you were seeing a girl and your father was strongly against it? To complicate things further, you were the Prince and your father was the well respected King Chulalongkorn of Siam, and the girl you were dating was Russian.

Now imagine yourself staying in this palace and reading fanciful stories from a published hard bound book with vivid details of the Prince's love stories.

You have to be, of course, in the villa of the Chakrabongse Palace on Maharaj road near Tatien pier.

Criss-crossed with historical detail of the Chakrabongse family, the villa provides an insightful glimpse into the royal residence, also within the compound and open to the public once in a blue moon. I visited the palace late last year, which prompted me to come back for a stay at the villa.

My room faces the Chao Phraya river, with Wat Arun in the foreground, and Wat Phra Kaew in the background, I felt as if I was tucked between pages of the Siamese history. The spot where I stood on the balcony, overlooking the water once infested with floods, might well be the rendezvous the Prince used to greet his Russian wife.

The villa is a typical wooden Thai house, more so especially seen from the exterior. Its aged old interior, though classic, is well facilitated with ipod player, wifi and plasma tv. I figured a bit of creature comfort wouldn't hurt a guest's stay.

The public has zero access to the villas. Gate entrance is strictly watched by the 24-hour security guard who can recognize every guest's face. After 9 in the evening the villa staff is officially off duty, leaving the whole royal legacy of the Chakrabongse to its guests and the murmuring inserts in the garden.

In the late hours before I retreated to my bed, I came across a note Prince Chakrabongse wrote to his beloved wife, Mom Katherine Desnitsky. Even he had to give up kingship, he would never give up his love. 

How amazing love can sometimes be!

Their first meeting place, St Petersburg.

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