Culture Minister Sukumol
Kunplome rings the bellto begin
the celebrations on Koh Si Chang.
Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome and Chonburi Gov.
Wichit Chatpaisit were among the dignitaries on hand when Koh Si Chang
residents again celebrated the birth of King Chulalongkorn and his deep
roots on the island.
The annual Sept. 19-20 celebration at Chudadhuj
Palace, which the monarch planned to - but never used - as a summer
palace, marks the Sept. 20, 1853 birth date of King Chulalongkorn, or
King Rama V.
Sukumol told islanders they were fortunate to live on
a site kings of Siam hailed for its healthy environment and beautiful
First used as a royal retreat by King Monkut during
his reign as Rama IV, Koh Si Chang became a favorite place for King
Chulalongkorn to send ailing family members and stay himself. Prince
Maha Vajiravudh spent eight months convalescing there in 1888. Prince
Asdang Dejavudh did the same in 1891, spending several years there.
In 1892, King Chulalongkorn ordered Chudadhuj Palace
built as a summer palace. Construction was halted, however, when a
dispute between France and Siam spilled into the Gulf of Thailand, and
the French troops invaded and occupied Koh Si Chang.
After the dispute was settled the palace was
completed, but the king never spent another night on the island. In
1900, he ordered the deserted palace’s main residence torn down and
rebuilt in Bangkok, where it stands today as Vimanmek Mansion, the
largest teakwood building in the world.
The rest of Chudadhuj Palace has since been renovated
and restored by Chulalongkorn University, but the atmosphere is still
tinged with nostalgia for the times of King Chulalongkorn.