On a quiet side street in the Silom district of this dynamic Southeast Asian capital is a peaceful oasis which, after a number of visits to the city, I only found by accident. I’d booked a room in a hotel, the only redeeming quality of which was its location, walking distance to a consulate I thought I might need for a visa. As it transpired, I arrived with the visa already in my passport and was then simply waiting for a friend with whom I’d be traveling. But the bad hotel was the price I paid for proximity to the Neilson Hays Library, which I discovered on a walk around the neighborhood. It was an extraordinary find. Behind a wall, adjacent to the gated British Club, was a large garden, within which resided a beautiful neoclassical building and a peaceful cafe/gallery in a glass-walled room nearby.
I visited several times while I waited for my friend to arrive and took him there before we moved to a better hotel. I had lunch on the first visit and on the next discovered that it was not unlike the American Library in Paris, in that it’s supported by its members. Opened in 1922, I hope the pictures convey a bit of the beauty of the place.
For anyone passing through Bangkok, who has an interest in books and architecture, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit. The last picture of the 13 is a view of the back of the building with a glimpse of Bangkok street life just outside the fence.
Read about the history of the library on the organization’s website, and about the building, described by the Bangkok Times when it opened as “a grand palace on a small scale”.
To read more of PortMoresby’s contributions, click here.