Photo: Once a lavish palace.

Ban Wichayen

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One of the most fascinating facets of Lopburi’s history involves the Greek merchant, Constantine Phaulkon, who rose to become one of King Narai’s most trusted aids before meeting a bloody end. The ruins of a complex built for foreign dignitaries, Ban Wichayen, bares his official Siamese title.

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After working for the English East India Company and then rising through the ranks of the Royal Trading Department of Siam, Phaulkon went to Ayutthayain 1680 and impressed King Narai with his language skills and business acumen. When Narai moved part-time to Lopburi, he brought his trusted foreign aid and had a complex built for him and other foreigners, including the French envoys that occasionally passed through town.

It's quite easy to imagine its former glory. Photo taken in or around Ban Wichayen, Lopburi, Thailand by David Luekens.

It's quite easy to imagine its former glory. Photo: David Luekens

Within seven years Phaulkon became an official representative of the Siamese court and granted the title, Ok-Ya Wichayen, making him the first and only Westerner to ever receive such a powerful position. When King Narai fell ill a year later, resentful Siamese ministers accused Phaulkon of attempting to seize the throne. In 1688, the Greek was ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 200 words.)

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