Main entrance

Last week Samsung launched three cameras, the ST500, ST550 and ST1000, in Bangkok, Thailand. The next day we were given a camera and let loose on Thailand's Grand Palace.

All photos in this gallery were shot on a Samsung ST550. The raw images have been resized and sharpened to fit our page format, but colours have not been altered at all.

Derek Fung travelled to Thailand as a guest of Samsung

Behind the wall is the section of the palace housing the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). The Buddha itself is small, as far as Buddhas go, and actually made out of jade. No photos are allowed inside the temple.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

227 years young

In 1782 Rama I, the first king of the current Thai dynasty, moved the country's capital across the Chao Phraya River and began building the Grand Palace complex there. To the left of this photo is the giant Phra Si Ratana Chedi.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Silence is golden

The exterior colour of choice is gold. Even the barricades are finished in golden trim.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Awaiting the rain

An orchid awaits the afternoon's monsoonal rain.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Fly, fly away

A pigeon that was perched on this Buddha's lap makes a hasty escape as the paparazzi arrive.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

C'mon, smile

This writer is the first to admit that self-portraits are not his thing. Nonetheless, they were much easier to take thanks to the ST550's front LCD screen.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Sorry, it's closed

The Phra Mondop houses sacred Buddhist scriptures and, like many of the buildings in the temple complex, is never open to the public.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Chedi

In the background is one of the golden chedis or pagodas that dot the temple area.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Feel the serenity

With the high volume of human traffic heading through the Grand Palace, it's hard to find a bit of peace and quiet. Something this lilypad and tadpole don't seem to worry about at all.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Outta the way!

Getting clean shots without hordes of tourists wasn't the easiest task.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Maybe not

Insulting the king is a crime punishable by between three and 15 years in a Thai prison. With that in mind, no-one dared to disobey this sign.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Skyscrapers

We initially thought that the towering structures seen behind this roof were skyscrapers off in the distance. In fact they're prangs, each one is finished off in small fragments of Chinese porcelain. There are eight of them along the palace walls, and each one represents one of the eight elements of Buddhism.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Support structure

A host of little demons gather around the base of each chedi or pagoda to help prop it up.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

You may enter

A giant yaksha stands guard.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Grrr

A mythical lion protecting a building.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Touched up

During our visit artists were busy touching up frescos at the Ramakien gallery.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

The westerner in a Thai hat

Built by Rama V in 1882, the Chakri Maha Prasat Hall (in the background) was originally planned to be his residence and throne hall, and was to be built entirely in the colonial style. This naturally caused some controversy in the court, so a Thai-style roof was added to the design, hence the nickname "the westerner in a Thai hat".

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Emerald Buddha inside

Outside the ubosot that houses the Emerald Buddha are flowers and offerings.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

Not with those shoes, sir

A note to anyone visiting the Grand Palace, a strict dress code is enforced, especially for the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Shorts, tight pants, mini skirts, see-through clothing and sandals are all forbidden.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

A watchful eye

A stone warrior keeps tabs on tourists and journalists alike, making sure that we stay on the straight and narrow.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

...

Despite our snap happy ways this human guard kept perfectly still, staring straight ahead into space.

Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET

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