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Christmas Gift Guide

Main entrance

227 years young

Silence is golden

Awaiting the rain

Fly, fly away

C'mon, smile

Sorry, it's closed

Chedi

Feel the serenity

Outta the way!

Maybe not

Skyscrapers

Support structure

You may enter

Grrr

Touched up

The westerner in a Thai hat

Emerald Buddha inside

Not with those shoes, sir

A watchful eye

...

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.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

An orchid awaits the afternoon's monsoonal rain.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

A giant yaksha stands guard.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

A mythical lion protecting a building.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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".

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET

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

Caption by / Photo by Derek Fung/CNET
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