Chulalongkorn University. King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.
Low-rise building at Chulalongkorn University in what we like to call 'colonial-Thai-style'.
Chulalongkorn University was officially opened in 1917 during the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) and is named after King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). The University grounds at present occupy a a rather enormous area bordered by Siam Square in the North (Siam Square proper is actually a property of Chulalongkorn University), Henri Dunant Road towards the East, Rama IV Road in the South, and Phaya Thai road in the West. However, some parts of the university expand further. Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Medicine and Chulalongkorn University Hospital are located along Rama IV Road, extending along Rachadamri Road.
Chulongkorn University has some wide open spaces. The building in the background is part of the Faculty of Architecture.
The University grounds comprise a lot of mostly low-rise buildings, with a lot of wide green space in between. Actually, it is rather pleasant to just walk around the area. If you want to find a particular building, you'd better come prepared.
Chulalongkorn University possibly is Thailand's most prestigious public university. Every year there is serious competition between prospective students, trying to pass the entrance exams.
Chulalongkorn Hospital at the Faculty of Medicine is well reputed. We have the impression though that it comes second to Siriraj Hospital, located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River (part of Mahidol University).
Statue of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) on the grounds of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Detail.
When important persons in Thailand need to visit a hospital, they frequently choose Siriraj Hospital, Chulalongkorn Hospital or Ramathibodi Hospital (also part of Mahidol University). Interestingly, they are not exactly apt to visit Bumrungrad Hospital or Bangkok General Hospital, hospitals that are mainly involved in medical tourism, and providing services to foreign residents in Bangkok. This should not come as a big surprise. University teaching hospitals are frequently the best reputed hospitals in many countries. Whatever the hype about the fancy facilities at Bumrungrad Hospital, it can not hide the fact that it comes second (or third) behind the reputed public university hospitals.
Unfortunately, the facilities at Chulalongkorn Hospital or Siriraj Hospital are neither easily accessible nor appealing to foreigners. Once you get to see a doctor or nurse, the medical evaluation might be the best you can get in Thailand. However, you will probably have to arrive very early in the morning, to be able to see a physician many hours later. Furthermore, the overall facilities may not be up to standards. We wandered around Chulalongkorn Hospital one day, and where kind of dismayed by the poor appearance of its 'emergency' room. People appeared to be waiting almost in the open air, sitting on worn-out plastic chairs. Not something most foreigners can put up with. [But likely, Thai VIPs know how to circumvent such inconveniences]
Entry to the Emergency Room at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. The emergency room is an open air affair, with limited visual appeal.
Interestingly, an article in the Nation newspaper, announced a 11 billion baht (about 370 million US Dollar) expansion project for King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. The plan is to build a 29-story complex for medical services, training and research. Nowadays, medical services are provided in many separate buildings, creating logistical problems. The director of the hospital also indicated a plan to open more special units in the new complex to serve middle-class and upper-income groups like private hospitals do, so that more income can be generated to subsidise the poorer patients.
Hopefully, the expansion will also consider upgrading its services for foreign residents. Many foreigners in Thailand are put off by the ever more expensive services provided by Bangkok's private hospitals.
Finally, for those interested in books and bookstores. The Chulalongkorn University Book Center is located close to Siam Square. Just walk from the main street (where the skytrain station is) through the Siam Square alleys. Towards the left (and visible from the skytrain platform) is a single taller building called Witthayakit Building. The Chulalongkorn University Book Center is located on the ground floor. [Next to the store is the British Council.] This bookstore has quite a selection of academic and non-fiction books, both in Thai and English language. For example, there is an extensive selection of computer programming books etc. While a bit out of sight, we noticed that this bookstore is actually quite busy at times.
Chulalongkorn University Book Center can be easily reached from Siam Square.