Public buildings in Thailand reach ardently for the sky. And, because their spires appear aflame, their skyward push suggests a pining urgency. King Rama V went and fell in love with Victorian Europe, came back and built a Windsor-like palace in his capital city. Still, being a well-grounded Thai monarch, he put traditional flaming roofs on top. The gables and tops of most palace buildings are a mossy green, and mud-red, and the colours works well to set off the gold and the shimmering mirror-work on spires, roofs, and walls. On a hot summer day, as it was today, all that gilt on the main palace and the monastery make the place a blazing beauty.

My best moment was before the Emerald Buddha in the precincts. Seated on a high glittering altar, it bends you to prayer, and meditation, whatever your faith. I came away prickly in the skin, serene in the mind.