The royal palaces as well as the houses of the ruling classes and the rich are all facing eastward. The royal palace is located to the north of the golden temple and bridge surrounded by fortresses of palace guards. The central building of the royal palaces was covered with tiles made of lead. As for the other buildings, they were covered with yellow tiles made of clay.
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The pillars and doorframes of the palace buildings were all intricately carved and decorated with various pictures—the majority of them are images of Buddha. The roofs of the palace building are very picturesque. One palace building has a very tall roof and a long corridor for people to walk around. This building is a pavilion in which the king would receive audience and conduct the affairs of the state. There is a golden window behind which the king would sit. On either side of the golden window, forty or so mirrors were placed on a row of square columns. The mirrors are set atop a decorating frame of elephants.
I heard people said that, in the pavilion, there are a lot of interesting objects. However, there is restriction regarding access to viewing those objects. Among the anecdotal stories I was told, I heard of a story about a golden monument located in the middle of the palace’s compound. People told me that, every night, the king would climb up to sleep in that golden monument. The local people believed that there is a genie whose body resembles a 9-headed serpent dwelling inside that golden monument. This mythical genie is the guardian and protector of the country. Every night, the genie will transform herself into a woman to receive romantic homage from the king. No one is allowed to enter the golden monument—not even the queen. Each night, the king had to stay in the monument with the genie until the 3rd watch before he could return to his palace.
I was told that if the genie woman did not show up, a bad omen will befall upon the king’s life. On the other hand, if the king failed to pay homage to the genie, bad luck and disasters will sweep throughout the country.
Beside the palaces, most houses of the ruling classes are built on large tract of lands. Unlike ordinary people’s homes which are small and covered with thatches or palm’s leaves, the houses of the ruling classes are large and covered with tiles roofs. The size of each house corresponds to the social statuses of its owner. The higher rank one receives, the larger one’s house would be. For persons who hold no official titles or ranks, they could not build their houses like those who hold titles do.
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