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SWINGING SCENE Its array of ancient temples and centuries-old, wooden storefronts would be enough to distinguish Phetchaburi, 100 miles south of Bangkok, from other road stops on the way to Hua Hin. Yet it was the royal architecture at Khao Wang, or Palace Hill, that in its heyday drew the rich and famous to this faded gem of a trading port, whose name means "Diamond City."

The name baffles shopkeepers and historians alike. After all, it was salt mined from the flats that put Phetchaburi on the map. But it was King Rama IV who ensured Phetchaburi's enduring...

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