The modern city of Bangkok is now home to over 350 hospitals, but well into the 20th century locals and foreigners alike were aware of the inability to cope with the terrible diseases which struck frequently and took large tolls of lives – even the royal family was not immune, King Chulalongkorn’s own chosen successor, Prince Vajirunahis died of pneumonia at the age of 17 in 1895.
Disease was rife
Malaria, dysentery, and cholera were rife (two pandemics of 1820 and 1852 with frequent local outbreaks into between and after). So what became of the dead. Let’s find out. Read more
The Protestant Cemetery Bangkok
In 1857 an appeal by the British legation in Bangkok was granted by King Mongkut – that a grant of land be made to enable the Protestant community to establish a cemetery. The foreign population was growing and, given the climate and diseases present in this tropical land, mortality was high.
Originally accessible only by river
The cemetery is located on the now busy Charoen Krung, some 2 kilometres south of the Saphan Taksin. However this first main road built in Bangkok was not constructed until 1861 and the initial method of accessing the cemetery was by boat on the Chao Phraya river
A visit will give a visible story of Bangkok’s history over the last two centuries and the part foreigners had to play in it. Read more
If you come to Bangkok it is likely that you will pass one or both of the monuments described in these posts. Both were built at the height of the nationalistic regime headed by Field Marshal Phibun Songkhram, an extra ordinary figure in Thailand’s politics, who led his country in a successful war against France, declared war on the United States and Great Britain in 1942, survived the calamity brought on Thailand as an ally of Japan in 1945, lived through five assassination attempts, became the Prime Minister again in 1948 after imprisonment as an “accused” war criminal because in part he was sponsored by the Americans who liked his anti –Communist credentials and disliked British ambitions on Thailand – survived being bombed by his own troops during a coup attempt in 1951, and stayed in office until 1957 when he was “removed” in a silent coup – he had to drive himself to exile in Cambodia, and died in Japan. Well now we will look at the similarly extraordinary histories of our monuments. Read more
The monument is at the centre of one of the busiest transport hubs in Bangkok. Many people who pass it have no idea of it’s origin, being more interested in either avoiding the traffic jams or going to the many restaurants and attractions which are situated around it. However, in 1941 when it was built, this area was almost on the edge of the city of Bangkok, reached by tree lined two lane roads. Read more
The Three Elephant Statue opposite the City Pillar Shrine
Walk 2 starts where walk 1 ends at the Tha Chang market in front of the ferry pier. If you have just finished walk one there are plenty of restaurants and refreshment stalls here in which to take a break before continuing to explore more of the area immediately surrounding the Grand Palace. We shall be passing a major temple, two museums and lots of historical sites. Read more
Thammasat University and Pridi Statue
Rattanakosin is an island and comprises the area of the old walled city created in 1782 by King Rama 1. A few of the old building of various eras since then remain, together with a sample of the defensive works and canals which were built by slave labour to protect this new capital, replacing the city of Thonburi on the west side of the Chao Phraya river as the capital of Siam. Thonburi was deemed to be less easily defended. Many visitors to Bangkok visit the Grand Palace, the very centre of Rattanakosin, and we have arranged a few walks surrounding the palace which describe the buildings and their history, which are often missed. One of the best ways to arrive at the Grand Palace is the old way – by the river, and so our walk will start at the commercial jetty where the river taxis arrive.Movie All Is Lost (2013)
Japanese Cemetery Yangon
It was bravery rather than the cruelty of the Japanese which was stressed by two prominent British opponents, British Field Marshal Sir William Slim and Lt. General Arthur Percival at a joint conference after the war. They had different experiences in dealing with the Japanese; the former initially defeated in 1942 and then becoming a victor in 1945, the latter defeated in 1942 in the greatest defeat suffered by the British army, which led to his incarceration in Manchuria until release in 1945.
Slim and Percival agree
Slim and Percival agreed that the Japanese enjoyed an audience for their actions – such as officers exhibitions of swordsmanship at the expense of prisoners, military or civilian, man,woman or child. Read more
The entrance to the Hsin Gyone Fort, Innwa.
The following is the engraving on the stone epitaph “The fort, also called the Innwa Fort was built in 1874 A.D. during the reign of King Mindon, under the supervision of Crown Prince Kanaung, Minister U Kaung and minister U Pho Hliang, Lord of Yaw and with the assistance of Italian engineer Commotto. It forms a third in the triangle of three forts, the other two are Asay Gan fort (Sagaing Fort) on the western bank of the river Ayayarwaddy and Thabyaytan Fort on the eastern bank, a few miles below Amarapura. These forts were built to defend against the invaders via the river.” Read more
Thapyaytan Fortress, Mandalay
The following is a precis of the insuction tablet found in the fort. “The Thapyatan fortress is located at the east of the Ayeyarwady River, and north of the Dotehtawadi River, where there were two villages, Thapyaytan Ywa-ma and Thapyaytan Ywa-galay. Built on the orders of King Mindon, construction was assisted by Comoto Peree (sic) and Mole Nari(sic) of the Italian Navy and the cooperation of Myanmar engineers. Construction started in 1874 and finished in 1878.
The fort is 400 feet long from east to west, with a breadth of 352 feet at the south and 492 feet at the north. It has three tiered brick walls with the inner brick wall being 20 feet high. The northern gate is 16 feet 6 inches wide.
Sagaing Fortress entrance
This is a translation of the stone tablet inside the Fort which gives it’s history
“It is located at the Asaykhan Quarter of Sagaing which is on the south west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. It was built during the reign of King Mindon under the direction of Comoto Peree (sic) and Moie Narie (sic), the French and Italian engineers assigned to assist Myanmar Engineers and the labour force.The King gave express responsibility to Minister Kinwong to oversee the propject, designed to protect the kingdom from both domestic and foreign enemies. Read more