Burma

The forgotten Mergui Road – the Japanese escape route of 1945

Sing Khon border crossing

Sing Khon border crossing

By 1944 the tide of the war in Burma was turning. Non combatant units, including headquarters staff,  Japanese civilians and members of the Burmese puppet government began an exodus of lower Burma and Rangoon in late April 1945. It was organised panic. The majority of the armed Burmese turned against their former allies and hundreds of Japanese were killed on their flight south to Thailand. Prior to this the  Japanese High Command in Rangoon had ordered the construction of a road, the Mergui Road – from Pratchaub Khiri Khan through Tenasserim to Mergui ( Myeik) on the south Burma coast to aid their escape. Allied prisoners were used, but the majority were  Asian labour – the Romusha. Few of those survived. Read more

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Burma, Inspirational, Remembrance Tour, Specials, Thailand, Tours 1 Comment

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Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Day Trip, Remembrance Tour, Specials, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours 3 Comments

The other Victory Monument in Bangkok

Chao Anuvong - a statue erected in Vientiane in 2010 defiantly facing Thailand across the Mekong River

Chao Anuvong – a statue erected in Vientiane in 2008 defiantly facing Thailand across the Mekong River

A post on this blog deals with the better known Victory Monument in Bangkok and now we shall explore the site of the first Victory Monument in Wat Chakrawat, Chinatown. The temple was built between 1827 and 1829, precisely the time when the strained relations between the Siam of Rama III and the tributary state of Vientiane under it’s Prince, Anuvong, came to a head. Wat Chakrawat became the focus of the final stages of this rivalry – which is still very much alive today. Read more

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The Execution Stone at Wat Phatum Khongkha (Wat Sampheng)

Execution club

Execution club

This old temple, originally Wat Sampheng, built during the Ayutthaya period, was abandoned due to Burmese raids, but restored by Rama I’s brother Prince Surasinghanat in honour of their father, and renamed Wat Phatum Khongkha (Lotus of the Ganges River) and from that time,  just like the Ganges- it was associated with the religious disposal of the dead. Read more

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The vultures of Wat Saket

Wat saket

Wat saket

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

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Day Trip, Specials, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours 1 Comment

The Protestant cemetery in Bangkok – a look at part of Thailand’s recent history

 

The Protestant Cemetery Bangkok

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

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Two Bangkok Monuments. Part 1: Democracy Monument

Democracy Monument

Democracy Monument

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

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Two Bangkok Monuments. Part 2: Victory Monument

Victory MonumentThe 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

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Exploring Rattanakosin: Bangkok walks 2

The Three Elephant Statue opposite the City Pillar Shrine

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

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Day Trip, Specials, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours 1 Comment