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Battle for Manila 1945

THe restored former Finance Department

The restored former Finance Department

In 1944 the American forces landed back in the Philippines at the battle of Leyte on the south east of the archipelago. Another landing was made to the north of Luzon, in Lingayan Gulf, and it was from here the drive south toward Manila, the capital ,was made. There were POW’s being held there and it was essential that they could be released before they were massacred. When the Americans arrived in the northern suburbs, there started a one month battle – one of the most terrible in the war. The atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Nazis destroyed Warsaw, but using conventional weapons the Japanese and Americans together caused Manila to be the most ruined city in Asia, comparable to firebombed Tokyo . Read more

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Philippines, Remembrance Tour, Tours, Walking tours 1 Comment

A walk around central Hong Kong island

StephenThe British Crown colony of Hong Kong was attacked on the same day that bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and from this time the desperate struggle of the Hong Kong garrison against superior forces was overshadowed by the news of the struggle of her allies in various other parts of Asia. The battle for Hong Kong lasted only 17 days – the Japanese were massed on the land border of Hong Kong’s New Territories, but there was a spirited defence even though the British Prime Minister Churchill regarded it as indefensible, although original plans said the colony could hold for five months.

Read more

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Day Trip, Hong Kong, Remembrance Tour, Specials, Tours, Walking tours Leave a comment

The other Thai Burma Railway

Chumphon Railway Station

Chumphon Railway Station

The Japanese built two railways to support their supply of war material into Burma – the first attempt – the shorter line – was the 90 kilometre long Chumphon to Kra Isthmus line. The terminus was the village of Ban Khao Fa Chi on the river La- Un
From here goods were transferred to barges and small river vessels for trans shipment to the River Kra and thence to Ranong and onwards to Victoria Point, the southern most point in Burma. Read more

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Remembrance Tour, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours 8 Comments

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Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Day Trip, Inspirational, Remembrance Tour, Specials, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours Leave a 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

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Specials, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours 3 Comments

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

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Day Trip, Inspirational, Remembrance Tour, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours Leave a comment

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

Posted on by TOBY in Asia, Remembrance Tour, Thailand, Tours, Walking tours 1 Comment