Bangkok Thailand 2006

Here we are in Thailand for the third time.  Why do we want to go there?  Well, simply because it’s there and as young students in school nothing was taught about the Far East, so we are learning now! 

The Thais belong to a Tai group which migrated from Southern China into the valley of the Chao Praya River at the beginning of the 1st millennium.  The region was then inhabited by Austro-Asiatic groups speaking Mon (from the West) and Khmer (from the East).  The present-day Thais are from these three groups.  Many Thai still live in southern China, along the Yunnan, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces (sort of States).  The Hill tribes have darker skin and are in the North and favor the Chinese. The Thais from Bangkok are more cosmopolitan, and value lighter skin.  Tourism is their main industry.

The kingdom of Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia which never was a European colony.  Until 1939 it was called Siam meaning “gold.”   In 1932 it became a constitutional monarchy and became known as Thailand… of the freedom.  Several Kings named Rama have ruled Thailand.  Rama IV established modern Thailand after spending 27 years as a Buddhist monk.  He was considered one of the country’s most enlightened monarchs.  He is the one whom the story of Anna and the King of Siam was written.  He died in 1910. Today’s present king is King Rama IX.  He was born in Cambridge MA, USA, is a much loved king, scholar and musician

During WWII the Thais capitulated to the Japanese to avoid unnecessary bloodshed of its people.  The Thais helped the POWs who were building the bridge over the River Kwai.  The military runs the country but they do it with subtlety…their uniforms blend right in with the saffron-robed monks seen everywhere.

On our first day we visited the Grand Palace.  It is decorated with gold leaf and is very beautiful.  Some pictures help to illustrate this.