Thailand History: Bronze Age - 1511.

 Thailand History: The Thai People          Thailand History: 1511 - 2006.

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Archeology ( not the usual politically motivated folk tale ) is the true historical record.

 

 

Scattered throughout Thailand are ancient walled cities and huge elaborate ancient temples. 

One of the ancient temples, Prasat Preah Vihear 1053 AD, is making headlines in 2008 as it is the subject of a border dispute between Thailand & Cambodia.

 Thailand The Land of Smiles.  General Information about Thailand.Thailand History.  6000 years from the world's 1st bronze age culture to 21st century economic status and political enviroment.Thailand Medical Tourism:  Globalization that benefits the individual not the globalized corporationBangkok Thailand where the Ancient Far East has melded with the 21st century West.Issan The archaeology & culturally rich Easter Region of ThailandChiang Mai and The Golden Triangle Region of Northern ThailandThailand Islands & Beaches are recognized to be some of the most beautiful on the PlanetThailand is a shoppers paradise.  From custom silk clothing, to electronics, to Asian antiques .. it's all in Thaialnd Thailand Gyms.  Your best Thai souvenir could by your professionally designed exercise program.The right Thailand Tour Guide will make your vacation the most memorable of your lifeThailand offers quality hotels from unbelievely inexpensive to 6 star opulence.Thailand English Language Newspapers by regionBangkok offers world class entertianment venues .. from down home music venues to world class resturants.Elephants are the national symbol of Thailand.  The Thai people love ChangThai massage is theraputic & quite wonderful .. be sure to experience Thai massage.

There is archeological record to document that the world's first bronze age culture, as well as the world's first rice farmer, was in Issan of eastern Thailand. 

  • Issan has also produced pottery shards & forged iron objects as ancient as any Mesopotamian archeological finds.

     

    A "group" of archeologically documented  Thailand / Issan facts to be considered:

    Earliest Bronze Age Culture.

  • Pottery shards amongst the worlds oldest.

  • Discovered rice cultivation for the world... = an agricultural society, not 100% hunter & gatherer

  • Amongst the worlds earliest iron age cultures.

  • & Based on the above documented archeological facts: Is Thailand a "Cradle of Civilization"

    • The "Cradle" title is currently awarded by western historians to Ancient Mesopotamia.

    • At the very least the Thai have an incredibly rich heritage!  As impressive a linage as any on this planet.

    Thailand has a well preserved archeological record dating back to pre iron age nomadic hunter and gatherers.

    • Driving east from from Bangkok the culturally rich Issan region begins at Korat.

    Bronze Age & Iron Age tribal and regional chiefdoms led to the rather sophisticated Dvaravati and Angkor states which evolved into the modern kingdom of Thailand.

    • Pottery shards bearing the imprint of both grains and husks of rice were discovered at Non Nok Tha in Issan near Korat dating from at least 4000 B.C. (6000 years ago)

    • The Thai pottery shards found at the Non Nok Tha site are amongst the world's oldest.

       

    Ban Chang is reputed to be the world's oldest bronze age culture.

    • Thai bronze was made with tin ( lots of tin in SE Asia) & was actually superior to the Mesopotamian bronze that required the use of toxic arsenic.

    • Early Chinese people learned how to make bronze from the Thai. 

    • The word for copper in several dialects of Chinese is "tong", the same word used in the oldest Southeast Asian languages.

    • The Bronze age community, 3600 BC, of Ban Chang covered a hill & was continuously occupied for more than 3000 years.

    • Graves dated to 3600 B.C. have produced bronze bracelets, bells and spearheads.

    • There is a comprehensive museum at the Ban Chang site.

    • The hamlet of Ban Chang is near Udon Thani, in the northern part of the Eastern Region of Thailand.

    The world's first domestic cultivation of rice was in Issan near today's Korat.

    • The indigenous Thai discovered rice cultivation for the world.

    • The Thai words for meal & rice are the same, 'kow'.

    • 2004 Thailand is the world's leading exporter of rice.  Vietnam is #2.

    The indigenous Southeast Asians had agriculture and pottery at the same time as the city-states of ancient Mesopotamia.

    At Ban Chang archeologists have unearthed iron spearheads, knives and bracelets dating to 1600 B.C.

     These forged Iron objects are also amongst the world oldest.

    Issan is the 'eastern' part of Thailand, on the Korat Plateau, bordering on Cambodia & Laos

    Taxi with a selected driver is an excellent alternative for day trips .. way better than a tour van! ( tour vans mostly suck)

    Taxis are available for about 3000 THB ( $75US,$90AUS, 60 EURs ) per day .. make sure the taxi is highway worthy, the A/C cold .. w/ perhaps a working cassette.

     

    No guarantee the driver has a clue about anything... carefully select your taxi driver  . or hire a professional guide!

     

    • I wonder what % of Bangkok taxis have broken cassette players much less CD?

    • No taxis are available outside Bangkok, only Tuk Tuks & pickups are available in rural areas.

    • For 4000 THB more than a taxi  have a bilingual professional guide in a luxury Volvo ( to taxi daily rate add: $25.US, $30AUS, 20EURs )

    Issan train station 'taxi que'.

        

     

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    The  water buffalo was domesticated to pull plows in about 1600 BC.

    The buffalo remains a primary beast of burden in Issan.

    Very often you will hear a Lao or Khmen (of Issan) in Bangkok speak of buying their Issan family another water buffalo.

     Thailand History:  The Thai People          Thailand History: 1511 - 2006.

    The first Europeans to reach Thailand were the Portuguese in 1511.  

    A brilliant 'chess game like strategy' (small sacrifice for ultimate gain) executed by the Thai Kings kept the realm & thus the culture mostly intact.

    Today's Thailand represents 'the evolutionary progression of a contiguous societal hierarchy'  with an archeological record dating back over 6000 years.

    • A documented continuous linage of language, art, religion, architecture .. unimpeded natural progressions and adaptations.

    The South East Asian Thai have a documented record 6000 years old.

    The most famous SE Asia historical site is Angkor Wat,1150 AD, covering wa & wa (acres & acres) in northern Cambodia.

    Many consider Siem Rep / Angkor Wat to be part of Thailand based on the 1941 Tokyo Convention.

    • An international court returned to Thailand territory 'forcefully taken' by colonial French Cambodia in the early 20th century..

    • The French colonialist ignored the international court's decision and Siem Rep is in today's Cambodia .. not in Thailand as it belongs.

    1885 British Map showing Siem Reap clearly in Thailand.

    Above "Cambodia"..  .. & just above .. to the right of "Tonle Sap Lake" ..  on the edge of the green color.

    For the past 800 years Thailand has remained relatively free of colonial or regional domination. 

    • 1238: The  "Dawn of Happiness", Sukhothai, was established  in North Central Thailand.

      • First Thai Kingdom without Khmer ( Cambodian ) domination.

      • Sukhothai, in the North Central region of present Thailand.

      • Sukhothai is at the outer northern region of the Khmer Kingdom.

      • Sukhothai is at the outer southeastern region of the Mon Kingdoms.

      • Sukhothai is now a 'sleepy rural city', 'that could be visited' on your way to Chiang Mai.  Well off the beaten path.

      • A few small historical / archeological sites are preserved.

      •   The Sukhothai sites that remain are quite wonderful.

    • "Dawn of Happiness", pretty cool name for a country!

      • Language contains concepts that are not translatable.

      • The Thai concept expressed by the sound Sukhothai is not literally translatable into English.

    Thai language, like Chinese & Vietnamese, has pitches or is multi-tonal (same enunciation w/ different pitch = different word).

    • Khmen language is mono-tonal.

    • Farangs learning Thai say the funniest things, wrong choice of pitch can result in a drastically different meaning.

    • My Texas drawl often does terrible things to the Thai language

    • Remember, English written words representing Thai script are generally 'British English' phonic representations of the spoken Thai language..say the Thai you read with a British accent ..but, please, not cockney.

    The Khmer dominated from Central Valley east & south

    The Khmer influence continues on the Korat Plateau near the borders with southwestern Laos & eastern Cambodia.

    The archeological sites at Ayutthaya & Chon Buri are nice day trips from Bangkok.

    Ayutthaya ( 90+ minute taxi ride from Bangkok, taxis available for 3000 BT for the day ) is beautiful & awesome, but ( in my humble opinion ) more represents Khmer architecture.

    • At it's zenith the city state of Ayutthaya, 1350 - 1767,  was among the largest & most cosmopolitan cities in the world.

    • The Burmese plundered / burned Ayutthaya in 1767, so there are more ruins than complete temples / governmental palaces.

      • :-( , it must have been quite a city before the events of 1767.

    • Stone( all that was not stone burned ) Ayutthayan temples are scattered over a very large area, throughout most the small modern city of Ayutthaya.

      • Driving down many streets in Ayutthaya you pass incredible ruins of what were once magnificent temples.

      • Scattered amongst current homes are ancient stone ruins!

    • The most famous of the Ayutthaya sites is 110% commercialized & is the site of  King Rama IX's summer palace.

      • This primary Ayutthaya site / park is huge, scattered & fully commercialized. 

      • Beautifully landscaped & maintained.

    • They have some true 'clipper artists' taking care of the property.

    • Huge parking lots full of tour buses.

    • Full amenities & facilities on site.

    A traditional Thai meal served  on the bank of the Chao Praya River surrounded by ancient stone architecture is certainly memorable.

    Outside the main for fee park's front gate, Rama IX's summer palace .. facing the 'front gate bus parking area'.. go to the left side & past the private car parking area.. less than 100 meters.. to an open air lunch area ( not a special for tourist kinda place ) situated on the river across from an ancient Buddhist temple.

    Monks in saffron robes cross the river to the temple in a suspended 'open air gondola'.

    • The tours WILL NOT take you to any non-commercialized locations, no place to park the bus!

    • The Ayutthayan site across the Chao Praya from the King's mom's summer palace is particularly awesome.

      • Beautiful view across the river & the King's mum likes her quite & privacy.  So NO buses!

      • Any guide worth his wages knows the site.

    • This is a HUGE & SCATTERED group of separate sites!

      • If it were me, I'd find a knowledgeable guide in Bangkok & negotiate a flat rate "per day" trip.

      • Can be done in one day, but really needs more time than that.

    • Several locations have been restored, the ruins repaired to match the original buildings.

    • Many other locations have not been restored or only partially restored & will require some imagination to realize what was there before the Burmese turned as much of it to rubble as they could.

      • To totally destroy an entire city.. destruction of such magnitude, multiple huge stone temples . without bull dozers..  it must have been quite a demolition project!

    The Burmese destruction of  Ayutthaya in 1767 resulted in the loss of all official Thai government paperwork & records.

    Thailand was known as the Venice of the East.

    • Highly Recommended: A/C luxury motor launch to Ayutthaya.

      • See the ancient site from the river instead of the street.

      • The river & canals were the Primary Transportation system for the ancient City.  

      • Via boat, on the river & canals is how the citizens of Ayutthaya saw the temples.  

      • The temples were designed to be accessed from the river / canals!

    In 1767 the Thai capital was moved to Thon Buri, across the Chao Praya River from today's Bangkok.

    • It was determined that the Ayutthaya location, easily accessed from the ocean via the Chao Praya River & transversed by the planned & functional transportation canals, was not easily defended!

    • The canals worked for the society & commerce but not for military defense.

    During the period from 1350 (Ayutthaya) to 1769 ( Thon Buri ) the Thai society & architecture distanced itself from the Khmer influence.

    You will see architectural similarity between the Ancient Site at Chon Buri Sukhumvit & temples in Bangkok Sukhumvit!

    • Thon Buri is the site that the Thai capital was moved to after the Burmese destroyed the City State of Ayutthaya in 1769.

    • Bangkok was founded when King Rama I moved the city across the Chao Praya River from Thon Buri in 1782.

    • The  Chon Buri Sukhumvit Ancient Site sculptures & temples are well preserved.

      • A few miles ( 45 minute taxi ride from central Bangkok, 1000 THB taxi fare for several hours ) from the modern cosmopolitan city that is Bangkok is the less ancient but well preserved Ancient Site.  

    • The Ancient Site historical park is well maintained & has limited facilities. 

    • On the days I have been there, this Ancient Site historical park has been all but empty.  

      • Not a tour bus in sight! :-)

    • Eat a traditional ( Note I mention food at each location! ) Thai meal in a traditional rural Thai setting.

      • Where ever you go in Thailand there are food vendors. :-)

      • I've never resisted Thai 'cart cuisine' & have never had 'digestive problems'.

    Khmer sites, 1000 AD, in southern Buri Ram province / Issan ( near the Cambodian border ) are far from the beaten path.  2 hours west of the Korat - Buri Ram City - Surin railway / highway on red dirt roads are scattered ancient fort / temples, mostly un-restored & very near the Cambodian border. 

    Elaborate sites are scattered all the way to Angkor Wat, Cambodia (no easily accessed border crossing or 'improved' roads).

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    The Tsunami waves coming in .. viewed from a hill top hiking trail on a Thai island in the  Andaman Sea.  Khun Toi's pics

    The Dutch were negotiated out, the French were thrown out, the British were bought out, the Japanese were nuked out & the Americans voted themselves out ...  but they're all back on vacation now ;-).

    History is always subject to interpretation— historians' piece together collections of isolated facts to paint a portrait of a time or event. Some historians do a better job than others, but in every case, the biases / goals of the historian inevitably color their portrayal.

     Thailand History:  The Thai People          Thailand History: 1511 - 2006.

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    Health Tourism?  Western level Medical / Dental care is available for a small % of western fees!

    • Thonglor Dental Clinic is an excellent choice for vacation dental care.

    • Medical Care is an area in which individuals can take advantage of Globalization.

    • Uninsured & need an MRI ( dental, dermatology, cosmetic, rehabilitation .. )?  .. Flu shot?

    • Pay for a nice vacation with the savings on medical modalities by American/European educated Thai doctors..

    • The savings on one 'major tooth repair' can pay for an economy level 2 week vacation!

    • Root canal & cap front tooth 14,000thb   US$354 AUD$481 EU284.