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Thailand ( Siam ) History as understood by a Farang.  Below is a short 'synopsis interpretation' of the Thai historical events listed in this Thai Timeline Chart

Thailand Historical Maps (pre-colonial to WWII)      Thailand Road Maps       Thailand Train Routes w/ schedules

LIFE Magazine July, 1939. "On June 24, 1939 the Government of Siam, the only free nation ( = the only non-European colony ) in Southeast Asia, changes its name to Thailand, which means 'Free Land' ".

  • As early as the 13th century the Mongol Court (southern China) referred to the newly formed city state of Ayutthaya as “Hsien” which was pronounced something like Sayam / Siam.

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

  • The partially restored / un-restored ancient Khmer sites are awesome .. you will often hear "WOW" (in multiple languages) at these sites!

 

 

The current 'front page hostilities' between Thailand & Cambodia over Preah Vihear Temple are rooted in French Colonial expansion in the late 19th century..

In 1903 Colonial French Indochina unilaterally 'edict-ed' that because the southern edge of Chuor Phnum Dângrêk slopes gently to the south, thus Preah Vihear rain water drains south into Cambodia 1500' below, the temple was part of Imperial France.  (really .. true!)

1886 French map of Southeast Asia.  

  • As per the 1941 Tokyo Accord between Thailand & Imperial France the above map should be today's borders! 

  • Good luck with that! ..  I'm just sayin.. :-o .. Vientiane, Thailand .. Siem Reap, Thailand

Above: 2011 Border

Below:  French Imperial expansion by year

Preah Vihear is located on Chuor Phnum Dângrêk, the sandstone escarpment at the southern edge of the Dângrêk Range, AKA Issan's Korat Plateau ... Issan Road Map.

Thailand has the only road access to Preah Vihear .. Cambodian access is straight up 1500' .. note stairs up Chuor Phnum Dângrêk from Cambodia  center pic above.

  • Today access to Preah Vihear Temple is via Thai road .. or straight up the 1500' cliff from Cambodia.
  • The temple faces to the north toward Issan  ... not south toward Cambodia..
  • By signing the 1941 Tokyo Accord ending the 1940-41 Franco Thai war Imperial France agreed to return the borders to their pre colonial expansion locations.

  • After WWII Dutch courts overturned the 1941 bi-lateral agreement in favor of unilateral imperial edict  .. at the time Holland had colonies on 3 continents ruled by the imperial unilateral edicts the Dutch court ruled in favor of  .. DOH!

The exquisite Lanna Thai sites (northern Thailand)  tend to be  tour bus friendly, restored & maintained w/ professional tourist amenities.

 

Ancient stone 'castle like' temples and walled cities provide an inspiring reminder to the level of advancement that the ancient Thai and Khmer civilizations attained.

Today's Thai people can boast of an archeologically documented societal / ethnic linage dating back over 6000 years

The Thai / Khmer kings built  incredible Palaces / Temples with serious decorative embellishments.

You will see things in Amazing Thailand that you will never forget.

 

Within a few hours drive from ultra-modern Bangkok are several ancient & historical sites.

 

A knowledgeable guide is 110% recommended.

An Ancient Site Day Trip is wonderful.

  • Each hour spent at an ancient site will produce undreamed visuals & lasting vivid memories!

  • It's reason to leave Bangkok ( for even a few hours ). 

  • YES!

  • A knowledgeable guide will know about local lodging, restaurants, scenic routes, view points & road conditions.

  • Information such as minor sites locations, site history as well as regional historical background .. & the local folk lore tends to bring the stone to life.

Your guide should multi-task as entertainer, tourist assistant, tour expert .. & should have a 'full quiver' of narratives ( animated, please! ) on history / relevance. 

Bangkok taxis are available for 3000 Thb ($90.) for a full day tour.

  • Answer the same questions twice per day for 10 years (tourist ask 95% the same questions day after day) & the professional guide should have a well rehearsed accurate answer ready for most questions.

  • + The guide should be able to present appropriate solutions for any and all  tourist issues ..

  • + be an expert on snacks, routes, eating, shopping, meals ..cold drinks .. brewed coffee ..  cold Heinekens

No doubt the inventive tourist can 'stump the tour guide'!     :-o)

  • Less than a day drive out (each way) of Bangkok are several 1000 year old Khmer archeological sites / = old temples.

  • South of Khorat, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Saket ..  .. south of Highway 24.. are as many "WOW's  "  as any place on this planet .. your day south of Highway 24 will be one not forgotten.

Mekong family's 21st Century SUV

Thailand had functional transportation canals & was known as the Venice of the East.  Bangkok's 21st century canals / "klongs" provide extremely functional transportation in the 21st century.

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Lore of Thai Kings and Burmese Princes settling national disputes through Elephant Jousting in 1593.

 

Elephant treks are available

from a few hours .. to week long.

Nice Hotels from us$15/ night, 45 hotels w/ free WiFi.

1886 French map (British maps of the same era concur) shows both Preah Vihear & Angkor Wat in Siam .. French Indochina colonial expansion in 1887 claimed both temples.

Colonial expansion by year

  • One of the ancient temples, Prasat Preah Vihear 1053 AD, is making headlines in 2008 as it is the subject of a major border dispute between Thailand & Cambodia.   Preah Vihear pre-dates Angkor Wat by 100 years.

  • The dispute is based in colonial French Indochina expansion into sovereign Siam in 1887.  Siam & French Indochina fought 2 wars (1893 & 1940) over the colonial expansion.

  • September, 2008: Thai English language newspapers report the border / temple dispute has expanded to 2 additional temples along the disputed colonialist's "watershed border".

  • November, 2008:  More military confrontations & a second historical site Prasat Ta Muen (west of Preah Vihear) is now being disputed.

  • February 2009:  Daily Army standoffs & face downs continue.

Preah Vihear is on the Dângrêk Range's Chuor Phnum Dângrêk, the sandstone escarpment at the southern edge of Thailand's Korat Plateau.  500m/1500' above the Cambodian plains.

Vasco de Gama rounded the (South African) Cape of Good Hope and sailed across the Indian Ocean in 1498.

  • The fate of the entire non European world became one of conflict with the Europeans and their dreams of colonial empire.

  • Colonial economic and political policy was designed to milk ( = steal / rob / plunder ) the colony of it's resources & enrich the 'mother country'.

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

  • Followed in rapid succession by the Dutch, the English, the Spanish, and the French traders.

  • From that first Farang step forward, things became complicated for the Thai Kings

  • The Spanish made the Philippines their regional capital, the French focused on Indochina, the Dutch were occupied with Indonesia while the Brits ruled over Malaysia & 'most' everything west of Thailand all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Thailand was an island of soverngnty in an area spanning 1/3 of the globe.

  • & Thailand remains an island of sanity in that huge geographic region today!

The historical record of the last 500 years shows a brilliant 'chess game like strategy' executed by Thai kings. 

The Thai kings choose to loose selected 'small battles' but win the larger societal war.

If the reader should choose .. this "Thailand History" page has now been divided into 3 sections.

Thailand History: Bronze Age - 1511     Thailand History: 1511 - 2006.

Thai proverb, "the tree that bends with the wind is the tree that survives the storm"

There were also sporadic continuations of on going disputes ( err, wars ) with Vietnam & Burma during this period. In the 21st century Democratic Thailand has a strong economy and has accepted it's role as a world leader.

Since 1996 Thailand has had a positive balance of trade with both China & the US.

  • 2004: Thailand provided the 10th largest contingent to the Iraq coalition.

  • Bangkok Train Station:  Hua Lamphong     Bangkok Sky Train & Sub Way map

    Over the past 30 years, 1980 - 2009, Thailand has shifted from an agrarian export based economy to South East Asia's most diverse economy . Thailand has developed a thriving industrial sector with a niche in the labor intensive export oriented industrial manufacturing sector.

    Ford / Mazda B-Car is produced at Ford's Rayong (Chon Buri) Plant.

    2006:  Thailand is the world's 7th leading exporter of automobiles. 

    • The Auto Alliance Thailand now has a capacity to produce 275,000 vehicles per year.  80% of the automobiles & trucks produced in Thailand are for export.

    • Oct. 2007.  Thailand is Ford's hub for all of the Asia Pacific Region. Ford is expanding it's Thai production facility in Rayong (near Pattaya) to produce an additional 10,000 cars per year.

      • The Rayong B-Car is the  "Mazda2" in Japan & soon to be the Ford Fiesta.

    • The first Ford Ranger pick-up trucks sent to the US military in Afghanistan in 2002 came from the Thai Mazda Plant in Rayong.

    • Toyota will begin manufacturing Camry Hybrids at it's Chon Buri Plant in 2009.

    Bangkok is a modern cosmopolitan city .. with 6 star hotels .. & $100 per month rooms.

    Relatively unique globally Thailand avoided being an European colony.  Southeast Asia with the exception of Thailand / Siam became European colonies with their native culture / heritage destroyed by arrogant European hegemony.

    • Southeast Asia was seen as a treasure trove of natural resources by the covetous European colonialists, put there solely to be looted for god & the Queen.

    LIFE Magazine July, 1939. "Only the canny rule of King Chulalongkorn in the late 19th Century saved Siam from being swallowed by Britain and France like the rest of Southeast Asia and the Malay Peninsula."

    • Thailand's avoidance of colonialism &  hegemony allowed the Thai culture to flourish unimpeded

    • .. and the Thai Land of Smiles Society has resulted.

    • The Chinese T'ai of Southwestern China, Szechwan, began traveling down the Mekong River into Southeast Asia or Indochina in about 600 B.C. .. 2600 years ago.

     

    Left: Wat Chedi Sukhothai.   Right: 13th century Wat Chang (elephant temple)

    Thailand History: Bronze Age - 1511         Thailand History: 1511 - 2007.

    September 19, 2006.  Thailand Military Coup D' Etat .. The Army was actually greeted with flowers!    :-)

    King Rama IX is the most powerful man in Thailand.

    • King Rama IX is held to the esteem of a deity & is truly loved by the Thai people.

    • Yellow ribbons on the Coup D'Etat's tanks signify loyalty to the king.

    • King Bhumibol, aka Rama IX,  is the richest monarch on the planet with assets totaling over us$35 billion .. King Rama IX is richer than the Royal families of the Persian Gulf yet lives a relatively modest lifestyle.

    In 1932 Thailand became, & remains, a constitutional monarchy instead of an absolute monarchy.

    • In the past 75 years Thailand has had 17 constitutions & 18 Coups!

    • July 5, 2007. The Military Junta has approved a new constitution. The new constitution severely limits the power of the Prime Minister & is in effect an anti-Thaksin constitution, taking aim at precisely the abuses the former prime minister is charged with.

      • Copies of Thailand's 17th constitution in 75 years are to be distributed to every Thai  household ahead of the proposed August referendum.

    • October '08:  The new government remains controlled by Thaksin's PPP.  When the elected PM Samuk was forced to resign by commerce strangling demonstrations he & the PPP Parliament appointed Thaksin's brother in law, Somchi.  Somchi's appointment turned the demonstrations violent.

    • October '08 Thaksin convicted in absentia of fraud was sentenced to 2 years in prison.  His wife was convicted of fraud in July '08 & sentenced to prison.  She fled while on bail.  .. & more charges have yet to reach court.

     "do not sell you vote" billboard

    The Thai Constitutional Election was held on Dec. 23, 2007

    Reports from rural Issan of politicians offering Viagra for votes"the stand up & vote party"

    January 1, 2008: Thaksin's Party, PPP, won the most seats but not a majority.

    • Thaksin by proxy: People Power Party is working to form a coalition government.  Will the Junta allow the Thaksin clique to return to power?

    • The Coup D' Etat's Junta continues to threaten Thaksin with arrest over allegations of corruption in a land deal .. not over allegations of government misfeasance.

    • King Rama IX is the longest reigning monarch on the planet, he has held on to his throne for 60 years ..  through 15 constitutions & 20 prime ministers.

      • June, 2006 was Rama IX's 60th anniversary as King.  Rama IX celebrated his 80th birthday in 2007.

    The 21st century Thai name for western foreigners is Farang,

    • There are several 'versions' of where Thai common usage for Caucasian as "Farang" or "Falang"

      • I subscribe to the theory that Farang is an abbreviation of the original Farangse - the Thai word for the French (François in French).

      • Another well accepted theory is that Farang is derived from an Ancient Persian word for 'foreigner'.

    • The term Farang had a negative connotation until after World War II.

    King Nairi's resistance to Dutch aggression in the 16th century was the beginning of the Thai's victorious 300 year fight to avoid brutal European colonial domination.

    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 near Korat dating from at least 4000 B.C. (6000 years ago)

    • The 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

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

    • The hamlet of Ban Chang is near Udon Thani, Issan.  In the northern part of the Eastern Region of Thailand.
    • 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 savings provided by Thai Medical Tourism can pay for am exotic vacation.

    Driving from Bangkok, Korat marks the beginning of Issan Region of East Thailand.

    Thai Highways provide an excellent road trip experience.  The Thai highways are relatively well maintained.  Plenty of road side stops, 7-11s, McDonalds, 5 star restaurants, thatched roof hooch bars & rural temples .. w/ occasional national parks or towns to explore.

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

    • Ban Chang is a short day drive on modern highway from Korat near Udon Thani.

    • The Ban Chang site is now protected by the Thai government.

    • Previously local relic hunters actually undermined a highway near the site.

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

    • The indigenous Thai discovered rice cultivation for the world.

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

    • 2006: Thailand is the world's leading exporter of rice.  Vietnam is #2.

      • Thailand exported slightly over 8 million tons of rice in 2006.

    • 2007:  Many traditional varieties of rice have disappeared in favor of higher yielding, globalized  & mostly tasteless varieties. 

      • The ultra fragrant Pin Kaew variety that was named the best rice in the world in 1966 is no longer cultivated & no seeds were preserved.

      • Since 1982 over 17,000 ( ! ) varieties of traditional Thai rice have been preserved by the Thai National Rice Seeds Storage Laboratory for Genetic Resources which was initially financed by Japan.  A seed bank in Manila has preserved over 100,000 varieties of Asian rice.

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

    • History books generally attribute the first iron age culture to the Hittites of ancient Turkey / Mesopotamia.

    • Thai iron objects are just as old as anything the Hittites produced.

    Day trips in a Taxi with a selected driver is an excellent alternative to guided tours & tour vans .. way better than a tour van! ( tour vans mostly suck)

    • Taxis are available for about 3000 THB ( $75US,$90AUS, 60 EUs ) 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!

    • 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 ( to taxi daily rate add: $25.US, $30AUS, 20EU) have a bilingual professional guide in a luxury Volvo.

    Issan train station 'taxi que'.

    A recommended limo service is Swasdee Limousine

    Tel: +66 6-533-4822   Fax:+66 2-928-4655  Email:   alann@asianet.co.th

    Airport - Sukhumvet  Thb600     Ayutthaya RT 1500     Hua Hin 1 way 2500

    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.

    Warfare seems to have been unknown, no pre 1000 BC burial site contained any weapon of war, no skeleton found to date shows signs of a violent death, and no settlement shows evidence of having been destroyed by fire or force of arms.

    • Many graves of the pre 1000 BC era have been found with burial artifacts indicating a leader or hunter but no weapons of war!

    The Khmer ( Cambodia ) Empire dominated the area south & east of the Chao Praya River, the Korat plateau east, for several hundred years.

    • The first independent Thai Kingdom, Sukhothai or "Dawn of Happiness", was established in 1238 in North Central Thailand.

    Thai city states flourished from the 12th - 17th centuries.

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

    • Followed in rapid succession by the Dutch, the English, the Spanish, and the French traders.

    • Thailand is the only country in Indochina ( FRENCH Indochina ) to escape French colonialism.

      • The rest of SE Asia was 100% colonies: British ruled Burma & Malaysia, Dutch ruled Indonesia and both Spain & US ruled in the Philippines.

      • Thailand is the only sovereignty in an area covering 1/3 of the globe to avoid brutal colonial domination.

      • Quite amazing that Thailand was able to avoid being some Empire's colony.

    • & 500 years later Thailand remains the only stable democratic government in that entire region

    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.

    The Thai heritage is a documented continuous linage of language, art, religion, architecture .. unimpeded natural progressions and adaptations.   Societal evolution unimpeded by colonialism's hegemony.

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

    The chain of events that resulted in today's Thai people.

    • Today's Thai population is comprised of a mixture of indigenous SE Asians, Chinese T'ai, Chinese Lao and Indian.

    • The Chinese / T'ai emigration followed by the Indian / Hindu immigration followed by the Chinese Lao, diverse immigrants mixing with the indigenous people.

    • T'ai immigration from the north & east (China).  The T'ai began following river valleys into Southeast Asia in about 600 BC.

    • & the Hindu immigration came from the north & west (India) in the early 1st century AD.

    • The Chinese Lao also came down the Mekong, 2000 years after the T'ai in about 1500.

    The T'ai also settled Burma and Vietnam & remain a dominate ethnic group in southwestern China, south of the Yangtze River ( 3 Gorges Dam fame ).

    • There is ongoing discussion as to whether the T'ai originated in southern China or northern Vietnam.  

    • Pre modern geopolitical boundaries this area was not divided.

    • South of the Yangtze River 2 rivers flow from south-central China to the sea, the Mekong & Salween.

    • The Mekong River extends along a 4500 km ( 3000 mile ) course, beginning in the glaciers of Tibet & flowing through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam& finally the South China Sea.

      • Mekong water use south of China, (Burma Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) is regulated by the Mekong River Commission (MRC).  China opted out & the huge river dams in China are an issue.

      • 2008.  The new Thai government, formed after the coup & the Constitution elections of late 2007, is discussing diverting water from the Mekong to supply farmers in the Thai Northeast.  Diverting water form a river managed by an International Commission is easier proposed by "grandstanding politicians" than actualized.

        • More reservoirs to capture rainy season run off is a far better option & avoids international regulators.

    • 2006: More than 65 million persons live along its banks.

      • In communities downstream of China the Mekong provides 80 per cent of the protein.

      • 20 million persons earn their lively hood fishing the Mekong.

    • 1992 - 2006: A series of Chinese hydroelectric / irrigation dams on the Mekong are seriously effecting river flow during the dry season.  A total of 12 huge Chinese dams for irrigation & hydro electric.

    • April, 2004.  Mekong River closed to commercial river shipping.  River is less than 1 meter ( 3' ) deep in sections.

    Feb, 2007.  Fishing the Mekong can no longer support a family.  Lao fishermen in northern Issan report many days with a 0 catch.  :-(

    • The Salween River flows southwest into Burma, is the Thai / Burmese border & finally the Andaman Sea / Indian Ocean.

      • 2006: There are 13 hydroelectric / irrigation dams planned for the Salween.

      • 5 Thai & 5 Chinese dams.

    • These 2 rivers drain 10s of 1000s of sq miles of rain forest, huge rivers!

    The Indian / Hindu immigration began in about the 1st century. 01 AD.

    • The Indian / Hindu immigration followed the coast of the Andaman Sea south down the Malay Peninsula (to Indonesia) & east along the coast of the Gulf of Thailand (to Cambodia) into the southern region of Issan.

    • The Khmen of south eastern Issan are heavily influenced by Hindu genetics & culture.

    Chinese Lao settled along the Mekong beginning in about 1500 AD.

    • The Lao immigration was during the same period as initial contact with Europeans were being made.

    • The Lao of Chinese decent melded into the indigenous population, did not try to dominate or colonize.

    • The Lao remain an important part of Thai culture in Issan.

    • Around Udon, eastern Issan, the Lao are the dominate ethnic group.

    • The far eastern regions of the Korat Plateau / Issan are more of 'Lao' culture.

    • In the Udon area a "Lao dialect" is common.

    The immigrants from 2 distant geographic regions melding with the indigenous people of a third distinct geographic region.

    • The spread and natural convergence of people with extremely diverse genetic, cultural, lingual and religious backgrounds.

    • By the tenth century the Mons, from what is today Burma, had established themselves in Central Thailand and had established small Buddhist kingdoms in an area from Nakhon Pathon to Chiang Mai.

      • Along the northwestern side of the Central Valley, north of the Chao Praya River, adjacent to Burma.

      • Mon is spoken by Burmese hill tribes.  Ethnic Mon tribes continue to live in the hills of Southern Burma.

      • The Mon ( Burmese ) influence ( genetic & cultural ) remains more dominate in the north, Chiang Mai / Golden Triangle.

      • The Mons ( along with the Karen ) are currently involved in a civil war against the ruthless Myanmar Communist government.

    • The Buddhism introduced by the Mons has melded with indigenous beliefs and thus evolved into today's Thai version of Buddhism.

      • Thai Buddhism is a unique form of Buddhism & many Hindu practices are present in the Thai culture.

    • The Khmer ( in Thai: Khmen = Cambodian ) influence remains more dominate ( genetic & cultural ) east of the Central Valley on the Korat Plateau nearer the Cambodian & Lao borders.

      • Historically the Khmer dominated from Central Valley east & south to Eastern Laos & Northern Cambodia.

      • Along a line from Korat to Buri Ram to Surin to Ubon, southwestern Issan .. the Khmen are the dominate ethnic group.  The Khmer influence continues on the Korat Plateau near the borders with southwestern Laos & eastern Cambodia.

      • Khmen language is very common in Surin and Buri Ram.

      • Thai script is a combination of Khmen & Mon script.

      • Khmen is spoken in southwestern Issan today.

    Modern Thai architecture is heavily influenced by Northern Thai ( Lanna Thai ) style

    In the Chiang Mai / Chiang Rai area some incredible Lanna Thai style houses are available for short term rental .. quite marvelous houses built from 100% teak.  The house above rents for 17, 000 Thb ( US$400, Euro 325 per month )

    The most famous Archeological Site is Angkor Wat,1150 AD, covering rai & rai (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.

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

    1238 the first independent Thai state.    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.

    "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 .. Imagine George Bush speaking Thai .. :-)

    • 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 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 King's Summer Palace.

    • 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 / CANNOT take you to any non-commercialized locations, no place to park the tour 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)

    Beginning in the early 16th century the European  competition for colonial Empire left the Thai in conflict with the European Colonialists & Hegemonists.

    Relatively unique globally Amazing Thailand avoided being an European colony.

    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 ;-).

    music video on myspace.. : Jeff & Soi Dog do traditional Blues .. Blues  sung in Thai (Way Cool!)

    Soi Dog live music video, Hey Joe, from the Phuket Blues Festival .. also on myspace.

    King Narai

    The ever so wise Thai kings of the Ayutthayan period offered small trade concessions & grants to avoid all out colonial hostilities.

    •  From 1600 - 1941 the Thai Kings were engaged in constantly increasing & shifting demands from the European builders of world colonial empires.

    Even though the Dutch had a generous trade agreement they wanted to dominate & control Thai imports / exports.

    • Apparently deer & cow hides were hot items

    • The Dutch had been allowed to set up a processing plant in Thailand but that was not enough.

    • The Thai King was resistant to paying homage to the Dutch King.

    • Thankfully, King Narai stood up to the colonialist.

    • The Dutch then took 'war like action' capturing a Thai merchant vessel in the Gulf of Thailand & blockading the mouth of the Chao Praya River. When King Narai resisted the 'standard European colonial style armed robbery' the Dutch upped the threat.In 1688 King Narai developed a desperate relationship with the French (Thankfully short lived!), the French helped control the Dutch aggression.

    • The bar at the Narai Hotel Silom is one of my favorite stops.

    1st it was the Dutch whose demands became unreasonable (more & more generous trade agreements) & King Narai finally resisted the increasing Dutch colonial demands for domination of the Thai trade options.

    • The 'quick' 7 month dangerous sea voyage around Africa to communicate with the French meant that events happened in slow motion compared to today's millisecond communication.

    • Rounding the cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic Ocean & Indian Ocean currents collide presents some of the most violent 'ocean swell action' on this planet.  Modern hull 1000'+ oil tankers bounce like corks, cannot imagine what a 100' rounded wooden hulled top heavy sailing vessel was like.

      • OK, I'll stop complaining about the 14 hours in tourist (cattle car?) class.

    • The purpose of Ambassador Kosapan's mission to Versailles was to offer a trading post to Louis XIV in Singor (now Songkhla) in southern Siam, where the Compagnie des Indes Orientales and a handful of troops would establish themselves and provide a counterweight to the all-powerful Dutch.

    • King Louie XIV dispatched 1400 troops to Ayutthaya.

    • The ever so gracious Dutch politely agreed to return to the originally negotiated agreement.

    • Thank goodness the French had their eye on the colonial-ization of Thailand.

    Score:  Thailand  1   Colonialist  0

    The Thai then severed relations with the French to avoid becoming the last piece for a 100% French Indochina.

    Score:  Thailand   2   Colonialist  0

    • King Louie's attempt to Christianize King Narai was perceived as subversive by the Thai people.

    •   
    • The Thai people revolted against the 'French dependant' Thai government's position.  

    • The 21st century Thai name for western foreigners is Farang, an abbreviation of the original Farangse - the Thai word for the French (François in French). The term Farang had a negative connotation until after World War II. 

    • King Narai was a displaced ruler when he died 2 months after the 'revolt'. 

    • 1688, Sep 30 - All French troops leave Siam after negotiations with the new Siamese king, Phra Petraja.  Phra Petraja takes European missionaries as hostages, pending the safe return of a Siamese embassy still in Europe. 

    • 1689, Dec - The Siamese embassy to Europe returns & the honorable King Phra Petraja releases all his European hostages and restores religious freedom but implements a policy of eliminating foreign political influence in the kingdom. 

    • 1698, Oct - A French envoy is sent to Ayutthaya with the offer of a new treaty, but the offer is declined by King Phra Petraja. France gives up her political interest in Ayutthaya.

       

    King Phra Petraja closed Thailand's doors to the west for over 100 years.

    Score:  Thailand   3   Colonialist  0

    • Between 1824 & 1884 there were 3 Anglo-Burmese wars.

    • Significant that none of these wars occurred in 'Anglo land'.

      • This is one reason I am offended by the current usage of  'Anglo' in 21st century America.

      • The silly Burmese resisted brutal British colonial domination. 

    • The ever so wise Thai King immediately granted the British Empire land concessions on the Malay Peninsula & the land hungry colonialists were gratified.

    • A few million rai sacrificed  for good of the realm.

    • Thailand could easily have been devastated by brutal British colonialism .. but the wisdom & foresight of the King kept the realm intact!

    • Again the wisdom of the Thai King kept the realm mostly intact!

    By granting land to the colonialist the Thai King avoided war.

    In American baseball it's called a 'sacrifice bunt'... run scores.

    Score:  Thailand   4   Colonialist  0

    • Thailand had actually declared war on the British Tea Company, British National Opium Distribution, 100 years earlier.

      • The British Government's  "Tea Company" was the first international drug cartel.  Spreading opium from one milked colony to their other 'valued colonial possessions'.

      • The first international drug lord was the British King.

      • Seems I've read that opium poppies are 'milked' of the opium .. & The British Empire was certainly for any colonial milking it could achieve.

        • Keeping the British Empire at bay was like controlling 21st century hooligans at the World Cup!

    • Much like modern day fast food, the immediate gratification of the 'Thai Fast  No War Land Lane' quickly satisfied the Empires land hunger. 

      • The "super sized colonial edict land order" was transmitted through an extremely functional British cannon barrel.

      • Unfortunately, more traditional Burma only offered 'sit down land'

    & please no "After Thai Land ..colonialist will be land hungry again in hour.." jokes!

    • But... actually the Brits did slowly, seemingly insatiable kingdom that it was, consume more & more Burmese territory.  

    • Bit by bit from 1823 til 1886, when the Brits occupied the entire country and there was no more Burma.

    • The Brits gave up on the Burmese colony in 1935. 

    • 112 years ..3 wars fought... then Milk & Run diplomacy ..

    • & historically significant Burma / Myanmar remains a society destroyed by colonialism, a country controlled by a cut throat junta until today.

    • 2005: US Secretary of State Condi Rice includes Myanmar in the US Axis (now the Quadal of evil?) of Evil.

    • As a direct result of British colonial policy Burma / Myanmar remains a ruined country until today.

    British Map of Indochina, 1885. shows both Angkor Wat & Prasat Preah Vihear in Siam.

    1886 French Map of  Colonial French Indochina

     

    1880s French & British maps shows both Preah Vihear & Angkor Wat to be in Siam.

    Colonial French Indochina expansion by year

    Colonial demands continued into the 20th century!

    In the 1893 Paknam Incident, French and Siamese ( Thai ) gunboats engaged in a gun battle that set the stage for the Franco-Siamese Treaty Convention of October 1893.

    Under a 'colonial kangaroo court' French Colonial Cambodia forced the Thai to abandon part of it's soverngnty: Battambong, Siam Reap ( Angkor Wat ), Champasak and Lanchang

    Score:  Thailand   4   Colonialist  1

    Above: Siem Rep just above & to the right of "Tonle Sap Lake"

     ..  on the edge of the green color & well inside Thailand!

    LIFE Magazine, July 1939. Only the canny rule of King Chulalongkorn in the late 19th Century saved Siam from being swallowed by Britain and France like the rest of the peninsula.

    In May 1941 an international court returned to Thailand the same territories taken in the 1893 French land grab. 

    • A series of incidents between French colonial forces in Indochina and Thailand escalated into open war in late November, 1940

    • During the Franco-Thai war, 1940-1941, Japan supported Thailand .. supplying bomber aircraft.

    • The war ended on January 28, 1941, after Japanese diplomatic intervention.

    • France was forced to cede a considerable amount of previously taken territory back to Thailand.

      • The Thai only wanted back what the French Colonialist had taken in 1891.

      • Or, Thailand kicked France's butt & took the stolen property back.

      • Before Vietnam in the 50s booted the Colonial French, the Thai had done it 20 years before!

    • This last colonial land / territory / border dispute with French Colonial Cambodia was settled in Thailand's favor by the 1941 Tokyo Accord.

      • An international court ruled the 1893 land grab by French Colonial Cambodia to be illegal & invalid.

     .. previous Colonialist point ruled invalid & disallowed.

    Score:  Thailand  5  Colonialist  0

    International boundaries were arbitrarily reassigned by the French colonialist as they abandoned their dream of world empire & abruptly abandoned their dependant colonies after World War II..

    • The French Colonialist needed to make an arrogant declaration of score.

    • A quick border relocation as they "turned out the lights".

    2008: The Thai - Cambodian Border issue ...   is again / remains an issue.

    • Preah Vihear Temple was built in 1053. 

      • 100 years before Angkor.

    • The have been 3 wars over this disputed border if you count the Pre-Siam, Ayutthaya (1521-1767) war with the Khmer Kingdom in 1532 over this region  Preah Vihear has been the object of 2 modern wars with colonial France, 1893 & 1949, + the current / on going dispute with Cambodia.

    over a 40 year period, 1860s - 1900s Colonial French Indochina expanded further & further across southeast Asia / Thai sovereign land.

    The only access to Preah Vihear Temple from Cambodia is by foot 1500' up the cliff

    Thailand begins at the edge of the Dângrêk cliffs with Cambodia being 500 meters (1500') below. The Temple is clearly on the Thai Dângrêk Range Korat Plateau's high ground.   The mountainous terrain means the only access to the ancient Hindu temple was through Thailand's Kantharalak district's province of Si Sa Ket ..  Buri Ram & Surin

    Score:  Thailand  5   Colonialist  1

    The era of European colonialism ended with WW II.

    • Interesting, :-o,  that the Japanese ( Tokyo Accord ) were assisting the Thais resist European Colonialism 6 months before Pearl Harbor.

    • Bangkok newspaper Thai Mai, 1939:  " What can small nations situated in the battle zone do?

      • If Siam takes the side of Japan and the predicted troubles in the British and French colonial empires do not come off, then Siam would be in an unpleasant position."   

      • Thailand is so placed on the map as to be a natural steppingstone for Japan in a drive against the great British base of Singapore at the end of the Malay peninsula.   

      • Thailand desired to be completely neutral. 

      • Thailand was caught in-between global military powers. 

      •  

    On the 8th of December 1941 the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Thailand. The Thai forces resisted as best they could, but were overwhelmed by the numerically superior Japanese forces.

    • Thailand was controlled by the Japanese during WW II but is historically considered to be part of the Allied efforts.

    • The first Japanese forces entered Thailand on December 8.

      • Due to the international date line Thailand was on the 8th & Pearl Harbor was on the 7th .. Actually Thailand was invaded a few hours before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

    • The Japanese invasion force landed at four different places along the Thai coastal provinces, including Samut Prakarn south of Bangkok.

    • Japanese controlled Thailand was bombed by the Allies during WW II.

      • Bangkok was a regular target of allied bombs.

      • WW II era 'dumb bombs' were very accurate, they hit the ground 100% of the time.

    • Most major cities ( civilian population centers, there were few military targets ) in Thailand were bombed during the war.

    The Japanese brutality in Asia is infamous.

    • Japanese atrocities in Thailand building the Siam Burma Railroad were among the worst of WW II.

    • Post WW II military courts, 1946-47, in Japan returned several 'SE Asian' war crime convictions.

    • 12,000 Allied troops died on the Siam  Burma railroad.  

    • 50% of Thai citizens that were Japanese prisoners of war died.  Less than 10% of German military POWs died in captivity!

    The infamous "Bridge on the River Kwai" ( Japanese war atrocity movie fame ) is a popular tourist day trip from Bangkok.

    • 2005:  A sunken Japanese World War II-era train train complete with steam engine & caboose has recently been located next to a current Thai bridge, Chulalongkorn Bridge over the Mae Klong River in Ratchaburi.

    • Local Thai were used as slave labor by the Japanese to build a bridge, part of the Japanese Siam Burma Railroad network.

    • Local lore has it that the Thai workers made the bridge weak intentionally.

      • The intentionally weak bridge collapsed with the fully loaded train.

      • Japanese soldiers 'tested' the load-bearing capacity of the Mae Klong Railway Bridge by having a fully crewed & loaded train run over it.

    • Excavation depends on the current bridge structural integrity.

      • The Mae Klong is 10m / 30' deep at this point.

    • If you are into WW II Siam Burma Railway history, Ratchaburi is a short drive down highway 3274 from the River Kwai site, on the way back to Bangkok.

    The Karen tribe of the Thai Golden Triangle & Burma fought the Japanese with extreme vigilance.
    • The Karen fought a war that greatly benefited colonial British interests in SE Asia.

    • The Karen guerilla action was the most successful Allied guerrilla action against the Japanese in WW II.

    • The British promised the Karen an independent country for their cooperation with the allied war plan.

    • The more assets Japan dedicated to SE Asia the fewer resources it had for the rest of the Pacific region.

    • Many Karen villages were destroyed by the Japanese.

    The Karen tribe is famous for the 'long neck women'.

      

    • Then the British Post WW II Labor Party reneged on the promises made by the wartime allegiance.

    • It is said that Winston Churchill was upset when the Post WW II British Labor Party choose to forgot their good friends & warrior allies .. The Karen were sold out after WWII.

    In 1949 the brave warrior Karen began a civil war against the post WW II Burmese government with large quantities of stashed WW II weaponry.

    • The Brits supplied weapons to the Burmese government to fight their former warrior allies.

    • The communist military government of the Socialist Republic of Myanmar, Burma, is one of the most ruthless governments in the world today.

    • The Mon and Karen have fought a 60 year guerrilla war against the brutal Burmese / Myanmar government.

    • 2006: The Mon & Karen struggle with the brutal Burmese Junta continues until today.  Current escalation of Karen guerrilla activity is due to a 36" oil pipeline that transverses their traditional ethnic homeland.

      • The Myanmar Junta is building natural gas pipeline from Myanmar to Thailand.  Problem is it passes through Karen ethnic territory.

      • The Junta has been hired by the 'oil project participants' to 'protect' the pipeline.

    • In the late 1990s a Karen Rebel group, God's Army, was led by teenager brothers.  The Karen Tribe brothers were quite famous, leading raids into Bangkok to occupy the Myanmar Embassy & attacks aimed at both Myanmar Junta &Thai troops along the Myanmar border hear Mai Hong Song.

     

    • The brothers & their rebel army, God's Army,  were starved out & surrendered to Thai Army near Ratchaburi.

    • The Junta's Army was financed by French oil giant Unocal in order to ensure the pipelines completion.

    "As the Unocal official's denial of company responsibility for the forced road-clearing attests, it is impossible to operate in a completely abuse-free environment when you have the Burmese government as a partner.." the embassy report concluded.

    • The Karen's primary problems are with the ruthless Myanmar government not the Thai, but the Karen's traditional homeland spans the Myanmar / Thai border.

    • The pipeline will provide the Junta $400m per year.

    • The Thai government is also a participant. The 36" pipeline project is owned by a French company Total, a California company Unocal, along with the Thai & Myanmar governments.

    • 2002: There are allegations of slave labor as well as forced relocations of entire Karen villages. International relief organizations have set up large refugee camps to feed & house the Mon & Karen displaced by the project.

    March 22, 2005. US oil giant Unocal has agreed to compensate Burmese ( Karen & Mon ) villagers over abuses committed during the construction of a gas pipeline.  www.news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4371995.stm

    • Court documents demonstrate Unocal Management did not stop Burmese troops guarding the project from abusing the indigenous people.

    • To avoid the entire & detailed truth coming out regarding Unocal's US management's complicity in allowing the mass murder / rape during sworn testimony Unocal agreed to a huge out of court settlement.

    • 2004: Rumor had it, Unocal would be controlled by Chinese investment / management .. & to design / build a pipeline from Russia to China to circumvent US control of the sea lanes used by oil tankers.  Chevron Texaco the world's fifth-largest oil company, beat out rival bidders such as Italian oil group Eni and snatched the prize at the last minute from state-run China offshore producer CNOOC Ltd.

    • 2005: The sale of UnoCal has turned into a major international news story.

    US President George Bush  in July, 2003 signed into law the "Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act", saying "The United States will not waver from its commitment to the cause of democracy and human rights in Burma".

    Bush's "Burmese Freedom & Democracy Act" actually consists of a series of economic sanctions against one of the poorest societies on this planet.

      To foster better relations and to demonstrate a spirit of cooperation, in 2003, the US imposed economic sanctions on the people of Burma!

    • US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Daley said the sanctions - imposed in late July, 2003 - had immediately disrupted all of  Burma's industry.  

    • According to Mr. Daley,  "more than 40,000 people in the garment industry alone have been thrown out of work, many of them ending up in the sex industry". see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3161498.stm

      • 80,000 Burmese lost their jobs in less than 2 months due to the US sanctions.

    • The US government has acknowledged that the US economic / trade sanctions have deprived thousands of Burmese workers of a regular source of income.

    • Problem for the individual citizens is that they still get hungry when their source of income is taken away by political decisions far removed from them.

    The decision made by the US government is to literally starve a people because of civil rights abuses rendered upon those same people.  ??

    • January, 2005.  Condi Rice , US Secretary of State, includes Myanmar on the US's 'bad boy list'.

      • Thanks, Condi!

      •  

    • April, 2005: SYDNEY (Reuters) - A London-based Christian human rights group says it has collected strong evidence of a chemical attack on Karen rebels by Myanmar's military government.

    • September, 2006:  Of every 1,000 children born in eastern Karen, Kayah or Mon states ( on the Thai border) 221 will be dead before their fifth birthday.

      • The report compiled by mobile medical teams of the Thailand-based Back Pack Health Worker Team, document the terrible state of affairs in Myanmar, considered the "rice basket of Asia" when it won independence from Britain in 1948.

    • Thankfully the relief organizations have filled the basic needs of survival for an entire ethnic group.

    Spring, 2005. HUGE refugee camps for displaced Mon & Karen.

    Buy a relief worker lunch!  Tough duty they pull.

    Many of the Karen & other hill tribe peoples in the Golden triangle have limited citizenship rights in Thailand.

    • King Rama VI granted Thai citizenship to all tribes who lived in the kingdom before April 10, 1913.

    • Many tribal persons missed out on state registration & are thus ultimately undocumented tribal persons today.

    • Mai Hong Song is a long '2 day touring' roundtrip drive from Chiang Mai.

    • Beautiful drive ..

    Sometimes it's a little better to travel than to arrive. Robert M. Pirsig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    • & the guided hiking treks offer a unique insight into traditional SE Asia tribal life.

    • You can actually stay in a Yao or Karen village & sleep in hooch for several days

    • Air service from Bangkok & Chiang Mai.

    WWII, 1941, was the beginning of the end for the era of European colonial domination of SE Asia.

    Unique in an area spanning 1/3 of the globe, since the 13th century Thailand has always remained free. Thank goodness Thailand's Kings have kept the realm intact. The Thai society that has resulted is quite unique.

    Thailand's avoidance of Colonial Hegemony ( political, economic, societal & religious revision to meet the standards of the colonialist ) has resulted in a stable society that has maintained much of it's cultural richness.

    • Democratic Thailand is the only country in the global region from Indonesia to Palestine to avoid the political, economic & cultural revision of Colonialism.

    • Shortly after WW II the colonialist started abandoning their colonial empires in Asia & Africa.

    • All of the world's regions of 21st century terrorism were 20th century colonies.

      • Borders were arbitrarily assigned all over Asia & Africa by exiting colonial bureaucrats drawing lines on global maps.

        • Without regard for natural geographic or ethnic borders.  "Duh?"

        • North Africa, Palestine ( from Egypt to Turkey ), Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Burma, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia  ... all colonies in the 20th century ... some as late as 1975...

        • The Brit goal was to control all of the coast line of the Indian Ocean, from eastern Africa to southern Asia.

      • The French imperial assignment of the Thai - Cambodia border is just another example of Colonialist mistakes resulting in years of disputes.

    • The British Empire ( Burma ) & France ( Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia ) left an incredible geopolitical mess in SE Asia as their colonialist dreams of world wide empire crumbled.

      • Post WW II synthetic rubber from petroleum reduced the need for natural rubber & thus the rubber plantations of SE Asia.

      • Technology rendered the SE Asian colonies asset no longer worth milking.

     

    Thailand was a major ally to the Americans during the Vietnam conflict.

    • In the post WW II era, Viet Cong leader Ho Chi Minh found refuge in the village of Ban Na Chok.

      • Nakhon Phanom, the closest point to Vietnam located in Thailand .. Laos is very narrow at that point.  Far Eastern Issan.

      • Ho prepared his strategy for the successful Vietnamese's French / American War against colonial rule.

    • America used air fields in the safety of eastern Thailand to launch B-52 attacks over Laos & Vietnam 

    •  
    • The acknowledged attacks on the jungle trails of Laos & the secret attacks on Cambodia were both against international law, neither sovereign country was a participant in the war.

      • 1/3 the civilian population of Laos was killed by the indiscriminate carpet bombing.

    "Unofficially Cambodia", the "Kent State Massacre" demonstration  was about 'secret bombing' & the clandestine invasion of Cambodia from Thai bases.

    • Kent State Massacre Report directly from the Kent State University web site: "In May 1970, at Kent State University in Ohio, US Army National Guardsmen confronted student antiwar protestors with a tear gas barrage. Soon afterward, with no provocation, soldiers opened fire into a group of fleeing students. Four young people were killed, shot in the back, including two women who had been walking to class."

      • + 9 University students wounded.

    • Remember the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young anthem from the early 70s, "4 dead in O Hi O"?

    • Cambodia had severed relations with the US in 1963 and by 1965 Cambodia's infamous King Sihanouk was accepting military assistance from China & France

    • The immediate reason for the severing of relations with the US was a 1963 Newsweek article contending that the Queen of Cambodia owned brothels.( turned out to be not true ).

    • King Sihanouk secretly granted the North Vietnamese access to the deep-water port of Sihanoukville (later Kampong Saom) in 1966.

    • Sihanoukville became a main port of entry for North Vietnamese military supplies from China and the U.S.S.R.

      • Sihanoukville / Kampong Saom has become a western adventure tourist hot spot .. for those extreme adventure traveler types.. travel involves "avoid the local roads" cross the ocean on a "local style ferry" between a coastal Thai disembarkation  point & an intermediate Cambodian island .. involves changing ferries on the remote Cambodian Island.The ferry schedule is by day of the week & not by the hour of any day .. you said you wanted adventure .. right?

    • Sihanouk left for France in January 1970 for medical treatment. The Cambodian National Assembly lost no time voting no-confidence in Sihanouk and FARK Military commander Lon Nol then staged a bloodless coup.

      • This CIA supported coup government was the immediate predecessor to the Khmer Rouge. (Cambodian Red)

    • Cambodia & Laos were non combatants & the US bombing / invasion was illegal by international law.

    • Some of these were the Cambodian missions that US Presidential Candidate John Kerry spent so much time detailing.

    • Remember the anti-Kerry 'Swift Boaters' pointing out that Kerry's reported river boat missions into Cambodia were in violation of International Law.

      • ... Kerry was commanding one of the Navy River Boats taking CIA types into Cambodia, very similar to the story line in the Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now.

    • Huge Vietnam War USAF B-52 bases near Udon ( 1970 common usage British spelling was often Udorn ) & Korat

    • .
    • Millions of pounds of US bombs and currently illegal by international law WMDs Napalm & Agent Orange were randomly dispersed around remote Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam.

      • 10,000,000 gallons of the highly toxic & currently illegal WMD Agent Orange were sprayed on SE Asian jungle / crops/  villages / water supplies .. the people.

      •   Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian + the soldiers.
    • U.S. aircraft sprayed the chemical Agent Orange in SE Asia between 1962 - 1971 in attempts to destroy crops (food for both combatants & the civilian population) and to remove foliage used as cover by freedom fighting anti-colonialist forces.

    • Over 10,000 U.S. war veterans receive medical disability benefits related to the WMD Agent Orange. 

    • 2006:  A South Korean court ordered Dow Chemical and Monsanto, two makers of Agent Orange, to pay more than $60m in compensation to thousands of South Korean Vietnam war veterans and their families.

    • 2004: Lawyers sued on behalf of some 4 million Vietnamese. 

    • The defoliant has caused birth defects, miscarriages and cancer.

      • New York (AP) 2005. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming that American chemical companies committed war crimes against Vietnamese citizens by making Agent Orange, which is laden with the highly toxic chemical dioxin & thus is a chemical agent, in 21st century vernacular = WMD, barred by international rules of war. 

      • The dioxin entered the food chain and caused a proliferation of birth defects. 

        • Lawyers for Monsanto, Dow Chemical and more than a dozen other companies argued that international law generally exempted corporations, as opposed to individuals, from criminal and civil liability for alleged war crimes.

        • There are eight times as many hernias in such children, and three times as many born with mental disabilities.

        • In 2001, scientists found that people living in an Agent Orange "hotspot" at Binh-Hoa near Ho Chi Minh City have 200 times the background amount of dioxin in their bloodstreams.

    • A Japanese study, comparing areas sprayed with those that were not, found children were three times more likely to be born with cleft palates, or extra fingers and toes.

    • Thai newspaper reports, 1997 - 2004, of huge unreported spills of the Vietnam war's favored  toxic herbicide ( in the 21st century a WMD) Agent Orange around the US air bases in East Thailand during the 60s & 70s.

     

    Some of the truly innocent victims of the war &  Agent Orange are denied help.

    • Millions of babies have been born without eyes or arms, or were missing internal organs.

    • Who is responsible for massively high instances of genetic defects in areas that were sprayed?

    The infamous Vietnam era  "US Army R&R Hotel" (for you nostalgic Vietnam vets) is now the 'mid level' Ambassador Hotel on Sukhumvit.

    Vietnam R&R = military 'Rest & Relaxation' = 6 months in the Vietnam war w/ 1 week in Bangkok to 'party'.

    Nostalgic baby Boomer?  The 'old' BOQ / BEQs ( Bachelor Officer Quarters / Bachelor Enlisted Quarters ) are now the Windsor Hotel on 'Suk' Soi 20 and the Rajah Hotel on 'Suk' Soi 4.

    • 10s of 1000s of  (crazed warriors?) young men isolated from all that is human for 6 months,  turned loose on Thailand.

    • It happened pretty much overnight ...from 0 R&R soldiers to 1000s per week in a only a couple years ..can you imagine watching this influx into your neighborhood?

    • Thankfully the 'R&R damage' is fairly localized. 

    • Legendary USAF B-52 pilot 'Cowboy' Edwards, a leading R&R innovator & pioneer, has a busy Bangkok Soi known by his name until today.

      • 'Cowboy' was a 6' 3" ( 2 m ) lean man with the skin the hue of Hershey's Milk Chocolate

      •  .. The Cowboy was known to dress in all white on Sundays. 

        • White Stetson, white western custom cut suit & white cowboy boots.

      • Lore of The Cowboy is often repeated .. some of his cohorts continue to be spotted around Bangkok 'til this day.

    • Bernard Trink of the Bangkok Post claims to have coined the Soi's moniker...

      • "..enough said" ... 

      • "The Night Owl" was been THE Bangkok entertainment authority for 30 years. 

      • & the Night Owl still "don't give a hoot"...

    • When Bernard Trink first started writing for the Bangkok Post, the best way up Sathorn was by row-boat. 

    • ..his weekly ramblings & bad jokes were a delight .. if you care for an often outrageous perspective 110% biased, punctuated with stupid Burma Shave slogans & ...  THE world class collection of bad jokes, seemingly in an endless supply on any and all topics..

    The funniest, IMHO, of Trink's self promotions were his caricatures on decals strategically placed urinals all around Bangkok.

    Trink denies he was the perp ... a lot of guys stared at that "Alfred Hitchcock like profile" caricature drawing + his byline.

    • From the 2000 Bangkok Post, "...uniqueness of his prose style. Linguists have described it as a distinct dialect, and named it Trinklish, with individual bon mots classified as Trinkisms  (although I prefer to call them Trinkets)."

    • Mr. Trink was dismissed by the Bangkok Post in the spring of 2004

    • Trink's unexpected dismissal was noted by Time Asia, NY Times, CNN Asia ..

    • 2007: Trink's PAY site is no longer on line  :-(

    Pre the Vietnam War huge influx of Soldier R&R the Bangkok Red Light Districts were limited to a small area of shacks near today's China Town, in several high end Japanese Hotels plus many ladies paddling boats near Chaloemlok Bridge.

    The US Navy uses Thailand for regular R&R until this day. 

    • Locals will actually leave Pattaya when the Pacific battle groups is in port.. 10,000 young men who have been a sea for 6 months get a few hours on Pattaya Beach.  :-o

    Cobra Gold is the name by which the annual 'Battle Group Party' is known to the US Navy.

    • In the spring of  2001, I mistakenly reserved a beach front hotel suite for Cobra Gold week.  Checked in just in time to see the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk & it's battle group arrive in Pattaya Bay.

    • Quite amazing transformation of a relatively quiet community in only a few hours... from a relatively quite tourist beach community to a huge rowdy boisterous anything goes Frat party... seemingly in an instant!

    • Pattaya's Beach Road is solid taxi lights 'til dawn when the fleets in!
    • The HUGE economic boom the town gets is actually worth a little inconvenience.  Every restaurant, disco, hotel, boat ride .. tuk tuk .. it was happening! Lots of smiling vendors.

    Young 'men in arms' having a celebration of what they are.   each sailor individually celebrating what their fleet represents as a powerful warrior group & what they individually are in that well defined military group structure.

    The above is a World War II cartoon .. some things do not change

    • Proud & excited young men, eager to demonstrate country & battle group pride along with their individual friendliness.

    • I've never had so many 'excited conversations' in an elevator in my life!  "It was OK for a dozen or so elevator rides."

      • Standing still on the street could result in conversations with excited sailors.

    • & I must say they were 100% nice young men, but they were also ship bound kids none the less!

    • .... the hotel eagerly refunded my internet discounted room rate.. the lobby was filled with sailors ready to pay any price for a bunk on land.

    • I was able to determine that the flight deck crew is clearly the rowdiest.. I guess jets screaming by a few feet overhead would have an effect on their perception of normalcy!

      • They party Aussie like!  "I swear!" :-o)))

    • Was a great people watching event for a couple days!  "Enough!  Enough!"

    • These guys & gals were REAL HAPPY about getting off those damn ships!  Labor Day, Christmas & New Year all in one!

    Many US Vietnam era warriors returned to Thailand after the war & made The Land of Smiles their home. 

    • Jack Shirley was in charge of CIA covert operations in Laos during the 'Vietnam War Years". 

    • Mr. Shirley recently, 2003, passed away in his beloved adopted home town of Pattaya, Chon Buri  

    • From the The Washington Times " Top CIA Agent in the CIA's "Secret SE Asian War Dies".

    Lucy's Tiger Den Party 1984, Lucy's Tiger Den, Patpong, is where the CIA covert-op types hung out & this 1984 reunion resulted in 'war stories' being told.

    • Some terrible atrocities are described in the 1st hand stories told by aging CIA covert ops.

    • These are some of the same guys the Vietnam war movie "Apocalypse Now" was based on.

      • & Kerry's controversial river boat events involved this group of guys.

      • How many movies have been made based on what these guys actually did?

    • Several dead links on the "Lucy's Tiger Den"  site & several pages unrelated to this topic, but the relevant pages that open are worth the wasted clicks.

    • Jack participated in CIA operations within Laos from 1961 to 1969. 

    • The CIA began secret ops in Laos from Thailand in 1954, 10 years before the announced war.

      • Feb. 15, 2005.  51 years after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, French Colonial Vietnam, the seven surviving American pilots who braved those perilous skies - but later were essentially disowned by the CIA - will be awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, or Legion of Honor, France's highest award for service.

      • The CIA argues that the men technically were not government employees since they worked for a CIA front company.  The CIA has not specifically honored the 37 pilots who flew the 1953 - 1954 Dien Bien Phu missions, although in June 2001 the spy agency issued a Unit Citation Award in recognition of all who served with Civil Air Transport and its secret successor, Air America, which ended operations in 1976.

    In the early 70s there was a movement amongst the Thai intellectuals to press the government for increased democracy.

    • In December 1972, military dictator Thanom announced a new interim constitution that provided for a totally appointed legislative assembly, two- thirds of the members of which would be drawn from the military and police.

    • By October, 1973 11 University intellectual leaders had been jailed for distributing antigovernment literature.

    • On October 13, 1973 more than 250,000 people rallied in Bangkok before the Democracy Memorial, in the largest demonstration of its kind in Thai history, to press their grievances against the government.

    • These demonstrations changed Thailand forever.

    • 1973: Thammasat University was the center of the movement for a more open democracy.

      • Thai University students in 1973 were careful to tone down their actions against the military dictatorship by an appeal to religion and the monarchy,

      • The demonstrators were displaying the symbols of the Thai people ..  Buddha, pictures of the king, and the national flag.

        • I am constantly amazed at the reverence the Thai people show to the King .. & Buddha.

    • The 2000 Thai movie "3 days in October", with English subtitles, is an excellent depiction of these events.

      • Scenes depicting student leaders arguing over demonstrations conflicting with exam schedules.

        • One of the student leaders currently teaches at Thammasat & was a film consultant.

      • If you know anything about Thailand's competitive Universities, the banter amongst the movie's University students is hilarious.

      • Chula vs. Thammasat exchange, with the classic stereo-typical Chula vs. Thammasat characteristic /  differences accented.  

      • LOL!

    • On October 14, 1973 the Army of military dictator Thanom opened fire on & killed 75 college students.

    • The evening of October 14 King Bhumibol ( Rama IX ) intervened & on October 15 Thanon was exiled from the country.

     & in October, 1974 Thailand had democratic elections!

    The new constitution of October 1974 called for a popularly elected House of Representatives.

    • In 1976, Thammasat University once again became the battlefield. Students demonstrated to protest the return of Thanom as a monk and Thanin Kraivichien, a new right-wing government official was declared as a premier.

    • This incident made Thai students and numerous idealists joined the insurgents in the forest.

    • Finally Thanin was forced to resign by another coup in 1977.

    • 2 of the leaders of the student movement are now Thai national heroes, after spending several years in hiding with communists rebels in Laos.

    • A current Thammasat University professor of poetry & 1973 student leader, Prof. Teerayuth Boonmee, actually lived with communist rebels in the mountain jungles of northern Thailand & western Laos.

    • 2006: Thammasat University remains Thailand's center of intellectual discussion.

    Thailand is part of the Geo-Economic Zone commonly referred to as  'The Pacific Rim'. 

    • Thailand is at the far western border of The Pacific Rim Geo-Economic Zone.  West of Thailand is the Indian Ocean.

    In 1975 under the Bangkok Agreement 7 nations: Thailand, Bangladesh, China, India, S. Korea, Laos and Sri Lanka agreed to an economic pact that provided reduced tariffs on selected goods & services between member nations..

    • Signed signed in 1975 as an initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia & the Pacific.

    • The Bangkok Agreement has now evolved into APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Asian version of NAFTA & CAFTA.  Reduced tariffs on selected goods between member nations.

    • In 2005 APEC's 21 member economies account for 57 percent of world gross domestic product, 45.8 percent of world trade volume and 44.8 percent of the world's population.

    • APEC is larger than NAFTA, CAFTA & the EU combined!

    • Thailand has had a positive trade balance with the US for over 20 consecutive years.

    • Thailand has had a positive balance of trade with China for over 10 years.

      • 2005: Trade between Thailand and China is expected to triple from the current US$15 billion (euro12.2 billion) annually in the next four years, 2009, to as much as 50 billion US$.

      • Thailand is the 4th biggest trading partner to China among Eastern Allianc

      • Thailand is amongst the top 20 US trading partners each year.

    • The EU is Thailand’s fourth largest trading partner following Asean, Japan and the United States.

    • In 2005 Thailand will be the 7th largest exporter of Automobiles in the world.

      • March 14, 2005: The Afghan army received the first 83 of 5,160 Ford Ranger 4x4 light trucks manufactured at the Mazda factory in Thailand.

    2006: Thailand is one of five countries in the Pacific region with which the U.S. has a security alliance. The other four countries are Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and the Republic of the Philippines.

    In 2003-2005: Thailand has supplied non-combat military forces, Thai Army medical units,  for the international efforts in both Afghanistan & Iraq.

    2004:  The Thais are the 10th largest deployment of foreign troops in Iraq and are part of a multinational force of 9,500 soldiers, led by Poland, that controls south-central Iraq.

    • Sept., 2003.  Thailand demonstrates it supports the humanitarian rights of all peoples by deploying Thailand Military Units to Iraq.

    • November, 2003.  Thai medical support unit in Iraq was shelled by unknown militants.

    • Feb, 2004.  The Thai compound in Iraq is attacked by 'car bomb'.  First Thai military causality recorded.

    • Thailand's military coalition commitment was for 1 year, ending Sept., 2004.

      • Thailand began ending their troop deployment in August, 2004. 

      • By October, 2004 all Thai military were out of Iraq.

    • Thailand remains a major supplier of civilian contract workers in Iraq.

    • December, 2004.  A Thai relief worker was killed by rocket attack in at the Gani Tal settlement in occupied Palestine.

    Thailand's economy benefited greatly from the huge input of American financial support to the only non communist country in SE Asia.

    • Pre 1960, there were almost no buildings more than 3 stories high and for the most part Bangkok's Buddhist temples were still 'properly' the tallest structures.

    • In the mid-1960's things started to change rapidly.  Bangkok was experiencing the first big building boom since World War II.   

      • Most of this new construction boom was directly attributable to the new war in Southeast Asia.

    • The construction boom in Bangkok continued until the late 1990s.

    Thailand has a consistent positive balance of trade with both China and the US.

    The Thai Baht, like the Japanese Yen  & European Euro, floats against the value of the US dollar in international currency markets.

    • China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan essentially enforce a hard peg of their currencies’ values against the dollar.

    • The Thai Baht 'floats' against international currencies and has demonstrated the strength of the Thai economy 1998 - 2006.

    The Asian 'economic flu' of the late 1990's had a major effect on Thailand.

    • Thailand was amongst the first of the Asian economies to feel the pinch of over zealous expansion.

    • The baht fell from $1 = 25 to $1 = 35 pretty much overnight.

    • In 1997 many high-rise construction projects were halted & there was  huge amounts of vacancy in Bangkok office buildings ..  which resulted in huge amounts of defaulted loans.

    • 1997: Incomplete 30 story new office buildings with canvas over the 'windows' seemed to be everywhere.

    • 1998-9: Incomplete 30 story new office buildings with torn & tattered canvas window covering .. 1 & 2 year old window covering now raggedy & torn .. or blown completely off  .. & the blue sky visible through the incomplete 30 story skeletons of buildings .. strange site it was.

    • Even the BTS was in limbo because of a contract negotiated in Baht.  The rapid devaluation of the Baht left the Japanese contractor holding huge amount of Baht worth 40% less than they were when the contract was negotiated.

      • All BTS, sky train, construction stopped at the 85% complete stage ..the incomplete project looked pretty complete from the ground but inoperable for over 2 years.

    • The fabulous BTS is quite wonderful .. almost cannot remember how we got around before .. lots more klong rides..

    • During that time frame it was not unusual to have an 'obvious engineer / business executive' as a cab driver!

    • Obvious?  55 ( Thai word for 5 = ha, so 55 = ha ha ) 

      • The driver that presents professionally dressed in 'proper casual Friday' business attire always stands out .. & turns off ( down?) the radio lottery winning #s announcer.

      • The reading of lottery winning numbers can go on for an hour or more .. excited radio announcer reading of numbers .. only numbers .. endless numbers .

    The initiative launched in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in May 2000, in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, involved wealthier countries such as Japan, South Korea and China making emergency foreign currency loans to Asean nations in the event another currency crisis ever menaced these nations.

    ASEAN: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia

    "What it is doing is try to insulate this region from the kind of turbulence it faced in 1997, the Asian countries would prefer less influence from the IMF because in 1997 the Asian countries feel the advice they got from the IMF was not correct and led to a lot of suffering" said Ifzal Ali, chief economist of the ADB.

    • The 10 Asean and three East Asian Financial ministers ( or Asean +3, China, Japan, South Korea + 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations ) set up a system of bilateral currency swaps so that a member Asian country hit by a foreign exchange crisis, like the one in 1997, can borrow borrow foreign currency from the positive trade balance $$s of other the member nations.

    • This could be viewed as a step towards setting up an "Asian Monetary Fund".

    • The initiative now covers some 16 bilateral agreements totaling almost $40bn between Asean nations and the three East Asian economic giants.

    2005: The Asean +3 have called for a review of the quota of Asian countries in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) "to properly reflect the current realities and their relative positions in the world economy."

    • 2005: Asean +3 group of nations has a cumulative positive balance of trade with the rest of the world measured in multi-trillion US$ ( trillion = 1000 billion or a million million )

    December, 2005:  East Asia Summit.  Sixteen nations, representing nearly half the world's population, sat down together at one table for the first time. 

    • Topics discussed center on trade & not security.

      • The opposite has been recently true of Central Asian grouping the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, whose meeting in the summer culminated in the US being asked to reduce its military presence in the region.

    • The caucus without the Caucasians has been diluted by the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand.

    • This summit was originally envisioned by the charismatic Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad after the financial problems, Asian Financial Flu, of the late 1990s.

    In 2004 - 2008 Thailand is again experiencing an economic boom.

    2004 - 2006: Muslim Unrest in southern Thailand, on the border with Muslim Malaysia

    • Eighty percent of people in the far south, an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Bangkok a century ago, are Muslim, ethnic Malay and do not speak Thai as their first language.

    • Since January, 2004 there has been increasing Muslim separatist violence in southern Thailand.

      • In 2004 - 2006 more than 600 people have died in Thailand's Muslim south, in attacks blamed on Islamic militants.

    • Dec 21, 2004: Thailand has photographs showing Muslim militants responsible for violence in the far south being trained in jungle hideouts in neighboring Malaysia.

    • March 28, 2005 A train was bombed in southern Thailand, injuring 19 people, including 11 police officers.

    • April 4, 2005.  Damn!  Several more bombings over the past few days.  More & more militant separatist activity on the border with Muslim Malaysia.

    • April 18, 2005: Thai intelligence agencies believe two Syrian nationals may have been involved in both the Hat Yai blasts and a car bomb attack in Sungai Kolok on 17 February.

    There is a major Thai-Malaysian gas project  ( in addition to the Thai Myanmar project ) pipeline running through the middle of this area of terrorist activity.

    Combining the newly developed hydrocarbon natural resources with hydroelectric from the Salween River means Thailand's energy requirements can be met by mostly domestic sources in the 21st Century.

    Proposed & supported by the current Thai administration is the 100 KM ( 60 mile )  Kra Canal which would cut across Thailand's Malay Peninsula  thus enable shipping to bypass the Strait of Malacca and head directly from the Indian Ocean / Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand  /  South China Sea / Pacific Ocean.

    • Current proposal is a two-lane canal (with each canal lane at 170 meters ( 660 feet ) wide and 26 meters ( 80 feet ) deep, to allow two 250,000 dwt tankers to pass each other.

    • Both the Andaman Sea & the Gulf of Thailand are shallow.  The project will require considerable 'open water canal' dredging through tourist dominated water recreation areas.

    • This shortened route route between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean directly links more than 2/3s of the world's population... could shorten by days the transport time between Arab oil / Indian Commerce with China / Japan.

    • The canal was first proposed in 1677 during the reign of King Rama I of the when his brother, Prince Bovornmahasurasinghanart, proposed the idea of constructing a canal that would link the two coasts in order to protect the country from Burmese invaders attacking the Andaman Sea coast.

    • In 1973, the idea came up again with support from the U.S. and Japan. They suggested the use of nuclear explosions for excavation.

    • 2006: The "string of pearls" strategy by China includes an ambitious plan to build a 20-billion-dollar canal in Thailand to bypass the Strait of Malacca.

      •  The "string of pearls" plan also includes a new naval base under construction at the Pakistani port of Gwadar, naval bases in Myanmar, a military agreement with Cambodia, strengthening ties with Bangladesh.

      • The activity has raised concerns in the US military.

    • 2006: From the current Kra Canal web site: "Notes:  Excavation by the use of nuclear energy can save costs by up to 40% but this construction method is considered as unsuitable..."    "oh, dear!"

    December, 2005:  East Asia Summit.  Sixteen nations, representing nearly half the world's population, sat down together at one table for the first time. 

    • Topics discussed center on trade & not security.

      • The opposite has been recently true of Central Asian grouping the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, whose meeting in the summer culminated in the US being asked to reduce its military presence in the region.

    • The caucus without the Caucasians has been diluted by the inclusion of Australia and New Zealand.

    • This summit was originally envisioned by the charismatic Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad after the financial problems, Asian Financial Flu, of the late 1990s.

    April 4, 2006. Prime Minister Thaksin resigns after huge protest demonstrations in Bangkok. + Vendors sell a unique Thai form of ecologic demonstration.

    Thai politicians are like politicians world wide.  Barking at the moon.  Listen:      & click here for more of the same

    As usual the Thai found a unique form of demonstration.  Protesters holding plastic sheets made from hundreds of used consumer product labels .. shampoo . water. soft drink . 100s of labels

    • The battered used labels remain visible .. a good way to demonstrate, recycle &  keep the streets clean

        

    • All areas of Siam Square were filled with peaceful demonstrations.

    • Unrest came from the middle class .. college educated professionals.

    • Pink color dominating above is the Chula University color.

    • Siam Sq is adjacent to the Chula Campus.

    • Thaksin's daughter attends Chula.

    Thaksin is widely recognized as the richest man in Thailand .. the most corrupt man in Thailand?

    • Thaksin is one of the richest men in the world.

      • 1994 Forbes magazine estimated he was worth about us$2 billion.

      • Mr Thaksin is accused of deliberately concealing some of his wealth while a cabinet minister in the 1990s.

      • 2 billion in assets ..  & he was concealing assets!

    • Summing up the case against Thaksin, NCCC secretary-general Klanarong Chanthick told the court evidence of Thaksin's intentional asset concealment "abounds".

      • Mr. T transferred some of his assets to his wife, who in turn transferred them to six of their domestic servants and associates in the form of billions of Thb of shares in companies owned by Thaksin and his wife.

    • Thaksin is accused of tax fraud, insider trading & corruption in addition to political issues.

    • Ousted PM Thaksin, aka square head, is a funny guy.
      • Thaksin owns the Manchester City Professional Football Team (England & not Man United) .
      • Thaksin is trying to make British professional football players bow to him .. bow Thai style!
    • Thaksin's Mai Noi (literally minor wife) Lydia is a Thai pop singer.
    • Thaksin's wife, Pojamarn Shinawatra has been convicted of tax evasion & fraud, 546 million baht (US$16.4 million).  She got 3 years but fled Thailand while on bail.
    • Sept.'08 More warrants have now been issued for the Thaksins related to separate fraudulent transactions.

    Security transaction & stock market rules are complicated .. here's my take on 1 transaction.

    • In January, 2006 the Thaksin family sold one telecom asset for $1.9 billion to a Singaporean conglomerate.

      • Shin Corporation, for US$1.9 billion, 800 Billion Thb.

      • & sold in such a way as to avoid paying any tax.

    • November, 2006.  The post Coup government has billed the Takinsin estate us$320, 000, 000.

    • The sale involved the Thaksin family's use of a shadowy offshore company Ample Rich, and raises questions about insider trading, tax evasion and even whether Thaksin was lying about who controlled the company when he first took office in 2001.

      • The deal was a complex Enron like transaction .. involving multiple off shore companies and considerable paper asset shuffling.

    • Thaksin 100% owned Ample Rich, registered in the British Virgin Islands, didn’t have to pay any tax due to questionable deal structuring.

      • The cash assets resulting from the sale of a "Thai national asset" never entered Thailand!

    The reigning PM sold assets in a deal questionably structured to avoid taxes .. even denying the Thai economy / society the benefit of those assets coming back into the Thai society.

    Similar to Off Shore Corporation.. set up to avoid taxes. .. & The Thai People have said "Not our PM"!

    • Thaksin's wife's brother, Bhanapot, received 31.32 million shares in Shin without paying tax.

    • Shares were sold to Thaksin children, Panthongtae and Pinthongta, at Bt1.

    • The shares were re-sold at Bt49.25 each ..

      • thankfully all these profits remain in Thailand.

      • A quick 5000% profit.

    • They borrowed the money to complete the transaction using the shares as collateral.

    Anti-Thaksin Thai often mention the size of Thaksin's wealth, his failure to pay taxes on the sale of Shin Corp and the fact that the sale put what they see as national assets - a mobile phone network and communications satellite - into the hands of another state.

      Thai Rak Thai, Thai Love Thai, is Thaksin's majority party.

    • In the run up to elections Thai Rak Thai created village funds in rural areas.

    • The 'funds' created by members of Mr. Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party were tantamount to vote-buying.

    • Thaksin promised grants of 1 million baht, us$25, 000., to each village.

      • To get / buy votes Mr. Thaksin "has promised to the people things that cannot be done by any human being on earth," asserted Montri Chenvidayakarn.

    • Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party has instituted a health care system in the rural areas that has greatly improved the lives of villagers.

      • The health care program, 30 Thb for medical care.  = less than $1 us,  .5 EU for medical care.

      • The plan is not fully funded, but is still the best yet for Thai villagers.

    • Thai Rak Thai controls over 60% of the Thai parliament.

    • In 2004 Thaksin was in negotiation to purchase Manchester City Football team.

    • In 2007, after being run out of Thailand by the coup, Thaksin completed the transaction of Manchester City.

    • The demonstration demographics are interesting .. the educated middle class vs. the richest & poorest of the land.

    • Thaksin is sleazy at best ..& possibly a corrupt human rights violating politician.

    2007: Elaborate High Rise Construction is again underway everywhere you look in Bangkok.

    Thailand continues to demonstrate that  it accepts a prominent position as a world leading society.

    The success of the Thai society in the 21st century is demonstrated both by it's economic success as well as democratic political stability..

    • Stable government, efficient education system, infrastructure for high tech growth in place.

    • Thailand has an educated & motivated work force available to multinational corporations for high tech outsource manufacturing.

      • Thailand has a literacy rate approaching 95%.

      • Mandatory schooling is required even in the most remote rural areas.

      • The rural areas of Thailand offer a huge and willing semi skilled work force.

    • Thailand is a source of high quality out sourced manufacturing.

      • Advanced first world infrastructure in an emerging market economy.

    • Thailand has one of the highest per capita incomes in Asia.

    • April 2005: Rumor has it that Bangkok's Don Muang Airport will become a US military base when the new Suvarnabhumi Airport ( aka, "Cobra Swamp Field" ) is completed in 2006.. 07 .. ??.

      • September, 2005.  The first plane has landed at the still incomplete airport .. the landing strips, longest in the world, are 90% completed .. reputed to have the tallest control towers also ..

    • .. other rumors have a US base in Narathiwat on the Malay Peninsula facing the Gulf of Thailand.

    Thai Newspaper "political cartoon"  about reported CIA Torture Camp in Thailand.   Thailand hosted the first CIA “black site”.  Abu Zubaydah was held in Thailand in 2002.  Washington Post 2005

    Really Funny Political Cartoon.  The Nation has excellent editorial articles.:

    3 hours of Thai TV Soap Operas .. definitely torture under Geneva.

    Issan BBQ beetle delicacies, highly unusual & the chili dipping sauce is cruel.

    Thai Whiskey .. will definitely cure what ails ya .. no chaser ..

    Thai Moon Shine .. 20 Thb for small recycled water bottle of moon shine .. some of it is pretty smooth ..

    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.

    "What is history but a fable agreed upon?" ~ Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

    Dec 26, 2004.  The Tsunami.

    The waves coming in .. viewed from an Thailand Island hilltop hiking trail ..pics from Khun Toi, a premiere guide

    so calm & serene the beautiful islands were that morning ... December 26, 2004..

    Khun Tem's Recommended Dental Clinic

    Head & Shoulders, Tooth & Gum, above all the rest

    PolyDental Clinic

    Sukhumvit Plaza 2nd Floor, A mostly Korean Complex with construction (Fall, 2006)

    Sukhumvit, just past the information booth, 30' / 10m  from the 7-11 @ Soi 12

     < 66 > 02 251-8822, 02 254-8860

    Exercise Basics in Thai Language   เป้าหมายของโปรแกรม “ที่สุดของแอโรบิค” คือ การแนะนำให้ผู้ที่มีความสนใจในเริื่องของ

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

    • 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.

    • Diagnostics, imaging, lab analysis, physical rehabilitation, cosmetic .. all 80% off US pricing.

    • MRI is less than 10,000 THB   US$200,  EU170, AUD$265.

     Laughter the Best Medicine    Quote Me!

    In case you're interested a serious rant against tobacco companies here, some gross smokers lung pictures.

    Have a yen to travel:  TESOL / TEFL can be a good career choice

    Thailand Newspapers in English

    Road maps of Thailand

    Thailand Resources

    • Dr Pratuang Jintasakul, director of Nakhon Ratchasima's Rajabhat University's Resource Research Institute and Museum, reports that paleontologists have uncovered duck-billed dinosaur and pterosaurs fossils at an excavation at Ban Saphan Hin, near Korat, dating back 100 million years.
    • Dr. Pratuang said his institute has discovered several areas of dinosaur fossils in the suburbs of Khon Kaen (north of Korat) over the past seven years.
    • Nakhon Ratchasima's Rajabhat University Research Institute Museum is adjacent to the Korat Zoo.
      • The new museum has three modern multimedia exhibition halls where the fossils are brought to life via hi-tech simulations and multimedia.  Fossils of saber tooth tigers and mammoths have also been discovered and are on exhibit.