The introduction of Western style art to Thailand is often attributed to the Italian Corrado Feroci who established Silphakorn University in 1932. But in fact nearly 100 years earlier a Thai monk named Khrua In Khong was painting large temple murals using Western themes and techniques. His murals are quite unlike those seen in other temples. He paints scenes of people in European dress, grand buildings and modern technology. So who was this monk painting scenes of the modern world and how were such murals appropriate in a Buddhist temple? This is the story of Khrua In Khong, a Thai Buddhist artist who painted futuristic riddles.
The Bangkok Mandala – The City’s Original Urban Plan
For many visitors to Bangkok the city appears to be wild, chaotic and totally unplanned. Many might be surprised to learn that there even is a City Planning Department. In fact the latest plan to tackle the city's many issues was released in 2020. But the city's first urban plan dates back to the founding of Bangkok in 1782. The founders of Bangkok had a plan that they believed would bring order and harmony to the new capital. Unfortunately this plan was unable to cope with the pressures of the nineteenth century, let alone provide guidance in the twenty-first. This is the story of the Mandala of Bangkok.
A Short Tour of Corrado Feroci’s Bangkok
Thailand owes many of its most famous monuments to an Italian who arrived in Siam in 1923. This man's name was Corrado Feroci and he would dedicate the rest of his life to the arts in Thailand, even adopting a Thai name Silpa Bhirasri. Today we will take a tour around Bangkok to learn about Corrado Feroci and his most famous works, a tour which will also take us through some of Thailand's most momentous history.
The History of Bangkok’s Canals – How “Venice of the East” turned into “World’s Worst Traffic”
Bangkok is famous for its canals or khlongs with tourist brochures promoting the city as having once been "The Venice of the East". In fact the history of Thailand's canals is older than Bangkok itself. The "Venice of the East" description was originally from the Portuguese explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto writing about Ayutthaya in the 1540's. But why were there so many canals, when were they built and why are they to blame for Bangkok's terrible traffic-jams today?
What Killed King Chulalongkorn ?
On 23rd October 1910 King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) at the age of 57 died. He had reigned over Siam for 42 remarkable years. His death was mourned throughout the nation and was reported around the world. The day is still remembered as an annual holiday in Thailand. But what exactly did he die of ?
Wang Derm – Bangkok’s Original Palace
Bangkok's Grand Palace is one of the world's most visited tourist attractions with millions of visitors each year. But just across the Chao Phraya River is an older palace which attracts very little attention. Wang Derm or The Original Palace was the palace built in 1767 by King Taksin when he decided to establish Thonburi as the new capital of Siam.
Sala Chalermkrung and the History of Early Thai Cinema
The iconic Art Deco style Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theatre in Bangkok, is a well known landmark built by King Prajadhipok (Rama VII). But the story of early cinema in Thailand and how it was that Thailand's king came to build a popular theatre is now largely forgotten.
Madness and Mayhem – Bangkok’s Fast & Furious Number 8 Bus
Buses are the most heavily used public transport in Bangkok but often they are badly neglected and services are often poor. One route in particular has become so notorious for not just poor service but the cause of death, destruction and mayhem on Bangkok's streets that it has become an icon in popular culture. That is the infamous "Fast and Furious" Bus Route 8.
Memorial Bridge – A Witness to Bangkok’s History
Opened with great pomp and ceremony in 1932 Memorial Bridge was the first road bridge built across the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok. Nearly ninety years later it is just one of many much larger bridges now crossing the river but no others have stood through the immense changes and historic events that Memorial Bridge has seen in those years.
Hidden Treasures on Phra Pradaeng Island
Phra Pradaeng is a great place to escape from the city and for Siamrat one of the hidden treasures there is the pair of old temple buildings at Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok.
The Remarkable History of the Portuguese in Thailand
These days the community of Westerners resident in Thailand is dominated by British, Americans, Germans, French or Scandinavians. But in fact the western community with by far the longest history in Thailand is the Portuguese who first arrived in 1511 some one hundred years before any other European nation.
The Italians Who Built Bangkok
Western tourists flock to Bangkok every year drawn by the spectacle of glittering exotic temples. But some might notice that many of the other grand old buildings appear to be of European style, betraying the influence once held by Italians in early Bangkok.
The Chinese Junk Temple
Wat Yannawa on the banks of the Chao Phraya river is a peculiar temple dominated by a large concrete replica of a Chinese junk
Churches of Bangkok
Everybody associates Bangkok with its magnificent Buddhist temples, but along the Chao Phraya River are a series of beautiful Catholic churches
The Crouching Tiger Guns of Paknam
At Phra Chulachomklao Fortress a visitor can see the formidable British guns that were intended to protect the route to Bangkok and learn about the "Paknam Incident" of 1893 when France nearly took over Siam as a colony.
The Story of Noo Soy Thong
The sad story of Noo Soy Thong shows the differences between Thai and Western attitudes to death.
Bangkok’s Old Customs House
Everyday thousands of tourists pass up and down the Chao Phraya river but few pay any attention to the decaying but still magnificent relic of Bangkok's 19th century Customs House
Putthamonthon is a public park west of Bangkok. Its centre piece is a graceful 15.87 metre tall Buddha statue.
Bangkok’s Birthday Bridges
King Chulalongkorn considered the building of bridges so important he funded the construction of a bridge each year to celebrate his birthday.
Bangkok Protestant Cemetery
Hidden away on the banks of the Chao Phraya river lies the small but serenely peaceful Protestant Cemetery where rest some of the European and American settlers that helped shape modern Bangkok.