The town of Champasak in southern Laos is small and neglected. But within the grounds of an unremarkable looking Buddhist temple in the town centre are the funeral stupas of two kings. For this was once the capital of an important kingdom that held sway over central and southern Laos parts of Vietnam and Cambodia as well as Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket and Roi Et in modern Thailand. The story of Champasak is one of tragic downfall which some believe was caused by powerful curses upon the ruling families.
In the mid-nineteenth century growing European influence in Siam resulted in a new style of architecture for wealthy families called "gingerbread". One hundred years later many of these old homes are being restored to their former glory.
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.
On 11th May 1949 Radio Bangkok announced to the world that from that day on Siam would be known as Thailand. But in fact this was the second time this name change had occurred within ten years and the change was not particularly popular. So why the change?
Anybody who takes an interest in Thai history will soon hear the phrase "He is today considered the Father of Thai........" where the blank might be anything from "Navy" or "Postal System" to "Art" or even "History". After a while one realises that there are many of these "fathers" some of whom are mentioned in... Continue Reading →
One hundred years ago the second largest export of then Siam was teak and this industry helped shape modern Thailand. It also left behind some beautiful architecture.
The Emerald Buddha is the most venerated Buddha image in all of Thailand and is the highlight for many of the 8 Million visitors to the Grand Palace each year. But few of these visitors consider where this sacred image originated from or are aware of the journey travelled by the Emerald Buddha prior to being installed within the Grand Palace