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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

BKK 2012 - Day 3, Part 1 - Bangkok National Museum

BKK 2012
Day 3, Part 1 - 9th September - Bangkok National Museum


I spent this day in the Bangkok National Museum. I took the river taxi up to avoid being swindled.

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"Safety Fun Relaxation"
Amusing cruise slogan

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Super long barge convoy

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River Taxi, with boy enjoying his ride in style

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Royal Seminary. Curiously, very European in style.

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Even Bangkok hawkers are on Facebook nowadays

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Grilled bananas

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Was this advertising underwear... or sunglasses?

Thai magazine: "The toilet"

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Mystery meat
I love mystery meat. This was 1 stick for 10B, so I had 2. It was very lean. Maybe it was rat?

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tuffed baby crocodiles

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"Thammasat University: ... this university has played several outstanding roles in Thai politics as well as igniting many political changes in the Thai history"
I love the references to Revolution

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On "National Museum Bangkok"

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Vendor and my 20 mystery drink. I suspect I was overcharged for this drink (possibly Thai orange) which was too sweet at the start but was alright once the ice kicked in

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Museum

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German, Japanese language services

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The museum café sold fried rice for 75B. Bear in mind that my supper the previous night had been 70B - and that had been coked by a street hawker. But you know what? I had stopped caring, since I had long ago shed my illusions that the Third World was cheap, or that people there were honest.
Actually it was very cheap for a museum café

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I didn't think there was any advantage in a squat toilet being raised. In fact, this would give rise to the possibility of falling down.

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Toilet for junior. Aww.

The museum was 200B (S$8.50). On a PPP basis this was very expensive. I wonder if the locals paid the same.

The first building was a summary of the History of Thailand. It had air-conditioning and lots of information panels.

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"Origins and habitations of the Thais... there is no clear conclusion as to the origin of the Thais"
On Thai foundation myths

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The women's clothing (properly woven and cut cloth) seemed to come from a different era from the men's (roughly hewn rags)

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Everything here was a replica for some reason. I looked for the replica Roman lamp but even though it was a replica it was missing

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Sukhothai stone inscription, an early use of the Thai alphabet

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"Pho Khun Ram Kham Haeng... during his reign, it was ruled like father and son. The people were able to complain directly about their trouble"
O RLY
As the saying goes, 'Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past'

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On the Sukhothai Kingdom: "In the reign of King Li Thai, there was a riot. The king, therefore, re-organized his administration into a more complex. Status of the ruler was then changed to obtain more power. Rulers were, then called Phraya and became absolute monarchy"
Translation: "In the reign of King Li Thai, there was a riot. This was brutally suppressed. The king, therefore, re-organized his administration into a repressive state, which was more complex. He became an absolute monarch and controlled his people with an iron fist"

In the pictures of Sukhothai, it looked to be in a different style from Ayutthaya, and also quite nice.

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Buddhist Disciples

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Founding of Ayutthaya

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"The settlements of the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the Japanese lied along the Chao Phraya River outside the city. Only the Mon and the Chinese were allow to live inside the wall"
Racism!

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Some of the 500 Jatakas (previous lives of the Buddha)

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Why does the Buddha look so simian?!

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"The most important duty of every king of Ayutthaya was to uphold the Buddhist faith and patronize all Buddhist activities. A most outstanding example was King Boromtrailokkanat... entered the priesthood for 8 months after he ascended the throne"
A priest-king is a good king? What if he neglects the realm by entering the priesthood?

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Ayutthaya gold

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This queen maneuvered her elephant between her king's and another's. I can't tell which one she is.

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"King Naresuan firing across the Sittang river" (attacking the Burmese)
"Surakamma was finally shot dead by Prince Naresuan... The gun which Prince Naresuan used to shoot Surakamma was then called Phra Sang Pun Ton Kham Mae Nam Sittang or the royal gun shot across the Sittang river, and has since been used as one of the royal weapons in the Coronation Ceremony"
And you wonder why ASEAN still has so many problems today.

Bonus: here is a very interesting painting from the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta called "ASEAN in Harmony". It's by Adiyo and presumably dates from 1997, ASEAN's 30th anniversary.

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"ASEAN in Harmony"

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"The king appointed Phraya Chakkri, to be the commander. Unfortunately, Phraya Chakkri was a Burmese spy, He, therefore, used many tricks to weaken Ayutthaya. Finally Ayutthaya, one of the great empires of the area, fell under Burma in 1569 A.D."
I'm very curious what the Burmese say about this episode. If the situation had been reversed, naturally they would have praised Phraya Chakkri for his cunning and ingenuity in saving Ayutthaya.

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Prince Naresuan declaring independence in 1584. Notice that the Mon chiefs who disclosed the Burmese King's plans to Prince Naresuan are not condemned as scurrilous traitors.

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"In Pegu, Prince Naresuan's cock defeated the cock of the Pegu Crown Prince"
I'm looking for any hidden meaning here

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King Naresuan dueling on elephant-back

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"The people of Ayutthaya were also influenced by Portuguese foods and desserts. Bread was accepted and was named in Thai as 'pang' after the Portuguese word. Many of their desserts became part of Thai cuisine"
Maybe one was the use of rice as a dessert

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"The Glory of Foreign Relations", aka "look what we learnt from the Europeans"

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"Although the French played their role in Ayutthaya for a short time, their records about Siam of that period are now very valuable for the study of Ayutthaya"
Learn about Ayutthaya from the French! Presumably Thai records weren't very good - but why?

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A valiant defence against the Burmese

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"Phraya Tak (Sin)... was appointed Phraya Wachira Prakan to rule Kamphaeng Phet... [he] could see no hope to protect the city for long. He and a group of 1,000 soldiers fought their way out of the city on January 3, 1767, three months before the loss of Ayutthaya"
If he had fought on to the end, he would've been valorised for fighting to the end.

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"King Tak Sin the Great reigned for a period of fifteen years... King Tak Sin the Great died on 6th April 1782, at the age of 48"
I was suspicious of his dying at such a young age, and put a note in my notes to check the true story. In reality he went mad and the future Rama I launched a coup and killed him.

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Buddhist manuscript cabinet

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Symbol of Department of Recruiting

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"Somdet Chao Phraya Maha Kasatsuk... while commanding his troops, a miraculous event occured, his body radiated a glow. All the soldiers and other persons saw this, and immediately paid homage to him in the belief that he would become the next King"
Justification for Rama I taking over the country

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On the 9 Battalion war (with Burma, naturally). The National Museum of Myanmar in Rangoon would have a different story and would condemn Thai trickery.

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Model depicting Ramayana story

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Marionette heads

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"Vietnam was becoming as powerful as Siam, trying to take control of Laos and Cambodia. In order to prevent a Vietnamese invasion, Siam declared war on Vietnam in 1833, It was not until 1846 that Vietnam called for peace with Thailand"
Doctrine of pre-emptive war!

What's even more interesting than the justification of pre-emptive war is how it differs from Wikipedia's account:

Siamese–Vietnamese War (1831–34) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The Siamese-Vietnamese War of 1831-1834, also known as the Siamese-Cambodian War of 1831-1834, started when Siam (Thailand) tried to conquer Cambodia but was repelled by Viet Nam... a 15,000-man Vietnamese army marched against the Siamese in 1833 and assisted Ang Chan in returning at Udong, the Cambodian capital (north of Phnom Penh). With the retreat of the Siamese, Vietnam exercised almost total control over Cambodia."

Siamese–Vietnamese War (1841–45) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The 1841–1845 Siamese-Vietnamese War in Cambodia was a war between Vietnam (then under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty) and Siam (Thailand), triggered by Siam's attempt to expand its influence in Cambodia and to prevent its rival, Vietnam, from territorial gains the region at the expense of the declining Khmer Empire.

After Viet Nam defeated Siam in the 1831–1834 war, a Vietnamese-installed Queen Ang Mey reigned on the Cambodian throne as her country increasingly came under the yoke of Viet Nam... Vietnamese reinforcements from Huế and central Vietnam quickly moved to the Mekong River Delta and effectively stopped the Siamese onslaught. Then, in May, a strong Vietnamese counter-offensive smashed the Siamese troops, retook Cô Tô captured a large amount of prisoners of war.

Meanwhile, in Cambodia, the Siamese occupying forces repeated the same mistakes of the Vietnamese, and as a result they lost the locals' trust... Phnom Penh fell. Chao Phraya and Ang Duong retreated to Oudong...

Encircled, Chao Phraya sought for peace, and in November 1845, both nations sign a peace agreement, bringing the war to an end. Cambodia was placed under joint Siamese-Vietnamese protection."

Ahh, it's almost as if they were describing 2 different wars!

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"Shirt and hat with cabbalistic writing"

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Tubular for keeping document

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On Siamese imperialism in Indochina in the 19th century.

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"Map of territories yielded to France and England" aka how Thai imperialism yielded to Western imperialism

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"Dr. Bradley and his friend"
Poor friend, with no name

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Stupa Model

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Thai Manuscript

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Impractical railway equipment used by King Chulalongkorn and Queen in 1892 railway ceremony

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Chulalongkorn's modernisation (which was probably forced upon his people)
Note also the double standards: "He allowed foreign guests as well as Thai officials to stand up and bow to him and to sit on chairs when he asked them to sit. However, when meeting only Thais, the old custom still applied"

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Model of floating house

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French military pilot qualifications for some member of royalty

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Thailand sent 1200 Thai "volunteer" troops into World War I in 1917 (less than a year before the Central Powers surrendered), and 19 of them died. That's an impressive casualty rate. I wonder what they did in the war.

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"King Vajiravudh acting as Nai Man Puen Yao in his own play Pra Ruang"

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This should be Rama VII

From my studies of Thai history I recall some Thai kings in the 20th century were embroiled in controversy, or had strange things happen to them. Naturally this was glossed over. The military coups in the second half of the 20th century were not mentioned either.

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Prajadhipok

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They excused the episode of World War II collaboration with the Japanese in a novel war:

At the beginning [of World War II] Thailand did not take side. The Thai government signed an agreement with Britain and France, not to invade each other. However, Thailand vigorously pursued a nationalistic policy, opposing France on her territory in Indo-China, and increasing the tension between the two countries. Japan reconciled them in a dispute, which led to the Tokyo Peace Treaty in 1941.

However, Japan invaded French Indo-China and marched troops through Thailand heading for Burma. The landing of Japanese troops on the south of Thailand cause a great lost of civilian and officer lives, the government of Thailand then signed an agreement with Japan on 9 December 1941 which causing internal conflict. The active group of Seri Thai, an underground organization led by Pridi Banomyong, was formed. Some Thais who did not agree with the government joined in an effort to resist Japan...

In January 1942, the Allies began to bomb Bangkok and the BBC broadcast that the government of Thailand had united with Japan, declaring war on Britain and the United States...

At the end of World War II Japan surrendered. Mr Pridi Banomyong, who was the Regent for King Ananda Mahidol issued a proclamation that the war against the Allies declared by the former Prime Minister, Field Marshal Luang Phibulsongkhram was invalid. The Thai people did not agree upon Field Marshal Luang Phibulsongkhram. Some of them worked underground against the Japanese during the war."


Most people were okay with photo taking - even in temples. Thais also took photos.

The Third World has poor tourist infrastructure: a lack of signs, free maps, maps, tourist offices, information plaques, clearly signposted transport and more.
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