- HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:
Chakri Dynasty commemorated on April 6
A journey through Pha Thai Cave
BMW opens showroom for the North
Jazz night was one to remember
Chakri Dynasty commemorated on April 6
Businesses to observe holiday, close
Monday April 7
Chakri Day (April 6) was first instituted by H.M. King
Vajiravudh (Rama VI) in the year 1919 to commemorate all the Kings in the
Chakri Dynasty, which started with Rama I and continues to this day with
Rama IX, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.
The reigning Kings in the House of Chakri brought peace
and tranquility to the people within Thailand’s borders and successfully
protected the Kingdom, maintaining sovereignty and integrity through crucial
periods threatened by European colonization and two World Wars.
In commemorating “Chakri Day” the national flag is
proudly displayed by the people of Thailand and both government officials
and members of the community participate in traditional ceremonies, making
offerings of flowers and garlands at the many statues of Kings in the House
The Chakri Dynasty, or the “House of Chakri” followed
the reign of King Taksin the Great, when He abdicated due to poor health.
The Chakri Dynasty was ushered in on 6 April 1782 when a close aid of King
Taksin, General Chakri, marched back into Thonburi and assumed the throne as
H.M. King Buddhayodfa the Great. Each Monarch thereafter has had “Rama”
as part of their title.
Since this year the holiday falls on a Sunday, most
offices will close on Monday, April 7 in observance of the special day.
Chakri Dynasty - Chronology of the present-day Dynasty of Thailand
1 King Buddhayodfa the Great
(Rama I) 1782-1809
The first King of the Chakri Dynasty moved the capital
city from Thonburi to Bangkok and built the Grand Palace that houses the
Emerald Buddha. Helped release Thailand from Burmese control, after Ayuthaya
succumbed 14 years earlier.
2 King Buddhaloetla
(Rama II) 1809-1824
The first great poet king of the Chakri Dynasty, renowned
for his literature.
3 King Nangklao
(Rama III) 1824-1851
Extensively encouraged international trading and
education, enhanced promotion of Buddhism and built many temples.
4 King Mongkut
(Rama IV) 1851-1868
Modernized Thailand in both commerce and education. Known
as the “Father of Thai Scientists” and famous for his astrology.
5 King Chulalongkorn the Great
(Rama V) 1868-1910
One of the most beloved and revered kings, He abolished
slavery, extensively contacted the Western world, modernized the government,
education, transportation, and communication. His diplomacy skills saved
Thailand from being colonized during colonial period.
6 King Vajiravudh
(Rama VI) 1910-1925
A great poet king. Continued the work of Rama V in
modernizing Thailand. Promoted education and established the Boy Scouts in
7 King Prajadhipok
(Rama VII) 1925-1935
Granted the Constitution to Thailand in 1932. Thailand
changed from Absolute Monarchy to Constitutional Monarchy.
8 King Ananda Mahidol
(Rama VIII), 1935-1946
A direct grandson of King Rama V. Known as the father of
modern Thai medicine.
9 King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great
(Rama IX) 1946 to the present
A true monarch of the people and guiding light for the
whole Thai nation. Saved Thailand from many crises, dedicated to raising the
living standards of the poor, especially in remote regions.
Early monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty shaped the Thailand of today
The absolute monarchs of the early Chakri Dynasty had a
huge role in the development of Thailand.
The influence of colonialism on Southeast Asia was a
major factor in the development of each country. Thailand’s escape from
Western colonization was due to two farsighted kings who were well educated
and who understood Western thought.
However, foreigners did substantially influence the
economic and social growth of the country. The trade that grew as a result
of the many treaties with Western nations pushed over the first domino of
The absolute monarchs, Rama IV and Rama V in particular,
displayed incredible foresight in their decisions. Colonialism was a huge
threat in Southeast Asia during those early years, and Thailand is the only
country in the region never to have been colonized. It was kept as a buffer
state between French Indochina and the British controlled Burma. The country
managed to maintain its independence because the kings realized that their
country could only escape Western control by developing and westernizing the
country. This led to major redevelopment of the country, reorganization of
the government and increased primacy of Bangkok.
The Chakri Dynasty began in 1782 when the capital of
Bangkok, or Krung Thep, was set up in a loop of the Chao Phraya River, after
the golden capital of Ayutthaya was burned by the Khmer. Absolute monarchs
reigned the country until 1932 when a democratic uprising changed the
monarchy into a constitutional monarchy. Two of these absolute monarchs in
particular had a vital role in planning ahead for their country. King
Mongkut (Rama IV) who reigned from 1850-1868 and King Chulalongkorn the
Great (Rama V) who reigned from 1868-1910 were the two kings that played the
most important roles in Thailand’s escape from colonization. Rama IV and
Rama V were experts in diplomacy as they strengthened Siam and prevented
colonial powers from taking over their country. In doing so they built an
infrastructure, modernized the economy and westernized Bangkok, creating the
city as it is known today.
King Mongkut was the first monarch receptive to Western
influence, although still wary of Western dominance. He was crowned at age
48 after having been in the monkhood for 27 years. This was a huge advantage
for King Mongkut as the education he received in the Wat helped him
understand the West and therefore he knew how to deal with them tactfully.
He realized that if Siam was to be able to meet the Western world on equal
terms, then they must have the modern technology to do so.
The education King Mongkut received as a monk was
invaluable. He learned English which enabled him to read books on modern
science, geography, history and mathematics. His English skills also earned
him respect from visiting foreign diplomats. As a monk, King Mongkut was
able to travel around in Siam and meet people on equal terms. This gave him
an open, humane attitude toward his subjects because he saw himself as an
ordinary human being, and thoroughly understood the problems of his people.
King Mongkut’s foreign policy consisted of two ideas.
He wanted to avoid confrontation by making concessions, and he wanted to
give all Western countries equal treatment to avoid domination by one. He
was responsible for the Bowring Treaty of 1855, which was a treaty of
commerce and friendship with Britain. The treaty imposed concessions on
Thailand that limited tariffs on trade and granted extra-territorial rights
to the British. King Mongkut also established other Bowring-type treaties
with the United States, France, Denmark, Holland, Portugal, Belgium, Norway,
Prussia, Sweden and Italy.
The effects of these treaties on the capital and
government systems were substantial. Although the treaties helped avert
colonialism, problem areas arose within Thailand’s traditional economic
and legal system. The country needed to modernize fast to accommodate the
increase in trade, production and services. Canal digging and road
construction began. Ships were built both to modernize the navy and to catch
the overflow of trade. The army was reorganized. Many Europeans were
employed to reorganize the government. These foreign ministers were all from
different countries. The British advised on financing, the French helped
reorganize the law system and the Americans were trusted to help advise on
foreign affairs. With their help, the King modernized the country and
centralized the government.
Thailand’s first mint was established around this time,
along with new programs in schools that encouraged the study of foreign
languages. Rice was beginning to be exported so new canals needed to be dug
and new markets opened. The allowance of farangs, or foreigners, into
Bangkok for trade was an impetus for the construction of new buildings and
roads. The New Road on the east side of the river was built at this time and
new buildings were built along it to accommodate the growing businesses.
Other roads were constructed soon afterwards, as the King was ashamed of the
condition of the streets and wanted to change their appearance. At this time
roads existed only in the center of the city and near markets, but the
entire nature of the city changed. Bangkok was changed from its traditional
small-scale economy to one focused on manufactured goods and exports.
King Chulalongkorn the Great
King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V) reigned for 42
years, from 1868-1910. He continued the far-sighted reforms of modernization
that Mongkut had begun. King Chulalongkorn had prided himself on the methods
with which he westernized Siam without subjecting it to foreign control, but
King Chulalongkorn was very pragmatic in his reforms. He was critically
selective of which reforms to implicate because he did not want to erase any
traditional values. The most famous of his reforms was the abolition of
slavery. He pronounced every person born during his reign free, and took
steps to liberate the present slaves by creating incentives for their
King Chulalongkorn made other important internal reforms
as well. He expanded the communication and transportation system by building
the first railroad, post and telegraph services. These new networks had two
great effects on the growth of Thailand. First of all, every system
originated in Bangkok and radiated out to the provinces, re-strengthening
Bangkok’s primacy. Railroad lines were a good example of this. Not only
were the provinces accessible to the city, the city became more accessible
to the rural community and as a result, rapid urbanization took place.
Second of all, these developments gave the Thai government much more control
over the provinces. The government was able to send officials to the
provinces and replace the old ruling families with those more favorable to
the Chakri throne. Schools were promoted in the provinces where the Thai
language was taught to give the country a common language. All of these
reforms and more resulted in the national integration of the entire country.
With the government in control of its outer provinces, there was less of a
chance of colonial takeover. Thailand was united and the national identity
that had formed made it harder for colonists to take over parts of the
Rama V also sent many students to study abroad for their
education. He wanted them to return and be capable of replacing the foreign
advisors that King Mongkut had used. King Chulalongkorn also created more
government ministers using the West as a model, and thereby centralized the
government even more.
King Chulalongkorn also established a variety of public
utilities. Health and educational standards for the public were improved. He
developed criminal and civil courts, a police force, hospitals, universities
and a teacher’s college. Chulalongkorn often traveled through Thailand to
personally investigate and share his subject’s conditions. These trips not
only made him more aware of what was going on in his country, it also made
him more popular with the people.
Result of domestic policy
Chulalongkorn’s domestic policy was very successful.
The colonists’ White Man’s Burden excuse was no longer applicable.
Thailand had gained the respect of the foreigners who saw it as stable,
modern, able to protect treaty rights and promote trade, all of which were
ideal for the westerner’s needs.
King Chulalongkorn’s foreign policy was also very
successful. He had traveled extensively in Europe in 1897 and met the
European royalty on equal terms. He was the first Thai monarch to travel to
the West. He knew English well and therefore had read books on Western
history and was determined to resist their domination. He knew their
strength and tactics and knew that Thailand could never use force against
them and still be successful. Instead, Chulalongkorn based his foreign
policy on establishing equal rights for all European powers. He did not want
any confrontations and therefore managed to continue friendly relations with
King Chulalongkorn made several land concessions to the
French and British. To the French he granted Laos in 1893, which had been
kept as a sort of buffer state between Siam and French Indochina. Parts of
Cambodia, including Angkor Wat, had been ceded to the French in 1867. The
southern Malay states were taken by the British in 1909 and thus the borders
of present day Thailand were established.
In order for the country to be accepted as independent
and a buffer state, the country needed to reform. Both Rama IV and Rama V
foresaw this potential problem, and although it appears that they ceded many
rights away, they managed to maintain their country’s independence and
A journey through Pha Thai Cave
Story by Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt
Living in Thailand, the word Pha Thai is related to
noodles. But the Pha Thai I am talking about today has nothing at all to do
with noodles or ‘eating’. I am talking about the Pha Thai Caves which
are more than worthy for a Sunday afternoon visit. To get there, you leave
Chiang Mai and drive through the mountain area towards Lampang, which is the
sole Thai town still using colorful horse-drawn carriages as a means of
everyday urban transport.
into a wide-open mouth; that’s the impression we got when we had our first
glimpse of the Pha Thai Cave.
illuminated Buddha statue invites you to pay respect.
In case you are interested in ceramics, do not miss a
chance to visit at least one of the ceramic factories that are spread all
over the city of Lampang. The bargains you get there and the variety of
beautiful ceramics is unbelievable. I’ve been twice now, and believe it or
not, even I found some things, although I always thought ‘I’ve got it
all’. I didn’t know I needed that special item until I saw it there.
When you drive away, most probably you have a happy husband sitting next to
you, happy to get away from it again.
From Lampang it is another 67 km (42 mi) northeast off
the Lampang - Ngao Road until you reach Ranger Station No. 2 in the Tham Pha
Thai National Park.
When you get out of your car, the air you breathe there
is 100% clearer and cooler than in Chiang Mai and Lampang. Here are no cars,
no tuk tuks, no pollution, just a massive forest, a huge variety of trees,
including pines, dipterocarp and hill evergreens. All are spread throughout
the park with exact location depending on climate, elevation and soil type.
Then you come across some stairs, natural, wild wide stone stairs, leading
up a hill. 279 steps, some small, some high, some wide, some broken ... you
get the point? 279 steps up a hill through a beautiful forest. It’s easy
to take the first 100, no problem, and you wonder why you, from time to
time, see benches next to the stairs. After another 50 you start breathing
more heavily, and after you got over the 200 mark, you really start
appreciating the benches, and the guide who is patiently walking behind you,
secretly wondering if he carries an oxygen tent in case of emergency.
come in all shapes and colors, some golden, some white, some brown. Mother
Nature worked off all her fantasies in the Pha Thai Cave.
stalactites and stalagmites, created by Mother Nature over the past hundreds
of years, occurred from limestone, inside the 1,150 m deep main cave.
‘crawling’ up the top steps, a small Jedi materializes through the
trees, and, depending on the position of the sun, it is covered in golden
But nothing prepares you for the view from the top. On
one side you see at least 50 steps going down over the hill, and on the
other side the entrance to the cave, like a wide-open mouth. A huge Buddha
statue, positioned in front of the first of many stalactites you will come
across, invites you to pay respect, while the guide plugs in the lights to
illuminate the pathways leading further into the canyon. Natural ventilation
holes in the roof of the cave allows the sunlight to enter and sheds light
on the grotesque stalagmites that are covered with bats of all sizes in many
While our group silently walked through the 1,150 m deep
cave where one can get more than 450 m inside, we saw a large snake
slithering around one of the stalagmites, and the guide told us that the Pha
Thai Cave is not only the habitat of bats, but that also the ‘father of
all snakes’ lives inside, with all his wives, mistresses, children and
grandchildren. We should please watch our steps since there are snakes
behind every corner.
But not even that can scare us, since the views and
sights we discover are so awesome and spectacular, a snake or two would not
So, if there is another Sunday coming up where you might end up in front
of the TV, think about a trip to the surroundings of Chiang Mai instead. The
sights and nature you can explore just in front of your doorstep will stay
in your memory for a long time to come.
BMW opens showroom for the North
Viriya Viengping Automobiles (VVP) has been appointed as
an authorized BMW agent in Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Mae Hong Son areas. In
part to celebrate this, BMW Thailand organized a mini-motor show at the VVP
showroom March 29 to April 9, presenting the latest model BMW 530iA for the
first time in the north of Thailand.
caravan, led by BMW motorcycles, cruised all through Chiang Mai.
530iA, launched at V.V.P. Automobile.
BMWs truly turned heads as they passed through town.
The showroom also houses the BMW X5, 523iA Sport, 523iA
Comfort, 330iA, 320 Touring, 323iASE and 318iASE (2003).
On the first day, March 29, the caravan of cars truly
grabbed people’s attention when rallying through the streets after leaving
the showroom at Chiang Mai-Lampang Superhighway. Test drives could be
arranged from the showroom, and in the evenings there were cocktail parties,
serving clients with a variety of foods, beverages and classical music.
The new showroom is on the Chiang Mai-Lampang
Superhighway, 160 meters from Chiang Mai Juvenile Court junction (heading to
Doi Suthep). Further details can be obtained from 053 306 472-6 and fax 053
Jazz night was one to remember
By Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai
The Chivas Music Tour “When You Know” concert brought
Koh, a.k.a. Mr. Saxman, and Pom Perspective to Chiang Mai’s cozy ‘Fine
Thanks’ Pub last Thursday.
crowd especially enjoyed Koh’s interpretation of one of H.M. The King’s
compositions, “HM Blues”. (Photo by Michael Vogt)
Saxman performed a number of songs from his current album. (Photo by Michael
A sold-out restaurant, packed with jazz-lovers, anxiously
awaited the arrival of the two musicians, and gave them a serious round of
applause when they finally arrived.
After setting-up the stage and checking the sound, the
performance started with one of Pom Perspective’s famous songs, “This is
the word love” (Rak Kue Kham Kham Nee). Pom’s romantic, yet jazzy piano
playing literally enchanted the audience.
The audience enjoyed a great treat when Mr. Saxman
performed a number of songs from his current album, constantly changing
between saxophone and clarinet, with both instruments mastered perfectly.
Alternating in performance, Koh and Pom got along very well, and it was
great to see, and hear, both at ease while giving of their very best.
While the beats and rhythms changed frequently from Funk
to Pop, from traditional to modern Jazz, from R&B to Blues, this gave a
glimpse of the variety of which both artists are capable. The crowd
especially enjoyed Koh’s interpretation of one of H.M. The King’s
compositions, “HM Blues”.
After 75 minutes and a stunning rendition of George
Benson’s ‘Masquerade’ and one of Koh’s own songs, ‘Prosperity’ (Pow
Wa Na), both artists stayed on to chat with the guests, sign autographs, and
have their photographs taken.
Very ‘down to earth’ and humble, Koh and Pom informed Chiangmai
Mail that they will be back on the 1st of May - your local newspaper
will keep you informed in advance.
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