Book Review
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Book Review

Book Review: By Lang Reid

Thailex, the Thailand Travel Encyclopedia

We all remember the heavy encyclopedias we gleaned information from when we were children. Now that weighty tome can be replaced by one DVD, and the Thailand Travel Encyclopedia promises over 5,000 inputs and over 7,000 pictures and represents Yves Masure’s 15 years of travel, research and translation.

The DVD begins with the following: “Southeast Asia, is nothing less than an open-air museum stored with astonishing wonders - a magnificent school where one can absorb intriguing cultures in an empiric and peripatetic way.”

In Masure’s words, “With the aim to store my findings and enabling me to visit them again, I have recorded the results of such a research. Thus, with near-scholarly, in-depth study done in multiple languages, including Thai, Khmer, Lao, Sanskrit and Chinese, and by using both primary and secondary sources, along with a comparative study of parallel materials, I created this travel encyclopedia, which I hope will help shed some light on the often obscure and enigmatic cultural aspects of a society shrouded in myth and legend.”

He begins with Early History. “Originally the Tai were an animist people in Southwest China, though not ethnically Chinese, and from the 9th century began to migrate southward, little by little, into parts of Southeast Asia and the fertile Chao Phraya valley. They settled down in an area that today is Burma, Laos and Thailand, and here they came into contact with other civilizations such as the Mon, Khmer and Lawa.”

“From the 7th to 14th century AD the Khmer established a mighty kingdom based in Angkor, from where they expanded and would eventually rule over practically the whole of Indochina. They were already present in Thailand’s most important basin during the Dvaravati period, where they mixed with the local Mon population. Whilst their conquests throughout the 7th to 11th centuries brought cultural influences in art, language and religion, their political dominance eventually overthrew the Dvaravati culture.”

It is not all history as cities, provinces, culture, customs, temples, national monuments and parks, flora and fauna, this DVD encyclopedia has it all. 7,000 images covers an amazing amount of items.

It has very detailed information, such as “The Democracy Monument in Bangkok symbolizes the transition of an absolute to a constitutional monarchy on 24 June 1932 or 2475 BE. The date is represented in the measurements of the monument. The height of the four wings and the radius of the monument are 24 meters, and the year is represented by the 75 cannons that surround the monument.” Now, did you know that?

The depth of research and the wide range of items is incredible, and Masure has done a wonderful job in recording these. Now on its sixth iteration, this DVD encyclopedia has no equal that I have seen. It is the best Xmas present you can send to friends and family (easy to carry and post) explaining just why you live here, and why you continue to be fascinated by this country. This DVD shows many of the reasons. At only B. 1,400 in good bookshops it has a wealth of information and is thoroughly fascinating..