|B A N G K 0 K M E T R O
P O L I S
Metropolis lies on both banks of the Chao Phya, the main river
of Thailand, 20 kms upstream from the Gulf of Thailand. King Rama
1, the founder of the present Chakri Dynasty built the present
capital in Bangkok in 1782. The Royal Founder took great care
to build palaces and temples of the new capital in the same style
of Ayuthaya, the previous capital, which in turn had its origin
from Sukhothai, the first Thai capital built in the 13th century.
Both former capitals, now national historical parks, have been
placed in the UN's list of world cultural heritages. The name
Bangkok appeared on international navigation charts as far back
as the 15th century as an outpost port of Ayuthaya, the former
capital where western merchant ships made frequent calls. However,
Bangkok has got an official name, so auspicious and long that
it goes into the Guinness Book as the longest in the world for
a city. In short, the official name is "Krung Thep"
meaning "The City of Angels", the same name as Los Angeles,
which incidentally has a sizable Thai community numbering over
300,000 ethnic Thais, the largest outside Thailand.
than anywhere else in the country, Bangkok expresses Thailand's
uncanny ability to blend the old with the new. This lends a thrilling
sense of discovery to one's sightseeing and adds an element of
surprise when exploring what is the Orient's most fabled city.
Joyfully exuberant, Bangkok embraces modern development and presents
an initial picture of thrusting office towers; of world-class
hotels offering deluxe comforts; of glittering shopping plazas
packed with treasures of the East such as silks and gemstones;
of restaurants serving Thailand's acclaimed spicy specialities
and virtually every other national cuisine worthy of the name;
of neon-lit entertainment spots where the fare ranges from classical
dance to laser disco.
Incredibly amidst this sybaritic world Bangkok manages to preserve
its cultural heritage to an amazing degree. In the rich splendour
of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Temple
of the Dawn and other historic shrines, you see images of medieval
Oriental wonder, the very stuff of Eastern fairy tales.
The influence of the past is not limited to
major monuments and it continues to colour daily life. Files of
saffron-robed monks making their early morning alms round, for
example, present a scene unaltered in essentials by the passing
of time. Today's backdrop of highrise buildings only adds wonder
to this and other enduring sights from which the city continues
to draw definition.
Ultimately it is from the people that Bangkok
derives its unique flavour. Fun-loving and easy going, they possess
a rare tolerance which imbues the city with a real sense of freedom.
It may appear at times hectic, yet what finally comes across is
Bangkok's good natured acceptance of life with all its idiosyncrasies.
Thailand's "City of Angels" is,
indeed, a magic place where possibilities are limited only by
the imagination. You'll marvel at past glories, delight in present
opportunities and love every minute of it.