A little information about the country that one intends to visit or that one has visited often allows us to put into context the past or future emotions specific to each trip. A little history or anecdotes are often welcome ... This is what you can find on this page dedicated to Thailand. But nothing like (short) videos to get a more precise idea of the places visited or to visit. Beside is a list of the videos edited from the photographic material I brought back from the trip Laos and Bangkok 2022.
You just have to click on the image to access the page giving more information on the place treated in the video and of course, to see this video ...
Formerly known as Siam, the country was renamed in 1939 to Thailand. It is the only country on the Indochinese peninsula not to have experienced colonization by Western powers. Thailand has nearly 70 million inhabitants.
The capital of the country is Bangkok, but this city was renamed in 2022 to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon. We bet that the name of Bangkok will remain used by many people around the world to the detriment of the new name which is registered in the Guinness Book of Records to be the longest city name in the world.
Remains have been found proving that the region was already inhabited 20,000 years before our era and the first traces of rice cultivation date back to 2000 years before Jesus Christ. The inhabitants used bronze tools and weapons as early as 1250 BC.
The Kingdom of Siam
The 13th century will see the decline of the Khmer Empire in present-day Cambodia and the Kingdom of Pagan in present-day Myanmar. At the beginning of this century, the Thais began to combine in order to drive out the Khmers, giving birth to the kingdom of Sukhothai in 1238. This decentralized kingdom was to expand throughout the 13th century. Another kingdom was born at the same time, that of Lan Na. It was going to last about 2 centuries.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya (named after the city of Ayutthaya which was its capital) was born in the middle of the 14th century and would supplant the Khmer kingdom in the 15th century. Several successive wars were waged against Angkor, which was sacked by the troops of the Ayutthaya kingdom. He was also going to swallow up the kingdom of Sukhothai.
Later, in the 16th century, the first contacts with the Portuguese who allied with the kingdom of Ayutthaya. Later, in the 17th century, the Portuguese were followed by the French, the Dutch and the English. The rulers always sought to improve relations with the Europeans, while wars with neighboring powers were regular.
The second quarter of the 18th century is considered the golden age of the Kingdom of Siam, and arts and literature flourished, in the absence of notable wars at that time.
But the respite was short-lived. During the second half of the 18th century, a large Burmese army invaded the kingdom which was struggling to recover from a bloody war of succession during which major purges of civil servants and military officials considerably weakened the state. The capital was taken and burned in 1767.
The capital was then moved to Thonburi and the Burmese were quickly driven out of the old capital. The wars of conquest of the Kingdom of Siam resumed with wars against Burma, Cambodia and Laos. A coup put an end to the reign of Taksin and power passed into the hands of a general who founded the Chakri dynasty and the kingdom of Rattanakosin in 1782. The author of the coup, Chao Phraya Chakri was crowned under the name of Rama 1.
Rama 1 ended the Burmese incursions and vassalized large parts of Laos and Cambodia.
The British also extended their influence by winning the First Anglo-Burmese War and made the Siamese sign commercial treaties. These treaties were of course to the advantage of the British, but nevertheless allowed the development of Siamese trade.
The position of buffer state of the kingdom of Siam between Burma and Vietnam as well as the policy of its leaders have earned it not to become a colony of the West.
The country still experienced many upheavals and coups and often fruitless rebellions.
Siam sided with the Allies during the First World War.
Siam becomes a constitutional monarchy
After a bloodless revolution in 1932, the country's first constitution was born, ending centuries of feudalism and absolute monarchy.
It was in 1939 that a decree changed the name of Siam to Thailand.
In 1941, the Japanese invaded Thailand, before signing a military alliance under which Japan would help Thailand regain its lost territories.
It was in this context that Thailand declared war on England and the United States. An opposition movement was then born to oppose the alliance with Japan and the war with the Allies, the Free Thai Movement.
After the war, Thailand became the United States' most active ally in the region, and a secret agreement would ensure the country's protection as the Vietnam War raged with France and the United States took relay.
This era was marked by a modernization and westernization of the country and Thai society. And significant urbanization took place as peasants began to sympathize with communist ideas.
The country's recent history is marked by constant instability and unrest, as well as fear of communism after the fall of Saigon. Violent clashes have pitted far-right groups against left-wing students, marked by massacres, including that of Thammasat in 1976.
A series of coups ensued, notably following the seizure of power by a repressive far-right government.
Despite these politically troubled times, Thailand enjoyed a 4-decade period of economic growth, which would end with the financial crisis of 1997.
A new series of coups and rebellions, successions of military juntas until the death of King Bhumibol in 2016. His son Vajiralongkorn was crowned, but remains dependent on the roadmap imposed by the military junta. And that does not promote democracy...
But a country is not just about its political and economic situation.
The country is full of magnificent Buddhist monuments, palaces and temples and nature is sumptuous. Tourism represents an important part of the economic income of the country, even if for the majority it is about mass tourism, little respectful of the local culture.
Thai culinary art needs no introduction. Exquisite flavors, at least when one is accustomed to spicy food, delight the most demanding palates.
Bangkok is a huge city with many modern buildings, some of which are remarkable.