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Bangkok

 

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The angels city

Bangkok is the capital, largest urban area and primary city of Thailand. Known in Thai as Krung Thep Mahanakhon (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร, pronounced [krūŋtʰêːp máhǎːnákʰɔːn]), or กรุงเทพฯ Krung Thep for short, it was a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It came to the forefront of Siam when it was given the status as the capital city in 1768 after the burning of Ayutthaya. However, the current Rattanakosin Kingdom did not begin until 1782 when the capital was moved across the river by Rama I after the death of King Taksin. The Rattanakosin capital is now more formally called "Phra Nakhon" (Thai: พระนคร), pertaining to the ancient boundaries in the metropolis' core and the name Bangkok now incorporates the urban build-up since the 18th century which has its own public administration and governor.

 

In recent years, Bangkok has broken away from its old image as a messy third-world capital to be voted by numerous metro-watchers as a top-tier global city. The sprawl and tropical humidity are still the city’s signature ambassadors, but so are gleaming shopping centres and an infectious energy of commerce and restrained mayhem. The veneer is an ultramodern backdrop of skyscraper canyons containing an untamed universe of diversions and excesses. The city is justly famous for debauchery, boasting at least four major red-light districts, as
well as a club scene that has been revived post-coup. Meanwhile the urban populous is as cosmopolitan as any Western capital – guided by fashion, music and text messaging.

For the visitor, the impact is immediate. Your first move is likely to be joining the cacophonous arteries of metal that pump – just barely – almost eight million people around the region’s biggest city. Everywhere you look the streets and waterways are alive with commuters. Schoolkids run without sweating, smiling vendors create mouth-watering food in push-away kitchens, monks rub bare shoulders with fashionistas in air-conditioned malls… Whether it’s in one of Bangkok’s famous golden temples, riding in the back of its roguish túk-túk or just walking down the street, something odd and inexplicable will happen at the most unexpected time.

If all you want to do is kick back on a peaceful beach, at first glance Bangkok will seem like a transit burden full of concrete towers instead of palm trees. But once you tire of sea breezes, you’ll better appreciate Bangkok’s conveniences and breakneck pace. With its mix of the historic and contemporary, and some of the most delicious and best-value eating on earth, the City of Angels is surely one of the most invigorating in Asia.

Since its inception as the capital of Siam, it was at the center of European Colonial plans, but due to its strategic location in Indochina, it acted as a buffer-zone and brokered power between the European forces. Through this, it gained notoriety in the world as an independent, dynamic, and influential city. And in the span of over two hundred years, Bangkok has grown to become the political, social and economic center of Thailand, Indochina and Southeast Asia.

As a direct result of the 1980s and 1990s Asian investment boom, numerous multinational corporations base their regional headquarters in Bangkok and the city has become a regional force in finance and business. Its increasing influence on global politics, culture, fashion, and entertainment underlines its status as a global city. In 2009, it was the second most expensive city in South-East Asia behind Singapore.

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The name Bangkok is derived from Bang Makok, meaning ‘Place of Olive Plums’, the name of a village that pre-dates the arrival of the capital in 1782. The full official title of the capital is ‘Krungthep mahanakhon amon rattanakosin mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok popnopparat ratchathani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakkathattiya visnukamprasit’. Not surprisingly, most Thais abbreviate it to Krung Thep (City of Angels). In fact, the capital’s official full name is “Krungthep, Maha Nakorn,*Amorn Ratanakosindra, Mahindrayudhya, Mahadilokpop Noparatana Rajdhani, Burirom, Udom Rajnivet Mahastan, Amorn Pimarn Avatarn Satit, Sakkatuttiya Vishnukarm prasit” which may be translated into English as follow : “The city of angel, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city [of Ayutthaya] of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with the nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in enormous royal palaces which resemble the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarm”. Due to its over a hundred romanised letters, the capital earns a listing in the Guiness Book of record as the World’s longest place-name. The city has been coined the "City of Angels", "Venice of the East", and "Detroit of the East".

The city's wealth of cultural landmarks and attractions in addition to its notorious entertainment venues has made it synonymous with exoticism. Its historic wealth coincides with its rapid modernization, reflected in the cityscape and the urban society. The Grand Palace, Vimanmek Palace Complex, its thousands of temples, and the city's notorious red light districts combine draw in 11 million people international visitors each year, trailing just Paris and London.

Bangkok has a population of approximately 6,355,144 residents while the greater Bangkok area has a population of 11,971,000 (January 2008) . The capital is part of the heavily urbanized triangle of central and eastern Thailand which stretches from Nakhon Ratchasima along Bangkok to the heavily Industrialized Eastern Seaboard. Bangkok borders six other provinces: Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom, and all five provinces are joined in the conurbation of the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. It is served by two international airports, Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Muang, four rapid transit lines operated by the BTS, MRT, and the SRT, with plans to add eight more by 2020.

At the centre of the flat, humid Mae Nam Chao Phraya delta, Bangkok sits at the same latitude as Khartoum and Guatemala City, and can be as hot as the former and as wet as the latter.

The southwest monsoon arrives between May and July and lasts into November. This is followed by a dry period from around November to May, which begins with lower relative temperatures until mid-February (because of the influence of the northeast monsoon, which bypasses this part of Thailand but results in cool breezes), followed by much higher relative temperatures from March to May. It usually rains most during August and September, though floods in early October may find you in hip-deep water in certain parts of the city. An umbrella can be invaluable – a raincoat will just make you hot.

History

In 1782, after the passing away of King Taksin of Thon Buri, today part of Bangkok located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Chao Phraya Maha Kasatsuek ascended the throne and was known as King Buddha Yodfa or Rama I. The King moved the capital to the opposite side of the river known as Bangkok, and established the Chakri Dynasty.

The main reason for the removal was that Bangkok had a better location for protection from foreign invasions as it was separated by the river from the west bank and also covered a bigger area. Then canals were dug around the city starting from the expansion of Banglamphu and Ong Ang canals to the east. When finished, the two canals were joined together and linked the Chao Phraya River at both ends so the city was surrounded by water and the whole canal was named "Khlong Rop Krung" meaning the canal round the city. These canals together with other smaller ones were the source of Bangkok's nickname "Venice of the East".

King Rama I then commanded the construction of the Grand Palace close to the river modeling on the ancient palace of Ayutthaya with a royal temple, the Emerald Buddha Temple, within the city walls. In addition, other important government offices were newly built on the east bank. The King gave a very long name to the capital, i.e. Krung Thep Mahanakhon Bowon Rattanakosin Mahinthrayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathatiya Witsanukam Prasit. (Later, King Rama IV (1851-1868) changed the word "Bowon" in the full name into "Amon".) This long name is still a world record, though in normal usage it is shortened to "Krung Thep".

In the early Rattanakosin period (1782-1851), Bangkok remained a quiet place. It was covered with lush vegetation and had waterways as its chief routes of transportation. The capital underwent some development based on Western models in the reign of King Rama IV who ordered road building, canal digging, ship building, and a reorganization of the Thai army and administration. The great reform occurred in the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910) who brought the nation into modernization in various aspects, including administration, education, justice, communications and public health. For the convenience of administration, the country was divided into several monthon, and Bangkok was one of them.

In 1932, a revolution was staged and the political system was changed into constitutional monarchy. Bangkok on the east bank known as Krung Thep or Phra Nakhon became a province and Thon Buri on the west bank became another province. In 1971, the two provinces were merged under the name of Nakhon Luang Krung Thon Buri or Bangkok-Thon Buri Metropolis. One year later, the form of local government in the metropolis was reorganized and the province obtained a new name as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or popularly called Krung Thep for short. The name is still used among the Thais today as always, while the foreigners know Krung Thep as Bangkok. It is noteworthy that the name "Bangkok" formerly referred to a small fishing village which later expanded into communities on both sides of the Chao Phraya River. It is so named because the village (called bang in Thai) was full of wild olive (called makok in Thai which was shortened to kok) groves, and the name has been internationally used up to now.

Bangkok is now a bustling city with a population of some 8 millions as it is the centre of administration, transportation, business, communications, education, entertainment and all.

Info

Bangkok

Location
Located in the centre of the country, straddling the banks of the Chao Phraya River and close to the Gulf of Thailand, the greater Bangkok Metropolis (including Thon Buri on the other side of the Chao Phraya River) covers an area of about 1,600 sq. km. Bangkok is adjacent to Pathum Thani on its north, Nonthaburi on its northwest, Chachoengsao on its east, Samut Sakhon on its southwest, and Samut Prakan on its southeast.

Area
Bangkok has an area of 1,568.737 sq. km.

Climate
There are three seasons: rainy (from June to October), hot (from March to May), and cool (from November to February). The annual average temperature is about 29° C with the monthly averages ranging from 35° C in April to 26° C in December.

Topography
Bangkok is located in the basin of the Chao Phraya River and has no mountains. The land is crisscrossed with canals and rivers.

Population
5,716,248 (end Dec 2007) with 2,727,574 males and 2,988,674 females. Most residents are ethnic Thais, with an estimated 25% of Chinese origin. Another large group of inhabitants is of Indian descent.

"The total population includes only permanent residents."

Administration
As the capital of the country, Bangkok is the centre of administration, commerce and communications. The city is divided into 50 districts (khet).

Language
The standard Thai language is in use. English, a mandatory subject in public schools, is widely spoken and understood in business and tourist areas.

Products
Bangkok is the centre of all kinds of goods, both domestic and imported.

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