Bangkok (Topographics) by William Warren

By William Warren

William Warren’s Bangkok is a casual portrait of this such a lot shiny and puzzling of contemporary towns. Divided into elements, the 1st is a selective heritage, exhibiting how Bangkok has constructed during the last two hundred years, whereas the second one explores the modern face of town via a chain of private impressions.The writer explains how the charms of Bangkok and its humans outweigh the dangers of toxins, site visitors and stifling warmth. He additionally introduces celebrities, equivalent to the early kings of Thailand’s current dynasty and Anna Leonowens, heroine of The King and that i, in addition to Jim Thompson, the US-born silk entrepreneur and artwork collector who mysteriously vanished within the jungles of Malaysia.Bangkok offers a miles wanted background of the town, yet is additionally imbued with the heat of Warren’s love affair with its frenetic lifestyle.

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Some of those who celebrated the hotel’s opening arrived by land. Though no-one then or later (certainly not today) ever 60 praised its architecture, New Road was a busy thoroughfare and well on its way to becoming a centre of Western and Chinese business. It was lined with two-storey shop-houses, mostly of basic design, but some with pretensions of greater permanence. ) In 1889 a Dane called Aage Westenholtz established a horse-drawn tramway on New Road, extending for some 6 km and employing three hundred ponies; this was electrified in 1893, ten years before a similar system was to be seen in Copenhagen.

Santa Cruz, on the west bank, was first erected in this period and twice rebuilt, in 1834 and 1913. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was established by French missionaries in the seventeenth century and rebuilt in 1837 by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix, who resided there for a time. Having arrived early in the third reign, Pallegoix was a keen observer of the Thai scene and wrote one of the most perceptive accounts of the country and its culture. He enthusiastically described Bangkok as situated in the midst of boundless gardens consisting of luxuriant year-round growth.

Most were similar to those seen in British tropical colonies, but some displayed more imaginative touches. Alexander Griswold, one of King Mongkut’s biographers, has said that the King liked to adapt European architecture to Siamese needs and that he had a preference for cool stuccoed buildings of one storey, ridge-roofed and colonnaded, whose aspect recalled in simpler form the glories of the late Greek Revival in South Carolina and Louisiana – but with judicious touches of the Chinese decoration that had been popular in the previous reign.

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