Thursday, September 26, 2013


Bangkok, Thailand is my home town - I've written about it a few times in the past, told the story of my Dad and my upbringing in Southeast Asia. I speak Thai of course, my kids are learning Thai, my wife cooks me Thai food two or three times a week and I have a Thai Jungle Room in my house; these days I feel more Thai than ever before. I love Thailand - S.L.

The Grand Palace at night, Bangkok Thailand

I lived in Bangkok 1970-77, graduated 12th grade at the International School in '77 and hung around awhile until it became counterproductive. I didn't want to leave. I eventually went back with the Army - multiple tours of duty when I was stationed in Okinawa 1988-1992. Those were amazing years - I earned my star & wreath on my master parachutist badge leading a stick of Thai Border Patrol Police paratroopers on a jump over Haad Yai, South Thailand - giving the jump commands in Thai.

My Alma Mater

The real name of Bangkok is Krungthep - the th is a hard "t" just like the Th in Thailand. Everybody calls it Krungthep. If a Thai asks me 'Where did you live in Thailand? Where are you from?' I answer "Krungthep." Bangkok was the name of a small fishing and trading village on the site of where Krungthep is now. Bang means village and kok is a kind of a plant bearing olive-like fruit.

Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

The full name is actually "Krung thep mahanakorn amorn Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Pop Nopparat Ratchatani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasatan Amorn Piman Awatarn Sathit Sakkathatiyat Witsanukarmprasit"

Translates into English :

"City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra's Behest"

If you have trouble pronouncing it, here's the hit song by superstar Thai Pop Group, "Asanee Wasan" who have set the name to a catchy tune sung like a traditional Thai song:

Nowadays almost every kid in Thailand knows this song. I'm "Dek 'Thep" (Bangkok kid) but I'm still working on it.



  1. Thanks for the geography lesson. Getting someone else's perspective & knowledge is much appreciated. I never quit learning.

  2. I had the great good fortune to have visited Thailand just a few years back. My youngest was with Princeton in Asia teaching English at a school in Nan for a school year. We took the opportunity to visit her. Loved every second (well, except the INCREDIBLE heat).

    Foreigners were so unusual in Nan that children would run along the street pointing and giggling as we walked. People could not have been more friendly.

    Wonderful place. The marketplaces were an education. The food was fun althought there was an extremely pungent dish that some locals ate. As it passed our table it reminded me of the tear gas chamber in basic training.

    It was the time of the year when they were working on their boats and training for the boat race. Very colorful and a thing to behold from the bridge.

    We hired a driver and guide with a jeep and they took us all over and we had a great time. Road elephants. I was flabbergasted, and saddened, to learn that many teak farms were being converted to grow corn for ethanol. Our guide seemed to think that was a good idea but I let him know I thought it was foolish and shortshighted.

    We spent a bit of time in Bangkok. Got "kidnapped" by the tuk-tuks while attempting to visit the Grand Palace. Tuktucked me off the time but was darned fun in retrospect.

    This was not long before the "riots." Discontent was simmering and there were some demonstrations but I couldn't imagine those gentle people getting that agitated.

    I'd gladly go back.

    Lovely place.

  3. umm... we rode elephants, rather than "road elephants". Yeesh.

  4. Thai workers are extremely esteemed by Israeli farmers. The Thais are mostly your backwoods province boys. The one thing I was told was: just keep your companion-animals INDOORS when it's the Kings Birthday. Lest you end up enjoying them as part of the buffet that the Thais have put together.....