Page last updated: 19 October, 2008
Ramkhamhaeng University Institute of International Studies (IIS-RU)
 
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Bangkok

(This text is an excerpt from Lonely Planet Thailand, the probably best guide for Thailand.)

It is one of the most fascinating towns on our planet - this modern, steamy Asian metropolis, on 560 km2, with 8 million+ population. Between canyons of concrete skyscrapers, speeding vehicles roar through space enacting a human-scaled version of nuclear fission. The noise is deafening, the pollution suffocating, and the heat stuffy; and then, there are the floods. But conquering a man-made jungle is the modern version of bush-whacking. Once you hack through the 12-lane highways and the throngs of people, you will find a small village, napping in the narrow lanes with an unmistakable khwaam pen thai ('Thai-ness').

The capital of Thailand was established at Bangkok in 1782 by the first king of the Chakri dynasty, Rama I. The name Bangkok comes from Bang Makok, meaning 'Place of Olive Plums', and refers to the original site, which is only a very small part of what is today called Bangkok by foreigners. The official name for the city is quite a tongue twister:

Krungthep mahanakhon amonratanakosin mahintara ayuthaya mahadilok popnapparat rathchathani burirom udomtarchaniwet mahasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakkathattiya witsanukamprasit

The 1989 album Fak Thong (Pumpkin) by rock duo Asanee-Wasan contained the hit 'Krung Thep Mahanakhon', a big-sound raver consisting of Bangkok's full name chanted over a hypnotic rhythm. Roughly translated, the name means

'Great City of Angels, Repository of Devine Gems, Great Land Unconquerable, Grand and Prominent Realm, Royal and Delightful Capital City Full of Nine Noble Gems, Highest Royal Dwelling and Grand Palace, Diving Shelter and Living Place of Reincarnated Spirits'.

Fortunately, this is shortened to Krung Thep (City of Angels) in everyday usage.

In many ways, it is the most exciting and dynamic city in Southeast Asia, with, for example, the region's largest foreign media correspondent base.

There are museums, temples, historic sites, and other vestiges of traditional Thai culture right alongside4 all the trappings of a modern metropolis - an endless variety of international restaurants, cultural and social events, movies in several languages, sidcos and even modern-art galleries.
 

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Institute of International Studies (IIS-RU), Ramkhamhaeng University, RU Printing Press Building 7th floor, Huamark, Bangkapi, Bangkok 10240
international phone +66 2310 8895 to 9, phone from Thailand 0-2310-8895 to 9, fax 0-2310-8897.

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