Daily Archives: April 6, 2005

The Start of the Chakri Dynasty

Today is Chakri Day in Thailand. It is a public holiday and a day of celebration marking the start of the present Dynasty in 1782. I have been re-reading a fascinating book recently called “Alec Waugh’s Bankok: Story of a City”. It was first published in 1970 and has many facts about Bangkok and the present dynasty that I never knew before. I want to share with you the following words about the founding of the Chakri dynasty. I have paraphrased it a little to make it easier for our younger friends to read. If you get a chance to buy this book then I urge you to do so.

“Of Ayutthaya’s million inhabitants, barely ten thousand were left when the sacking of the city by the Burmese was complete in 1767. Everything of value was removed. The Burmese had no intention of occupying the city they had captured. They were concerned with loot and revenge. They destroyed everything that did not seem worth carrying home. Nearly all of the records were burned. Yet, even so, General Taksin did not feel that the task of recovery was beyond his power.

“Taksin’s appeal to the various local leaders was effective. He soon had an army and luck was on his side. Burma suddenly found itself involved in a war with China, and was not able to do more than leave a small number of garrisons scattered about the country. These Taksin was able to destroy, one by one; until finally within a year and a half in a single main battle near Ayutthaya, he broke the effective power of the Burmese army, and was able to have himself proclaimed king.

“We know very little for certain about King Taksin; his reign was to last for fifteen years, but for most of this period he was engaged in military campaigns. The Burmese returned to the attack and had to be beaten back. There were other campaigns on the northern frontier. He had no time to the building of his new capital in Thonburi.

“His chief lieutenants during these campaigns were two brothers, whose father had been an official in the old regime. They were called Thong Duang and Boonma. Each rose quickly in rank and prominence – the elder one being elevated to the rank of Chao Phya Chakri, the other as Chao Phya Surasih. Often a man was known by the rank he held. The word Chakri meant commander in chief; so Thong Duang became known as General Chakri.”

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Working Undercover!

Delving through me archives last night I came across the following article which I had previously written up for publication here in Thailand, only to hear the likes of ‘Its pretty interesting Mr Stephen but it is just too darned long, well have to cut it by three-quarters!” the original version was a whopping 6000+ words that I do have to admit, on hearing the measily fee they were willing to pay I decided instead to ‘just keep it for myself’.

Its still a block-buster of a long blog but I think you’ll find it well… ‘different’. It is a true story and for once in my life I haven’t exaggerated too much!

I Was an Undercover Cop

Living over there on the western banks of Bangkok for a couple of years or so with not much in the way of many Farang buddies meant that I hung around a lot, at mostly Thai places and so therefore getting the chance to meet up with only Thais. Now, near the school I was working at was a groovy little cheapo kiosk within the local cop shop compounds where I would often go after a hard days work to sink a few bevvies if I had no private evening classes on. Very soon I had a stack of miscellaneous friends working all sorts.

One day I got chatting away to a certain Mr Lee a chubby round-looking Chinese sorta guy who pointed out to me that he was working in the film business. It was another can or two or was it three that ‘yes’ he was in the film business but that he was working in a certain part of the company that was solely responsible for busting dealers selling copied material, mostly DVDs ie. Infringement of copyright.

Well anyway, that was the reason that Mr Lee and his team were at the cop shop again that evening after they had busted another dealer in that area. I soon asked Mr Lee about what exactly happens to the guy or girl who gets caught selling such stuff to which he replied “Nothing, the owner of the stall who is never there comes along after to the cop shop, pays the fine, the stock minus the company’s movies are handed back, the stall is back in business again, the vendor goes back to his sales stuff, the owner goes back to counting her millions and that’s the end of the story”.

Very soon I see something going on between Mr Lee eyebrows and the next thing he is propositioning me to get involved in his busts. He went on to explain “Hey, how about you coming to work with us, I mean we need a Farang to work as a ‘nok tor’ (undercover buyer) as some of the biggest and meanest over there dealing to the tourists etc.. just wont sell any of their gear to Thais” ie stevesuphan here was pretty ideal, could pass as a gullible tourist but communicate perfectly well with the team in their own lingo as none of them could speak English.

Still completely undecided, Mr Lee is on the phone calling his big boss a certain Mr Toom who in turn is waffling down the phone the commission to be got on each ‘jao’ (stall) that was busted. We exchanged phone numbers but for the next couple of days I just kept ignoring all of Mr Lee’s calls until one evening shortly after he comes to see me personally at the cop shop kiosk. Giving a wally of excuses to why I hadnt been answering his calls informs me to ‘get ready’ there’s a couple of stalls down there near Silom that need busted tonight! The rest of the folks at the cop shop said as most Thais would “Well, just go, if it doesn’t work out just don’t go again”.

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