Pay it Forward, Edition 1

I didn’t need or want presents for my birthday this year. I have been so bless in life and with opportunity that I wanted to spread the blessings and ‘pay it forward.’ The task I asked all of my friends and family to accomplish was to do at least one conscious kind deed for someone else and then to tell me about it. This is what I have received so far:

Megan Manning

megan 2

* Left magazines in airport after I was finished.

* Gave praise to a coworker that helped on a project.

* Printed and framed photos for boyfriend after trip.

* Wrote 4 thank you notes for the persons’ generosity recently

* Surprised brother with a gift.

* Paid for stranger’s coffee behind me in drive thru.

Maria Davy

maria 2

For your birthday I donated a bag of clothes and shoes to the Epilepsy Foundation.

maria1

Laura Engstrom

laura1

– Got up early to clean my friend’s yard the morning after her family’s big 4th of July party so that they wouldn’t have to

– Despite not being the biggest animal lover, I played fetch with a friend’s dog and then took it to a dog park to play even more. Woof woof.

– Connected a friend to an HR person at my office.  He later got a job offer because of it and will be moving to Minneapolis to start his new job in a few weeks.

– Mowed the lawn to give my dad a break.

– Mailed a letter to a family friend I haven’t talked to in a long time.

– Bought Zach a nice birthday dinner and paid for half of the hotel bill when we visited Iowa (something he wasn’t expecting!)

– Framed a picture of Z & me that I’m going to give to him when I see him in two weeks.  Meow.

– Wrote my mom an email thanking her for the support, encouragement and advice she gave to me after I got a not-so-hot performance review at work

– Helped three of the summer interns at work with projects that are unrelated to my brand

– Took a break from working during the day to get coffee with a co-worker who was having a bad day and needed to vent

Caroline Roberts 

caroline2

My husband, Damon, and I each chose a few books from our book collection and put them in our neighborhood’s “little free library.” Spreading your love of books and education! 

caroline1

Gloria Narabrook

CIMG6525

My sister was having a very bad week, so Jasper and I bought her a beautiful card and wrote loving messages inside – Jasper’s were crayon scribble, but it’s the thought that counts. The picture is of us dropping the card in the mail. Some of our other acts included picking up trash on our daily walks, reaching out to a friend with a new baby who was feeling isolated and teaching Jasper to blow kisses.

gloria 1

Kate Loftus

kate 1

I have a coworker who has confided in me that she has been struggling financially. She had a baby just over a year ago, and it has been stressful for her to balance her life socially, professionally, and financially. So, I treated her to lunch today. It’s something small, but she was so appreciative of the gesture.

Brittany Hartung

brit20

Now she never said that she did this for my birthday, but ironically our birthdays are less than a week apart. She RSVPed to Random Acts of Kindness event on facebook and took the time on HER birthday to do all of these lovely things for others.

  • I brought in the newspaper for the very cute older lady who was working at the front. And pumped the gas for a mom with kids in the car.

brit 1

  • I left a gas card at the pump for someone to use

brit 2

  • Left beer on my landlords front step

brit 3

  • I work with a married couple who are completely adorable. They also both love coffee and starbucks is close to our office.

brit 4

  • Sent a love letter to my favorite person to remind him that he is appreciated.

brit 5

  • Bought new magazines for our office waiting room.

brit 6

  • Caffeine fix, for me- and for the very sweet lady behind me in line.

brit 7

  • Coloring books left in the waiting room at a community partner.

brit 8

  • There are 20 decorated mirrors in ladies restrooms to remind them how wonderful they are.

brit9

  • Spreading some Midwest love to my office.

brit 10

  • Scratch offs for the security guard in our building

brit 11

  • Stole Kate away during lunch for a pedicure

brit 12

  • Found parking meters that had expired – and saved some parking tickets.

brit12

  • Left change on a vending machine

brit13

brit14

  • Laundry hook up. I strongly dislike laundry mats- anything to make them more enjoyable.

brit15

  • Brought home treats for my new dog friend.

brit16

  • Made 26 wishes, and left pennies for someone else to make some wishes too….

brit17

  • I drove through McDonalds drive through, just to pay for the people behind me.

brit18

  • Donated the essentials to the food shelf.
  • Ended my day with giving flowers to a lady working at the gas station at 9:30. She seemed very bewildered.

brit19

Advertisements

The 26th Birthday Edition

In this blog, I intend to discuss two things:

1) To share with you my accomplishments and shortcomings in my 25th year on this planet- 26 before 26. I want to confer with my readers so that they get to know me better and so that I have a sense of communal accountability in the future for reaching my goals. The green goals are ones I successfully accomplished. The purple were partially completed. And finally, the red are admitted failures. I will later post goals for my 26th year.

2) To share my birthday wish with you (for those of you not on facebook who have already heard about this.)

My 26 before 26:

1)   Get to South Korea

2)   End on a financial + for 2012

3)   Personal relationship goal (sorry I can’t share this one)

4)   See 12 unseen movies. They did not have to be in the movie theatre, although many were, but just ones that I haven’t seen. I tend to not like watching movies as much as TV (which I haven’t owned one of those in 2 years), so I thought I would push my creative exposure.

      1. The Dark Horse (0 stars out of 5) 
      2. Score (Don’t remember it so probably 0 stars)
      3. Invictus (★★ snooze fest)
      4. Proof (★★ another snooze fest)
      5. Crazy, Stupid, Love (★ Ryan is hot but that’s about it)
      6. Queen of Versailles (★★★★ VERY interesting documentary about greed and wealth)
      7. Pitch Perfect (★★★ funny)
      8. The Flat (★★★)
      9. Skyfall (★★★★ Judy Dench gets me every time!)
      10. LINCOLN (★★ I know everyone will hate me for giving it only 2 stars but it was SO SLOOOWWW)
      11. Anna Karenina (Are minus stars available? Absolutely terrible!)
      12. Hangover 3 (★★★★)

5)   Learn to ride pontoon boat and sail boat alone. I only learned how to pontoon alone…

6)   Plan epic world adventure. CAMBODIA, THAILAND, CHINA, TAIWON

7)   Purge apartment of anything unneeded

8)   Try 10 new recipes

      1. Spinach and cheese strata
      2. Beet salad
      3. Apple crumble
      4. Orange chicken with asparagus satee
      5. Lazy day casserole
      6. Ground turkey lettuce wraps
      7. Mini apple pies with Gruyere cheese
      8. Honey BBQ meatloaf
      9. Spicy peanut butter beef sauté
      10. Chai pumpkin cupcakes
      11. Lemon cardamom tart
      12. Yogurt raita
      13. Turkey curry meatballs

9)   Reach out once a month to an old friend

10)  Do conscious kind deeds once a week

11)   Take Chris to see “the colors” up North in the fall on the lake

12)   Cook full 3 course meal for parents with Chris

13)  Plan girls activity with Caroline, Laura, & Priya

14)  Buy investment furniture/art/clothes abroad

15) Try 26 new restaurants (I am not going to name them all because it will get too long!

16)  Complete ‘All About Us’ book that took Chris and I TWO years to finish! The questions from the first two attempts sent us into some tense times so we have been very hesitant about finishing it, but we finally did, the day before my birthday! Some example questions of the over 200 include: What is the most irritating thing your partner has asked you to do before bedtime? Do men need to be treated like babies? Name a talent of your partners that make you jealous. Name a body part on your partner that you would want to change. And these are just the tame ones…

17)  Kayak 5 different bodies of water excluding the cabin Lake 26. I only did 1- Lake Bryant

18) Volunteer once a month. We didn’t make it that often, but Chris and I did enjoy volunteering at an elderly home though. Chris was a hit with all the ladies^^

19)  Read 14 new books. THIS IS MY GREATEST SHAME!!! I only read 6… worst year yet.

      1. The Space Between Us (★★★★ out of 5)
      2. The Jewel of St. Petersburg (★★★)
      3. The Inheritance of Loss (★★★)
      4. Camp 14 (★★★★★)
      5. 30 Lessons for the Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans (★★★)
      6. Frommers South Korea (★★)

20)   Try 3 new types of exercise. I finally tried Pilates and hated it. I think either you are a yoga person or a Pilates person. I am definitely a hot yoga person. Also, I really didn’t like all the equipment!

21)  Address existential quarter life crisis. I have direction but the path is definitely still unclear.

22)  Jog whole 5K

23) Polar Plunge

24)  Stranger date. Chris and I wanted to meet at a bar and pretend that we were strangers and try to hit on the other person.

25) Host another murder mystery party

26) Update workout music on Ipod

My Birthday Wish:

Every summer for my birthday I usually host a BBQ at my parents, play drinking games and of course have a theme. This would have been the 5th Annual Event. Because I can’t be there, I have a peculiar, yet hopefully inspiring request. No gifts, cards (you won’t be penalized if you do though), but just a simple act of paying it forward.

The year 2013 has been one of my most blessed while living in Seoul. I am thankful for those I have here and especially blessed for those who follow and keep up from home. A majority of me feeling blessed comes from having you in my life, so I ask you to pay it forward. I took this idea from my amazing college roomie who did this last year for her birthday.

I thought you might like to see the face of inspiration: Megan Manning- whole heartedly supporting me on my 21st birthday!!

21 21st

My wish is for you to do at least one random CONSCIOUS act of kindness, big or small, in my honor before July 10. I would also love it if you would share with me or send me a pic of whatever you did. With your permission, I will compile everything and share it to show how many people were affected by your kindness. Also, feel free to forward this to more people.

EMAIL YOUR RANDOM ACT/ACTS OF KINDNESS TO: Robyn.kelly.mn@gmail.com.

Keep an eye on my blog for the compiled list: https://americangirlinseoul.wordpress.com/

Random acts of kindness blog about what people did for my birthday will come at the end of July.

I want to thank everyone in advance in brightening other people’s days. I can’t wait to hear about your acts of kindness! If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.

To help you out, these are the acts of kindness I did last year in honor of my friend Megan Manning’s birthday:

1) After rocky week w/Chris, gave him a card telling him what things I appreciate and am thankful for about him and gave him a coupon for a massage and a meal cooked for him of his choice (I cooked veggie tacos one night & chicken tikka masala as a bonus another night)

2) I went to the restaurant the Priya works at (Gorkah Palace) for a date with Chris and we both gave Priya and our waitress and outstanding reviews in writing and to the manager

3) I recommended a teammate Stacy for a recognition reward. By doing this, my fellow co-worker will receive department-wide recognition for her hard work as well as a 30 min break to be used whenever she would like (including leaving 30 min early to have some “alone time”- she has a family of 5 and is usually running around without any “me” time).

4) I called a friend with intimacy/vulnerability issues who doubted her ability to be a good partner in a romantic relationship. I pumped up her confidence and they are now “going steady.”

5) My friend Andrea from work was super grumpy and upset all day- I sent her an e-card wishing her a better day and letting her know what I appreciate about our friendship

6) I gave a substantial tip to a waitress at Social House restaurant

7) I went shopping for a friend when they were sick and unable to go out

8) I brought home made lasagna for my co-worker Stacy & gave some to Chris too

9) I gave my friend Beth a bag of clothes that either she will wear & recycle or give to charity

10) I looked a homeless man in the eyes and smiled

11) Team challenge at work for the month of June is Positivity- I have given 4 coworkers positivity cards (Stacy, Becky, Shana, Courtney)

12) I gave my coworker Courtney a compliment on her new hairstyle

13) I gave Chris a back massage after a long day at work

14) I shared a thankfulness quote to a coworker who was complaining a lot and needed an uplifting mantra for the day

15) I took my friend Anna kayaking for her birthday

16) I donated money to Best Friends, an animal sanctuary in AZ

17) The parking garage at work is under construction for the summer so all employees park at an external location and thus we are shuttled in and out to work everyday. I say hi, thank the driver and wish them a good day/evening every day.

18) I bought gum and offered it to my coworker Deidre who has been supplying me for the past couple of weeks.

19) I left change in a vending machine

20) I completed a project for my coworker while she was away on family vacation

21) Volunteered at Ebenezer Senior Apartments serving lunch & conversing with adults

22) I walked around my neighborhood for an hour and talked to strangers, engaging in the process of getting to know the community around me

23) I made Chris some vegetarian chili and muffins for lunch for a week

24) I agreed to switch shifts with someone so they could leave early for their vacation.

25) I hosted an Alice in Wonderland themed party with plenty of food, sweets, alcohol, games, the chance to win prizes and for fun with friends and loved ones. I also invited two newbies (Becky and Brittany) at work, hopefully making them feel like they are not so alone here. We had a blast:

alice1 alice 2 alice 3 alice 4 alice 5 alice 7 alice 6 alice 10 alice 9 alice 8 alice 11

Southeast Asia Adventure Continued…

Phuket, Thailand

Thailand_map

Plane departs Chiang Mai at 7 am on 8.6.2013, arriving in Phuket, Thailand at 11:30 am. We then need to take an hour taxi ride to the port to catch the ferry. Ferries from Phuket run twice daily. We must catch the last one at 3 pm. The ferry ride will be 2 hours. Once we reach Tonsai Bay, we will take a short 10 minute long-tail Thai boat to our resort.

Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand

phi phi 9 phi phi 8 phi phi 7 snorkling phi phi 6

The Phi Phi Islands between the large island of Phuket and the western Andaman Sea coast of the mainland. The islands are administratively part of Krabi provinceKo Phi Phi Don(“ko” (Thai: เกาะ) meaning “island” in the Thai language) is the largest island of the group, and is the most populated island of the group. Although the beaches of the second largest island, Ko Phi Phi Lee, are visited by many people as well. The rest of the islands in the group, including Bida Nok, Bida Noi, and Bamboo Island (Ko Mai Phai), are not much more than large limestone rocks jutting out of the sea.

Phi Phi Don was initially populated by Muslim fishermen during the late 1940s, and later became a coconut plantation. The Thai population of Phi Phi Don remains more than 80% Muslim. The actual population however, if counting laborers, especially from the north-east, from the mainland is much more Buddhist these days. The population is between 2,000 to 3,000 people (2013).

The islands came to worldwide prominence when Ko Phi Phi Leh was used as a location for the 2000 BritishAmerican film The Beach. This attracted criticism, with claims that the film company had damaged the island’s environment, since the producers bulldozed beach areas and planted palm trees to make it look like the book,[1] an accusation the film’s makers contest. The film’s release was attributed to an increase in tourism to the islands. Phi Phi Leh also houses the ‘Viking Cave’, from which there is a thriving bird’s nest soup industry.

Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island’s infrastructure was destroyed. As of 2010 most, but not all, of this has been restored.

We plan on spending most of our week here relaxing, tanning, swimming, snorkeling and exploring the food and culture. We want to go on one snorkeling excursion and a tour of the surrounding islands on a traditional long nose Thai boat. This is our romantic chill spot. 

Our Place on Ko Phi Phi:

phi phi 4 phi phi 3 phi phi 2 phi phi 5 phi phi 1

The Thai Foods we Want to Try:

1) Pad Thai

pad thai

Pad thai is one of Thailand’s national dishes and can be found at any Thai restaurant, or from any number of street vendors in Thailand. It is a filling combination of rice noodles, vegetables, meat or tofu, egg, sauces and spices. The fresh ingredients are combined together and then stir fried in a large wok – usually one portion at a time. The result is an incredibly fresh meal, which is easily altered to suit vegetarians.

2) Mango Sticky Rice

mango sticky rice

Sticky rice is a short grained rice that sticks together when cooked. It is great for making into bite sized balls and then dipping into your favourite sauce. But it is even better when cooked with sweet coconut milk, topped with fresh ripe mango, and drizzled with even more sweetened coconut milk.

3) Papaya Salad

papaya salad

Papaya salad is one of the quickest street foods to make from scratch, and you don’t get any more fresher than this! The salad combines the four main tastes of Thai food – salty fish sauce, sweet palm sugar, hot chili, and sour lime. Upon ordering papaya salad, the cook will combine  shredded unripened papaya, tomatoes, chili, palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice into a large mortar. The cook will then lightly crush the ingredient together with a pestle, releasing all the flavours. Since each salad is made fresh and in front of the customer’s eyes, this is one of the easiest Thai dishes to fully customize to your specifications.

4) Fresh Spring Rolls

Shrimp-Spring-Rolls

In the west, the most common variety of spring rolls are the deep fried variety. Fresh spring rolls consist of finely chopped raw vegetables, combined with fresh shredded herbs, and occasionally shrimp (it is possibly to get tofu instead), wrapped together in a sheet of rice paper and served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

5) Panang Curry

panang curry

Panang curry is a Thai adaptation of a similar curry from Malaysia. This curry combines the flavors of lemon grass, galangal, cumin, and coriander with of course, chili. The only liquid added to this curry is coconut milk, which produces and very rich and filling curry. It is most commonly prepared with beef, but an easy vegetarian option is to ask for tofu instead.

6) Red or Green Curry

red curry

Red and green curry are the two main curry options in Thailand. Green curry is typically sweeter than the more spicy red curry. Green curry is typically made with aubergine, pea aubergine, coconut milk, and keffir lime leaves which are combined with the green curry paste. Red curry is typically made with lemon grass, galangal, Thai aubergine, and bamboo shoots. Both curries are made with fish sauce, which may make them unsuitable for strict vegetarians. From my experience in Thailand, trying to communicate “no fish sauce” is an almost impossible task, as the idea of not using fish sauce is bewildering to most Thais. But for those vegetarians who are not too strict, both curries can be easily made with tofu instead of meat.

7) Tom Yum Soup

tom yum soup

Tom yum soup is definitely yum indeed. It combines hot and sour flavours, with fragrant herbs and fresh vegetables. Stalks of lemon grass, galangal, keffir lime leaves, and chili are typical flavours to encounter. The soup is typically made with fish or chicken, but as with all other Thai food, it is usually not difficult to have tofu substituted instead. The lack of coconut milk in this dish makes it a much lighter alternative to other Thai dishes.

8) Deep fried crickets

fried crickets

Definitely not for the faint of heart – or stomach. Or if crickets don’t suit your particular palette, how about deep fried ant eggs? Or grasshoppers, or silk worm? All of these can be found in Thai markets, or food vendors. Nothing can get the stomach rumbling (or churning) when the mobile cricket cart passes by. Apparently, the insects are actually rather bland when deep fried, which is why your insect purchase will include a variety of dipping sauces.

9) Laap

laap

Laap is actually the national dish of Laos. Laap is a meat salad and it is traditionally eaten raw. Laap is typically made with either beef, fish, duck, pork, or chicken and is flavoured with lime juice, mint, coriander, and chili. It is served with lettuce on the side, and the lettuce is used to wrap up the laap for eating.

And this is a little long but if you are interested… The abridged history of Thailand follows.

History of Thailand

Thailand (previously known as Siam) has been populated ever since the dawn of civilization in Asia. There are conflicting opinions of the origins of the Thais. It presumed that about 4,500 years. Thais originated in northwestern Szechuan in China and later migrated down to Thailand along the southern part of China. They split into two main groups. One settled down in the North and became the kingdom of “Lanna” and the other one is in further south, which afterward was defeated by the Khmers and became the kingdom of “Sukhothai“.

There are conflicting opinions as to the origins of the Thais. Three decades ago it could be said with presumed certainty that the

Thais originated in the southern part of what is now China about 4,500 years ago. Recently, however, this theory has been altered by the discovery of prehistoric artifacts in the village of Ban Chiang in the Nong Han District of UdonThani province in the Northeast. From these evidence of bronze metallurgy going back 3,500 years, as well as other indication of a far more sophisticated culture than any previously suspected by archaeologists. It now appears that the Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia, including China.

The controversy over the origin of the Thais shows no sign of definite conclusion as many more theories have been put forward and some even go further to say that Thais were originally of Austronesian rather than Mongoloid. What the outcomes of the dispute may be, by the 13th century the Thais had already settled down within the southeast  Asia.

Khmer Influence

From the 9th to the 11th century, the central and western area of Thailand was occupied by Mon civilization called Dvaravati. The Mon share the same common lineage as the Khmers and settle in southern Burma latter. The Influence of Dvaravati include Nakhon Pathom, Khu Bua, Phong Tuk , and Lawo (Lopburi). Dvaravati was Indianized culture, Theravada Buddhism was remained the major religion in this area.

By the 11th-12th centuries, Mon Influenced over central Thailand. Khmer cultural influence was brought in the form of language, art and religion. The Sanskrit language was entered in Mon-Thai vocabulary during the Khmer or Lopburi Period. The influence of this period has affected many provinces in the north-east such as Kanchanaburi and Lopburi. The Architecture in “Angkor” was also constructed according to the Khmers style. The Khmer built stone temples in the northeast, some of which have been restored to their former glory, those at Phimai and Phanom Rung and further cultures are stone sculptures and stone Buddha images. Politically, however, the Khmer cultural dominance did not control the whole area but power through vassals and governors.

Lanna Period

Northern Thailand was once occupied by the ancient Lanna Empire, which spread over Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun and Phayao. Tucked comfortably in a valley, Chiang Mai – Lamphun and Chiang Rai – Phayao represented the two main plateaus of the empire. Known as Haripunchai, Chiang Mai – Lamphun subsequently expanded to include Kelang Nakhon, or Lampang. Meanwhile, Chiang Rai – Payao in those days was known as Yonok.

The chronicles of the origin of “Lan Na” to “Chiang Saen” lies on the Mae Kong River. Its first leader named “King Mengrai”, ascended to the throne in 1259. He extended the kingdom from the borders of Laos to Lamphum. According to an ancient inscription, Haripunchai was seized by Phraya Mengrai, who then built Chiang Mai as hiskingdom’s capital. The construction, which started in B.E. 1839 (1296 A.D.) was witnessed by Phya Ngum Muang of Phayao and Phra Ruang of Sukhothai. Apparently, the three kings were close friends and their kingdoms were so closely related that they were like a consolidated nation. Territorial boundaries made no difference to the peoples of the three kingdoms, Who enjoyed an exceptionally active trade relations. As a memorial to such friendly links, a monument of the three kings was built and they now stand immortalized in front of the Chiang Mai City Hall.

Lan Na flourished for over 200 years. Its arts and literature rose at the peak, especially in the middle of 15th century, the King Tilokoraj period. Chiang Mai in this period was also chosen as the navel of the eight world synod of Theravada Buddhism. 

After the death of King Tilokoraj, the kingdom suffered from internal conflicts. Lan Na weakened because of wars with Sukhothai’s successors.

Sukhothai Period

Sukhothai, meaning the ”Dawn of Happiness” was the first truly independent Thai Kingdom founded in 1238, by two Thai chieftains, Khun Bang Klang Tao and Khun Pa Muang , this ending Khmer rule from Angkor Wat. In the early 1300s, Sukhothai enjoyed rule over the Chao Phya River basin, westward to the bay of Bengal and the entire Peninsula. A kingdom that was short-lived but of immense cultural importance in the nation’s history. Sukhothai period was the most flourishing period of Thailand. It quickly expanded its boundary of influence after independence. Sukhothai period was considered to be a golden age of Thai culture. During that time in the history, everybody could say that “There were fish in the waters and rice in the fields”.

The boundary of Sukhothai stretched from Lampang in the north to Vientiane, in present day Laos and the south to the Malay Peninsula.  Sukhothai saw the Thais’ gradual expansion throughout the entire Chao Phraya River basin and the establishment of  Theravada Buddhism as the paramount Thai religion. During this time Thai had strong friendship with neighboring countries. It absorbed elements of various civilizations which they came into contact. Thai maintained and advanced their culture ties with China. The potters entered Thai artistry and extensive trade was established with Cambodia and India.

After the death of Khun Pha Muang in 1279, Ramkhamhaeng King, the third son of Si Inthrahit, ascended to the throne. Under the Ramkhamhaeng King, Sukhothai had strong friendship with neighboring China. King Ramkhamhaeng organized a writing system which became the basis for writing and eventually developed to be the modern Thai alphabet. It was here that the first evidence of written Thai was left, along with distinctively Thai styles of art such as painting, sculpture, architecture and literature, which survived after Sukhothai was absorbed by the kingdom of Ayutthaya – a dynamic young kingdom further south in the Chao Phraya River valley.

Ayutthaya Period

For 417 years the kingdom of Ayutthaya was the dominant power in the fertile Menam or Chao Phraya Basin. Its capital was Ayutthaya, an island-city situated at the confluence of three rivers, the Chao Phraya, the Pasak, and the Lopburi, which grew into one of Asia’s most renowned metropolises, inviting comparison with great European cities such as Paris. The city must indeed have looked majestic, filled as it was with hundreds of monasteries and crisscrossed with several canals and waterways which served as roads.

Ayutthaya, the capital of the Thai Kingdom was found by U-Thong King in 1350. Ayutthaya as an island is formed by the gathering of three rivers, the Chao Phraya, the Pasak, and the Lopburi and surrounded by rice terraces. It is easy to see why the Ayutthaya area was settled prior to this date since the site offered a variety of geographical and economic advantages.  Not only is Ayutthaya at the confluence of three rivers, plus some canals, but its proximity to the sea also gave its inhabitants an irresistible stimulus to engage in maritime trade. The rice fields in the immediate environs flooded each year during the rainy season, rendering the city virtually impregnable for several months annually. These fields, of course, had an even more vital function, that of feeding a relatively large population in the Ayutthaya region. Rice grown in these plants yielded a surplus large enough to be exported regularly to various countries in Asia.

The Thai kings of Ayutthaya became powerful in the 14th and 15th centuries, taking over U-Thong, Lopburi, and Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya’s first king, Ramathibodi I, was both a warrior and a lawmaker. Some old laws codified in 1805 by the first Bangkok king date from this much earlier reign. King Ramathibodi I and his immediate successors expanded Ayutthaya’s territory, especially northward towards Sukhothai and eastward towards the Khmer capital of Angkor. By the 15th century, Ayutthaya had established a firm hegemony over most of the northern and central Thai states, though attempts to conquer Lanna failed. Ayutthaya also captured Angkor on at least one occasion but was unable to hold on to it for long. The Ayutthaya kingdom thus changed, during the 15th century, from being a small state primus inter pares among similar states in central Thailand into an increasingly centralized kingdom wielding tight control over a core area of territory, as well as having looser authority over a string of tributary states.

King U-Thong and his immediate successors expanded Ayutthaya’s territory, especially northward towards Sukhothai and eastward towards the Khmer capital of Angkor. The greater size of Ayutthaya’s territory, as compared with that of Sukhothai, meant that the method of government could not remain the same as during the days of King Ramkhamhaeng. The paternalistic and benevolent Buddhist kingship of Sukhothai would not have worked in Ayutthaya. The king of the latter therefore created a complex administrative system allied to a hierarchical social system. This administ rative system dating from the reign of King Trailok, or Borommatrailokanat(1448-1488), was to evolve into the modern Thai bureaucracy. The Ayutthaya bureaucracy contained a hierarchy of ranked and titled officials, all of whom had varying amounts of “honor marks” (sakdina).

Thai society during the Ayutthaya period also became strictly hierarchical. There were, roughly, three classes of people, with the king at the very apex of the structure. At the bottom of the social scale, and the most numerous, were the commoners (freemen or phrai) and the slaves. Above the commoners were the officials or “nobles” (khunnang), while at the top of the scale were the princes (chao). The one classless sector of Thai society was the Buddhist monkhood, or sangha, into which all classes of Thai men could be ordained. The monkhood was the institution which could weld together all the different social classes, the Buddhist monasteries being the center of all Thai communities both urban and a gricultural.

The Ayutthaya kings were not only Buddhist kings who ruled according to the dhamma (dharma), but they were also devaraja, god-kings whose sacred power was associated with the Hindu, gods Indra and Vishnu. To many Western observers, the kings of Ayutthaya were treated as if they were gods. The French Abbe de Choisy, who came to Ayutthaya in 1685, wrote that, “the king has absolute power. He is truly the god of the Siamese: no-one dares to utter his name.” Another 17th century writer, the Dutchman Van Vliet, remarked that the king of Siam was “honoured and worshipped by his subjects more than a god. 

The Ayutthaya period was early Thai history’s great era of international trade. Ayutthaya’s role as a port made it one of Southeast Asia’s richest emporia. The port of Ayutthaya was an entrepot, an international market place where goods from the Far East could be bought or bartered in exchange for merchandise from the Malay/Indonesian Archipelago, India, or Persia, not to mention local wares or produce from Ayutthaya’s vast hinterland. The trading world of the Indian Ocean was accessible to Ayutthaya through its possession, for much of its 417-year history, of the seaport of Mergui on the Bay of Bengal. This port in Tenasserim province was linked to the capital by a wild but ancient and frequently used overland trade route.

Throughout its long history, Ayutthaya had a thriving commerce in “forest produce”, principally sapanwood (a wood which produces reddish dye), eaglewood (an aromatic wood), benzoin (a type of incense), gumlac (used as wax), and deerhides (much in d emand in Japan). Elephant teeth and rhinoceros horns were also highly valued exports, but the former was a strict royal monopoly and the latter relatively rare, especially compared with deerhides. Ayutthaya also sold provisions such as rice and dried fish to other Southeast Asian states. The range of minerals found in the kingdom was limit ed, but tin from Phuket (“Junkceylon”) and Nakhon Si Thammarat (“Ligor”) was much sought after by both Asian and European traders.

The Chinese, with their large and versatile junks, were the traders who had the most regular and sustained contact with Ayutthaya. The Ayutthaya kings, in order to conduct a steady and profitable trade with Ming and Manchu China, from the 14th to t he 18th centuries, entered willingly into a tributary relationship with the Chinese emperors. The Thais recognized Chinese suzerainty and China’s preeminent position in Asia in return for Chinese political sanction and, even more desirable, Chinese luxury goods. Muslim merchants came from India and further West to sell their highly-prized clothes both to Thais and to other foreign traders. So dominant were Chinese and Muslim merchants in Ayutthaya that an old Thai law dating back to the 15th century divides the Thai king’s foreign trade department into two: a Chinese section and a Muslim section. Chinese, Indians, and later on Japanese and Persians all settled in Ayutthaya, the Thai kings welcoming their presence and granting them complete freedom of worship. Several of these foreigners became important cour t officials.

Containing merchandise from all corners of Asia, the thriving markets of Ayutthaya attracted traders from Europe. The Portuguese were the first to arrive, in 1511, at the time when Albuquerque was attempting to conquer Melaka (Malacca). They conclu ded their first treaty with Ayutthaya in 1516, receiving permission to settle in Ayutthaya and other Thai ports in return for supplying guns and ammunition to the Thai king. Portugal’s powerful neighbor Spain was the next European nation to arrive in Ayutthaya, towards the end of the 16th century. The early 17th century saw the arrival of two northern European East India Companies: The Du tch (V.O.C) and the British. The Dutch East India Company played a vital role in Ayutthaya’s foreign trade from 1605 until 1765, succeeding in obtaining from the Thai kings a deerhide export monopoly as well as one of all the tin sold at Nakhon Si Thammarat. The Dutch sold Thai sapanwood and deerhides for good profits in Japan during Japan’s exclusion period, after 1635.

The French first arrived in 1662, during the reign of Ayutthaya’s most outward-looking and cosmopolitan ruler, King Narai (1656-1688). French missionaries and merchants came to the capital, and during the 1680’s splendid embassies were exchanged between King Narai and King Louis XIV. The French tried to convert King Narai to Christianity and also attempted to gain a foothold in the Thai kingdom when, in 1687, they sent troops to garrison Bangkok and Mergui. When a succession conflict broke out in 1688 an anti-French official seized power, drove out the French garrisons, and executed King Narai’s Greek favorite Constantine Phaulkon, who had bee championing the French cause. After 1688, Ayutthaya had less cont act with Western nations, but there was no policy of national exclusion. Indeed, there was increased trading contact with China after 1683,and there was continued trade with the Dutch, the Indians, and various neighbouring countries.

Ayutthaya’s relations with its neighbours were not always cordial. Wars were fought against Cambodia, Lanna, Lanchang (Laos), Pattani, and above all, Burma, Ayutthaya’s powerful neighbour to the west. Burmese power waxed an d waned in cycles according to their administrative efficiency in the control of manpower. Whenever Burma was in an expansionist phase, Ayutthaya suffered. In 1569, King Bayinnaung captured Ayutthaya, thus initiating over a decade’s subjection to the Burmese. One of the greatest Thai military leaders, Prince (later King) Naresuan, then emerged to declare Ayutthaya’s independence and to defeat the Burmese in several battles and skirmishes, culminating in the victory of Nong Sarai, when he killed the Burmese Crown Prince in combat on elephant back.

During the 18th century Burma again adopted an expansionist policy. The kings of the Alaunghphaya Dynasty were intent on subduing the Ayutthaya kingdom, then in cultural and artistic prime. The Burmese invaded Ayutthaya  in 1765. This time Burmese caused much fear to Thais. Burmese soldiers destroyed everything, including temples, manuscripts, and religious sculpture. After the capital fell in their hands for two years, the Burmese effectiveness could not further hold the kingdom. Phaya Taksin, a Thai general, promoted himself to be the king in 1769. He ruled the new capital of Thonburi on the bank of Chao Phraya River, opposite Bangkok. Thais regained control of their country and thus scattered themselves to the provinces in the north and central part of Thailand. Taksin eventually turn himself to be the next Buddha and was dismissed and executed by his ministers who did not approve his religious values.

Thonburi Period

Thonburi was founded by a Thai general named Phraya Taksin, who was later crowned King Taksin Maharaj. After the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese in 1767, Thonburi, situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya opposite what is now the City of Bangkok, became the new Thai capital.

After the shattering defeat which had culminated in Ayutthaya’s destruction, the death and capture of thousands of Thais wby the victorious Burmese, and the dispersal of several potential Thai leaders, the situation seemed hopeless. It was a time of darkness and of troubles for the Thai nation. Members of the old royal family of Ayutthaya had died, escaped, or been captured by the Burmese and many rival claimants for the throne emerged, based in different areas of the country. But out of this national catastrophe emerged yet another saviour of the Thai state –  the half-Chinese general Phraya Taksin, former governor of Tak. Within a few years this determined warrior had defeated not only all his rivals but also the Burmese invaders and had set himself up as king, 

Since Ayutthaya had been so completely devastated. King Taksin chose to establish his capital at ThonBuri [ across the river from Bangkok ]. Although a small town, ThonBuri was strategically situated near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River and therefore suitable as a seaport. The Thais needed weapons, and one way of acquiring them was through trade. Besides, foreign trade was also needed to bolster the Thai economy, which had suffered extensively during the war with Burma (now Myanmar). Chinese and Chinese-Thai traders helped revive the economy by engaging in maritime trade with neighboring states, with China, and with some European nations.

King Taksin’s prowess as a general and as an inspirational leader meant that all attempts by the Burmese to re-conquer Siam failed. The rallying of the Thai nation during a time of crisis was King Taksin’s greatest achievement. However, he was also interested in cultural revival, in literature and the arts. He was deeply religious and studied meditation to an advanced level. The stress and strain of such much fighting and the responsibility of rebuilding a centralized Thai state took their toll on the king. Following an internal political conflict in 1782. King Taksin’s fellow general Chao Phraya Chakri was chosen king. King Taksin’s achievements have caused to bestow on him the epithet “The Great”.

Rattanakosin Period

The Chakris were inaugurated on April 6, 1782 together with the coronation of Rama I or King Buddha Yot Fa Chulalok. He moved the capital across the Chao Phaya River from Thonburi to a small village known as “Bangkok” and raised up new laws to rule the country. Under his reign, Thailand covered all areas of present day Laos and parts of Burma, Cambodia and Kedah province in Malaysia. 

In 1809, Rama II or King Buddha Loet Lad, son of Rama I took the throne until 1824. He devoted himself to preserve the Thai literature that had remained from Ayutthaya period and produced a new version of Ramakien or Thai Ramayana, the classical literature. 

In 1824-1851, Rama III or King Nang Klao was successful in re-establishing relation and making trades with China which was necessary to meet the increasing domestic agricultural production. 

Rama IV or King Mongkut (Phra Chom Klao), who reigned from 1851 to 1868 lived as a Buddhist monk for 27 years. During his monastic period, he could speak many languages such as Latin, English, and five other languages. He also studied western sciences and adopted the discipline of local Mon monk. Under his reign, he created new laws to improve the women’s and children’s right, opened new waterways and roads, and created the first printing press. 

Rama V or King Chulalongkorn, Rama IV’s son, continued the throne from 1868 to 1910. He started to reform the tradition, legal and administrative realm by allowing officials to sit on chairs during royal audiences. Under the reign of Rama V, Thailand developed relations with European nations and the USA. He introduced schools, roads, railways, and Thailand’s first post office. He even established civil service system. In 1892, Rama V overhauled the administration of Siam to a form of cabinet government with 12 ministers. 

In 1886, Siam lost some territory to French, Laos and British Burma accorded the foreign powers intercede. After that King Chulalongkorn declared Thailand as an independent kingdom on the 23rd of October, making this day as a national holiday. Every year this national holiday is celebrated in commemoration of this event and people lay wreaths in memory of king they called “Phra Piya Maharaj” 

Rama VI or King Vajiravudh, took the throne from 1910 to 1925. During his short reign, he introduced the westernization to Thailand. He introduced the primary school education, Thai women were encouraged to grow their hair at a certain length. Surnames were introduced, and football was introduced in Thailand. 

1925-1935 was the period of Rama VII or King Prachadhipok, Rama VI’s brother. He changed Siam’s form of government from absolute monarchy to democracy. This revolution developed the constitutional monarchy along British lines, with mixed military and civilian group in power. At that time, Phibul Songkhram was a key military leader in the 1932 coup. He maintained his position and power from 1938 until the end of World War II. 

Rama VIII or King Ananda Mahidol, a nephew of Rama VII, took the throne in 1935 but was assassinated under mysterious circumstances in 1946. His brother King Bhumipol Aduldej succeeded as Rama IX. 

Under Rama IX’s government, the country’s name was officially changed from “Siam” to “Thailand” in 1946 which was defined in Thai as “Prathet Thai”, the word “Prathet” means “country” and the word “Thai” means “free” referring to the Thai races.

Phuket, Thailand

Thailand_map
We will return to Phuket for two night 8.14 and 8.15 before we return to Seoul. We will just be exploring the intersection of island/city life in Phuket and shopping at the markets there.

Seoul, South Korea

Plane departs Phuket, Thailand at 3:15 am on 8.16.2013, arriving in Seoul at 3:30 pm. We have a long layover in Shanghai, China. 
Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 10.55.27 AM

Information from this blog was collected from: ouroyster.com, http://www.hellosiam.com, and the always-trustworthy wikipedia.