I traveled to Thailand in July of 2006. Thailand is an amazing country with a strong history and a vibrant culture. The City of Bangkok is modern, clean, and beautiful. I got the opportunity to travel outside the capital to Ban Leim Chabang to see a cultural show and stroll in its beautiful gardens. In the city of Bangkok I got to see the incredible sold gold giant Buddha, the reclining Buddha, took a river cruise on the Chao Pharya, and walked through the Wat Pra Kaeo Temple (home of the Emerald Buddha -the largest single piece of emerald in the world). The Wat Pra Kaeo Temple is on the grounds of the Grand Palace which is one of the most incredible and stunningly beautiful sights in all the world. I would love to return to Thailand in the future, preferably on a non-stop flight. :-)

Once of part the the Khmer state (centered in current day Cambodia), Thailand was settled by Thai tribes in the sixth and seventh century. The Thai defeated the Khmer and formed the first independent feudal Thai state in 1257. This first kingdom was called Sukhotai. Another Thai state, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was formed in 1350 and at the same time, the Tai kingdom of Lanna, centered in Chiang Mai, was formed. The first ruler of Ayutthaya established buddhism as the official religion and compiled the Dharmashastra, a legal code based on hindu sources and traditional Thai customs. The three kingdoms were eventually consolidated into Ayutthaya and after more than 400 years of power, in 1767, the Ayutthaya Kingdom was destroyed by invading Burmese armies and its capital was burned. A new capital city was founded in 1782, across the Chao Phraya at the site of present-day Bangkok. The Kingdom of Krung Thep (this name is gradually replaced by Siam) became an absolute monarchy. Siam would become the only state in Southeast Asia that would remain independent from European Imperialism. In 1932, a bloodless coup transforms the government of Siam to a constitutional monarchy. The country was renamed the Kingdom of Thailand in 1939. Although nominally a constitutional monarchy, Thailand was usually ruled by a series of military governments interspersed with brief periods of democracy. The military government had good relations with Japan, but it had to resign after the Japanese defeat in 1944. However, Thailand's democracy does not become completely free form military interference until 1992. Current day Thailand is enjoying strong economic growth.

To see the picture album of Thailand click here

Me at the Wat Pra Kaeo Temple in Bangkok

Thai Cultural Show in Ban Leim Chabang

The Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace in Bangkok

The Incredible Grand Palace in Bangkok

A real Leopard in Ban Leim Chabang