What is amazing in Thailand?
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - September 6, 2018 - 12:01am

(Part II of ‘How Bangkok dealtwith its seemingly endless traffic jam’)

Tourism slogans daily shout out “Malaysia truly Asia,” “Incredible India,” “Greece All Time Classic,” “Rendez Vous En France.” Meantime “Its More Fun in the Philippines” fails to rival “Amazing Thailand.” Reuters announced this Year 2018 that 37 million tourists join the sightseeing tour in the striking temples, palaces, and exotic performing art shows. What is truly amazing is Thai cuisine. As Brian Bell, Insight guide editor says ”You bet it can be hot. It can be cool. There is nothing bland about Thai cuisine which most likely explains it universal appeal.” While the Philippines runs out of rice supply and resort to importing it, Filipino farmers are likely to shift to other occupations.

The outstanding food sourcing of Thailand

The daily output of abundant quality fruits, seafood and vegetables in Thai markets, restaurants, sidewalk hawkers are encouraged by the local people themselves and not just the tourists. Thais enjoy eating and drinking to the limits of his purse and frequently beyond. Up in the cooler highlands of the North where the Royal Project was founded by His Majesty King Bhumibol, Thai farmers and hill tribes continue the horticulture experiments replacing the usual pine trees with fruit-bearing trees, developing quality peaches, pomegranate, apples, and grapes, figs and lychees.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has also turned over his palace grounds to agricultural purposes. Behind the walls of Chitralada Palace, where the king lives, are gardens transformed into an agricultural research station, with a dairy farm, rice fields, and orchards. His involvement with agriculture began with a concerted effort to find new crops for the hill tribes, in order to wean them from opium cultivation. He then applied this experience to farm programs.

Thai agri research stations - a model for DA Sec. Piñol

The Royal Project Foundation works in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son and Phayao. It has four research stations all situated in Chiang Mai and 34 development centers which cover 294 villages with a total population of 73,425. The Royal Project’s main Research stations are: 1) The Royal Al Angkhang Agriculture Station researches on temperate fruits, vegetables and fruit tree collection and production and training. Al Angkhang has a substation inside the Doi Inthanon National Park. It is a 35-hectare farm of beautiful apple and peach trees together with the “miracle” mahogany. (Prof. Charuphant has taught us to propagate this 124 eucalyptus trees in the Preziosa Botanic Park); 2) The Royal Pangdaha Agricultural Station which main function is to multiply fruit trees with training facilities for this purpose. It takes care of semi-temperate vegetable research; 3) The Inthanon Station promotes crops to the hill tribes, works on horticulture research and produces all of the Royal Project plant requirements through tissue culture. Its sub-station Khun Huay Heang researches on pomegranate, figs, guava, and seedless grapes; 4) The Mae Lord Coffee Research Stations studies the Arabica coffee of rust-free varieties.

The Foundation’s researches result in the availability of new crops to the farmers. Professor Charuphant Thongtham took me to several agriculture centers outside Bangkok where ornamental palm trees, mini-pineapple shrubs, and ferns are cultivated. He also took me to the Yamayishi Demonstration Farm at Nakorn Nayok, an 80-hectare poultry and fish farm co-sponsored with Japan. The chickens were very well behaved and their cages were odorless.

The Pak Chong Kasetsart University Student Training Farm in Nakorn Rachasima province is a training center for Asian agronomists. All of its 50 hectares are covered with experimental banana plants, papaya, mango breadfruit and jackfruit trees. A well-stocked agricultural store in town has a thriving business with the local farmers who are influenced by the agri-center. I don’t see such a store in any province in the Philippines.

The true version of Hollywood’s ‘The King and I’

With the help of Hollywood, Rama IV (ruled 1851-1868) became the most famous king of Siam. King Mongkut, he was portrayed in The King and I as a frivolous, baldheaded despot. On the contrary he was actually the first Thai king to understand Western culture and so his reign has been described as the bridge spanning the new and the old.

Mongkut spent 27 years as a Buddhist monk prior to his accession to the throne. This gave him a unique opportunity to roam as a commoner among the populace. As a monk, Mongkut delved into many subjects: history, geography and the sciences, especially astronomy. Even as an abbot, he established himself as a reformer, ridding the Buddhist scriptures of their superstitious elements. He believed that modernization would bring Siam in line with the West and reduce hostilities with foreigners.

When Mongkut lifted the state monopoly on rice, the crop rapidly became Siam’s leading export. Mongkut wanted his children to gain the same benefits from the English language as himself. For this purpose, he engaged Anna Leonowens as an English teacher.

Chulalongkorn’s reign, a true revolution from the throne

Mungkut’s son, Chulalongkorn, was only 15 years old when he ascended the throne. The most revolutionary Thai who ever lived he did most to desanctify the Kingship. Today, commoners may stand in the presence of the King and even snap his photograph. He promoted the spread of secular schooling throughout the Kingdom. Siam had no schools, and few roads, railways, hospitals or well-equipped military forces. To achieve the enormous task of modernization, he brought in foreign advisors and sent his sons and other young men abroad for education. He followed this up with other schools and vocational centers for the common people. Until then, the only previous schools in Siam had been the monasteries.

King Chulalongkorn is usually accredited with having kept Thailand free when every other Southeast Asian state was collapsing to the forces of colonialism. The threat from outside required rapid modernization of the armed forces and the bureaucracy. So extensive was Chulalongkorn’s modernization that European observers in the 1870s voted Thailand the Asian country most likely to industrialize.

BANGKOK ENDLESS TRAFFIC JAM
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