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Phuket History: Early Portuguese forays into Siam

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket History: Early Portuguese forays into Siam | The Thaiger

PHUKET: The Portuguese were the first European power to arrive in the Far-East and established a diplomatic relationship with Thailand, which at that time was known as the Kingdom of Siam. Portuguese diplomatic missions arrived in Siam in the early 16th Century. During that period the Kingdom’s capital and center of authority was based in the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Vassal states, based in modern day Laos and Chiang Mai owed their allegiance to the Siamese King who ruled from Ayutthaya

In the year 1518 the Portuguese sent an envoy, Duarte Coelho, to the court of Ayutthaya. The envoy bore a letter and gifts from the King of Portugal to the king of Siam. The treaty that followed guaranteed the supply of Portuguese guns and ammunition to Siam. In return, King Rama Tibodi II of Siam provided the Portuguese with facilities to settle and trade freely throughout the Kingdom, as well as the liberty to practice Christianity in the Siamese Kingdom.

In 1511, the Portuguese, under Alfonso de Albuquerque set sail from Goa, on the west coast of India, with a force of 1,200 men to attack Malacca, a city-state on the Malay Peninsula ruled by a Muslim sultan. They conquered the city in August of 1511, establishing the first European colony in the Far-East. In their treaty with the Siamese King in 1518, the Portuguese also requested the King to send some Siamese settlers to Malacca to replace the predominantly Moorish traders who had settled there before.

The early years of the Portuguese arrival had proved to be good timing for Siam. Although most Portuguese writings agree that Siam was the most powerful Kingdom in the region at that time, Chiang Mai, its tributary state in the North, had rebelled against Ayutthaya’s authority in 1507 and by the year 1510, the Siamese were suffering severe losses in the war with Chiang Mai. In 1513, a Chiang Mai general took the offensive and marched south, invading Sukhothai and Kamphengphet. By 1515, these two Siamese cities fell to Chiang Mai’s army and were annexed.

The 1518 treaty with the Portuguese provided King Rama Tibodi with an opportunity to improve his army and equip his fighting men with modern European weapons. The King imported a considerable amount of firearms from the Portuguese. He also established a Portuguese training corps and hired Portuguese mercenaries to fight on his side. With the help of Portuguese military advisors, King Rama Tibodi was able to reorganize the Siamese army in 1518, after which he launched a counter-offensive against the Chiang Mai forces, driving them out of Siamese territory and defeating them at the banks of the river Mewang in Lampang province.

Gunpowder, firearms and cannons had been imported into the region long before the arrival of the Portuguese. The Malays in Malacca used cannons in their war against the Portuguese. The Siamese could have acquired them from Indian and Arab traders if they wanted. However, when the Portuguese arrived in Siam in 1511, they never saw the use of firearms in the Siamese army. The reason the Siamese ceased their use of firearms was because they did not know how to use them effectively. Gunpowder weapons, without proper training, can wreak havoc on the side using them. This would probably explain why neither the Siamese, nor the Burmese adopted their use up until the time the Portuguese arrived and trained Siamese troops to use them effectively.

After Coelho’s treaty with Siam in 1518, the Portuguese increased their trade with Siam, not just in Ayutthaya but also at several other ports in the Kingdom. Many Portuguese explorers travelled to Siam and some, like Mendes Pinto, who was an adventurous explorer and writer, travelled extensively throughout the Kingdom and kept a detailed account of his adventures.

Pinto arrived in Siam in the year 1545. His accounts of the country go beyond Ayutthaya and included a reasonably detailed account of ports in the south of the Kingdom as well. Pinto was one of the first European explorers to mention Phuket in any detail, in his travel accounts. He referred to the island as ‘Junk Ceylon’, a name the Portuguese used for Phuket Island in their maps. Junk Ceylon is mentioned seven times in Mendes Pinto’s accounts. Pinto said that Junk Ceylon was a destination port where trading vessels made regular stops for supplies and provisions, however, during the mid-16th century, the island was in decline due to pirates and often rough and unpredictable seas, which deterred merchant vessels from visiting Junk Ceylon. Pinto mentioned several other notable port cities in his accounts, including Patani and Ligor,which is modern day Nakhon Si Thamarat.

Pinto first visited Ligor when on a trading mission, under the leadership of Antonio de Faria e Souza. According to his writings, the trading party went with a cargo of Indian cotton textile. When he reached the city, he wrote that it was a rich and heavily trafficked seaport in Siam, always crowded with junks from the island of Java and from several other ports in the region. Trading ships came to the city from as far away as Borneo to trade with Ligor. It was the center of regional power in the South of Siam. Their journey to Ligor was not a happy one. According to Pinto’s accounts, their trading party was attacked by a band of Moorish pirates on the high seas and they lost all of their merchandise to the attackers.

The Portuguese were arguably the first Europeans to introduce the proper use of firearms into the Siamese army. They also travelled the coastline of the Kingdom extensively and drew many of the early European maps of Siam. The term Junk Ceylon, later used as a common European reference to Phuket Island, also first appeared in Portuguese charts. Later down the timeline, other European powers, the Dutch, French and British would follow the lucrative trade route pioneered by the Portuguese which would eventually lead them into a fierce competition to become the dominant power in the Far East.

Anand Singh is an avid Phuket Historian and can be contacted here.

— Anand Singh

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Environment

Update on Chikungunya cases in Thailand

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Update on Chikungunya cases in Thailand | The Thaiger

“Chikungunya Virus is an arbovirus of the alphavirus genus, transmitted by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, same way Dengue is spread.”

The Bureau of Epidemiology, along with the Thailand Health Ministry, are reporting 3,379 chikungunya cases in 23 provinces up to May 13 this year.

Phuket, Songkla and Ranong have been the most affected by the mosquito borne viral disease. The good news, health officials report the numbers are declining.

The word, Chikungunya, translates to “that which bends up”, based on the stooped position of patients during the rheumatic symptoms of the disease.

In humans bitten by an infected mosquito, the disease symptoms usually appear after an incubation period of three to seven days.

Chikungunya can cause acute, sub-acute, and chronic disease.

In acute disease, symptoms develop abruptly and include high fever, headache, myalgia and arthralgia (predominantly in limbs and large joints). The appearance of a maculopapular rash is also frequent. Severe forms of the disease are rare. Symptoms usually resolve in 7-10 days, although arthralgia and joint stiffness may persist intermittently for several months.

The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and Zika, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where they are common. As there is no cure, treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

SOURCE: OutbreakNewsToday.com

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Entertainment

‘Game of Thrones’ finale rates high, fails the landing

The Thaiger

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‘Game of Thrones’ finale rates high, fails the landing | The Thaiger

WARNING: GOT Spoiler alerts!!

“This final season has obviously been divisive, and a good deal of the criticism, especially of the penultimate episode, was justified.”

by Brian Lowry

After eight seasons, 73 episodes and a much-debated flurry of plot developments, that signature first-season line proved the key to unraveling the “Game of Thrones” finale, which, after a season that was at various times exhilarating, exhausting and aggravating, came as something of a relief.

Given the passions ignited (somewhat literally, given all that dragon fire) by the penultimate chapter, the finale couldn’t possibly please everyone. While there was validity in many of the criticisms, a degree of silliness crept into the discussion, starting with those who actually signed a petition petulantly demanding some kind of cosmic do-over.

From Mash to Friends to Seinfeld, the most watched series finals HERE.

“Flaws and all, ‘Game of Thrones’ rewrote the rules for a TV epic, providing a brilliantly cast serialised storyline, produced with a scope and scale that rivaled theatrical blockbusters.”

In the final analysis, the first half of the last episode, both written and directed by show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, was strong, logical and satisfying. Overall, it wasn’t a one-for-the-ages finale, held up against the best examples of them and the abundant hype, but it wasn’t an unworthy one either.

Read the rest of the CNN review from Brian Lowry HERE

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Bangkok

A drop in demand leaves Bangkok with a glut of completed new condos

The Thaiger

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A drop in demand leaves Bangkok with a glut of completed new condos | The Thaiger

A parliament of owls? A murder of crows? A flock of geese?

But what’s the collective noun for a lot of available new condo developments in Bangkok?

A glut of Condos?

As Thailand’s economy is hit by the double whammy of fallout from US-China trade wars and lingering political instability, stricter mortgage-lending rules are also kicking in creating a buyer’s market in the capital.

Some basic statistics… 65,000 new apartments became available last year. That’s 11% more than 2017 and the most since 2009. But a Knight Frank reports indicates that demand is down and asking prices have decreased 6% year-on-year. Rental prices have also softened as recent investors remain keen to find tenants.

Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, a managing director of CBRE Group in Thailand, says that it’s a great time to get into the BKK market with prices down a bit and the selection better than ever.

“The overall condominium market will be slower this year but there are still opportunities in some locations with the right product at the right price. We believe the market is entering an equilibrium stage where prices will be adjusted to a more realistic level.”

Revised mortgage-lending rules that came into effect from April 1 are also dampening enthusiasm for property because lenders will now restrict the amount of money some buyers can borrow.

Meanwhile Brennan Campbell from FazWaz.com says the biggest developers are wanting to cash in their stock so they move on to the next projects.

“Some of the country’s largest developers are holding a huge inventory of completed or soon-to-be completed stock where they have seen demand soften through the first two quarters of 2019. The motivation to sell these units is growing as this capital is required to fund future projects. The result? A supply of incredible units in some of the best areas of Bangkok where buyers can be more creative in their negotiation strategies in order to secure the best overall value.”

Part of the softening in sales may also be linked to a drop in Chinese visitors to the capital. Whilst not a huge drop it is measurable considering that Chinese investors have historically been the principal foreign property buyers in Thailand. The lack of Chinese visitors is mostly a domestic problem with China’s economy softening as the US-China trade war bites.

CBRE reported recently that Thailand’s real estate market had a high reliance on foreigners.

“Most of the recent foreign buyers are investors and CBRE doubts they will live in the units they have bought. Foreign sales are highly sensitive to economic conditions of the buyer’s home country.”

Sopon Pornchokchai, president of the Agency for Real Estate Affairs, reports that a total of 454,814 residential units across the country were unsold in 2018.

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