Bangkok, Siam

Monday, July 22, 1929

This morning I went to the American Consulate for my mail. Got lost and caught in the rain before I got there and didn’t get back to the hotel till noon time. Guess I am ahead of mail here too. Got a letter from Mother containing two returned [letters] of Eleanor’s, one from Dad with the check, and one from Eleanor besides a bundle of papers and the O.S.U. Monthly.

Have tried to rent a bike but n.g. due to a law forbidding anybody to ride one unless he has his own license for it. Looks like I’ll have to walk mostly as I can afford nothing else except a trolley-car. Many of the European homes are squeezed into the queerest little streets. You would never suspect they were there. There are some very pretty places.

The manager’s daughter asked me to go to the show tonight but the picture wasn’t what she thought it was, so we have to put it off.

Siam is an absolute monarchy, the king, Rama VI having all the say. He has an advisory consul that has met but seldom. The country is some 200,000 sq. miles in area, 1,100 long by 500 or 600 miles at the widest part, and has over 9,270,000 inhabitants of whom some 827,000 live in and about Bangkok. [66 million in 2010]

There is a navy of nine ships, five of which are over 100 tons, and the largest being the yatch yatch boat of the king. It is a wow too. There are also a few trading vessels. The navy numbers over 500 men with a reserve of 200,000. During the war, and Siam declared war on Germany and Austria just 11 years ago today—possibly 12 years—she sent a detachment of troops to France and a flying corps. Since in the 19th century treaties with England and France have been made, the country has been free to develop. The present king is carrying on the good work of his father, building railroads and making all sorts of improvements. Only in the last ten years have tourists started coming to Bangkok.

Bangkok is a seaport now, being 20 or 30 miles inland on and Menam River. Smaller vessels can come up as far as Bangkok. But the ocean is receding at the rate of some 30 or 40 miles in 500 years, so someday Bangkok will be far inland.

Women hold a high position in Siam. Polygamy is permitted, but only practiced by the wealthy class. In such cases the first wife is always head of the household.

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