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Notes on the Geography of Thailand: Bangkok: Photo 1

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The city was established in 1782, 15 years after the Burmese had destroyed Ayutthaya. (Ironically, the name Ayutthaya in Sanskrit means "invincible.") Perhaps it was easier to start anew than to rebuild; the new city, closer to the sea, would also make it easier to communicate with the foreigners who would soon be playing a major role in the development of the country.

The site chosen for the new city was on the left bank of a wide curve of the Chao Phraya River, and it was protected on the east by two concentric moats. A grand palace would be built at the center of the new city, properly called Krung Thep or "City of Angels." That was the short form of the much longer formal name, which included the phrase "the Happy City Abounding in Great Royal Palaces which Resemble the Heavenly Above Wherein Dwell the Reincarnated Gods..." Even now, the core of Bangkok, bounded by the moats, is known as Ko Rattanakosin, "the emerald island of Indra." The inner part in particular, dominated by the palace, has been restored to pristine shape since the 1980s and the discovery at that time of Moradok Thai, "Thai heritage."

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