Chiang Rai - Pottering around

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Aug 1, 2015.

  1. The Phibul Songkram / Military Museum

    nestled on top of the hill overlooking Chiang Rai & the Kok River.



    An interesting & perhaps unusual museum to one of the countries strongmen.

    Phibun Songkhram (1897-1964), was born named Plaek Khittasangkha in Nonthaburi.
    He first went a temple school.
    In 1909 at 12 he enrolled in a military academy, graduated at 17 (1914) & joined the artillery.


    In 1924 he went to France to study.
    In France he met prominent Thai students of politics Pridi Phanomyong and Khuang Aphaiwong.
    He returned to Bangkok in 1927 & served in the army in “the directorate of operations and the general staff.”


    In 1928 he changed his name to Luang Phibun Songkhram
    In 1932 he was one of the leaders of the coup that overthrew the absolute monarchy.
    In 1933 he led government troops to put down a royalist rebellion.
    In 1934 he became minister of defence.
    He survived 3 assassination attempts in these few years.
    In 1938 he became PM, imposed a military dictatorship, appointed himself both defence & interior minister; arrested members of the royal family, members of the opposition and his rivals.

    In 1939 he changed the name of Thailand to Siam & started a strong campaign of nationalism – for Thai people. Anti Chinese policies were encouraged to curb ethnic Chinese dominance of the economy, restrict Chinese education, newspapers and culture.

    In his first term as PM (1938 – 1944), Phibun issued several decrees.
    • The national flag be saluted & the anthem played at 8am & 6pm.
    • Thais were told to wear Western dress; coat, trousers, shirt and tie for men; skirts, blouses, hats and gloves for women; and all in shoes.
    • New Year’s Day was changed from April, the traditional date to 1 January. However, Thais took the practical approach and celebrate on both dates.
    • Another of his decrees was to encourage Thai men to kiss their wives goodbye, in the mornings when they leave for work, that is.
    • Betel nut chewing was banned
    • Men who wanted to join the military had to prove their grandfathers were pure Thai

    In 1940-41 he provoked war with France in French Indochina.
    On 8 Dec 1941 Japan invaded Thailand & Phibun immediately allied Thailand with Japan. With this move he temporarily regained much territory that was lost to Britain and France in the 19th century.

    In 1944 Phibul was ousted in a coup.
    In 1947 Phibul was back with another coup.
    In 1951 Phibul was captured & held aboard the Sri Ayuttayah warship, by a group of naval officers in a failed coup. There was fierce fighting in Bangkok between the army & the navy. Phibul managed to escape from the warship & swim ashore; after which the warship was bombed by the air force.

    In 1957 he was ousted in a coup by Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat, his former ally and the army chief at the time.

    He retired to exile in Japan where he died on 11 June 1964.

    Whatever your views, he left his mark in Thai political history.

    The house on the hill by the army barracks in Chiang Rai was owned by Phibul & he apparently spent some time there.






  2. Whilst one part of the building shows Phibul's quarters & possessions, the main part of the building has a display of military history in the North.

    Sadly there is minimal info in English so you can only guess what the displays are about.

    History of the house & it's refurbishment..


    Old Chiang Rai city & its fortifications


    Old weapons


    Old rulers / leaders



    IMG_4019. IMG_4028.



    & then there's the cash register


    It's a cool place to visit & check out - a hidden piece of history.

    And right alongside is the JomPom Coffee.



    Check it out sometime.
  3. #3 DavidFL, Sep 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
    King Mengrai was the founder of Chiang Rai in 1262.


    Born in Chiang Saen in 1238 he was the 25th monarch of the Lawa Dynasty and the first king of the Meng Rai Dynasty. He united several small states across the North creating the Lanna Kingdom & in 1296 he founded Chiang Mai to the south & made it the new capital.

    His statue is highly respected by locals.



    check it out at dusk for some nice photos.
  4. #4 DavidFL, Oct 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017

    Phibul Pibulsongkram's disputed legacy continues in another place

    Bangkok Post

    The long dispute began after Than Phuying La-iad, the wife of Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsongkram who was prime minister at the time, stood for elections in Nakhon Nayok in the mid-1950s. A residence for was built close to Nang Rong waterfall in 1955.

    Later, Than Phuying La-iad handed over the residence to Nakhon Nayok province, and it was later transferred to the provincial PAO.

    However, the parks department insists that despite being built in 1955,before the declaration of the Khao Yai National Park boundary, the Nang Rong waterfall area was declared a forest protection zone in 1953. The department has negotiated with various agencies for more than 10 years to take back the area, but failed.
  5. For those more interested in history........another interesting story on Phibul & the rivalry between the Thai navy & the army.

    Thailand has witnessed many attempted and successful coups since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932. In 1938, Field Marshall Plaek Phibunsongkhram, a military strongman, rose to power and became Thailand’s prime minister. Phibunsongkhram, or as many Western historians prefer to call him, Phibun, was a controversial figure. He led Thailand into the Second World War by openly siding with the Japanese against the Allied Powers. Phibun, a nationalist and Fascist sympathizer, created a leadership cult through propaganda and military dictatorship.

    After being ousted from power in 1944, Phibun was able to stage another coup against the civilian government of Prime Minister Thawal Thamrong in 1947. Phibun declared himself prime minister once again in 1948. The years that followed his second premiership would be plagued by several attempted coups against him.

    During his second premiership, Phibun changed his attitude drastically. Once a staunch supporter of fascism and Japanese imperialism in the region, Phibun maintained a façade of democracy during his post-war premiership in order to attract the large amount of American aid that was being poured into war-torn South East Asia.

    Despite a show of solidarity, there was still a bitter rivalry between different factions in Thai politics during the post-war years, especially among the different armed forces. The Thai navy during that time had a bitter grudge against Phibun’s government. In 1947, when Phibun staged a coup against the civilian government, important naval officers who were in command attempted to retaliate against the army’s coup. Luang Thamrong, Luang Sangwon and Admiral Thahan were important naval officers who openly supported Pridi Phanomyong, Phibun’s arch rival in government. When the coup proved successful and Phibun came to power in 1948, these top naval officers were prosecuted and dismissed from the navy, as punishment for their role in resisting the coup.

    With top naval officers dismissed, command of the navy fell to young radical officers, who felt humiliated and dishonored by the actions of Phibun. They were fearful that dismissal of their senior officers would pave the way for the army to control whatever was left of the Thai navy. In order to reclaim the honor and prestige of the navy, the junior officers felt they needed to get rid of Prime Minister Phibun. They began planning a coup against him.

    On June 29, 1951, Phibun attended the transferring ceremony of an American-donated dredger ship named the Manhattan. During the ceremony, in full view of foreign diplomats and high-ranking Thai officials, Phibun was arrested by a group of armed navy men, led by Lt Commander Manat Charupha. The navy announced the seizure of power over the radio and declared Capt Anon Puntharikapha the coup leader.

    Capt Anon immediately ordered all naval units to converge on Bangkok to fight with opposing government soldiers. In the meantime, Phibun was ushered onto a small navy boat and transferred to the navy’s flagship, the Si Ayutthaya. Smaller navy vessels attempted to capture strategic positions on land, but were quickly routed by the army. The navy therefore retreated to their stronghold onboard the Si Ayutthaya, with their prized captive, Phibun.

    Onboard the Si Ayutthaya, the naval officers forced Phibun to broadcast a message over the radio, asking the army to exercise restraint. Despite the message, the army prepared to put into effect its drastic plans to destroy the navy. Negotiations went nowhere as both sides were willing to use their firepower to destroy each other.

    The next morning, while Phibun was still being held onboard the Si Ayutthaya, a combined force of the army, the police and the air force attacked. The army, under the command of Gen Sarit Thanarat, used cannons to bombard naval installations. Air force planes attacked gasoline dumps and bombarded naval positions. Despite the fact that Phibun was still onboard the vessel, the air force bombed the naval flagship mercilessly. The Si Ayutthaya, overwhelmed with little room to maneuver, soon sank in the Chao Phraya River. Miraculously, Phibun was one of the few who survived the bombing. He managed to swim away from the wreckage to the bank of the river safely.

    With the destruction of their flagship, the naval forces lost hope and abandoned the coup attempt. Hostilities quickly ended. The failed attempt of the navy to take power in 1951 would thereafter be known as “The Manhattan Rebellion”.

    Following the Manhattan Rebellion, the rivalry between the army and the navy was ended once and for all. With the rebels defeated, the army moved to reduce the Thai navy to its bare essentials. Phibun ordered the dismissal of every top naval officer along with those he suspected of having taken part in the attempted coup.

    Through government decrees, the navy suffered a massive reorganization imposed upon it by the army. From then onwards, the navy was restricted to sea operations only. Any land territories it controlled were seized. Prior to the coup, coastal provinces like Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Chantha Buri, Chon Buri and Rayong, were controlled by the navy. After the failed rebellion, the army moved to monopolize territorial command of the entire country. The navy’s headquarters was moved out of Bangkok to Samut Prakan to keep it away from the government’s headquarters. The navy’s battle fleet, which was once stationed in the Chao Phraya River near the heart of Bangkok, was moved to Sattahip in Chon Buri province.

    Seized naval weapons and armaments were given to the army. Naval aircrafts were seized as well and given to the newly-formed Thai air force. Even the navy’s prestigious musical band was transferred to the control of the armed forces headquarters. The navy was allowed to maintain only a minimum level of manpower, while the rest of its men were distributed among the victorious army, air force and police. The Thai navy, once a powerful rival to the Thai army, was thoroughly crippled and Phibun made sure they would never rise to challenge the authority of the Thai military generals again.

    Source; Phuket Gazette, September 2014.

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  6. Wonderful, colourful history.

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