A Diplomat in Siam (Itineraria Asiatica: Thailand)

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Ernest Satow, British Minister-Resident, Bangkok, spent three months in 1885-86 travelling to and from Chiangmai, northern Thailand. Although his official purpose was to iron out legal disputes over rights of access to the teak timber trade, between Siam and British Indian and Burmese subjects in the Chiangmai region, very little mention is made of this.

Nevertheless, his observations of the country he travelled through, the fishing and farming activities, the forests and the ruined temples of the old capital of Sukhothai, make this book a worthy contribution to our knowledge of late-19th century Siam that previously had been visited and written about by few other Europeans. The book is also studded with his thumb-nail sketches of objects and places that he found of interest. However, his loss of faith in the Siamese judicial system, plus his contraction of malaria on the journey did nothing to improve his disposition towards the Siamese people or their customs, and his comments on both are quite noncomplementary at times.

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