What’s In a Name? And Other Interesting and Fun Facts about Bangkok

 

Every city becomes more personable and likable when you learn a few peculiar or unusual facts about it. Bangkok has its share of these. Here is a short selection for your amusement and interest:

  • Do you know what Bangkok’s traditional name is? A fair warning would be that it is a bit difficult to pronounce, let alone remember (if you are not Thai of course). It’s listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest name for a place and it is as follows: ‘Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit’. Breathe in. The name is a mixture of Pali and Sanskrit languages and it’s suppose to translate to….ready?…. ‘The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam’.
  • As it would probably be a bit impractical to always say it in its whole record-breaking length, Thais usually refer to Bangkok as Thep Maha Nakhon or Krung Thep, known to Anglophones as the City of Angels.
  • Another name for Bangkok that is popular with tourists is ‘Venice of the East’. Bangkok used to be a city of canals and the original buildings were on stilts. There is still a bit of that spirit left, although most canals have been filled and paved over.
  • As with Venice, Bangkok is sinking – at a rate of 2 to 5 centimeters a year. The phenomenon is attributed to heavy urban development and is a bit too rapid to feel comfortable about. The city might additionally be threatened by the rising sea level. So you’d better visit soon!
  • Thailand’s monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as King Rama IX, became the king in June 1946, at the age of 21, after the sudden and unexplained death of his older brother. He is the world’s longest reigning monarch. Known as a man of many talents, he owns a patent on a form of cloud-seeding and composed Thailand’s national anthem.
  • Bangkok holds the world record for the largest gold Buddha. A 3-meter-tall and 5.5-ton statue is kept at Wat Traimit. It’s value is estimated in tens of millions of dollars.
  • Another record holder is Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, which covers an area of 27 acres and is one of the world’s largest markets.
  • If you find yourself in Bangkok in April during the Songkran Festival, you will become a part of the world’s largest street water fight – whether you like it or not. Songkran is also known as the Water Festival and introduces the beginning of the new year.
  • The following fact is a bit grimmer, but is unfortunately a part of the world’s urban reality. It has been estimated that Bangkok’s air pollution costs the country $2.3 billion annually in lost production, wasted energy, and health costs. More than 20% of Bangkok’s traffic policemen suffer from some form of lung disease, due to pollution. Police stations are equipped with oxygen tanks and you’ll see traffic policemen wearing facemasks when on duty.
  • Let’s counteract the previous fact with one a bit more light-hearted: it’s illegal in Bangkok to go out without wearing underwear. Officially, you could be arrested, although it’s doubtful the law is really enforced.
  • Bangkok’s taxis don’t come in one uniform colour as they do in some of the other major cities. Different companies use different car’s colours, so you’ll see everything from green to baby pink.

 

You’re now equipped with some more or less useful information that you can use as you please.