From Customs Fort to Capital City of Thailand
To understand the history of Bangkok you have to go back to the time of the Burmese Invasions.
After the lamentable sack of Ayutthaya in 1767 by the Burmese King Rama I there was a need to relocated the capital to a more secure area. The area where Bangkok sits was chosen.
Originally a customs fort the area was well suited as a defensive location. Indeed honouring the old capital Ayutthaya was high in the mind of the Thai King and he had cuttings from the river made to form three consecutive canals around the new capital. In this way and with other buildings the Thai King set out to match the slendour of Ayutthaya.
Named Krung Thep - 'City of Angels' by the Thais and Bangkok - 'Place of the Plum Tree's' by foreigners. It soon grew spreading out to the east and west. The first paved roads were laid 1863 and more soon followed. This area is now known as the old city as it has the oldest buildings and not many big ones.
More modernisation came about but once the Vietnam War erupted Thailand reaped unexpected benefits. Money and improvements streamed in from her allies. In Bangkok the bounty was most noticeable. Large-scale building projects in the capital began in earnest with skyscrapers soon becoming a key feature of Bangkok in the 1970s and 80s onwards.
By the 1980s Bangkoks eastern area had been transformed and surpassed all other nearby countries, with the exception of Hong Kong. It was full steam ahead and in a burst of turbo-charged development and wild speculation the city was showing no signs of slowing. On the verge of being declared an Asian Tiger Economy the future seemed bright indeed.
The 1997 crash hit Bangkok hard and the economic shockwave soon turned to anger.
Many more buildings under construction were halted and it would take many years for the economy to recover enough for some of them to be re-started. Even 12 years later there are still buildings in the provinces that stand as silent, crumbling monuments to those heady times.
But over several years the capital and country recovered. The IMF funding arguably eased the pain along with a radical rethink on banking.
Visitors and residents alike would be proud of the futuristic skyline it boasts as is it is unmatched in many parts of the world and big skyscrapers would continue to be progressively added with each passing year. A city that combines old with new, here and there saffron clad monks continue to make the age-old alms trips each morning while heavy traffic cruised by indifferently.