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BANGKOK 17 October 2018 05:29
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george

12 Dutchmen Drunk On Chao Phya River

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Stories of Siam

BANGKOK: -- Dutchman’s diaries give a fascinating glimpse into Ayutthaya’s golden age. On December 10, 1636, a party of about 12 Dutchmen went for a boat ride on the Chao Phya River. They became intoxicated and made a nuisance of themselves in one of Ayutthaya’s holiest Buddhist temples.

They behaved wilfully and spitefully against all Siamese who crossed their path, calling some of them names, hitting others and even entering houses and taking food.

When King Prasat Thong learned about the “picnic incident”, he was extremely angry. He had all the Dutchmen arrested and sentenced them to be trampled to death by elephants. King Prasat Thong also placed restrictions on all the trading activities of the Dutch East India Company in Ayutthaya.

At that time, Jeremias van Vliet (1602-1663) was acting director of the Dutch East India Company. How would he deal with the grave situation to save the lives of his fellow Dutchmen and also to protect the lucrative trading operations of the Dutch East India Company?

Van Vliet spent a full month trying to resolve the conflict. His immediate boss, Joost Schouten, was away in Batavia at the time so van Vliet had to take sole responsibility for dealing with the situation. He wrote a daily account in his diary, which later became known as the “Diary of the Picnic Incident”. It turned out to be a vivid account of one of Ayutthaya’s most spectacular periods under the reign of King Prasat Thong, who ruled between 1629 and 1656.

Six weeks later van Vliet felt obliged to offer an apology to the king. He sought an audience with King Prasat Thong in the Palace. He crawled in on his knees carrying a pedestal bowl with rice and flowers, which he then poured over his head. Van Vliet shrugged off this humiliation and went on to have a prosperous career.

In total, he wrote four books about Siam, where he lived for nine years between 1633 and 1642. Apart from the “Diary of the Picnic Incident” (1636-37), the other three books are, “Description of the Kingdom of Siam” (1638), “Short History of the Kings of Siam” (1640) and the “Historical Account of King Prasat Thong” (1640). They are now available in a handsome volume called “Van Vliet’s Siam”. Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons van der Kraan and David K Wyatt teamed up to compile and edit all of van Vliet’s writings, which have shed light on the modern-day understanding of the life and times of the middle period of Ayutthaya. The volume is published by Silkworm Books.

Over the weekend, the History Society held a special seminar and invited Baker and Dhiravat to talk about the book. Baker, who speaks fluent Thai with his Cambridge accent, said he believed the picnic incident took place at Wat Worachet, which van Vliet called Boeretiet. This temple is located outside the moat surrounding the Ayutthaya capital and is about one kilometre to the west. Baker has visited Ayutthaya several times to survey the site.

Baker viewed van Vliet as a very educated person, who not only excelled in commerce but also had a good knowledge of history and the classics.

When van Vliet reported the picnic incident to Anthonio van Diemen, the governor-general of the Indies, van Diemen sought to punish him. He wrote: “I cannot comprehend what kind of blood flows through your veins when I read how you tolerated all these prejudicial and shameful affronts; how, on top of everything, you humbled yourself, and crawled along the floor like a delinquent, begging forgiveness for your crimes, which you then accepted gratefully as if it came from God Himself . . . A comedy they have played with you, and like they do with their buffaloes, they have taken you by the nose and have led you wherever they wanted you to go.”

Van Vliet was summoned to Batavia to report directly to the governor-general. It was luck on his part that van Diemen was away at the time. Van Vliet then wrote the “Description of the Kingdom of Siam” to save his career. In this account, he wrote: “Siam is a country that has more than most other countries of everything that the human being needs.” He belittled the military prowess of Ayutthaya. “The Siamese are poor soldiers . . . the Siamese are poor sailors,” he said. He also went so far as to suggest political or military intervention to take over Ayutthaya. He described King Prasat Thong as a drunken king, who ruled with extravagance. “He is honoured and worshipped by his subjects more than a god,” he wrote.

Van Vliet suggested that the capital “will not be able to withstand a European army” and could easily be taken over.

“The friendship which always had been honoured and laudably maintained by the kings of Siam, has much decreased and has almost disappeared during the rule of this king usurper. And probably this friendship will not flourish again as before, unless this cowardly nation is brought to better sense, and unless the disgrace which we have suffered has been washed away by the sword, in which may God Almighty help,” he wrote.

Van Vliet’s “Short History of the Kings of Siam” was also of very high historical value. He chronicled the reigns of Ayutthaya’s kings from King U-Thong to King Prasat Thong, the 25th king of Ayutthaya. It turned out to be the earliest continuous account of Ayutthaya, coming even before the “Luang Prasert Chronicle”.

His historical account of King Prasat Thong was equally interesting. According to Dhiravat and Baker, van Vliet used the framework of Renaissance tragedy and described the king in Machiavellian terms.

It is sometimes necessary for a king to ruthlessly destroy his opponents in order to save their kingdoms and to pursue other good deeds. King Prasat Thong seemed to fit this mould as he had purged all of his political opponents and created a reign of terror, yet he also led Ayutthaya to further prosperity and stability.

Van Vliet had three daughters with a Mon woman called Osoet Pegua. He left Siam but could not take his daughters with him. He had a brilliant career with the Dutch East India Company and retired with a comfortable life. He returned to his hometown in Holland and died in 1663 at the age of 61.

--The Nation 2005-08-29

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>>>A comedy they have played with you, and like they do with their buffaloes, they have taken you by the nose and have led you wherever they wanted you to go.”

Time has not changed much

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Interesting........I'll keep an eye out for the book

Baker, who speaks fluent Thai with his Cambridge accent, said he believed the picnic incident took place at Wat Worachet, which van Vliet called Boeretiet.

A good thing the king didn't speak any dutch, or van Vliet probably wouldn't have lived to tell the tale (boeretiet = farmer's tit) :o

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To follow on...Did you know about .....The lost city .....Sam Prac...

tried to find a clue about its exact location but time has covered it over unlike last weeks jolly in the real Amsterdam with coffees on the Damrak :o ....so

The lost city of New Amsterdam

Head south on Highway 303 (Suk Sawat Road) to Chedi Samut Prakan.

This is where the Bang Pla Kod Canal meets the Chao Phraya River. The bank of the canal was once the location of the Ayutthaya-era settlement of New Amsterdam.

There is nothing to see today but a swampy, mangrove-covered area. A placard at the site says the following:

New Amsterdam City was one of the significant historical sites which was situated at Tambon Klong Bang Pla Kod, Phra Samut Chedi district. In Samut Prakan Province in those days a large number of Dutch men came to trade with Thailand.

These Dutch men were well-behaved and cordial in conducting their business with Thai people.

Some of them provided good service to the government. They were thus bestowed with some land on the western bank of Bang Pla Kod Canal to be used for storage and residences.

The place looked so nice that it was known among the Dutch men living there as New Amsterdam or the Holland Buildings.

Later, the mutual relationship began to deteriorate until the end of the Ayutthaya Period and so did the significance of New Amsterdam.

Time also strengthened the decline of the riverbank where the Holland buildings were situated. They were eroded by the tide.

That is why no traces of such places can be seen today.

2bangkok.com(with thanks)

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He had all the Dutchmen arrested and sentenced them to be trampled to death by elephants.

Just imagine if they planned to resurrect this punishment for rampaging, drunk farangs with very bad behavior...

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He had all the Dutchmen arrested and sentenced them to be trampled to death by elephants.

Just imagine if they planned to resurrect this punishment for rampaging, drunk farangs with very bad behavior...

Thailand might actually be a better place..well the sukhumvit area of bangkok anyways.

Edited by bossman

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