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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Three: Asia

Thursday, November 22

Moulmein to Bangkok The last two days in Bangkok were ample reward for the mean colds with which we both suffered. Yesterday we had the pleasure of calling on Mr. James Baker, the American Minister, an elderly man from the South, who has been sent out here recently. He showed us about the grounds of the Legation which are utterly charming, profusely planted, and opening on to a lawn at the rear which would put a country club to shame. He is quite taken with a plan to introduce the growing of cotton into this country. Today, an excursion by canal boat: I had not realized that the Siamese have no other means of transportation than by boat and railroad, because Bangkok has a small section of dry land on which a few streets have been built. Of the million inhabitants, however, probably four-fifths live in the broad belt which surrounds the city, and their homes can be reached only through the system of canals. From the air I had supposed this was a convenient belt of truck gardens, and it may be considered such, for each householder has his coconut and betel-nut trees, and short rows of vegetables planted in earth which has been thrown up a little above the level of high tide. They are not so careful with their homes, which are supported on bamboo stilts, with teak wood flooring and thatched roots. The aim in house construction seemingly is to just barely escape high water, or doesn't it matter. The moon is now full and the spring tide laps a foot or two above the first and only story of these huts, but no one minds. Even in the stores, which face the water highways, great stacks of pottery and dishes are standing on a floor two and a half feet under water. Our boatman led us up far enough to get into some very narrow canals and we had a good look at the thriving populace. Too far, because only with the persuasion of a bribe did we get back in time to make the train to Tacheen.

A dinner for the American visitors was given this evening by Luang Norakichkamjars, Governor of Samudr Sagora, in the government house at Tacheen. In order to attend this we came down early and will spend the night here. An illustrious gathering of State and Municipal officials was present; Phra Dulaya Ratana Fochanata, the Chief Judge of the State; Luang Yuddisastra Kosol, the local Judge; Phra Rajseshti, the Public Prosecutor; Luang Dermbang Boribala, the District Officer; Captain M.C. Suravudhipravati, Chief of the Gendarme', Xhim Sri Dabienkich of the Land Registry office; a merchant named Phra Korani Supanaratorn; our friend Chart; and faithful Ericsson. Dinner was served here in the government house, a most remarkable feast with 12 or 15 courses, including soup, beef, pork, chicken, duck, fish, crab and many other meats, leading up to a huge dish of rice. We were much impressed by their kindness, although since we do not know the Siamese language, conversation was difficult. Ericsson came to our rescue by translating, and at the end of the dinner Chart acted as interpreter when the Governor made a long speech of welcome to which I gave response in English. It was all very entertaining.

We flattened out the propeller today so as to get better take off performance, and expect to make a daybreak start tomorrow.

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