Today, the Olympic torch will be relayed for the first time on the soil of Thailand, in its capital Bangkok, the 12th leg of the global tour.
Bangkok, more often referred by Thai people as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, or simply Krung Thep for short, which means in Thai language “the City of Angels”, is the capital and biggest and most modernized city of Thailand.
Bangkok is located in the fertile central plain of Thailand, with the Chao Phraya River running north to south through the city.Busy scenes with fishing boats and ferries on the Chao Phraya River and other canals in the past brought the city another title as “The Venice of the East.”
Bangkok, comprising the Bangkok province and surrounding areas covered by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and another five small provinces on the suburb, has a registered population of a little over 10 million.
The city is a major economic and financial center of Southeast Asia. The city’s wealth of cultural sites makes it one of the world ‘s most popular tourist destinations.
Bangkok as we know today become the Thai Kingdom’s capital from 1782 when the first King of the Chakri Dynasty (the current reigning King Bhumibol Adulyajej is the ninth king of the Dynasty) reconstructed and broadened it to cover both the areas on the west and east banks of the Chao Phraya River and gave the city a long ceremonial name shortened as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, or simply Krung Thep. Foreigner continued to call it Bangkok, which became its official English name.
Bangkok now is the economic center of Thailand, and one of the world’s most popular tourist city for both Westerners and Asians. It has also attracted a large flux of immigrants, the largest ethnic groups being Chinese, Indian, Japanese and European. A bunch of international organizations, including the United Nations, has based their headquarters for the Asia-Pacific or Southeast Asia region in the city.
Besides canals, Bangkok is also known for its hundreds of Buddhist temples, known in Thai as “wat”. Only several of the temples, like the Temple of Emerald Buddha, or Temple of Recling Buddha, and Temple of Dawn are well known among tourists, but visiting temples, worshipping Buddhas, and giving alms to monks are daily practice for Thai Buddhists, who account for more than 90 percent of Thailand’s population.