If you really want to see a place, go with a local, be it a professional tour guide or friend of a friend. If that local is a dear relative who also happens to be connected to the very highest levels of society, all the better. I was lucky enough to have just that experience on my first trip to Bangkok.
Growing up, I always knew her as my glamorous aunt from Canada. My Aunt Sopa was married to my Uncle Ken, an Englishman who had immigrated to Canada. But she was originally from Thailand. While she didn’t talk about it much, Aunty So was distantly related to the royal Thai dynasties.
Her ancestor, Sheikh Ahmad, originally came from Persia in 1602 to settle in Siam. He and his son, Chune, were appointed Ministers of the Crown. Aunty So’s direct forebears have since held positions in the court and government through the years. Among them was King Taksin (1767-1782) and His Excellency Chao Phraya Si Suriyawong, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Siam. He was also the Kalahom or Regent at the beginning of the Fifth Reign and will perhaps be remembered as the Regent in Anna Leonowens “Anna and the King of Siam.” Her father also served as Minister of Finance in the Thai government, so you can see her connections were vast. Read More