Through the Eyes of the King: The Travels of King Chulalongkorn to Malaya

Through the Eyes of the King: The Travels of King Chulalongkorn to Malaya
Date of publication:  2009
Publisher:  Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Number of pages:  178
Code:  LH20
Hard Cover
ISBN: 9789812307736
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"This is a book of outstanding beauty, which, through contemporary photography of persons and buildings, water-colours of bucolic scenes of old Singapore and the Peninsula, and accessible commentaries by the author, evokes the atmosphere of a series of eight Siamese royal journeys southwards during the Fifth Reign (1868-1910). Nor is such evocation the author's sole concern: international historical context is provided as well, not only by the author as her book progresses, but also in an introductory two pages by leading Thai historian, Charnvit Kasetsiri" (Asian Affairs).

About the publication

This book takes the reader to old Malaya as seen through the eyes of King Chulalongkorn of Siam. The King was probably the most travelled monarch of his time. He went to Java three times, India and Burma once, and Europe twice. In all these journeys, he had to pass through Singapore, and when he went westwards, he had to pass through Penang.
           The King travelled to Malaya more than ten times - mainly to Singapore but also to Johor, Penang, Malacca, Taiping and Kulim. The narrative is told through historical photos and notes on the places he visited and pen sketches of the people he met.
           Since King Chulalongkorn's travels cover nearly the whole period of his reign, they reflect the different stages of his life and reign. We see him first as a young man eager to see the world and preparing himself to rule. Then we see him in middle age, in poor health and taking a respite from the cares of state. Lastly, we see him as a statesman withstanding severe pressures from aggressive British officials.
           The context of each journey is discussed in the light of Siam's relations with Britain and the northern Malay states that were still under Siamese suzerainty. Malaya was both holiday destination and confrontational space.

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