Sunday, July 28, 2013

Phibunsongkhram Soldier Museum

Soldier Museum (Pipittaphan Tahan) - east of Doi Jom Tong’s temple, west of the old Sala Klang; go up the road heading south from near the water station (just southeast of the MaeFaLuang bridge to NamLat) and turn left (east) at the T intersection. The museum, which was a house belonging to Plaek Phibunsongkhram and is advertised as his home, is just north by northwest from Wat Ngam Muang. The place is great for an interesting glimpse into how things were here a good lifetime ago. Admission free! Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, born Plaek Khittasangkha, was dictator of Siam 1938 - 1944 and 1948 – 1957. He helped overthrow the monarchy in 1932, changed the country’s name to Thailand in 1939, decreed January 1 as the start of the new year, decreed that people must wear shoes and hats outdoors (and women bras), annexed much of the Shan States (in particular, Keng Tung) and is largely responsible for the continuing respect for fascism in the country (Mussolini was a personal hero of his). His father was a Cantonese-speaking Chinese immigrant, but while in power he undermined Chinese power in Thailand, dominated the media and suppressed local languages including Kham Muang and Lao dialects. Photos of him were everywhere. There are four downstairs rooms (plus entry and restroom), one of which is frull of weapons, and 5 upstairs (plus a large landing). Lots of old photos, a TV show about Phibunsongkram to watch (in Thai), period furniture, a “Lanna History Room” and a nice coffee-shop outside.