Thursday, December 6, 2012

Changwat Krung Thep

Driving the Nonthaburi-Bangkok road, I spotted a very strange sign at the boundary between Nonthaburi and Bangkok. Sadly there was no chance to stop as the road is currently very narrow due to the construction of the Pink Line Skytrain which once finished will connect Nonthaburi with Bangkok very conveniently, so I could not take a photo at that time, and haven't yet returned to Bangkok yet. But luckily now Google Streetview comes to my rescue to proof I wasn't imagining things, and having something to show with this post.

The sign reads "Khet Changwat Krung Thep", and had a second similar sign below it I could not read fast enough. The strange thing - Bangkok is not a Changwat, like I have written about that Bueng Kan is the 76th province, and not the 77th like so many believe not knowing the administrative details of Bangkok Metropolis. Yet while I can understand that many laypeople don't know these details, I was clearly surprised that an official sign does show this wrong information.

Well, actually there was a Changwat Krug Thep, but only for the short period between December 1971 when the provinces Phra Nakhon and Thonburi were merged, and December 1972 when the law on the special administrative area of Krung Thep became effective [Gazette]. But even during that time it wasn't named Changwat, but "Nakhon Luang Krung Thep Thon Buri" (นครหลวงกรุงเทพธนบุรี). While the sign I spotted was a bit weathered, it was certainly not 35 years old, so it must have been made at a time when it was really wrong already. Amazing Thailand as usual...

But in fact even more amazing is to try the term "จังหวัดกรุงเทพ" on the Royal Gazette search page, as this returns more than 100 results. For example in 2006 the Election Commission announced the Senator election in Bangkok calling it Changwat [Gazette] - though in the actual PDF it is correct without Changwat, only in the search index it is wrong. Though I haven't checked them all, this seems to be only an issue with the database, where the clerk entering the topic fell into the misconception that Bangkok is a province.

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