Arnold Wright.

Twentieth century impressions of Siam: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources, with which is incorporated an abridged edition of Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya online

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Online LibraryArnold WrightTwentieth century impressions of Siam: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources, with which is incorporated an abridged edition of Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya → online text (page 23 of 107)
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inspectors, all Siamese, had been trained to do
plane-table surveys in a workmanlike manner,
it became possible to devote attention to train-
ing the best of them to work with a theodolite
and chain to provide the traverse surveys on
which the detail or field to field surveys are
based. In the earlier days a number of Indian
subsurveyors had to be brought from India to
carry on this work, but during the last few
years it has become possible, as Siamese were
gradually trained to take their places, to
eliminate most of these Indians. In the early
days, too, Burmans were employed on the
cadastral work, but they were not satisfactory,
and experience has shown that local material fur-
nishes the best results. Knowing the language
and understanding the customs of the people,
they find it easier than foreigners to get hold of
transport and labour when they require it, and
as any European officers who may be in charge
of the parties have to learn to speak and to
read Siamese, the giving of instructions, in-
specting work and accounts, and the control
generally, is much more satisfactory when
Siamese only have to be dealt with.

All cadastral plans are plotted, drawn, and
printed to a scale of 1 to 4,000. It so happens
that 40 metres or 4,000 centimetres are equal to
one sen, which is the Siamese unit of linear
measurement. One centimetre, therefore, on
this scale represents one sen, and this is found
of great convenience. One square sen is equal
to one rai, which is the Siamese unit for the
measurement of area. Each cadastral sheet is
drawn 50 centimetres square and therefore
the area represented on each sheet is 2,500 rai,
a quantity equal to 1,6187 English acres. A
well-known point in each province is taken
when convenient as the centre or point of
origin of the cadastral survey of that province,
and the whole province is cut up into imaginary
but properly co-ordinated squares, each 2,500

rai in extent. Drawing an imaginary line
north and south, and another line east and
west through the point of origin, each square
is given a number according to its position ;
thus we might have a square called 4N — 3E,
or another 6S-8W, the reference in each
case being to the central point. As each square
has its own number, any particular holding
or area of land within that square is co-ordi-
nated with respect to the point of origin. In
the province of Bangkok the point of origin is
the well-known pagoda, Pu Kao Tong ; in the
province of Nakawn Chaisi the pagoda at
Prapatom was selected, and this is the trigo-
nometrical station referred to above which was
connected by Mr. McCarthy with the Eastern
Frontier Series of the Survey of India.

To make the squares into which the country
is supposed to be divided for convenience some-
thing more than imaginary divisions, the Survey
Department is now putting down stones at the
corners of the squares, and it is hoped that these
may remain as permanent marks in the future
to define the squares and to render the work of
re-survey, where such is required, an easy

For some years past the area of land cadas-
trally surveyed in each working season of six
to seven months has amounted to well over one
million rai, or over 700 square miles per annum.
In the recess — that is, during the wet season,
when the rains are on and the country too
much covered with water for survey work — the
time is employed computing the areas of the
holdings and making out lists of the owners.
It should be remarked that the cadastral survey
shows every physical feature on its maps,
including the ridges of land which surround
the rice fields, and a rice or paddy field, even if
only a dozen yards square in extent, would be
shown on the printed map.

Some years ago an estimate was made of the
cost of this cadastral survey. The following is

tical it would be necessary to state that the
cost of the survey is now about 14J pence per

In 1901 topographical surveys were begun
in the province of Nakawn Sritamarat and in
Pitsanulok, and in the following year in the
province of Pa-yupp. At the present time this
survey has been completed in Nakawn Srita-
marat and Pa-yupp, and the two provinces
Pitsanulok and Puket are each half completed.
Roughly speaking, 63,550 square miles have
been surveyed, and the maps for the greater
part of this area have been printed. The scale
used is 1 to 64,000, which is practically one
mile to the inch. These surveys have been
based on large circuits given by theodolite
traverses, the interior being filled in by chain
and compass traverses along roads and water-
courses. Where such existed advantage has
been taken of triangulated points, but the want
of trigonometrical survey has been sadly felt.

In 1907 a special survey of the island of
Puket, on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula,
was made, and the maps printed early in
1908. This was on a scale of 1 to 16,000, and a
secondary ti iangulation was pushed through
to control the topographical work.

In 1901 a series of triangles was measured in
an easterly direction from Bangkok. This
reached the Bangpakong river, but it was not
until early in 1007 that a base line for this
series could be measured. In 1906 the small
series of triangles previously referred to as
having been pushed out towards Chantabun on
the south-east coast of Siam was slightly-
extended. In 1907 the work referred to above
was carried through in Puket, and in the
present year a series of triangles to cross the
peninsula from Nakawn Sritamarat to Puket
was taken in hand.

The following table, which has been brought
up to date, shows the area which has been sur-
veyed since the cadastral survey began : —





Area in

Square Miles

of Land


Area in

Square Miles

of Roads,

Waterways and

Waste Land



Total Area



Square Miles.


Krungkao ...

Nakawn Chaisi


Pitsanulok ...

















Total ...





an extract from the Annual Report of the
Survey Department for the year ending Sep-
tember 30, 1905 : —

" A very careful calculation was made by
Mr. Irwin early in this year as tp the present
cost of cadastral survey. It was found that the
cost is 21J atts per rai, or less than one shilling
an acre, which for detailed survey must be
considered very reasonable, when it is con-
sidered that most of this large area could bear
an annual tax of three times that amount. In
estimating this cost every item of expenditure
was included, such as instruments, tents, trans-
port, salaries, supervision, cost of time spent
on computations, printing of maps, paper
and printing of title-deeds. It has been calcu-
lated that the survey may lead to an increase
of 30 per cent, in the revenue derived from the
land held, so that its cost will be paid for over
and over again. Included in the above cost is
that of printing supplies of maps."

Owing to a rise in exchange value of the

It will be seen from this table that in the last
thirteen years 7,770 square miles (an area about
the size of Wales) have been cadastrally sur-
veyed, which gives an average of 597 square
miles per year. The number of holdings and
the area held show us that the average area of
a holding in Siam is 7J acres.

A table has been prepared to give the
approximate area covered by topographical
survey carried out in recent years.

in Square Miles.



Nakawn Sritamarat...




Chumpawn ...








In connection with this class of work it may
be noted that the whole area covered by cadas-
tral survey might well be included in that of
topographical survey, as the cadastral sheets
furnish the best data for topographical maps.

The following table indicates very well the
annual output of printed maps, plans, and
other productions of the Royal Survey Depart-
ment : —


Departmental Maps
Cadastral Plans ...
Miscellaneous Maps
Extra Departmental Maps
Title-deed Forms


Number of Copies








As showing the progress of the work of
issuing title-deeds based on the cadastral sur-
vey, a work referred to at some length in an
earlier part of this article, the following table
will be of interest : —

Land Transfer Office,

Nakawn Chaisi

Number of Title-deeds
issued August, 1908.


Total ..


Mr. Ronald W. (iiblin was born on January
3, 1863, at Hobart, Tasmania, being a son of
Thomas Giblin, General Manager of the Bank
of Van Diemen's Land. After receiving his
education at the Hutchins School, Hobart, he
devoted some years to pastoral pursuits on sheep
and cattle stations in Tasmania and Queens-
land. In 1885, being attracted to surveying as a
profession, he selected New South Wales as
affording the best school of practice available,
and passing the necessary examinations, was
admitted as a licensed surveyor under the
Government of New South Wales in 1889, and
later on as an authorised surveyor in Tas-
mania, being granted in addition in each of

those States a certificate to practise under the
Real Property Act. After some years of
Government service and private work, Mr.
Giblin was selected by Mr. G. H. Knibbs, then
Lecturer of Surveying at the Sydney University
(and now Statistician to the Commonwealth of
Australia), who had been in communication
with Mr, James McCarthy, Director of the
Royal Survey Department of Siam, to proceed
to that country to carry on a triangulation
survey, and he arrived in Siam in December,
1894. In the years i80 and 1898, during the
absence from Siam on leave of Mr. McCarthy,
Mr. Giblin acted as director of the depart-
ment, and in 1901, when Mr. McCarthy retired
on a pension, the Siamese Government
appointed him Director.

Mr. Arthur J. Irwin, Deputy Director
of the Royal Survey Department, Siam, is a
native of Ireland. He was educated at
Beaumont College, Old Windsor, Berks, and at
Dublin University, from which he graduated
in Arts and Civil Engineering in 1889. After
spending some time as pupil to the late Mr. J.
G. Coddington, M.Inst.C.E., he was employed
from 1891 to 1897 on engineering works and
on surveys in Ireland and abroad. In 1897
Mr. Irwin was appointed on the staff of the
Royal Survey Department, Siam. Mr. Irwin
is an associate member of the Institution of
Civil Engineers.




Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health and Principal Medical Officer,

Local Government, Siam. 1

ANGKOK, the capital of
Siam, is situated on both
sides of the river Menam
Chow Phya, some four-
teen miles, as the crow
flies, from the bar. It
is only a few feet above
sea-level, in latitude 13°
58' N. and longitude
ioo° 34' W. With the kingdom of Siam in
general, it is protected from violent changes
in weather by reason of the high mountain
ranges on its borders, which cut off the

effects of the cyclones so prevalent in adjacent
countries. The predominating influence in
the climate is, of course, that of the monsoons.
The north-east monsoon sets in early in
November in the Gulf of Siam, but in Bang-
kok its influence is not usually felt until the
middle of the month has been passed. The
evenings are then delightfully cool, and the
minimum temperature may fall to 66, 64, or even
to 62 F. The coolest portion of the twenty-
four hours is between 5 and 6.30 a.m. By 9
a.m., however, the thermometer will be found
above 70 F., and in a good cool season not
higher than 75 F. Until between 3 and 4


p.m. the temperature steadily rises to a maxi-
mum, even in our cool weather, of 88-90° and
even 93°. December is throughout the coolest
month of the year, the average mean tempera-
ture for four years being 763°. Although hot
during the daytime, the atmosphere is dry and
bracing and the nights are cool, the mean of
the minima being 661° F. The average rain-
fall, which consists of a shower or two about
Christmas-day, amounts to only about half an
inch. January is pretty much the same as
December, but towards the end of the month
the thermometer begins to gradually rise during
the day, although the nights are still cool.
In the early part of February the minimum
temperature may be still below 70 , and even
as late as February 14th temperatures of 56° F.
may be recorded, but as the month wears out
the real hot weather commences. During these
four " cool " months — November, December,
January, and February — there are several im-
portant factors which make for health. These
are : considerable dryness of the atmosphere,
low night temperature, and a very consider-
able daily range of temperature between the
shade maximum and the shade minimum.
This daily range of temperature is a most
important item in climate, for even although
the maximum day temperature be high, pro-
vided there be a considerable fall towards the
minimum, the variation gives a fillip to the
system and restful nights are assured. The
average range for these four months is 16°,
246°, 224°, and 19-3° respectively. March, in
its warmth, is the precursor of April, which
is the hottest month of the year, the mean tem-
perature being 86-95° as compared with 76-3"
for December. The nights are hot, although,
as a rule, there is a fairly strong breeze from
the sea. It is the exception to see a perfectly
dry April. Dark clouds are seen to bank up
now and again, especially to the north of the
city, and heavy showers of a short duration,
preceded by an oppressive sultry hour or two
and accompanied by thunder and lightning,
are the welcome harbingers of the coming
monsoon. On April 7, 1904, hail fell in Bang-
kok — a phenomenon which, according to Dr.
Campbell, is seen once in fifteen years. The
average rainfall for the month is about 2J

1 This article forms the substance of a paper read by Dr. Highet before the Siam Society.




inches. May brings the south-west monsoon,
with the first of the real rains, the average
rainfall totalling 10 inches with a mean of four-
teen days on which rain falls. From now on
until the end of October the rains continue,
the averages for June being 5'6, for July 4-1,
for August 5'9, for September iyg, and for
October 81. During these wet months the
mean temperature remains almost uniformly
at about 85" F., the days are hot and moist, and
the minimum temperature rarely falls below
75 F. The daily range, too, which is so exten-
sive even during March and April, now amounts
to about 15 . During November the rains
cease and the north-east monsoon breaks in,
commencing the cycle which has just been
described. It will be noted, therefore, that the
lowest mean temperature occurs in December,
that April is the hottest month of the year, that
the highest temperature has been recorded in
May — i.e., I04°F. — and the lowest in December
and January — i.e., 56 F. — that the wettest month
is September, the driest January, and that the
greatest daily range of temperature is found
during January, while the mean temperature
for the whole year is 8r6°F. and the mean
annual rainfall about 54 inches. Consequently,
although the climate of the place is not a suit-
able one for European colonisation, it is not
such a bad one after all as sub-tropical climates
go. Why Bangkok has gained such an un-
enviable notoriety as a perfect death-trap for
Europeans is not due to the climate itself, but
to certain conditions which partly depend upon
climate and partly upon the want of initiative
on the part of the Siamese Government with
regard to schemes of sanitation. One of the
most remarkable of the many striking results
of the scientific study of tropical diseases is
the recognition of trie fact that climate as a
factor in disease has been robbed of many of
its old terrors and that much of the sickness
of tropical countries can be lessened, if not
entirely done away with, by sanitary measures.
Given a pure water supply and an efficient
method of drainage, Bangkok might well
develop into one of the healthiest cities in
the East.

The selection of the most suitable men for
such a climate as that of Bangkok is naturally
a most important matter, not only to the in-
tending newcomer, but also to his employer.
The best way to describe the proper sort of
man will be to show what diseases or bodily
conditions are likely to be unfavourable to this
climate. Anaemia, or poorness of blood, handi-
caps a resident in the tropics at once. It is a
well-established fact that a physiological or
natural aiuemia is soon established in all hot
countries, no matter how full-blooded one may
be on arrival. When this does not go too far,
it makes for health and comfort by lessening
the chance of headaches, sunstroke, and many
other diseases. After prolonged stay in the
tropics, or as a result of many of the climatic
diseases, anaemia may develop into a veritable
disease. It is well, therefore, that persons of
an anaemic type should not select the tropics
as a field for a career. Another unfavourable
condition is a tendency to diarrhoea, constipa-
tion, or bowel complaints generally. Owing
to the fact that in the tropics the abdominal
organs, in Europeans, are in a more engorged
condition — that is, they are relatively fuller of
blood — than in temperate climates, and further,
as the chances of sudden chills due to rapid
changes of atmospheric temperature, thinner
clothing, and a more active skin, are greater
here, it is naturally found that bowel com-
plaints are very frequent amongst Europeans.
A tendency to diarrhoea may predispose to
chronic tropical diarrhoea or sprue, to dysen-
tery, and even to cholera or typhoid fever.
Constipation, on the other hand, may be just
as great a cause of sickness as diarrhoea. Here
in the tropics very few Europeans enjoy an
active outdoor life. The rule is rather a seden-

tary occupation, which keeps one indoors until
four dr five in the afternoon, when there is
only left time for an hour and a half or at
most two hours' exercise before sundown.
The consequence is that a sluggish state of
the bowels arises which causes a condition
of chronic poisoning of the system. The
functions of the liver and kidneys become
deranged, digestion suffers, and one's mental
faculties deteriorate. Of lung complaints con-
tra-indicating residence in Bangkok, phthisis
pulmonalis and asthma may be mentioned.
A strong family tendency to pulmonary con-
sumption makes one very chary, while the
actual presence of the disease should emphati-
cally forbid the passing of such a person. In
Bangkok my experience is that phthisis pul-
monalis is a very common disease amongst
the Siamese, and in them often runs a very
rapid course, but it is nothing to what one,
now and again, sees in Europeans, especially
young adults. In them the disease can truly
be called " galloping consumption," and the only
chance of prolonging life is immediate change
to a temperate climate. Asthma is a disease
of surprises. It may be a torture to a man in
an excellent climate, and yet disappear while
residing under what one might consider ad-
verse circumstances. Nevertheless, it is not
advisable for an asthmatic subject to come to
Bangkok. The disease is common amongst
the natives, and generally Europeans who are
subject to it suffer badly in this low-lying,
damp spot. It is a well-known fact that the
longer one stays in the tropics the more one's
" nerves " seem to suffer, and it will, therefore,
be at once apparent that any condition sug-
gesting instability of the nervous system, or
any actual disease of the same, should contra-
indicate one coming East. The condition of
the teeth, too, is an important factor to be
reckoned with. No one should come to Bang-
kok with teeth in an active state of decay, or
with so few sound teeth that thorough masti-
cation of food is an impossibility. The presence
of unsound teeth has been definitely proven to
be the cause of pernicious anaemia in temperate
climates. In tropical climates any additional

where one has to tackle tough beef and tougher
and drier fowls. If a dentist cannot provide
an efficient substitute for lost teeth, and cannot
at the same time arrest decay in teeth still in
the patient's mouth, a candidate for the East
should not be passed. An important point to
remember, but one which is too often neg-
lected, is revaccination. This has been brought
more forcibly to one's attention during these
past two years in Bangkok. Quite a large
number of Europeans have suffered from
small-pox, and one fatal case at least has
occurred. How much trouble and even dis-
figurement would have been saved had all
these sufferers resorted to the simple pre-
caution of revaccination ! In Europe, where,
fortunately, small-pox is now so rarely seen, re-
vaccination is advisable every seven years.
In a country like this, where one may often
actually rub against persons in the most in-
fectious stage of small-pox, the neglect to have
oneself frequently vaccinated is little short of
criminal folly. Another precaution in the way
of prevention of disease may be mentioned,
namely, inoculation against typhoid fever.
Although the system is by no means per-
fected, and the protection afforded is infinitely
less than that obtained by vaccination against
small-pox, still the results have proved satis-
factory enough to warrant one giving the
inoculation a trial, especially in the case of
young adults.

Advice to New Residents. t

April is the unhealthiest month of the year
as well as the hottest, and February is the
healthiest. The line of sickness closely corre-
sponds with the range of highest mean
temperature and the period of the rains. If
possible, then, no arrival should be made
during any of these hot, wet, and most un-
healthy months. Such a time of the year is
hard enough upon well-tried residents, but it
is still harder upon young and full-blooded
new arrivals. Not only is it very hot during
March and April, but the sanitary conditions of
Bangkok are then at their worst. The level of


tendency to anaemia should be avoided.
Further, the inability to thoroughly masticate
one's food is a serious drawback in Bangkok,

the river is at its lowest, cholera is often
epidemic, and experience has proved that
typhoid fever takes on its severest aspects at




this period of the year. The nights, too, are
hot, and the combination of mosquitoes and
sleepless nights soon tends to lower one's
vitality and so predisposes one to contract
disease. Towards the end of April and during
May the south-west monsoon breaks, and while
this transitional period lasts sickness is com-
mon. Fevers in general are most prevalent
during May, June, and July, while typhoid
fever is most prevalent during May and June,
when the rains are setting in, and again in
December, when they have ceased. Owing to

material is Indian gauze. It is a good old
rule to dress with the sun — i.e., to wear light,
thin clothing during the day, but to change •
into somewhat warmer clothing at sundown.
For night-wear thin flannel, viyella, or a
mixture of silk and wool makes excellent
sleeping suits. The cholera belt should always
be worn when asleep in order to protect the
abdominal organs from chill. In the tropics
the liver especially is in a continual state of
engorgement, and it is the general experience
of medical men in this climate that chills on

more frequently than is the general rule in
order to give a fillip to one's jaded appetite.
Above all, things for the table must be of
the freshest. There is no more fruitful source
of bowel complaints than tainted meat or fish
in the tropics. No meat or fish should be
eaten which is the least soft, and such things
as crab, unless the animal can do at least one
march across the kitchen floor, should be
avoided. Fresh salads, unless made of potato,

Online LibraryArnold WrightTwentieth century impressions of Siam: its history, people, commerce, industries, and resources, with which is incorporated an abridged edition of Twentieth century impressions of British Malaya → online text (page 23 of 107)