Confucius once said that
is better to travel one mile than to read a thousand books’
and the Persian polymath Al-Razi, who travelled extensively
himself, similarly believed that
that is written in a book is worth less than the experience of
Aurelius Augustine compared the
world to a book and said that
‘those who do not
travel, read only one page’, whilst
Socrates assumed that ‘the
unexamined life is not worth living’.
Others however, say that
reading, one can travel without moving an inch’
and Seneca claimed that ‘free
time without reading or writing is the death and grave of a
Thus, in line with
the principle of the
Buddhist middle path, perhaps a combination of the two, i.e.
traveling ánd reading, might be more suitable in order to
achieve a better understanding of the path we are traveling ón.
Like many parts of the world, Southeast Asia is
nothing less than an open-air museum stored with astonishing
—a magnificent school where one can absorb intriguing
cultures in an empiric and peripatetic way. Yet, in order to gain some
insight, it is essential to be
question the things one encounters, thus
making profound research inexorable.
With the aim to
store my findings and enable me to visit
them again, I have recorded the results of such a research.
Thus, with near-scholarly, in-depth study done in multiple
languages, including Thai, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Sanskrit and Chinese, and
by using both primary and secondary sources, along with a
comparative study of parallel materials, I created this travel
encyclopedia, which I hope will help shed some light on the
sometimes obscure and enigmatic cultural aspects of a society
much shrouded in myth and legend.
Never has it been my intention to pretend
that this work is scientific, as it is not. The nature of it is
far more like the findings of an inquisitive child, amazed about
the beauty or novelty of things it comes across in its living
environment, and the pleasure and need to share those, sometimes
out of sheer joy, alacrity, awe or naivety, like a child finding shells
along a beach. It has been commented in the
press, that Thailex
the result of curiosity on the part of the author’,
and indeed it is, since besides the craving for knowledge it is
the marveling at the findings that
me to record them,
as for me impression without expression would equal suppression.
Although comprehensive, a
work of this nature and magnitude can never be complete. My
intend has been to collect pieces of
noteworthy information with the purpose to
learn, enjoy, and then pass these findings on, like a
̶ to gather without to actually possess. To many topics
in this work an entire book could be devoted. My aim however,
has not been to elaborate in detail, but to highlight some
notable facts and put the reader on the right track for further
rather than being merely a source of
information, I hope Thailex will be a spark and impetus for
further study off one's own bat, as it is said that
dead fish float with the current’.
May you, the reader, enjoy perusing
this oeuvre as much as I did making it!
Bangkok, Year of the