People: Henri Mouhot

Travelling in the 19th century was by no means comparable to nowadays. There was for example almost no roadnet in the Siam/Thailand of the time. Even the capital Bangkok didn’t have a single decent road in 1858, only some dirt tracks along the many canals (klongs), who served as the main transport network.

Mouhot’s first trip then, after being introduced into the Western society in Bangkok and an invitation from king Mongkut of Siam, was a boattrip the Chao Phraya River upwards to visit the ruins of Siam’s former and legendary capital Ayutthaya. The worst thing he describes were the mosquitoes who were around in great amounts at day and night.

Ayutthaya was an easy starter for travelling inner Indochina, because it is close to Bangkok and was already known by Westerners. After coming back to Bangkok he prepared for a second journey along the coasts east of Bangkok, travelling via Chantaburi passing by Koh Kong on boat and entering the port of Kampot. I placed three quotations on the Kampot page where he described the place and met the king of Cambodia in an audience.

After visiting Kampot Mouhot travelled the land road to Phnom Penh and Udong, where he met the second king of Cambodia in another audience. Next he visited some mountain tribes somewhat riverupwards the Mekong River. In one of his letters to the Royal Geographical Society he describes the area as close to Laos and Vietnam. That sounds much for the area what is now Ratanakiri. He spent two month among the Stieng people, apparently one of the hill tribes, before he turned to Angkor. Mouhot spent only three weeks in Angkor and went on then via Battambang back to Bangkok.

Mouhot, Henri:
Travels in the central parts of Indochina,
London 1864
Volume I and II


This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Henri Mouhot’. Read here the whole article on Henri Mouhot.

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