National Geographic : 1934 May
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE A COBRA GIVES HIS VENOM TO FIGHT HIS OWN DEADLINESS Connected with the Pasteur Institute in Bangkok is a farm in which are kept these deadly fellows, banded kraits, vipers, and other poisonous snakes used for the preparation of antivenins. A few years ago the keeper was given a tical (approximately 40 cents) every time he was bitten. When he learned how successful the treatment was, he fell a victim so often that the officials had to penalize him one tical instead of rewarding him. to this interesting oriental land in a little over a week, for Siam lies at the aerial cross roads of the Far East. Or we can go by boat and drop off at Penang, Singapore, or Hong Kong, as Bangkok is linked to Penang by train, to Hong Kong by local steamer, and to Singapore by both (see map, page 533). Steaming northward over choppy mon soon seas from Singapore to the head of the Gulf of Siam on my first trip, I saw the cobalt-blue waters turn first to green and then take on a brownish hue. Numerous converging lines of fishing stakes, terminat ing in heart-shaped traps, began to appear above the surface of the water, and in a short time an indistinct band of smoky blue stretched out on the horizon to sever the glassy sea from the superheated tropic sky. AND THEN A TEMPLE BECKONS Propellers kicked up a yellow wake as the steamer slid over the shallow bar. The band on the horizon resolved itself into green mangrove swamps and in it an open- ing eventually became visible-the mouth of the Me Nam Chao Bhraya. At the very threshold of this river ap proach is an attractive island temple. Typi cally Siamese, it strikes a strange, distinc tive note in oriental architecture. Multiple roofs of gaily colored tiles rise atop white walls in a quaint overlapping manner; gables are decorated in heavy relief; strange figures, representing the heads of mythical serpents, rear up at all of the many corners of the roofs, and immediately behind the temple building a graceful spire drives its slender wedge into the sky. Siam! For twenty miles or so the Me Nam Chao Bhraya (literally, Royal Mother of Waters) winds between banks of dense foliage, interspersed here and there with half-concealed bamboo huts standing spi derlike on tall piles beneath fronded coco nut and areca palms, before Bangkok is reached. Tiny canals branch off from the river, and in and out of these dart small boats filled with vegetables, fruits, and sweet meats of aquatic venders.