Formal Thai
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Bangkok’s full name is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.

It means “the city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous royal palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.”

Twice Around Noah’s Ark

A race among all the world’s creatures would show some surprising results. Top speeds:

  • Tortoise: 0.23 mph
  • Sea trout: 15 mph
  • Dragonfly: 18 mph
  • Human sprinter: 22 mph
  • African elephant: 25 mph
  • Cat: 30 mph
  • Racehorse: 43 mph
  • Ostrich: 45 mph
  • Bluefin tuna: 46 mph
  • Racing pigeon: 53 mph
  • Pronghorn: 55 mph
  • Cheetah: 62 mph
  • Mallard: 65 mph
  • Sailfish: 68 mph

The winner would be the peregrine falcon, which has been clocked in level flight at 217 mph.

Fast Living

When Captain Cook visited Tonga in 1777, he gave a tortoise to the royal family as a gift. They named it Tui Malila. Tongans must be good with tortoises, because Tui lived through the French Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, the invention of the telegraph, the American Civil War, the first telephone, the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, X-rays, the Spanish-American War, McKinley’s assassination, the first zeppelin, Einstein’s relativity, the Model T, the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the Russian Revolution, Lindbergh’s flight, the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the founding of the United Nations, the breaking of the sound barrier, Gandhi’s assassination, the Korean War, the first nuclear submarine, I Love Lucy, Sputnik, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, and Kennedy’s assassination, dying finally in 1965 at age 188.

Compare that to Timothy, pictured here, an English celebrity who led a dashing life: Found aboard a Portuguese privateer in 1854, Timothy served as a mascot on a series of Royal Navy vessels until 1892, when she retired. (“He” was discovered to be female at age 82.) She was taken in by the Earl of Devon, who etched his family motto on her underside: “Where have I fallen? What have I done?” She died in 2004 and was buried near the earl’s home, Powderham Castle, at age 160.

Moral: Live hard and you’ll die young.