TRAVELER IN SIAM IN THE YEAR 1655: Extracts from the Journal of Gijsbert Heeck, translated and introduced by Barend Jan Terwiel. Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, 2008, 124 pp., with b/w pictures and drawings, full-color maps and illustrations, 2008, 595 Bahts (paper)

In 1903, the 1655 manuscript of Gijsbert Heeck (or Heecq) was discovered in a Utrecht collection. Thus an important part of the past was, some 350 years later, restored.

Heeck (1619-1669) was a medical specialist working for the Dutch East India Company. It was his third trip to Asia and during it he looked about him with the keen eye that one expects from a medical specialist.

He went to the capital of Ayutthaya, as had many other Dutchmen, but only he noted the rate of water flow in the canals, the method of paving the roads, and the kinds of goods sold along the way. He also noticed a single young elephant in a large elephant house, found that it was being quarantined with a contagious disease, and even describes for us the ceremonies performed for its recovery.