Greeks Have a Long History in Thailand

by Ioanna Zikakou 

Published by the Greek Reporter - World on March 28, 2015

According to an old saying, there is a Greek person under every rock, meaning that Greeks have spread out across the world, and they are getting involved in the everyday lives of their respective countries. 

Costantin Gerachi, also known as Constance Phaulkon, was a Greek adventurer born in 1687 within the fortress of Asso in northern Cephalonia to Greek Orthodox parents. Phaulkon worked for England’s East India Company and later, in 1675, he traveled to Siam -today’s Thailand- as a merchant. He was fluent in English, French, Portuguese, Malay and Thai, so in just a few years he began working at the court of King Narai as a translator. Due to his experience with the East India Company, he was soon able to become the king’s prime counsellor, working in the country’s Treasury. 

Phaulkon quickly rose among the ranks of nobles in Siam, becoming highly influential within the court. He was married to a Catholic woman of mixed Japanese-Portuguese-Bengali descent named Maria Guyomar de Pinha and had two sons, João and Jorge. Guyomar is famous for introducing new dessert recipes in Thai food at the Ayutthaya court, based on Portuguese culinary influence. When King Nirai became terminally ill, Pra Phetracha, the foster brother of Narai, staged a coup d’état, leading to the 1688 Siamese revolution. Phaulkon and several other royal court members were executed on June 5, 1688, without the king’s knowledge.