When he first saw a horse race at Ascot in 1897, Chulalongkorn, King of Siam, liked the sport so much that he sponsored a track back home in Bangkok. Today that nine-furlong course is just one part of The Royal Bangkok Sports Club, a bustling international playground in the capital of modern Thailand. Its 88 acres embrace facilities for more than a dozen sports and games, and its membership, an astonishingly cosmopolitan collection of 2,000 sportsmen from 50 lands, is in an almost perpetual, perspiring ferment. Perhaps the most active are the 600 Americans, whose lusty pursuit of leisure sometimes puzzles their Oriental friends. "Quite remarkable," said one Eastern member to two Americans who had just finished an enervating game of squash, "but wouldn't it be better to have two coolies play it for you?"
THAILAND'S KING BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ AND QUEEN SIRIKIT WATCH TEEN-AGE JOCKEYS DRIVE PAST THE STANDS AT THE START OF THE KING'S CUP. TRACK GIRDLES THE CLUB'S 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE (NEXT PAGE) WHERE, DESPITE COMMOTION FROM HORSES AND TENNIS MATCHES, A STEADY GOLFER LINES UP A FOUR-FOOT PUTT
CHILDREN CROWD INTO THE CLUB'S PALM-FRINGED WADING POOL AS PARENTS KEEP A CLOSE WATCH. WHEN FULL, SAYS ONE MEMBER, THE POOL LOOKS LIKE AN INTERNATIONAL BOUILLABAISSE IN A FREE-FORM TUREEN.
WOMEN OF EAST AND WEST MEET IN THE BRIDGE ROOM, WHERE JAPANESE FANS FLUTTER AND AN AMERICAN SHEDS HER SHOES. MEANWHILE (NEXT PAGE), OTHER MEMBERS PUT ON A MINIATURE SWIMMING OLYMPICS.