Establishment of Sister Cities Relationship between Samut Songkhram Province, Thailand, and City of Mount Airy, North Carolina, U.S.
Establishment of Sister Cities Relationship between Samut Songkhram Province, Thailand, and City of Mount Airy, North Carolina, U.S., through Bonds Rooted from Chang and Eng Bunker Siamese Twins
On 19 July 2019, Mrs. Sukanda Vorachetbancha, Governor of Samut Songkhram Province, and Mr. David Row, Mayor, City of Mount Airy, co-signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of Sister Cities Relationship between the two countries at the City Hall of Mount Airy. Ms. Boosara Kanchanalai, Chargé d’affaires of the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington D.C. and Mrs. Elaine Marshall, State Secretary of North Carolina, were present as key witnesses. Representatives from Samut Songkhram Province, Ministry of Interior of Thailand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Royal Thai Embassy in Washington D.C., State of North Carolina, City of Mount Airy, a diver sectors in Mount Airy, and many generations of Chang and Eng Bunker’s descendants also attended the Signing Ceremony.
The Memorandum focused on the mutual intention of both sides to strengthen of understanding and create activities between each other, which include sharing information and knowledge in various related fields, trade and investment promotion, as well as cooperation exchanges in areas of tourism, culture, education, and youth. Both sides stand ready to discuss regularly for their action plans to make progress, yield practical results and be sustainably beneficial.
In addition, on 20 July 2019, Chargé d’affaires of the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington D.C., Governor of Samut Songkhram Province and Thai delegates also participated in the 30th Bunker Family Reunion Reception at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, whereby the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington D.C. hosted lunch for almost 200 participants. After the reception, Thai delegates paid respect to the Bunkers’ grave at the White Plains Baptist Church, which was the church both Chang and Eng families visited during their times.
Chang and Eng Bunker were Siamese-Americn conjoined (shared the same liver) twin brothers whose fame propelled the expression “Siamese twins” to become synonymous for conjoined twins in general. The brothers were born in Samut Songkhram Province, Siam (Modern day Thailand) on 11 May 1811 with Chinese ancestry and were brought to the U.S. in 1829. The twins quitted touring in 1839 after a decade of financial success and settled near Mount Airy, North Carolina. They became American citizens, married local sisters, lived two separate houses, and became wealthy businessmen. Many of their extended families still live in the area. In Samut Songkhram Province, there is a statue of the twins commemorating their birthplace, while in the City of Mount Airy, there is the original Siamese Twins Exhibit at the Andy Griffith Museum of the Surry Arts Council. A similar statue as in Samut Songkhram Province is being planned to be built in Mount Airy.