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On the shores of history

The smallest state in the US offers plenty of history and appeal to satisfy those with nostalgic yearnings

Rhode Island is the perfect place for those who enjoy beautiful historic attractions. The state in the New England region is unique and well preserved with a serene atmosphere.

The smallest state in America -- six times smaller than Chiang Mai -- has an ongoing breeze that puts you in a vacation state of mind straightaway, while the expansive farmlands offer picturesque backdrops to boot. Local agriculture and seafood also come fresh, abundant and cheap in the coastal area.

The shape of Rhode Island resembles a rectangle, with the southern border facing the ocean. The shoreline is dotted with bays, resembling the hairy roots of a tree on a map.

The state is also surrounded by over 30 small islands. Grand houses overlook the Rhode Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean, which at any time are scattered with boats coming and going.

claws out: Lobster costs around 350 baht for 700g, right. Photos: Suthon Sukphisit

Rhode Island was among the earliest American settlements, alongside Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. In 1602, the British armada first set foot on the land. In 1776, the British government began demanding taxes and property from the pioneers to send them back home. What followed was a bloody and agonising war.

A pivotal battle for independence was fought in Newport, a city located on an island off the state's main land mass. When the British lost, America declared its independence on July 4. The towns of Coventry -- mainly home to early migrants from Ireland -- and Bristol were host to the first Independence Day parades, featuring civilian marchers dressed in military uniform.

The capital city of Rhode Island, Providence, is now famous for being home to Brown University, one of the country's oldest post-secondary institutions and founded in 1764.

Throughout the state one can find houses and buildings in the style of Cape Cod, with their signature steep roofs that hold up chimneys overhead and house garrets below. Some of these structures even boast front-facing balconies, offering a feel of England in the 1700s.

Houses in Bristol tend to feature a visible record with the architect's name and the year of construction. The older and more well preserved the houses are, and the more trees surrounding them, the more expensive they tend to be. However, most are not for sale.

Newport is a heaven for wealthy escapists. Manors by the sea like Mable House and Vanderbilt House were built in 1888, embodying neat replicas of European castles.

Nowadays, the maintenance price and taxes of older Newport buildings can be very high, leaving some inheritants no choice but to donate their properties to either the government, who will then make them a museum, or to Hollywood producers to rent and shoot movies.

Visitors will also enjoy the food of Rhode Island. Beef, pork and seafood are of premium quality and plentiful. Even McDonald's has lobster sandwiches on offer. In Rhode Island, they sell lobsters per weight at supermarkets. One lobster weighs about 600-700 grammes, which would cost 275-325 baht. Since they come fresh, all you have to do is boil them and eat with butter sauce.

As for restaurants, I would recommend the Brick Alley pub on Thames Street in Newport. Decked out in a vintage aesthetic, it's one of the oldest restaurants here. It serves fantastic lobster soup.

Another good culinary spot is Wright's Farm on Inman Road in Nasonville, which opens only from Thursday to Friday. It only features one dish on the menu -- grilled chicken served with salad, bread and butter. The restaurant has five rooms, each capable of accommodating over 200 customers. The place seems large enough but there's always a long queue outside. The waiting room is as big as a bus terminal.

Rhode Island suits me very nicely as a tourist. Sightseeing makes me feel nostalgic as if I'm travelling through time. There's plenty of historical places with pure greenery and peaceful, hospitable people. There also happens to be excellent food. It certainly won't let you down.

souped up: Lobster soup at the Brick Alley pub in Newport, left.

patriotic pride: Houses in Bristol decorated for US Independence Day, left.

historical site: Vanderbilt House in Newport, above.

worth the wait: Grilled chicken, the only dish served at Wright's Farm in Nasonville, far left.

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