Glimpses of Thailand

Sawadeeka! (Hello in Thailand) It also means goodbye – a nice 2 for 1 of the Thai language.

In Thailand, everyone does the Wai

In Thailand, everyone does the Wai

When we first arrived in Thailand, we were impressed by the friendliness and peaceful aspect of people. Wherever we went we were greeted by people pressing their hands together and quietly saying “Sa Wa Dee Ka” (spoken by women), or Sa Wa Dee Krap (spoken by men). The pressing of the hands together in front of ones face, and bowing, is called a wai, pronounced “waj”. Details are here.

Glimpses of Thailand in photos

  • Temples… 93% of people declare themselves as Buddhists.temples
  • Giant golden Buddhas

    giant golden buddha

    giant golden buddha

  • Beachesbeaches
  • Islands 

Phang Nga Bay typical scenery

Phang Nga Bay

  • Colorscolorful 20150216_181943
  • Limestone formations
Limestone Islands

Limestone Islands

  • Longtail Boatslongtail boat
  • Elephantselephants aka IMG_2541
  • MonkeysAggressive monkeys used to getting treats from people
  • Shrines
Shrine with red juice offerings

Shrine with red juice offerings

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  • Motorcycles

Motor skooters everywhere

  • Turquoise waterturquoise water IMG_2387
  • Chili Pepperschili peppers 20150213_160009
  • FishOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Historic Ruinshistoric ruins 20150212_140339
  • Fire Dancingfire dancing20150123_211220
  • King and Queen. The king in particular is beloved, and there are pictures of him, the Queen and their daughter everywhere. (More on royalty below)king and queen20150211_131259
  • Orchidsorchids

Other noticeable characteristics of Thailand

A motor scooter and its driver

In Thailand dogs drive motor scooters instead of pooping on the sidewalks

Thailand is very clean, particularly considering that it is a 3rd world country. As you walk down the sidewalk, there is almost no litter, cigarette butts, or dog poop. What makes this all the more remarkable is that there are very few garbage cans. Indoors, everyone takes off their shoes, even in many shops and offices. Frequently the tile floor shines with cleanliness.

 

A typical Thai Toilet.  you scoop water out of the basin on the left and pour it into the "toilet" on the right to flush

A typical Thai Toilet. you scoop water out of the basin on the left and pour it into the “toilet” on the right to flush

Toilets particularly of the gas station variety. Surprise – no toilet paper, no flusher and no seat.

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Sign explaining how to use a "Happy Toilet"In one case where there was a western style toilet, there was a funny sign above it indicating how not to use it!

 

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Smoggy skies The inland skies are very smoky, worse than the worst Bay Area Spare the Air day. We were told this was due to farmers burning fields, or smog blown down from the rest of Asia.

Cables for power and telephone are totally out of control

Cables for power and telephone are totally out of control

Telephone wires are everywhere! Seriously, Char thinks one of the things Thailand could do to enhance its beauty many times over is to get rid of these wires which are everywhere!

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Monks walking with their posessions

Monks walking with their posessions

Buddhism permeates the society. 93% of the people say they are Buddhists. There are many impressive temples, and it is not uncommon to see monks walking the streets, receiving alms of food and other goods. Shrines large and small are found in front of homes and storefronts.

Buddhism has even found its way into the daily lexicon. Instead of saying “Oh my God!”, many Thais say “Oh my Buddha”, which is pronounced “Koon Prat Choy” For our benefit they said “Oh My Buddha” and we found it very funny!

We learned that the Buddhist religion has a lot going for it, and there are a few amusing aspects. For more things we learned about Buddhism, click here

What do you think this means?

What do you think this means?

Many people speak English, but their understanding only goes so far. Though we met many very articulate English speakers, we met just as many who tried to speak English with us but could not really understand it. A lot of people are trying to learn English and it is studied in school, but we’re told that frequently the English teachers can’t speak English themselves!  

Thai math

We met these kindergartners and gave them writing books and pencils

We met these kindergartners and gave them writing books and pencils

In Thai, numbers are expressed as their components rather than a special word. For example 30 in Thai is expressed as three tens, rather than a special word for thirty. We were told by our Thai instructor that this results in Thai kids doing unusually well in math. When we dropped in on a remote Kindergarten up in the mountains we were impressed by the level of math problems they were working on.

Thailand Politics.

We learned from locals that prior to the May 2014 Coup when the military took over, Thailand had a democracy, but it was a terrible democracy, unpopular and corrupt. Candidates paid individuals to vote for them, and the government was unresponsive to the people. Much of Thailand’s money went to the ruling elite. One person told us that Thailand’s streets could be paved in gold for all the money that went to the bureaucrats. That may have been an exaggeration, but the statement indicates how many of the people feel about the past government.

Many people say that the current military rule is better. Evidently the leader is somewhat benevolent, and has been instituting programs that are beneficial to people. Corruption has been reduced, the government responds quickly to citizen concerns, and courts have tried and convicted politicians who were skimming money during the prior regime.

As an example, it used to be that Thais could not go to a beach which was in a national park, because certain entrepreneurial individuals blocked off sections of the beach, set up beach chairs, and charged money to allow people on the beach. The only way to enjoy the beach was to pay them a fee and rent a beach chair. When General Prayuth took over, the military kicked all these entrepreneurs off the beaches. Article Here.

Images of the king are everywhere

Images of the king are everywhere

The Thailand monarchy is very popular. Pictures of the King and Queen are everywhere, and the people love their king. He has reigned for 68 years and is very ill. The Prince is not popular, but the Princess is popular and active in government. The King will have to decide if he will pass the throne to her rather than her brother. It would be a very unusual and controversial move, but many Thais hope it will happen.

International Business Times Article here 

Thailand Facts and Figures

The size of Thailand is 21% bigger than California, but the population is 76% bigger.

According to the World Bank, Thailand’s per capita income is 27% of the USA’s. Data from here

The unemployment rate is an unbelievable 0.6%. Evidently this is because many people are subsistence farmers or engaged in unpaid family work.

Tourist Arrivals per year are 2.8 Million, or one tourist arrival for every 24 residents.

Thailand has 67 million people and 15 thousand cars, or 4,500 people per car. Everyone rides motor scooters instead.

Exports accounting for around 65% of the GDP, and 86% of exports are manufactured goods. This was a surprise to us as we see almost no evidence of manufacturing.

Remarkably, the percentage of people below the national poverty line decreased from 65% percent in 1988 to 13% in 2011, according to Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board. (perhaps they re-defined the national poverty line)

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2 thoughts on “Glimpses of Thailand

  1. Gavin

    Hi Dan and Char,

    I am finally getting a chance to take a look at your blog and it’s really breath-taking! The photos are so colorful and bright, it looks like you are having a marvelous time. The turquoise water in particular makes me very envious! Marion and I have great memories from Thailand. We just visited Bangkok and Chang-Mai so missed out on the beautiful beaches – hopefully we will get another chance!

    Many thanks for putting this album together, it really does tell a great story and will be a lasting souvenir for the whole family!

    Safe travels!

    Gavin

    Reply

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