Thailand summary

For me, a highlight of my visit was seeing a friend from college days. As a bonus, I traveled with him in his car throughout western Thailand and visited his wife’s family. I visited temples and monasteries, mountain vistas, rivers, reservoirs and many popular tourist sites. The hustle, bustle and congestion of Bangkok and its river life were interesting.

Some observations:

Photographs of the king are everywhere. The king is now in his 80s but he is revered throughout Thailand. Most homes and businesses have a least one portrait. All public buildings and town squares have many. Some are new, but many are faded to almost black-and-white from the sun. The king is pictured in a gold tunic, in military dress like an admiral, in a business suit, and in a sport jacket with a camera. Sometimes he is pictured wearing a sword with the Queen by his side.

Obama–when I tell a Thai, I am from America, USA, he invariably replies, “Obama.” If he can’t speak English, he might add, “Hope,” and if he can, he adds, “Obama is not only the hope of USA, but Thailand as well.”

Hats–men wear ski hats and masks outdoor, I guess to keep cool in the heat.

Language–Thai is curious. The language changes depending on the gender of the speaker. If a male asks, How are you? the ending is different than how a female would ask. It doesn’t matter who you are speaking to.

Buddhism–is the national religion practiced by the king and 90% of the population. Monasteries and temples are everywhere. The vernacular practice appears to be focused on alms-giving, burning incense and visiting temples. The newspapers point to an uncertain future, however. Historically about 6 million men have entered the monk-hood each year, but that is now down to 1.5 million for 2008. Also, a methamphetamine scandal erupted when an undercover investigation revealed large numbers of monks were regular users and allegedly sold to children.

Travel–is easy in Thailand with a well-developed tourist infrastructure for transportation, lodging, eating and sightseeing. Most tourists appear to be Europeans on long holidays (3 to 5 weeks). they generally are focused on vacationing with their tour group. There are lots of Swedes who are uniformly friendly and interesting

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One Response to Thailand summary

  1. Randy Waterhous says:

    The old Yugoslavia was filled with pictures of Tito- usually in full military garb. We think of a national identity as if it were natural. But I guess some cultures need to really reach to find an identity and these national icons form some bond. If Yugoslavia is a sample of the power of that bond, it is nothing to bet on.

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