Thailand Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations
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The Country - Thailand - with Wired Destinations
Imagine a place that is defined of graciousness, tolerance and aesthetic ideals. You've just imagined Thailand.
Land of the Free - Land of Smiles
The former is a literal translation of Thailand, while the latter is a promotional slogan that carries considerable truth. Both define the Thai people. Beneath their graciousness, the Thai have a strong sense of self and humanity without subservience. It is this pride, and their monarchy, that underlies the Thai sense of identity and an ability to smile at the vicissitudes of life.
The Kingdom of Thailand is ruled by an elected government but is inspired by the world's longest-reigning monarch, who celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006. It has a population of over 65 million and is about the same size as France — twice that of Britain.
Its climate is tropical, with three seasons: the hot season (March—May), the wet or monsoonal season (June—November) and the cool season (December—February). The capital city of Bangkok, called Krung Thep in Thai, has at least 10 million people (accurate estimates are by definition dubious) and lies at the same latitude as Khartoum, Guatemala City and Manila.
Just inland from the apex of the Gulf of Thailand, Bangkok is the country's international gateway, and its seat of government, business and the royalty. It is almost a city-state unto itself and bears little similarity to the rest of the nation. When a Thai says that "I'm heading upcountry tomorrow," she or he could mean anywhere outside of Bangkok's city limits. Be sure to find your discount room at a Bangkok hotel with Wired Destinations.
Thailand is commonly divided into four regions: the central plains, of which Bangkok is a part; the north, including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai; the northeast; and the south, extending from Chumphon down to the Malaysian border. Each region has its own culture and appeal.
Since the East first encountered Siam a millennium ago and the West began trickling in during the 16th century, Thailand has been a powerful magnet for adventurers and entrepreneurs. An abundance of resources, a wealth of natural beauty, and a stunning culture revealed in dazzling architecture and art, and a warm, hospitable Thai people have proved irresistible lures.
Thailand's traditional charms form only one side of the picture, of course. It is a country in transition, rapidly changing from a developing to a developed country in a roller-coaster of a ride. In the 1990s, it went from being one of the fiercest of Asian economic tigers to nearly becoming an economic disaster, a precursor of the economic doldrums that hit Asia in mid-1997. But true to the people's spirit, consistent throughout the country's history, Thailand reversed course quickly, regained stability, and recovery was underway.
Throughout its history, Thailand has shown a stubborn maverick streak and a sense of pragmatism, both of which have created a determination to chart its own course. The result is a country that has never been colonized by a foreign power, has never sought to conquer a neighbor, and one that has intentionally retained its past while moving ahead into the future.
It is hard to ignore the changes taking place, yet there is much that sets Thailand apart from nations on similar paths. The natural beauty is still there in superb Thailand beaches, seas of green rice, and forested hills, somewhat safe now that logging is illegal (although it still happens). And even in the most modern towns, the past continues to shine through as Thailand temples, (see Thailand Culture) palaces and cultural presentations. This uniqueness is not always apparent, especially in a chaotic city like Bangkok that pounds on the senses unceasingly. This is not the exotic Thailand I was promised, the visitor whines. This is a nightmare. True, it is a city that is vibrantly alive, but it is also a repository of some of the world's most exquisite architecture and historical artifacts. The Bangkok Travel Guide leads you through this jungle of skyscrapers and landmark buildings.
Thais generally enjoy life. Something that fails to give personal satisfaction, be it in work or in play, is not worth doing. Any activity must have something of this quality within it, something that gives value to life. Part of this is distilled from holding on to one's traditions. This may change in Thailand, but for the moment, it is firmly intact. The traveler can't help but notice it.
About Spellings of Place Names
The transliteration of Thai pronunciation into a Roman alphabet has proven to be a quagmire of phonemes and good intentions. The traveler will encounter several, not just one or two, possible spellings for a single place or street name. Heaps of linguistic creativity is in order as one negotiates street signs (often Romanized), maps and guide books.
Interestingly, the letter L at the end of a word is pronounced as N. When the letter H follows a consonant, it makes the consonant's sound less explosive, thus softer. Just as Thailand is pronounced “tai-land” and not “thigh-land”, so too is the ph sound. The pronunciation of Wat Po is the same as Wat Pho, and, in fact, they are the same temple in Bangkok. Similarly, the wonderful island of Phuket is always spelled with ph, but it is pronounced, always, like poo-ket, not foo-ket or in other less gracious ways. Other common variations of place-name spellings include ratcha and raja, chom and jom and Chatuchak and Jatujak.
The rule of thumb regarding spelling is to be like a Thai when in Thailand: adaptable and tolerant, and with a sense of humor.
Our Thailand Travel Guide, Thailand Travel Info, Thailand Diving, Thailand Insider Travel Tips, Thailand Shopping, Thailand diving, Thailand culture and Thailand Travel Tips help you find your way around in this tropical paradise. Find the best discount rooms with our Thailand hotels and Bangkok hotels.