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The Kingdom of Thailand

 

 

Thailand is often referred to as a golden land, not because there is precious metal buried underground but because the country gives off a certain lustre, be it the fertile rice fields of the central plains or the warm hospitality of its citizenry. People come here as miners: first perhaps for the uniquely Western concept of R&R. And while they toast themselves to a bronze hue on the sandy beaches, they find in the daily rhythm of Thailand a tranquillity that isn’t confined to vacation time. Welcome to a life-altering experience disguised as a holiday.

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This is an exotic land that is surprisingly convenient and accessible. First introductions are made in Bangkok, a modern behemoth of screaming traffic, gleaming shopping centres and international sensibilities interwoven with devout Buddhism. Even the most cosmopolitan
Thais wouldn’t dare choose a marriage date without consulting a monk or astrologer. And notice the protective amulets that all Thais – from the humble noodle vendor to the privileged aristocrat – wear around their necks: this is holy fashion. Sitting upon the crown of the kingdom are misty mountains and Chiang Mai, the country’s bohemian centre, where the unique and precise elements of Thai culture become a classroom, for cooking courses and language lessons, for curious visitors. Climbing into the mountain range are the stupa-studded peaks of Mae Hong Son and villages of post–Stone Age cultures. Sliding down the coastal tail are evergreen limestone islands filled with tall palms that angle over pearlescent sand. Thailand’s beaches are stunning, hedonistic and mythic among residents of northern latitudes. But few visitors trudge into the northeast, a region better suited for homestays and teaching gigs than quick souvenir snapshots. In this scrappy region you can dive deep into the Thai psyche, emerging with a tolerance for searingly spicy food and a mastery of this strange tonal language. Always eager to please, Thailand is a thick maze of ambiguities and incongruities with an irresistible combination of natural beauty, historic temples, renowned hospitality and robust cuisine.

Etymology

Is an independent country that lies in the heart of Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Laos and Myanmar, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and Burma. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast and Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea to the southwest. The capital and largest city of Thailand is Bangkok. It is also the country's center of political, commercial, industrial and cultural activities.

The Country's official name was Siam until June 23, 1939, when it was changed to Thailand. It was renamed Siam from 1945 to May 11, 1949, after which it was again renamed Thailand. Also spelled Siem, Syâm or Syâma, it has been identified with the Sanskrit Śyâma (श्याम, meaning "dark" or "brown"). The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word, and Śyâma is possibly not its origin but a learned and artificial distortion.

The word Thai (ไทย) is not, as commonly believed, derived from the word Tai (ไท) meaning "freedom" in the Thai language; it is, however, the name of an ethnic group from the central plains (the Thai people).[citation needed] A famous Thai scholar argued that Tai (ไท) simply means "people" or "human being" since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Tai" was used instead of the usual Thai word "khon" (คน) for people. The phrase "Land of the free" is derived from Thai pride in the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never colonized by a European power.

The Thai National Anthem (Thai: เพลงชาติ) refers to the Thai nation as: prathet-thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย). The first line of the national anthem is: prathet thai ruam lueat neua chat chuea thai (Thai: ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย) and was translated in 1939 by Colonel Luang Saranuprabhandi as: “Thailand is the unity of Thai blood and body.”

While the Thai people will often refer to their country using the polite form prathet-thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย), they most commonly use the more colloquial word 'Mueang-Thai' (Thai: เมืองไทย) or simply Thai (Thai:ไทย); the word mueang (Thai: เมือง) meaning nation but most commonly used to refer to a city or town.

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