What do we know about Thailand? When it comes to this exotic country, most of us have associations with sensual pleasures like sex and legendary Thai massage. However, many people do not know what this type of massage is like. Actually, Thailand is the country that can be described for hours. Its rich history, multiple architectural monuments and national traditions attract thousands tourists.
The first heard of Thailand was in the 13th century. That time the nation earlier unknown to Europeans founded its first states. Sometime later, two princes rebelled against ruling Khmer king and founded independent state called Thailand. This was in 1238. Thailand gradually grew and expanded acquiring its own language, culture, and alphabet.
The independence didn't last long. In 100 years, Thailand was taken in by a larger state called Siam. Since that, the history of Thailand was full of wars and rebellions, time of independence and union with larger states. The range of wars was terminated by the King Phraya Chakri in 1782. In 1939, the state was renamed from Siam into Thailand.
Today's Thailand is a democratic country, though religion also takes part in the country's government. The head of the country is king. Thailand has never been colonized; maybe this is the reason why its name is translated like "the country of free people".
Geographical Position and Climate
Thailand is located in the South-East Asia and occupies a part of Indochina Peninsula. The country's shape resembles elephant's head. Elephant is also the royal symbol. Many legends and believes of the nation are related to this animal, for example, they believe the milky way is the band of white elephants walking towards astral pasture.
The area of Thailand is 513 thousand sq. km, the extent is about 1500 km from north to south and about 800 km from west to east. The northern part of the country is mostly flatlands and plateaus with forest, the southern part has rocky ridges. The highest point of the country is Doi Inthanon with its 2559 meters above sea level. Despite the mountain terrain of the South Thailand, it is the place of famous Thai beaches and beautiful bays.
The climate is tropical. Unlike in Europe, they have only three seasons. From March to May they have torrid weather. This is the most unpleasant period with high air temperature and humidity and almost no rainfall. After three months of ardent heat when all people pine with sultriness, comes the rain season that lasts from the end of May till October. The most favorable time in all senses starts in November and lasts till the end of February. The weather is good, the temperature doesn't exceed 25 to 27 degrees centigrade, and there is almost no rain. During this period, the majority of tourists come to Thailand. They do not dare to come in spring as the baking sun is exhaustive even for the native people not to say about Europeans.
There are many rivers in Thailand. They all almost dry up in summer and often flood the banks during monsoon season. The majority of rivers start in the mountains and go through verdurous plateaus to the sea.
People and Culture
The major part of Thailand population is Thais; the second nationality by size is Laotians. There are also many other nationalities in Thailand, as they have always welcomed migrants from other countries. Here you can meet Indians, Chineses, and Europeans, however, the majority of them already assimilated and you will hardly find pure representatives of the nations except Thais.
Despite its visitors consider Thailand to be a Europeanized country, it is far from reality. Thais are tied to their origins and take care of their traditions and rites believing they connect them to their ancestors. The majority of people live in the countryside and farm. Their conservatism is partially explained by their living in small communities protecting them from Europeisation as it would be in large cities. About 90% of people profess Southern Buddhism, which influenced much the development and culture of the nation. The religion encourages Thais to follow rules of morality. It played a substantial part in the development of art and skills of the people.
The influence of religion is very evident. For example, the majority of public places like airports and waiting rooms are equipped with special armchairs for monks. Monks are respected and honored by all people. Women are prohibited to talk to them not to desecrate them. Tremulous attitude towards religion is shown in everything. If you are in a temple, don't even think of quarrelling, this will offend Thais. You will hardly find a family in Thailand with a man who didn't learn Buddha's teaching. They go to monastery for a certain period of time (from 5 to 150 days) to be ordained. This period usually corresponds with the rain season when most monks stay in monasteries, the rest of the time they travel around the country. By the way, the legendary Thai massage was initially the art learnt by Buddhist monks to set properly their organisms. Later they begin to use the massage for healing purposes. Real Thai massage lasts at least 3 hours and gives a great pleasure.
There are many holidays in Thailand celebrated with various parades and processions. There is no need to encourage Thais to rejoice, they gladly gather in noisy crews when there is a chance. They have various unusual celebrations: the holiday of flowers, the ceremony of the first furrow, the week of Quai River, the night of July full moon and others. They usually start celebration in the morning by pouring water on each other. Then it can be mass launching of boats made of banana leaves, shadow show, and fireworks. Thais like holiday picnics very much. During holidays, fires and grills are everywhere and Thais entertain by playing checks, cards, or chess. Many local holidays are related to Buddhist calendar. On these days, they usually have parades and processions and decorate themselves in flowers or dress as legendary creatures. One of the most spread entertainments is flying a kite. They have various kites: dragons, birds, butterflies, and strange monsters. They make kites themselves or buy from sellers. Notably, they somehow know the owners of kites and if a kite falls, they return it to the owner.
Thai cuisine is a real catch for good food lovers. Various spices and unusual combination of products makes Thai cuisine unique. The main products are fish and seafood, they are present in each dinner or supper. Special spices professionally used by Thais add specific flavor to all dishes. Herbs added in the particular moment can highlight and accentuate the taste of products and enrich the taste of the whole dish. The majority of dishes are highly seasoned but worth of testing. Many recipes were borrowed, but Thais changed them so much that their dishes have completely different taste. They do not have precise recipes, everything is done by sight. Thais are masters of unusual combinations. By the way, they do not have our traditional order of taking dishes. It is not necessary to start with soup to be followed by afters and dessert. You may be proposed dessert first and then the main course.