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THAILAND NATIONAL UNIQUENESSES The National Flag: The Flag of the Kingdom of Siam was created during the reign of King Rama II and flew on all Siamese sea-going vessels. The Symbol of a white elephant on a red background was chosen because whites are considered very auspicious by Thais.King Rama II was known as the “White Elephant King” as he had three of these noble animals in his possession during his reign. The five horizontal stripes of three colours: Red, White, and Blue have very significant meanings. Red signifies the life-blood of Thai people. The White stripe symbolizes the purity of Buddhism, the national religion. And the dominant Blue stripe means the Thai King, the monarchy and the important part its plays in the daily life of Thais. The present national Thai flag, the “Tri-Rong” or three sacred colours, was designed by King Rama VI and first used on September 28, 1917. The flag is raised daily at 8.00 a.m. and pulled down at 6.00 p.m. flying all official buildings, public places, large private enterprises and every learning academy. The flag is also flown nationwide on national holidays. The Thai National and Royal Symbols is the GARUDA: a mythical half-bird and human figure (steed of the Hindu god Vishnu) that adorns King Bhumibol Adulyadej's sceptre and royal standard. Many ministries and departments have incorporated the GARUDA into their insignias. Moreover, the GARUDA is signification of being "By Royal Appointment" and is awarded, at the personal discretion of H. M. the King, as a sign of royal approval to companies that have rendered outstanding economic and charitable services to Thailand. Such an award is rarely bestowed and considered a great honour. National Flower "Ratchapruek" or (golden shower): Ratchapruek (Thais are called Ton Koon or Dok Koon) is chosen as national flower because it is widely known to people and possible to plant anywhere around the Kingdom. It bears beautiful cluster-shaped flowers in summer. The colour of it is shining yellow, and this colour is Buddhism which is national religion as well as colour of Monday when His Majesty the King of Thai Kingdom was born. National Animal "Chang Thai" (or Thai Elephants): Chang Thai is selected as national animal because it has maintained close link with Thai history and custom, it has a long life and it is closely related to the livelihood of Thai people as one of transportation meaning both in time of peace and battles. Especially, "White Elephant" is deeply connected to King of Thailand, and it is portrayed in the former national Flag. National Architecture "Sala Thai" (or Thai-Style arbor): Sala Thai reflects knowledge of Thai people. It retains beauty, which is different from style of other regions. Visitors can learn "Thai-ness" through Sala Thai. THAILAND INFORMATION Thailand was known for centuries by outsiders as SIAM. It is the first real impression on the West at the end of the 17th century, through the reports of a series of inquisitive Frenchmen. However, they were not the first Europeans to spend time in the kingdom. The Portuguese sent an envoy to the Capital in 1511, shortly after they seized Malacca. They joint resident Chinese, Japanese, Malays and Persians to make the Siamese capital one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the vast region now known as Southeast Asia. Modern and predominantly Buddhist, it is the Southeast Asian kingdom whose ancient equilibrium and present standing mingle in evolving harmony. Substantially, Thailand’s distinctive and unparalleled characteristics stem from Indian and Chinese influences (harmoniously blended by Thai eclecticism), rich ethnic diversity, abundant natural and human resources, and over seven hundred years of cherished independently (Thailand is the only important Southeast Asian Countries never to have been colonized by Westerns). Thai traditional culture is delicately tuned to the time honoured Buddhist’s non-confrontational approach to life, and ideal of charity, tolerance and loving-kindness. About Thai History: Thais, the most historians believe, began migrating from southern China in the early part of the Christian era. At first they formed a number of city-states in the northern part of what is present day Thailand, in places like Chiang Sean, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, but these were never strong enough to exert much influence outside the immediate region. Gradually the Thais migrated further south to the broad and fertile central plains, and expanded their dominance over nearly the entire Indochina Peninsula. Contradictory as it may seem, however, recent archaeological discoveries around the northeast hamlet of Baan Chiang suggest that the World’s oldest Bronze Age civilization was flourishing in Thailand some 5,000 years ago. Read more World Heriatages in Thailand. Sukhothai Era (1238-1350 A.D.) By the early 1200s the Thais had established small northern city-states in Lanna, Phayao province and Sukhothai one (now-a day). In 1238 two Thais chieftains, Khun Bang Klang Tao and Khun Bang Pah Muang, successfully rebelled against Khom suzerainty and established the first truly independent Thai kingdom in Sukhothai province-a kingdom that was short-lived but of immense cultural importance in the nation’s history (Loy Kra Thong-the candle-lights floating festival). Sukhothai saw Thai’s gradual expansion throughout the entire the Chao Phraya River basin and the establishment of Theravada Buddhism as the paramount Thai’s region. It was here that the first evidence of written Thai Alphabets was left, along with distinctively Thai styles of arts such as paintings, sculptures, architectures and literatures, which survived after Sukhothai was absorbed by the kingdom of Ayuddhaya-a dynamic young kingdom further south in the Chao Phraya River valley. Read more Sukhothai Historical Park (World Heritages in Thailand) Ayuddhaya Era (1350-1767 A.D.) During Ayuddhaya 417 years as the capital, under the rule of 34 kings, the Thais brought their distinctive culture to fall fruition, totally rid their lands of Khom presence, and fostered contact with Arabian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and European powers. Contact with the Western countries, especially, flourished during the reign of King Narai the Great (1656-1688), in which an envoy was sent to France to agree foreign diplomacy. Founded in 1350, Ayuddhaya remained the Thai capital until it was sacked and burnt by the Burmese in 1767. Read more Ayuddhaya Historical Park (World Heritages in Thailand) Thonburi Era (1767-1782 A.D.) Ayuddhaya’s downfall was a severe blow to the Thais. However, the Thais revival occurred within a few months, and the Burmese were expelled by King Taksin, who ushered in the Thonburi Kingdom. Unfortunately, King Taksin built Thonburi to capital, but it was the shortest-lived capital in Thai history just 15 years powering. In 1782 the first king of the present Chakri Dynasty, Rama I (Phraphuddha Yodfa Chulaloke Maharaj) established his new capital on the site of a riverside hamlet called Baan Kok (Village of the Wild Olives). Rattanakosin Era (1782 till present day) Among the Rattanakosin Era, two Chakri monarchs, King Mongkut (Rama IV), who reigned between 1851 and 1868, and his son King Chulalongkorn (Rama V, 1868-1910), saved Thailand from the powering tides of Western colonialism through adroit diplomacy and select modernization (cancelled the slaves-housed) Today, Thailand is a modern constitutional monarchy. Since 1932, Thai Kings, including the present monarch His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), have managed their Legislative powers through a national assembly, their Executive powers through a cabinet headed by a prime minister and their Judicial powers though the Courts of Law. SOME FRIENDLY REMINDER “DOs AND DONTs”, The people of Thailand are renown throughout the world for their tolerance, hospitality and friendly smiles. All the same, as a visitor to the land of a thousand smiles you may find it helpful to be aware of certain Dos and DON’Ts thus avoiding unintentional miscues. Actually, most of these are only a simple matter of common sense combined with good manners. Not so much different than you would act in your home country but a few significant enough to mention. THE MONARCHY: Thai people hold their King, Queen and the Royal Family in reverent respect and as a visitor to Thailand, you should do show the same respect. RELIGION: Thai law is very specific in regards to religious offenses. These laws not only cover Buddhism, the major religion of the country, but apply to the other faiths represented in the Kingdom as well. Here are a few reminders when visiting religious places. Dress neatly. Don’t go shirtless or in shorts, hot pants or other unsuitable attire. Remove your shoes when entering a temple. Buddhist priests are forbidden to touch or to be touched by women. All Buddha Images, large or small, ruined or not, are regarded as sacred don’t do anything that would indicate a lack of respect. SOCIAL CUSTOMS: Thais don’t normally shake hands when greeting one another but instead, pressing their palms together in a prayer like fashion called a “WAI”. Notice how the Thais do it and you’ll soon catch on. It’s considered very rude to the foot at a person or even to point out an object with the foot. Try to avoid doing so even when sitting down the conception being the foot is the lowest part of the body. In the same right, Thais consider the head as the highest part of the body both literally and figuratively. They don’t approve of being touched there even in a friendly gesture. Similarly, you may notice the younger Thai people try with great effort to keep their heads lower than those of the older one to avoid giving the impression of “looking down” on them. Public displays of affection are frowned upon. Losing your temper, to the Thai way of thinking, exhibit poor manners. Call Thais by their first name, not the surname and use the word “Khun” in front. This work is equivalent of “Mister”. You are expected to remove your shoes before entering a Thais house, like temple, mentioned above. DINING: To get a waiters attention, a wave of the hand is all that’s needed. Refrain from clapping, hissing or snapping fingers Usually a tip of 10-20 Baht or 5-10 % of the bill should be given when dining in a middle, or high class restaurants, Thais have a deeply traditional reverence for the Royal Family. And you, a lovely visitor should be careful to show respect for the King, the Queen and the Royal Family alike. Enjoy and spend your holiday vacations in Thailand, you’ll never forget and unbelievable what SIAM is. Amazing Thailand, the lands of thousands friendly Smiles, holiday never ends!!! THIALAND in BRIEF Thailand is a Southeast Asian country, mapping on the heart of one, predominantly Buddhist Kingdom almost equidistant between India and China. For centuries known by outsiders as Siam, Thailand has been something of a Southeast Asian migratory, cultural and religious crossroads. With an area of some 510,000 square kilometres and a population of 65 million, Thailand is approximately the same size as France. Thailand shares borders with Burma to the west and north, Laos P.D.R.to the northeast and north, Cambodia to the east and Malaysia to south. Weather: Thailand enjoys a tropical climate with three distinct seasons: Summer starts from March through May; Rainy Season with plenty of sunshine drops from June to September and Cool Season begins from October till February. The average annual temperatures is 28 degrees Celsius (83 F.), ranging, in Bangkok, for example, from 30 degrees Celsius in April to 25 degrees Celsius in December. Religion: Theravada Buddhism is the professed religion of more than 90% of all Thais, and crazes strongly influences on daily life. Thais always have subscribed to the ideal of religious freedom. Thus sizable minorities of Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs are freely pursued their respective faiths. Culture: Thailand prefers very much its own distinctive culture (drama, literature, music, architecture, sculpture and painting, basket and silk weaving, lacquer ware, bronze ware, pottery and jewelry), its own language and alphabets and also culinary plus material arts. Beliefs and attitudes are own Thais. Government: Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliamentarian system. His Majesty the King is popularly held to be sacred and inviolable; he reigns as Head of State, upholder of religions and Head of the Arms Forces. Economy: Thailand is basically an agricultural country with about 80% of the population engaged in farming or related occupations. Rice is the major export as well as one of the major foreign exchange earners, the other being tapioca, sugar, natural rubber and of course tourism to round out the top five. Language: Thai is the national language. It is very tonal and comes from the Sino-Tibetan Family. Variations are spoken in the North and South with Laotian dialects dominant in the Northeast. English is fluently spoken in areas pertaining to tourism and trade. All roads and streets sign around Thai Kingdom are written in Thai-English; therefore, the “Lost” is never occurring with you. Some European conversations can speak in the leading tourist hotels also. Internet Café: Today Thailand is not yesterday. Almost every residences is available wifi technology. Thus, the internet click café, logging is on every walking street, can find easily every tourist destinations. Enjoy and spend your holiday vacations in Thailand, you’ll never forget and unbelievable what SIAM is. Amazing Thailand, the lands of friendly Smiles, holiday never ends!!! THAILAND THOUSAND FESTIVALS Thais are fun-loving's, sentimental people and annual festivals, both commemorative and celebrating, play important roles in Thai life. Many Thai festivals are joyful, colourful events that invite visitors' participation. Others feature solemn, eminently photogenic. Whatever their character, whether dazzling processions, Buddhist devotion, uninhibited merriment or exotic ritual, each affords the visitor pleasant memories and insights into the cultural heritage that makes Thailand Asia's most exotic country. Most festivals are connected either with Buddhism, the annual rice-farming cycle, or commemorations honouring Thai Kings. Some occur on fixed dates, others particularly those associated with Buddhism, are determined by the lunar calendar. Many merit national holidays. Chronologically, Thailand's major festivals, and events, are as follows: NEW YEAR DAY January 1st, In Thailand there are three New Year’s days. The Western, on Jan 1 st, the Chinese New Year on the first day of the first lunar month, usually in February and Thai New Year marked by Songkran festival in April. Thais usually exchange gifts on January 1st. ROYAL PLOUGHING CEREMONY Usually early May, at Bangkok's Sanam Luang. This ceremony marks official commencement of the annual rice-planting cycle. Presided over by His Majesty the King, elaborate Brahman ritual and ceremonial combine to provide predictions concerning the forthcoming rice crop. ROCKET FESTIVAL The second weekend of May, and best seen in Yasothon, northeast Thailand. Prior to the annual monsoons. Northeast villagers construct gigantic rockets to fire into the sky to "ensure" plentiful rain during the forthcoming rice season. The Rocket Festival is traditionally a period for letting off steam before arduous field work begins in earnest, and features beauty parades, folk dances, ribald and high-spirited revelry before the rockets are ceremoniously launched. VISAKHA PUJA DAY Full moon day, May, National holiday: Visakha Puja is the holiest of all Buddhist holy days, and marks the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. Merit-making and ceremonial are identical to Makha Puja. SONGKARN FESTIVAL (Water Splashing Festival) April 12-14, Nationwide. The old Thai New Year is an occasion for merry-making in Bangkok as well in other parts of the country, with religious ceremonies as well as public festivities. Anyone who ventures out on the streets is likely to get a through soaking, but in all a spirit of fun, and welcome at the peak of the hot season. FRUITS FAIRS COUNTRYWIDE These annual fairs feature delicious provincial fruits--including rambutan, durian, jackfruit and pomeloes, and feature cultural displays, exhibitions and folk arts. Major provinces that celebrate fruits fairs are Rayong, Chantaburi, Chachoengsao and Hat Yai in Songkhla. H. M. THE QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY August 12,National Holiday. Nationwide celebrations find particular focus in Bangkok where government buildings are decorated and illuminated at night with coloured lights. OK PHANSA & THOT KATHIN During October. Ok Phansa celebrates the end of Rains Retreat and introduces the Ka thin period when, throughout Thailand, the Buddhist laity present monks with new robes and other items deemed necessary for the monkshood's upkeep during the forthcoming monastic year. VEGETARIAN FESTIAVAL During October. Phuket Islanders of Chinese ancestry commit themselves to a vegetarian diet for nine days. The festival's first day features a parade of white-attired devotes and several ascetic displays. BOAT RACES FESTIVAL During October. The Kathin period marks the official end of the Rains Season and is the time for country fairs, many of which feature regattas. Nan, 790 kilometres north of Bangkok, has famous boat races. Other noteworthy regattas are held in Surat Thani, Phichit, Nakhon Phanom and Pathum Thani. LOY KRATHONG (Candle Floating Festival) Full-moon night of November. This is Thailand's loveliest festival when under the full moon, Thais float away onto rivers and waterways, Krathongs, leaf bowl containing a lighted candle, glowing incense, a flower and small coin to honour, it is believed, the water spirits, and to wash away the previous year's sin. ELEPHANT ROUND-UP The Third weekend of November, Surin, Northeast of Thailand. Some 100 elephants participate in this popular event. Between folk dances and traditional cultural performances, these versatile behemoths star in displays of time-honoured wild elephant hunts, demonstrations of intelligence, strength, gentility and obedience, and the spectacular re-enactment of a medieval war elephant parade. RIVER KWAI BRIDGE WEEK Late November, early December, Kanchanaburi, Western Thailand. Features a thrilling son et lumpier show at the world-famous bridge. Archaeological and historical exhibitions, sparkling folk culture performances and rides on trains hauled by World War II vintage steam locomotives number among other attractions. H. M. THE KING'S BIRTHDAY December 5, National Holiday. On December 3, the elite Royal Guards swear a new their allegiance to His Majesty King Bhumibol in colourful and stirring ceremony in Bangkok's Royal Plaza. On December 5, festivities occur throughout Thailand Customarily, government buildings and houses are decorated with spectacular illuminations at night. In Night-time at Bangkok, particularly in the Ratchdamnoen Avenue and Grand Palace area become a floodlit fairyland of coloured lights. Wow VISITORS TO THAILAND & Visitors to Koh Chang Magazines and Maps.