‘Only few of men get to the other shore; the majority runs up and down these beaches’.
With this phrase, Buddha, the master, made another of his many thoughts about life, death and the abyss between these two. Thailand is one of the countries where his great wisdom and friendly smile live on in each and every one of its inhabitants. This might be the reason why the “land of freedom” is famous for the kindness of its people and is better known as the “land of the smiles”. Ratcha Anachak Thai is the original name of Thailand. It means something like “True Kingdom of the Thai People”. Formerly Thailand included the territories of Cambodia and Laos and was known as Siam. Its history was the one of conquests, attempts of colonization, totalitarian military systems, wars, occupation, revolution and, finally, a democracy process that lead to what the country is today, the free country of Práthêt Thai. Devastated by the 2004 Tsunami, its coast has been rebuilt in record time thanks to international investment and the will of the local authorities. This effort, commitment and loyalty to the land has a lot to with the cultural values of the Thai people. Thailand is: culture Gratitude and respect for the elderly are the main values of Thai families. Seniors are wise and children owe them the biggest of respects, since no one will teach them better than the ones who already have lived. Proof of this is the inexistence of retirement homes in Thailand. The language is something fundamental. As in most parts of the world, the Thai people will appreciate any effort made by a visitor to speak their native language: Thai or Siamese. Thai is complex tonal language which, once you know how to pronounce the basic word, turns out to be charming and makes happy the native speakers. Bear in mind that out of Bangkok, the people hardly speak English. It’s not that difficult to learn phrases like this: Sawaddee. Sabai dee mai (Hello. How are you?). To say hello, Thai people don’t shake hands, nor do cheek kissing or hugging. It’s enough with a reverence pressing both hands together at nose level, bend you heard as if you were praying. This greeting is called “Wai“. Thailand is: spirituality The most sacred things for the Thai people is their Buddhist temples. All around the country there are about 18.000 of them and they are open to everybody: you can take photographs and even learn about the habits and way of life of its monks chatting with them. Buddhism is one of the most tolerant religions, but there are certain behavioral rules to be considered when entering its pagodas:
1. Take off your shoes when entering (as you would do in their houses);
2. Don’t point with your foot or touch in excess a holy statue;
3. The monks aren’t allowed to touch a woman or receive something directly from her hands, so try not to touch them when passing.
Their lessons in compassion and tolerance have taken them to respecting other religions, thus they are open to discuss with visitors the Buddhist values.
Thailand is: gastronomy Thai food is the result of the perfect combination of its 5 basic flavors: spicy, sweet, sour, salted and bitter. The spices and fruit juices as for example coconut or lime are must ingredients for the most typical Thai dishes. The Tai cuisine consists basically of one main dish, basically rice, and various side dishes. Jasmine rice, a long, aromatic grain that is cultivated in huge green fields in the center of the country, is the most typical variety in Thailand. It is vaporized and accompanied by curry, fry-ups, prawns, green beans and even chilies, as en Nam Prik (traditional main dish cooked in all of the four regions). Important: to it it, always with a spoon.
Thailand is: relax Thailand is famous for the Thai massage, a unique corporal technique more than 2500 years old. In order to preserve this tradition, the method was carved in stone and on the walls of the Wat Po Temple, place where this technique is still being taught. Sickness was, and today still is, considered the unbalance of the body, soul and spirit. The objective of the Thai massage is to put them together again in harmony thanks to the pressure of hands and underarms on all of the body’s limbs, kneading the muscles, stretching the skeleton, putting pressure on the energetic points. The feet are giving the massage when the masseur walks over your body. The result can’t be explained with words.
Thailand is: sea Now you may think of the incredible beaches of Ko Phi Phi Don you saw in the film starred by Leonardo DiCaprio. If you haven’t watched it, for sure you will have heard about it. It belongs to the Andaman archipelago, made of 204 islands in the Northeastern Indian Ocean. Any of them will make you enjoy an extraordinary experience. If on the other hand you dream of exploring the Chinese Sea, in the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Thailand offers you the possibility to discover the beautiful bays and beaches of Thailand and the waters of Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam, neighboring countries with the land of the white elephants. Phuket is the mecca of beach tourism and diving. You have hardly seen a more beautiful coral reefs an richer maritime fauna. As you see, Thailand’s beauty isn’t hidden and secret. It is all over the place, as a master: in the wild nature, in ancient medicine, in holy temples, in delicious and healthy gastronomy, underwater and on the sea along kilometers of beautiful coastline… all this aspects associated with this land can bedazzle the most skeptical human being. In the end, the way of liberation leads through the pursuit of happiness, the experimentation of beauty and the reencounter of peace. So, we leave you here, with the Nirvana within reach, or more precisely, within reach of your own eyes.