“A Visit to the Land of Smiles” The Kingdom of Thailand A Travel Article by Brian for Travel Magazine Ms. Plowman’s Class 2002. Day One.
Many were sitting outside in front of small shops and eating at small restaurants. I couldn¹t wait to explore Bangkok.
early in the morning they sit on the ground before their living quarters heads bowed while people line up to put food offerings in their empty bowels. To feed a monk is an honor believed to bring good luck.Day Two
Prasert maneuvered our boat through Bangkok¹s canals to the home of the royal barges. Bangkok is known as the “Venice of the East” because it was built on canals or klongs.Day Two
We stopped at a large open building and we stepped out to see the royal barges. Two times a year at special ceremonies the royal barges are brought out from their river warehouse. They are like giant, elaborately decorated canoes. Forty men wearing traditional Thai costumes oar the individual boats in races on the Chyao Phya River. They pass the grandstand saluting the King and Queen of Thailand with their oars.
There are many statues of Buddha, which are covered in gold leaf. I liked seeing the interesting murals painted along the walls of the complex. The murals tell the story of the life of Buddha.
We also visited nearby Wat Po which is the oldest and largest of Bangkok¹s more than 300 temples. It is home to the huge Reclining Buddha, the largest Buddha in Thailand.
Thai food is very popular in the United States so I was not surprised at many of the flavors of the cuisine including coconut, peanuts and coriander. I was surprised at how much hotter and spicier the food was here.
Thailand is famous for its rubies and sapphires as well as many other
precious gemstones. You can choose from individual stones or beautiful
jewelry designs at great prices. My mom bought some sapphire earrings
We visited many small shops selling Thai handicrafts from bronzeware to baskets, quilts to porcelains. There are also many shops selling antiques such as tapestries and puppets from Burma.
The next day we went shopping hoping to find some famous Thai bargains. Our first stop was the Jim Thompson Silk Shop. Jim Thompson was the American who helped establish the Thai Silk Industry in the 1950¹s. There were rows and rows of brightly colored silks, all of them hand-loomed and hand-dyed in a mind-boggling range of colors, patterns and weights. My mom purchased some bright royal blue silk in an elaborate pattern. A tailor took her measurements for a custom made dress which would be ready for a fitting the next day and ready for pick up the following day.Day Three
There were boats selling noodles, fried bananas, fresh coconut milk, dried fish, and rice. It was very colorful and I took lots of photos.
There was even one boat brimming with durian fruit, the most infamous fruit in all of Asia. I saw many signs in Thailand saying no durian allowed. People say that a ripe durian tastes something like a banana but it smells terrible, like Limburger cheese. I don¹t think I want to try one.Day Three
The next morning we left exciting Bangkok for a visit to northern Thailand and the slower paced city of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai was once the capital of a kingdom called Lanna or “Land of the Million Rice Fields”.
Chiang Mai is known for its slower way of life. We rode on a bicycle pulled cart through the city to visit the handicraft areas. One area makes lacquerware; another produces big, brightly colored paper umbrellas. We visited silk weavers and I saw silk moth larvae being fed special leaves. When they got big enough, they would begin spinning their silk cocoons. In another part of town we watched silversmiths hammer out bowls that look as thin as tissue paper. We visited a Thai celadon pottery factory. Celadon bowls are light green or blue in color and they have a cracked glittering glaze.Day Three
Once, the only way to get there from Bangkok was a trip of several weeks on elephant back or an exhausting river journey. In the late 1920¹s a railroad was built, but today it is only a one-hour flight by air.
The next morning we took an excursion out of town to a traditional Thai logging camp and elephant training center at Chang Dao about 40 miles away. Elephants are still used today to move teak logs from the dense jungle areas of northern Thailand to the rivers.Day Three/Day Four
At the camp, the mahouts or keepers train the young elephants. The elephants lumber down to the river every morning for a bath. They are like mischievous children. Sucking up trunkfuls of water to drench their mahouts. We watched the older elephants demonstrate how to roll, pull and lift logs. I even got to feed a baby elephant some bananas.
Our next adventure was a short trek on elephant back. We took a 1 ½-hour trek through the jungle, passing through bamboo, mango and litchi trees as we stomped up a jungle creek bed. I sat in a creaking, swaying box behind the mahout who sat on top of the elephant behind the ears. Along the way the mahout taught us how to say hello, a little, and thank you in Thai hello is Sawasdee, a little is nit noi, and thank you is kap khun krap. The elephant walked slowly through the jungle on our way to visit a hilltribe village of the Lisu people. The Lisus live in a small village with a single row of open houses. There is no running water or electricity. There are pudgy pigs running around like pets. Chickens and roosters wander through the houses.Day Four
in the water and on the shoulders of the water buffaloes were little orange birds. Rubber plantations and fields of sugarcane cover large tracts of the island.
On our return to Phuket we visited the Sea Gypsies who are Muslim fishermen who have built their houses on stilts on top of the water beyond Phuket Island. There are about 50 houses and buildings on stilts.Day Six
Local customs: Never touch a Thai¹s head or point your feet at them, this is considered extremely impolite. If someone “wai¹s” to you ( greets you with hands together while bending their head down) it is proper to return the gesture. Instead of saying Sawasdee for hello or goodbye, men should say Sawasdee krab and women should say Sawasdee Ka. It is a small gesture but infinitely more polite in a country that values such gestures. Proper behavior is especially important at temples. You must remove your shoes before entering a wat or building that contains a Buddha image. You can sit on the floor of the wat but with legs folded under you so as not to point your toes at anyone. Women must never enter the monks¹ quarters, nor hand anything to a monk.What To Wear/Local Customs