Thailand – The Land of Smiles
Thai name: Prathet Thai
Area: 514,000 km2
Population: About 65,000,000
Location: South-East Asia
Capital city: Krung Thep (Bangkok)
Calling code: +66
National Anthem: Phleng Chat
Flag of Thailand:
General Facts about Thailand
Thailand (or Prathet Thai in Thai language) is a country in South-East Asia, that has had a very developed and expanding infrastructure and economy the last decades. About 95% of it’s population are Buddhists (Theravada Buddhism) and the second largest religion is Islam followed by Christianity. A majority of the muslims are living in the Southern provinces. (Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani, Songkhla and Satun) The Thais are a very proud people who love their culture, their religion and their monarchy. The country was the only one, in the region, that was not colonized by the Europeans.
To Visit Thailand
Thailand has the last decades become a very popular tourist destination. A country that you just ‘have to’ visit if you enjoy traveling. The tourism has increased, but it is not hard at all to find a beach or a park where you can relax without crowds of people. As a matter of fact, it is still possible to find a beach where you can be on your own!
In Thailand you will find some of the most beautiful islands and beaches in the world. Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, Krabi and Hua Hin are destinations that we have to mention. The scuba diving on Koh Tao and Similan island is simply world class and sports as golf, tennis, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing etc. will help You to stay in great shape, if You get bored at beach activities
You will also find great destinations and attractions as the bridge over river Kwai, Bangkok Chinatown, trekking paths in the tropical rain forest from beautiful Chiang Mai and some of the most important buddhist temples and buddha statues in the world.
The climate is tropical, warm and often humid. The temperature is normally about 30 Degrees Celsius in the daytime and about 25°C in the nighttime. However in the Northern parts of the country, the temperature can go down to 10°C (!) or in exceptional cases 0°C in the nighttime, during the chilly season. In Southern Thailand, temperatures below 20 degrees are rather rare, even in the nighttime.
Buddhism in Thailand
If you have been in Thailand before, I guess you have visited, or got close to, at least one of the thousands of Buddhist temples, (wat in Thai) located in this country. You will also likely have seen the monks, (Phra in Thai) dressed in orange fabrics, or/and the white dressed nuns. (Mae chi in Thai)
93-96% of the Thais are Buddhists. Buddhism in Thailand is of the Theravada school, which of some is considered as the “original” teaching of the Buddha. Theravada Buddhism is practiced in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and on Sri Lanka and its popularity is increasing in other countries too.
The ethics or the five precepts
1. To refrain from killing living creatures
2. To refrain from stealing
3. To refrain from sexual misconduct
4. To refrain from lying
5. To refrain from taking intoxicants
Many Thai men choose to become a novice monk, or nehn, at some point of their lives. (not as many women become nuns, though) Some Thais wants to study Buddhism for life and they choose to become a monk or a nun for life. Meditation, Buddhist studies and cleaning are common practices in the daily life of the temple and in the kuti. (The house of the monks) In some temples you will find a TV and a computer set etc, but it is not allowed in every temple.
Karma can, rather simplified, be described as that our conscious actions will result in an effect. This does not involve unconscious acts though. Karma means action or deed in sanskrit and involves that unselfish good deeds results in good karma, but selfish, “evil” deeds results in bad karma. “What you do is what you get” or Tham dii, dai dii – Tham chua, dai chua in Thai.
Religion or not?
Many people consider Buddhism more as a philosophy or a “way to live”. But it is also considered as one of the World Religions. The definition is probably just up to every each of us.
The prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in Nepal about 560 Before Christ. (the exact year is controversial) He was living a rather uncomplicated life together with his wife, (who also was his cousin) the princess Yasochara, until he was 29 years old. At that point he choose to leave his wife and son, Râhula, to learn about the poor peoples situation and find knowledge about suffering in the world. During about five years, Siddhartha lived an ascetic life as a disciple, but he did not get satisfied from that. He then choose to go his own way, the middle way. Under a Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, North India, he finally discovered enlightenment; nirvana, and so he became Buddha, or the Awakened One. Buddha spent the rest of his life to learn others about this middle way. He died at the age of 80. In the teaching of Buddha or dharma, you will, among other visdoms, find:
The Four Noble Truths
1. The truth about suffering; dukkha
2. The truth about the cause of dukkha
3. The truth about the lead out of dukkha
4. The truth about the way that leads out of dukkha
The fourth truth is the same as the noble eightfold path:
The noble eightfold path:
1. Right understanding
2. Right thought
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration