The Culture,The People – Thai Kingdom Come Part 1

King Palace,Tourist Attraction – Bangkok (September,2012)

I have encountered a generally polite,kind and smiling people in Thailand. No hints of chest thumping or know-it-all attitude have I come across. Interestingly,Thai people seem to shy away from the ‘glamour’,open talk and small time chat ..at least not with strangers,or persons of foreign nationality.

I have occasionally tried to start conversation in the elevator,while on my way to my room,or on the metro or bus,but the body language of intended target,suggests he/she would rather engage with his / her  smart phone or comic book than engage in small talk.

Talking of the smart phone,this is one country that am sure Android powered gadget makers will be impressed by the uptake of their products. The level of attachment to the Samsung,HTC phones/tablets is quite fascinating (I guess however,this is turning out to be a global phenomena). On a number of my ‘peeks’ to see what the users are engaged in,Facebook,Angry Birds and You Tube rank the highest.

Religion

Wikipedia rates Thais to be 94.6% Buddhist,with 4.6% being Muslims.Being Christian,it has been quite challenging finding a place of worship (Church) in a Buddhist dominated nation,but I thank God for the internet as I am able to catch up with services back home. You can be sure of encountering a number of temples and Buddhist structures on various roads,street corners in Bangkok and am sure, around the country.

Language

This has been my greatest challenge. Thai,the language,is considered and accepted as both the official and non-official mode of communication. The unique Thai alphabet is quite challenging  to master and would require an intensive discourse,daily engagement with the locals and obviously, a longer stay in the country. For my ‘survival’,acquainting my self with the words and phrases below has come in handy:

Sawa dee – Hello

Khob Khun Krap – Thank you (Man saying)

Khob Khun Ka – Thank you (Woman saying)

Hong nam – Toilet

Di mak – Very good

Nam – Water

Kao – Rice (Rice features as a staple food. U can not miss it ‘anywhere’)

Numbers (1 – 10) – Nueng,Song,Sam,Si,Ha,Hok,Chet,Pet,Kao,Sip

The Food

Few things come close to Thai people, as appreciating and flattering their food. At first spicy,maybe chilly to the tongue,several lunches and dinners later,i have come to rate Thai dishes as among the best in the world.

Noticeable in the capital city are the numerous food vendors in portable/wheelable carts. From,pork to chicken,from rice to noodle,the Thai working class swear by the quality of the roadside food vendor over and above the average restaurant. This is on top of the rather,affordable price,on average 45 Baht,equivalent of $1.50,for a fairly decent meal.

Som Tam – Down town Bangkok

Popular dishes include Som Tam (Papaya salad),Khai Man Gai(chicken on rice),Tod Man Plan(Curried fish cake),Tom Kha Gai(Chicken in Coconut milk soup),Khao Moo Daeng(Roast pork on rice) and Phat Thai Talay(Fried noodles and Seafood).

So,if your tongue is suited to everything spicy,then Thai cuisine is good for you.However,if you are used to much of potato dishes,corn-flour meals,beef and hamburgers,then Thai cuisine may prove to be hard to adopt.

A footnote for one who would wish to experiment on the roadside barbecued meats,my pals in the Kingdom recommend them highly, am yet to sample them myself,something to do with identifying what meat exactly I would be eating. I am more at home with goat ribs,lamb and cow meat.

I will endeavour to capture more about Thai culture,in subsequent blogs..The shopping culture taking/taken root, The popular sport Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) and oohh yes, you said it,….The legendary Bangkok nightlife.

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Thailand Experience – Thai Kingdom Come Series

They call it,the Land of Smiles and why not,with a population bordering 80 Million,a majority who exhibit politeness commonly evidenced by the gentle slight bow with clasped hands on the forehead as sign of greeting and respect and with the ever lingering smile,this South-East Asian Nation is ranked as one of the top emerging economies in Asia,if not the world and forms part of the so-called Asian tiger economies. The IMF quoted the GDP/Capita of the country at $9,220 in 2012,just shy of the global average of $10,000.

Picture Exhibition,dubbed’ Very Thai’ at the Central World – October 2012

Thailand is a Constitutional Monarchy headed by King IX, who has reigned since 1946!! Amazingly,the country was never colonized by any of European Nations and was originally referred to as Siam,before Adopting the name Thailand in 1949. Whilst the King is considered as the Head of State,the everyday running of Government is conducted by a Prime Minister,the most volatile of political times being between 2006 and 2009 during the Red and Yellow shirts confrontations that saw to the self-exile of the flamboyant former Prime Minister,Thaksin Shinawatra

I have been based in the Capital city Bangkok,with an estimated population of 8 Million people,for the past 4 months. The experience has been eye-opening,exciting and in some instances frustrating,especially when you realize that English,the most common language from my background,does not feature much on the top charts as the ideal / default language of both official and non-official communication.

So as part of acquainting myself with blogging,let me share with you various episodes,sights and scenes,interactions that I have encountered so far,in an attempt to describing and painting the Thai picture,in this series i have decided to call, Thai Kingdom Come

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THE U.S PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE 2012,A KENYAN LEARNING POINT

Two weeks ago the world Audience was treated to the last debate between 2 Presidential candidates,President Barrack Obama and Republican Party leader, Governor Mitt Romney. This debate centred primarily on the topic, U.S. Foreign Policy,coming in the wake of two previous debates that focussed on Domestic and Economic issues facing the U.S in the past 4 years and a stage to pitch for the way forward for America.

Evident to me and I believe a host of many viewers across the world (Am yet to find out the viewership numbers) was the great level of awareness and a relatively greater understanding / grasp of matters at hand showcased by both candidates. I specifically point this out following the recent announcement in my home country, Kenya of a proposed similar event to be staged in November..(The Kenyan Elections is due March, 2013).

It has been argued that the Obama administration inherited a weak and gloomy economy from the previous administration..(administration seems to apply better in the U.S than regime – more used in Dictatorial systems such as Libya,Syria..sample,The Gadaffi regime,The Al Assad regime). However,reports from various sources indicate a general unhappiness with the American people due to fewer jobs,high cost of living and involvement of U.S. Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is all left to the American people to decide who their next leader should be come 7th.November. I however took home with me the need to seriously interrogate our leaders,put them accountable and seek more of servant leadership,rather than the,I-call- the-shots leadership we are accustomed to in Kenya. The word MPigs has recently been coined in social media forum,as a way to express the frustration  and anger,Kenyans have of their current crop of leaders,who have become accustomed to seeking to financial empower themselves as opposed to delivering honest service and legislation.

To the American people,kudos to being champions of a free and accountable world. Here is to wishing that you vote and vote wisely. In Kenya,the Presidential debates will be an interesting series to watch,right from the organization,co-ordination,moderation and expression by the candidates.

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Working my way around

This is day two of trying out my hands on this aspect called blogging. Walking myself around is proving to be a mix of challenge,frustration and excitement. My blogosphere journey continues to be eye-opening,I wonder in amazement what lies ahead.

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