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									“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
•   The Kingdom of Thailand is one of
    the friendliest countries in the world.
    Everywhere you go throughout this
    exotic land you see friendly, smiling
    faces. This is a great country for
    young people to visit, as I will report
    for Travel Magazine.
                              Day One
•   Thailand is the size of Texas and is    Many were sitting outside in front of
    located between Burma Laos,             small shops and eating at small
    Cambodia and Malaysia. Thailand is      restaurants. I couldn¹t wait to explore
    on the other side of the world, so it   Bangkok.
    takes a long time to get there. I
    boarded the country¹s national
    airline in Seattle and flew 15 hours
    in a 747 jumbo jet before arriving in
    Bangkok, the capital of Thailand,
    and largest city. I ate three meals,
    watched two movies and had two
    naps on the airplane. When we
    landed I was anxious to get off. As
    soon as the door opened I felt a
    warm blast of humid 80-degree air,
    even at 11:00 at night! We went
    through immigration and were
    whisked away by taxi to our hotel. I
    noticed a lot of families were on the
    streets at this late hour.
                              Day Two
•   I woke up at first light and looked
    out my glamorous hotel window.
    The mighty Chao Phya River, the
    “River of Kings”, flowed below me.
    What a magnificent sight! Huge
    barges filled with rice or coal
    crawled slowly up the river. There
    were long tailed boats skimming
    across the water and I saw water
    taxis carrying people from one side
    of the river to the other. Bangkok
    was huge; it stretched out in all
    directions as far as the eye could
    see! Dotted all around the city were
    gilded temples or wats, and I could
    even see the walls of the famed
    Grand Palace in the distance.
                                  Day Two
•   We ate breakfast outside on the
    verandah by the river. My mom
    thought it would be a good idea to
    try a typical Thai breakfast. It wasn¹t
    a good choice for me. It was a kind
    of rice gruel with an egg floating in
    it. My mother ordered fruit and I
    shared her plate. There was
    pineapple, watermelon, mango,
    papaya and many fruits I have
    never seen before like mangosteen
    and rambutan, all beautifully sliced
    and carved in different patterns.
                                  Day Two
•   It was 8:00 a.m. and it was already
    getting hot. February is supposed to
    be a cool month, I can¹t imagine
    what the hot season is like. We
    started our sightseeing adventure
    by river on our first day because it is
    cooler on the water, and we can
    avoid the famous Bangkok traffic
    jams. We rented a long tail boat with
    a guide for a half-day. Our driver
    was named Prasert and he spoke a
    little English. He liked to hydroplane,
    skimming across the water at a
    thrilling speed. The long boat
    passed the slow rice barges using
    the long motor for shallow
    maneuvering. Our first stop was
    Wat Aroon, the Temple of the
    Dawn.
                                Day Two
•   Prasert let us out on a platform near   •   early in the morning they sit on the
    the temple and said he would wait           ground before their living quarters
    for us. The temple rose high into the       heads bowed while people line up to
    sky and glittered in the sun. As we         put food offerings in their empty
    came closer we could see the                bowels. To feed a monk is an honor
    temple was made of small, shiny,            believed to bring good luck.
    colorful ceramic tiles. We climbed
    the steep stairs to the very top of
    Wat Aroon. It was a beautiful view.
    A Buddhist monastery was behind
    the temple and I could see many
    boys my age with shaved heads
    wearing saffron colored robes.
    Buddhism is the primary religion in
    Thailand. Most boys spend six
    months to two years as monks.
    They live in monasteries and are
    taught about Bhuddism and how to
    live a simple life. All over Thailand
                               Day Two
•   Prasert was waiting for us as he           We stopped at a large open building
    promised, and he sped us away at           and we stepped out to see the royal
    high speed to see the Royal Barges.        barges. Two times a year at special
    It was interesting to see life along the   ceremonies the royal barges are
    river. I saw beautiful flower markets      brought out from their river warehouse.
    filled with orchids and roses of all       They are like giant, elaborately
    colors and we could smell the              decorated canoes. Forty men wearing
    fragrant lotus blossoms. There were        traditional Thai costumes oar the
    huge warehouses filled with teak           individual boats in races on the Chyao
    logs. There were ornate Thai styled        Phya River. They pass the grandstand
    houses belonging to the wealthy next       saluting the King and Queen of
    to simple houses where children            Thailand with their oars.
    bathed and brushed their teeth in the
    shallow banks of the river.
•   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
•   Our next stop was the magnificent         There are many statues of Buddha,
    Grand Palace built in the eighteen        which are covered in gold leaf. I liked
    century. It looked just like the          seeing the interesting murals painted
    elaborate palace in the movie the         along the walls of the complex. The
    “King and I”, which is actually           murals tell the story of the life of
    banned in Thailand for making fun         Buddha.
    of the King. It is here that Thailand¹s
    King, His Majesty Bhumibol
    Adulyadez, meets heads of states.
    Thailand is a constitutional
    monarchy. It is run by an elected
    parliament headed by the Prime
    Minister who is elected by the King.
    The King is a figurehead, but still
    has a lot of influence in Thailand
    and is loved by the people The
    Grand Palace complex is spread out
    on many acres. There are temples
    with ornate gilded spires guarded by
    exotic statues of mythical beasts.
                                Day Two
•   I visited the Royal Chapel, which is               We also visited nearby Wat Po
    the home of the Emerald Buddha.         which is the oldest and largest of
    Everyone has to take off their shoes    Bangkok¹s more than 300 temples. It is
    and sit on the marble floors with       home to the huge Reclining Buddha, the
    their feet crossed so as not point      largest Buddha in Thailand.
    their feet at the Emerald Buddha,
    which is a sin. The Emerald Buddha
    is smaller than I thought. It is only
    about three feet tall and sits on a
    golden altar in the front of the
    temple. It is not really made of
    Emerald but jasper. The Emerald
    Buddha was wearing its winter coat.
    Three times a year His Majesty the
    King changes the robes of the
    Emerald Buddha to reflect the
    season. There is a scent of burning
    incense, and many Thais pray and
    meditate in this peaceful place.
                               Day Two
•   As we were leaving the Grand            Thai food is very popular in the United
    Palace, I begged my mom to let us       States so I was not surprised at many of
    take a thuk- thuks back to the hotel.   the flavors of the cuisine including
    Thuk-thuks are fast, noisy open -air    coconut, peanuts and coriander. I was
    three wheeled vehicles, She             surprised at how much hotter and
    relented and we had a crazy ride        spicier the food was here.
    through the famous Bangkok traffic.
•   We decided to eat dinner that
    evening at the popular Sala Rim
    Naam one of the six restaurants at
    the Oriental Hotel where we were
    staying. We wanted to see the Thai
    Classical Dance show. We sat
    crossed legged at the low tables
    while waiters served us many
    different kinds of delicious food.
    Including sweet noodles curry and
    prawns.
                              Day Two
•   Soon after dinner the lights dimmed
    and musicians started to play music
    using instruments I had never seen
    before. They were woodwind and
    percussion instruments. The
    musicians sat on the floor and
    played Thai classical music by ear.
    Then the Thai classical dancers
    appeared wearing elaborate
    costumes and headdresses. They
    danced and acted out stories from
    the Ramayana the ancient Thai
    story of good versus evil. There
    were characters representing
    monkey gods and princesses and
    princes.
                              Day Three
•   The next day we went shopping hoping             – Next we visited many of the gem
    to find some famous Thai bargains. Our              and jewelry stores near our hotel.
    first stop was the Jim Thompson Silk       •   Thailand is famous for its rubies and
    Shop. Jim Thompson was the                     sapphires as well as many other
    American who helped establish the          •   precious gemstones. You can choose
    Thai Silk Industry in the 1950¹s. There        from individual stones or beautiful
    were rows and rows of brightly colored
    silks, all of them hand-loomed and         •   jewelry designs at great prices. My
                                                   mom bought some sapphire earrings
    hand-dyed in a mind-boggling range of
    colors, patterns and weights. My mom       •   We visited many small shops selling
    purchased some bright royal blue silk in       Thai handicrafts from bronzeware to
    an elaborate pattern. A tailor took her        baskets, quilts to porcelains. There are
    measurements for a custom made                 also many shops selling antiques such
    dress which would be ready for a fitting       as tapestries and puppets from Burma.
    the next day and ready for pick up the
    following day.
                             Day Three
•   At dawn the next morning we were        •   There were boats selling noodles,
    on our way to the floating market of        fried bananas, fresh coconut milk,
    Damnern Saduak. The market is               dried fish, and rice. It was very
    about one hour from Bangkok.                colorful and I took lots of photos.
    People here live on klongs or canals
                                            •   There was even one boat brimming
    and travel by small boats from one
                                                with durian fruit, the most infamous
    destination to another. The local
                                                fruit in all of Asia. I saw many signs
    market is on the water where
                                                in Thailand saying no durian
    vendors in boats sell everything you
                                                allowed. People say that a ripe
    could want. We arrived early so we
                                                durian tastes something like a
    could enjoy the market before it gets
                                                banana but it smells terrible, like
    too hot. We arrived at the market
                                                Limburger cheese. I don¹t think I
    and hired a boat and driver so we
                                                want to try one.
    could wander among the klongs.
    The waterways were crowded with
    boats paddled by women with their
    unique wide brimmed Thai style
    straw hats for sun protection. The
    boats were laden with all sorts of
    things to sell from beautiful orchids
    to fruits and vegetables.
Floating Market Bangkok
                                  Day Three
•   It was interesting to see life along the Once, the only way to get there from
    klongs. Many children waved to us as     Bangkok was a trip of several weeks on
    they paddled to school on the narrow     elephant back or an exhausting river
    waterways. We looked inside one          journey. In the late 1920¹s a railroad was
    school, which had its doors wide open,   built, but today it is only a one-hour flight
    and we could see young children          by air.
    reciting the Thai alphabet. We passed•a   Chiang Mai is known for its slower way of
    wat and we could see monks in their       life. We rode on a bicycle pulled cart
    orange robes sitting on the floor         through the city to visit the handicraft
    humming in unison. A small boat came      areas. One area makes lacquerware;
    alongside in which the driver cooked us   another produces big, brightly colored
    some delicious Thai noodles, or Phad      paper umbrellas. We visited silk weavers
    Thai.                                     and I saw silk moth larvae being fed
                                              special leaves. When they got big
•   The next morning we left exciting
                                              enough, they would begin spinning their
    Bangkok for a visit to northern Thailand
                                              silk cocoons. In another part of town we
    and the slower paced city of Chiang Mai.
                                              watched silversmiths hammer out bowls
    Chiang Mai was once the capital of a
                                              that look as thin as tissue paper. We
    kingdom called Lanna or “Land of the
                                              visited a Thai celadon pottery factory.
    Million Rice Fields”.
                                              Celadon bowls are light green or blue in
                                              color and they have a cracked glittering
                                              glaze.
                Day Three/Day Four
•   In the evening Chiang Mai has a          At the camp, the mahouts or keepers
    night bazaar that is very interesting.   train the young elephants. The elephants
    Hill tribe people from all around the    lumber down to the river every morning
    area come to the market to sell their    for a bath. They are like mischievous
    wares. Each tribe has their unique       children. Sucking up trunkfuls of water to
    costumes. I bought some jewelry at       drench their mahouts. We watched the
    one stand of the Karen tribe. I think    older elephants demonstrate how to roll,
    the jewelry is made from the horn of     pull and lift logs. I even got to feed a
    a water buffalo. My mom bought a         baby elephant some bananas.
    quilt and a wall hanging.
•    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 Four
•   Our next adventure was a short trek on •       A few children are playing soft music on
    elephant back. We took a 1 ½-hour trek         bamboo flutes. On our return to the hotel
    through the jungle, passing through            we stopped at the famous temple of Doi
    bamboo, mango and litchi trees as we           Suthep on Suthep Mountain overlooking
    stomped up a jungle creek bed. I sat in a      Chiang Mai. It was built in 1383 to house
    creaking, swaying box behind the               a relic of Lord Buddha. It is said that to
    mahout who sat on top of the elephant          find the perfect site the local King
    behind the ears. Along the way the             released a white elephant, which walked
    mahout taught us how to say hello, a           all the way up the mountain, circled one
    little, and thank you in Thai hello is         spot three times, trumpeted his
    Sawasdee, a little is nit noi, and thank       satisfaction then knelt down. A tower of
    you is kap khun krap. The elephant             gold in the courtyard of the temple stands
    walked slowly through the jungle on our        to this day to mark the spot. It is a festival
    way to visit a hilltribe village of the Lisu   day and there are vendors making special
    people. The Lisus live in a small village      foods such as banana fritters. Other
    with a single row of open houses. There        vendors offer wicker baskets of caged
    is no running water or electricity. There      little birds. I buy a basket with a bird and
    are pudgy pigs running around like pets.       set the bird free for good luck.
    Chickens and roosters wander through
    the houses.
Day Four
                                    Day Five
•   From Chiang Mai we flew to the south      in the water and on the shoulders of the water
    of Thailand to the tropical island of     buffaloes were little orange birds. Rubber
    Phuket. Phuket is a beautiful coral-      plantations and fields of sugarcane cover large
    rimmed island of rolling hills and        tracts of the island.
    jungles resting on the waters of the
    Andaman Sea. It is now a popular
    tourist attraction. The first thing I
    noticed as we were landing was how
    bright blue and clear the water was. I
    couldn¹t wait to go swimming!
•   On the way to the hotel we saw
    plantations of coconut trees. We
    watched as men urged monkeys to
    climb the tall trees and throw down
    their harvest of ripe coconut fruit. We
    saw rice paddies with water buffaloes
    standing
                                Day Five
•   We arrived at our hotel which was
    right on the beach and I wasted no
    time in putting on my swim trunks
    and heading for the water. I swam
    out a short way and was amazed at
    the coral that was so close to the
    beach. Swimming around the coral
    were brightly colored tropical fish
    including angelfish and parrotfish. I
    ran out of the water to get my fins
    and snorkel and I spent the rest of
    the afternoon exploring the coral
    reefs to watch the interesting sea
    life including groupers, sea rays and
    schools of small fish of every
    imaginable color and shape. We
    feasted on seafood that evening,
    including huge Phuket lobster and
    crab.
                                 Day Six
•   We took a boat the next morning to      •   On our return to Phuket we visited
    see the unique limestone rock               the Sea Gypsies who are Muslim
    formations near Phuket which were           fishermen who have built their
    once featured in a James Bond               houses on stilts on top of the water
    movie. The amazing green cliffs rise        beyond Phuket Island. There are
    straight out of the sea for hundreds        about 50 houses and buildings on
    of feet. We visited nearby sea caves        stilts.
    and saws hundreds of swallow-like
    birds build their nests on rock walls
    on the caves. Their nests are made
    with the bird¹s saliva. The Thais
    harvest the nests of these birds to
    make bird nest soup, a delicacy in
    Thailand.
                             Day Seven
•   The next few days were spent
    relaxing on the beach with a few
    visits to Phuket town and a
    sightseeing trip to the nearby jungle
    of Ton Sai National Park. It was
    eerie hiking in the dense jungle with
    waterfalls cascading into jungle
    pools and strange sounds of
    animals I couldn¹t recognize.
                                Day Eight
•   We returned to Bangkok after a few
    days in Phuket and the following
    day we were on another 747 back to
    Seattle.
•   I will never forget the exotic sights,
    sounds and smells of Thailand.
    Most of all I will never forget the
    friendly people who always greeted
    me with a “wai” and the word
    Sawasdee or welcome to the “Land
    of Smiles.”
                        TRAVEL TIPS
                               Getting There
•   Getting There: The best way to get
    to Thailand is by using the country¹s
    national carrier, Thai Airways
    International. The airline has great
    package deals from locations
    throughout the United States. When
    you board Thai Airways 747 jumbo
    jet, it is like you are entering the
    country of Thailand. Airhostesses
    wearing traditional Thai silk dresses,
    which were chosen by the Queen
    greet you with an orchid and a “wai”;
    their hands folded in a prayer like
    gesture that bids you welcome.
                       Where To Stay
•   The best hotel to stay at in Bangkok
    is the exotic Oriental Hotel on the
    banks of the Chao Phya River.
    There is a lot of history at this
    beautiful hotel originally built in
    1800. It was the only hotel in
    Bangkok at the turn of the century
    and many rooms have been named
    after the famous authors who have
    visited the Oriental. Including
    Somerset Maughm, Joseph Conrad,
    Mark Twain, and Tennessee
    Williams. It has two swimming
    pools, a workout room and six
    restaurants. One of the restaurants
    has a Thai Classical Dance show.
    Ask for a room with a view of the
    river.
                         When To Go
•   When to go: Thailand¹s climate is
    ruled by monsoons resulting in three
    seasons: rainy (June to October),
    cool and dry (November to
    February), and hot (March to May).
    There are also extremes in weather
    from 95degrees and humid in April
    to 70 degrees in December. The dry
    season is the best time to go from
    November until late April. From May
    to October there is a shower most
    mornings and sun in the afternoon,
    occasionally there are days of
    pouring rain. The cool season is
    from November to February.
    What To Wear/Local Customs
•   What to wear: Thais are            • Local customs: Never touch a Thai¹s
    exceptionally friendly, polite and   head or point your feet at them, this is
    modest. While they make              considered extremely impolite. If
    allowances for tourists, women       someone “wai¹s” to you ( greets you with
    should not wear shorts in public.    hands together while bending their head
    Generally dress is informal and only down) it is proper to return the gesture.
    the fanciest hotels and restaurants Instead of saying Sawasdee for hello or
    require men to wear a jacket.        goodbye, men should say Sawasdee
    Because of the heat and humidity of krab and women should say Sawasdee
    Thailand, loose clothes made of      Ka. It is a small gesture but infinitely
    cotton and natural fabrics are best. more polite in a country that values such
    Bring comfortable shoes.             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.
                       Bibliography

Bond, Jean. “The Kingdom and I.” Town and Country
   December1997: 190-196.
Cummings, Joe Thailand A Travel Survival Kit. Victoria, . Lonely Planet, 1982.
Mitchell, John. A Taste of Thailand. Hong Kong: Asia Books, 1982.
“Thailand” Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Office 98
    Macintosh Edition. 1996
Warren, William, Thailand Seven Days in the Kingdom.
    Singapore: Didier Millet, 1987.

								
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