Collins October 11, at We loaded onto the plane the following day, ready for the trip.
History[ edit ] The earliest identifiably Thai kingdom was founded in Sukhothai inreaching its zenith under King Ramkhamhaeng in the 14th century before falling under the control of the kingdom of Ayutthayawhich ruled most of present-day Thailand and much of today's Laos and Cambodia as well, eventually also absorbing the northern kingdom of Lanna.
Ayutthaya was sacked in by the Burmese, but King Taksin regrouped and founded a new capital at Thonburi. His successor, General Chakri, moved across the river to Bangkok and became King Rama I, the founding father of the Chakri dynasty that rules constitutionally to this day. Known as Siam untilThailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been colonised by a foreign power, and is fiercely proud of that fact.
A bloodless revolution in led to a constitutional monarchy. After a string of military dictatorships and quickly toppled civilian Prime Ministers, Thailand finally stabilized into a fair approximation of a democracy and the economy boomed through tourism and industry.
Above it all presided King Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama IXthe world's longest-reigning monarch and a deeply loved and respected figure of near-mythic proportions. In Septembera swift and bloodless military coup overthrew populist tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra's democratically elected but widely criticized government, exposing a fault line between the urban elite that has ruled Thailand and the rural masses that supported Thaksin.
Thaksin went into exile and a series of unstable governments followed, with the successors of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party and the royalist-conservative People's Alliance for Democracy duelling both behind the scenes and, occasionally, out in the streets, culminating in Bangkok's airports being seized and shut down for a week in November The political scene remains in flux and the direction of the country once the ailing King passes away is a major question mark because of the perceived inadequacy of the current heir.
Politics[ edit ] Thailand is in theory still a constitutional monarchy, with the king as a very highly respected and revered Head of State, but there have been repeated military coups and as ofthe country is run by a military junta which allows no organised political opposition.
A draft new constitution would greatly limit the power of elected governments. In practice, the king's role is largely ceremonial, with the Prime Minister holding the most authority in government. This can include jokes or even very indirect references.
The careful observer will, however, note three seasons: This is the most popular time to visit and, especially around Christmas and New Year's or at Chinese New Year a few weeks later, finding flights and accommodation can be expensive and difficult.
Pleasant enough when sitting on the beach with a drink in hand, but not the best time of year to go temple-tramping in Bangkok. From July to October, although it only really gets under way in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country.
This doesn't mean it rains non-stop, but when it does it pours and flooding is not uncommon. There are local deviations to these general patterns. In particular, the south-east coast of Thailand including Ko Samui has the rains reversed, with the peak season being May-October and the rainy off season in November-February.
People[ edit ] Thailand's people are largely indigenous, although there are significant minorities of ethnic Chinese and assimilated Thai-Chinese throughout the country, Muslims in the south near the Malaysian border and hill tribes such as the Karen and the Hmong in the north of the country.
However, unlike the Buddhist countries of East AsiaThailand's Buddhists follow the Theravada school, which is arguably closer to its Indian roots and places a heavier emphasis on monasticism.
Thai temples known as wats, resplendent with gold and easily identifiable with their ornate, multicoloured, pointy roofs are ubiquitous and becoming an orange-robed monk for a short period, typically the three-month rainy season, is a common rite of passage for young Thai boys and men.
The grander the building, the larger the spirit house, and buildings placed in particularly unlucky spots may have very large ones.
Perhaps the most famous spirit house in Thailand is the Erawan Shrine in Bangkokwhich protects the Erawan Hotel now the Grand Hyatt Erawan - built in on a former execution ground - and is now one of the busiest and most popular shrines in the city.
Some traditional arts popular in Thailand include traditional Thai dancing and music, based on religious rituals and court entertainment.
Famously brutal Thai boxing muay Thaiderived from the military training of Thai warriors, is undoubtedly the country's best known indigenous sport. In addition to the mainland Thai culture, there are many other cultures in Thailand including those of the "hill tribes" in the northern mountainous regions of Thailand e.
Calendar[ edit ] In addition to the Gregorian calendar, Thailand also uses the Thai solar calendar, which is years ahead. Thus, Thai year corresponds to the Western year Thai dates in English are often written as B.
Some Thai holidays are still calculated with the older Thai lunar calendar, so their dates change every year. Nobody celebrates all of them, except for banks, which seem to be closed a lot.
It commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Lord Buddha that all happened on the same day in Buddha period. On this day, Thai Buddhists visit a temple to make merit in the morning and listen to sermons Dhamma by monks. After sunset, candle-lit processions Wian-Tian take place at most temples across the country.
Buddhists carry lighted candles, three incense sticks and flowers, usually lotus flowers and walk around the central chapel three times in clockwise direction among smoke from the candles and incense sticks. At temples in Bangkok and throughout Thailand, Buddhists carry candles and walk around the main shrine three times in a clockwise direction.
It commemorates the first sermon of the Lord Buddha and the first monk of Buddhism. Many Thai Buddhists make merit, give food to monks, donate offering to temples and listen to sermons given by monks.
Ceremonies are held in Buddhist temples throughout Thailand. In the evening, Buddhists perform candle-lit processions Wian-Tian by walking around the main chapel together with carrying candles, three incense sticks and lotus flowers.
This day is also marked as the beginning of Buddhist lent period Vassa that neat wax candles are lit and kept burning during this period. In Ubon Ratchathani province, a Candle Festival is held which there is a parade of candles that each candle is enormous and made up very elaborately and creatively in many different figures.An Email from a Disillusioned Mom By Lynn O'Shaughnessy on March 22, in Admissions, Applying, College Savings, Financial aid, Money, Scholarships I received an email yesterday from a disillusioned mom, who wanted to share what she has learned after receiving her oldest daughter’s financial aid packages.
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