July 11, 2016
Following on from our previous article on Little known facts about Thailand, which covered all manner of tit bits, including Lightening Strikes, Rabies, Booze, Beheading, Rats, Crocodiles and so much more, we have added another selection of facts and idiosyncrasies that make the Kingdom what it is… a great place to both visit and live.
In ancient civilizations, the removal of the human penis was sometimes used to demonstrate superiority or dominance over an enemy. Armies were sometimes known to sever the penises of their enemies to count the dead, as well as for trophies. The practice of castration (removal of the testicles) sometimes involved the removal of all or part of the penis, while there are many cases through-out the world of cheating men losing their crown jewels, here in the Kingdom for the almost last 50 years we have seen what can possibly discribed as a epedemic of wifes and girlfriends resorting to this very close shave.
There is a common Thai saying, ‘I better get home or the ducks will have something to eat,’ while this may seem a nonsensical proverb to many, here in Thailand this common attempt at humour, is immediately understood at all levels of society as it speaks of retribution, pain and suffering.
For more on this painful retribution click here.
The Third Gender and their acceptance into Thai Society
The Ministry of Public Health considered homosexuality and choosing to be a Kathoey a mental illness until 2002. In 2011, the military revised the language for 3rd gender exemption from conscription from ‘‘severe mental illness’’ to ‘‘gender does not correspond with the sex at birth’’.
In the First week of April each year the Kingdom holds its ‘Draft Pick’ for those Thai men who have obtained the age of 21, while those medically unfit still need to attend, they are not excepted into Thailand’s armed forces and are sent on their way, as are over 60% of all those attending who go through the procedure of drawing straws, cards or small balls. Those pulling black are immediately enlisted.
This yearly event is attended not only by the would be new recruits, but also a mass of anxious relatives and friends who look on waiting for their sons and love ones to draw the right colour. Each new choice brings with it an almost immediate riotous applause or if its BLACK then groans and tears, while the Lady boys of the same age who are all required to attend can walk away unfazed as they do not face the ordeal of the draft.
Any-one who tries to avoid conscription face a punishment of up to three years in jail and are also unable to work in the civil service or with some companies; the statute of limitations on this offence lasts for 10 years.
In July 2016 the Thai government announced that it will look to provide separate accommodation for those ‘Lady Boys’ who are incarcerated for crimes.
Public Demonstrations of Arrests
The press across the Kingdom in all its guises, will reguly show pictures of people who have been caught for all manner of criminal acts, this maybe strange to most non-Thai’s, but in part it is all about the intrinsic and deeply woven act of Saving or Losing Face, which you will see all around you here.
This public demonstration serves to Lose Face for the felon and Save Face for the judicial system which has caught them.
The below was an article from the national press released in April 2012 and reads: ถ.ข้าวสาร เวลานี้จนท.ควบคุมชายที่จับหน้าอกผู้หญิงได้2ราย ถูกนำมายืนมีป้ายแขวนคอ”ผมชอบจับนมผู้หญิง”
Loosely translated: On Khao San Road, a man captured by police for touching breasts had to stand with a sign stating, “I like to touch breasts.”
Animal Facts on Thailand
Did you know Thailand is home to the world’s largest fish, the 12-meter Rhincodon typus, otherwise known as the whale shark. The best place to see this slow-moving filter feeding shark is reportedly is Just north of legendary party island Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Tao is famous for its cheap diving. Whale sharks are often spotted around Chumphon Pinnacle, just a 15-minute boat ride from the island.
While they’ve been spotted all year-round, the best time to see and if you are very lucky swim alongside these placid fish is from April to June when the plankton is at its greatest.
Press reports of Ghosts, Ghouls and Evil Spirits
Spirit worship is believed to be the oldest form of religion in the world, and when Buddhism came to Thailand in 228 BC, the religion developed alongside the ancient spirit worship that was already in place. Today many of the beliefs remain intertwined with Buddhism and form part of everyday life for the Thai people, so much so that the press in the Kingdom report many stories of instances where Ghosts, Spirits and the Supernatural have caused mayhem. Included here are a list of stories that made the headlines, featuring a wrath of dead chickens, using T-shirts to ward killer ghosts, stripping the clothes of villagers and Demonic Possession and the use of ‘Sand Porn’.
Animal Facts on Thailand
Thailand is home to the world’s smallest bat, the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai), also known as the bumblebee bat, was only discovered in the 1970’s and is only found in western Thailand and southeast Burma, where it occupies limestone caves along rivers. It has a reddish-brown or grey coat, with a distinctive pig-like snout. Colonies range greatly in size, with an average of 100 individuals per cave. The bat feeds during short activity periods in the evening and dawn, foraging around nearby forest areas for insects. Females give birth annually to a single offspring.
Although the bat’s status in Burma is not well known, the Thai population is restricted to a single province and may be at risk for extinction.
Colour is every-where in the Kingdom
Why is the colour Yellow worn by so many people to show their respects to their King?
Although only a minority of Thai identify as Hindu today, superstition, faith and astrology go hand in hand for the majority of the Thai people and many Hindu gods such as Indra and Brahma are still worshiped across the Kingdom. Ancient Hindu rituals are still practiced which include customs such as marriage ceremonies. One of the well known aspects of Hindu mythology is that each day is watched over by a particular god who also represents a particular celestial body.
In the Thai tradition, each of these gods (celestial bodies) is represented by a particular colour, and so each day of the week is allocated both a lucky and unlucky colour. These same colours are also associated for our birthday. For example, King Bhumibol our present King was born on Monday, so through-out the Kingdom on his birthday (5th Dec) you will see a sea of vibrant yellow through-out the Kingdom.
Thailand Past & Present
The first picture shows how a lot of soda drinks are sold by street vendors today, while the second shows how the same drinks were sold in the past in empty condensed milk cans attached to a rope-handle made of banana leaf
The need to eat the strongest food available
The people of the ‘Land of Smiles’ love their food and the stronger the smell and taste the better, here you will find a huge assortment of food that can leave your senses battered and in tatters. Foor here in Thailand fish, bats, and Crocodiles along with 1000 year old eggs do their best to bite back. Durian, aka, the king of fruits. Loathe it of love it (It is barred from many flights, trains, hotels and closed areas due to its pungent smell) this football-size fruit with its outer spiny armour-like casing, protects the inner 10 or so seeds; the size of dates, each covered with a thick, custardy, off-white “meat”, this is the only edible part of the fruit and is a cultural icon in Southeast Asia as it is a treasured and eagerly anticipated food.
Durians have a limited season and an extremely short shelf life and so are expensive, and purchasing one is treated by its devotees as a solemn, smelly ritual: only by odor can you determine whether a durian is truly ripe. Not surprisingly for so valued a fruit, all parts of the durian tree are used in folk medicine, with the flesh itself being regarded as an aphrodisiac.
Not every-one is a fan of this acquired fruit with some even going as far as to write:
It tastes like completely rotten mushy onions – Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods
Like eating raspberry blancmange in the lavatory – Anthony Burgess, author
Its odour is best described as pig shit, turpentine and onions garnished with a dirty gym sock – Richard Sterling, food writer
Your breath will smell as if you’ve been French kissing your dead grandmother –Anthony Bourdain, chef and TV host
Most of us who have tried Thai food will know of its rich textures and aromatic qualities that leave you wanting more…….listed here are a selection of dishes that can leave your nose and taste buds wanting a lot less……..
Where Cute and Cudlly meets Mean and Evil
While the world may have its Disney land and its other amusement parks we in Thailand like to do things our way and while they may have their cute and cuddly animals, we here in the Land of Smiles have our ‘Hell Parks’ depicting you guessed it HELL. There are in total three parks that we know of, all of them are situated in the grounds of temples and are full of statues illustrating in graphic detail what awaits those that do not follow the simple rules of Buddhism. For more on these Hell Parks and the Buddhist belief in Hell click here
Did you know Thailand has the 4th longest bridge in the World?
The Bang Na Expressway was the longest until 2000, running 54,000 metre (Guinness: Longest Road Bridge, 2000) but since then has been overtaken by three bridges all built in China and all high-speed rail links. The longest being the 164,000 mile; Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge
Thailand produces the most expensive coffee in the world and some bizarre booze
Recently Black Ivory coffee became one of the world’s most expensive brews, at approx… $1,100 per kilogram. Not to be bettered by the Kopi Luwak (or Civet Coffee) the Thai’s have their own ground dwelling and much bigger alternative to the Asian Palm Civet, in the guise of rescued elephants. Both animals naturally refine the coffee cherries (which will ultimately become coffee beans) as they pass through their digestive systems, sometime later these cherries are retrieved from the animal’s droppings. The final result is a smooth taste with just the hint of Dumbo thrown in.
If you like your drink with Bite (or a sting) then why not try a shot of snake whiskey or better still spider whiskey a frightening selection can be found within the country and if the idea has tickled your taste buds take a look at some more ideas and why not stock up for Christmas?
One of the pleasant surprises you’ll find once here in Thailand is the bizarre and wonderful assortment of traditional and new beverages on offer. From the newish and surprisingly refreshing Dr. Pepper Shandy (yep you got it, that would be half DP with half Singha beer) and the popular tipple kaw nam lac a combination of orange juice with chillies and rum. For more see our post Drinks of Isaan
Thailand can boast some spectacular and strange caves
Thailand is home to numerous caves providing a myriad of difficulties for cavers and numerous breathtaking backdrops, a good number of caves in the country are also home to Buddhist shrines plus a host of spirits. Including the “Princess Cave” or Tham Phra Nang Nok, where phallic symbols are left by the local fisherman, to ensure a plentiful catch and protect them from the dangers at sea .
The picture below shows a caver gazing at a stone formation in Tham Lum Khao Ngu (Snake Mountain Cave) in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, which houses the world’s tallest cave column (62m or 200ft tall).
Did you know that One-tenth of all animal species on Earth live in Thailand?
Taboos and Royalty
Did you know that no one is permitted to touch the King or Queen of Thailand (excluding those given their majesties permission or the leaders of foreign states) This ancient rule is strictly enforced to the point where in 1880, HM Majesty the Queen Sunandha Kumariratana, and her daughter drowned in a boat accident, because she could not swim and none of the witnesses could touch her to help her to safety
Thailand has the world’s most expensive religious artifact in the 5.5 ton solid gold – The Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit in Bangkok is valued at $225 million
Did you also know there are 223 Known Snakes in Thailand?
The Kingdom is home to the world’s longest poisonous snake, the king cobra. The cobra can reach more than 18 feet long, and one bite from it can kill an elephant. Thailand is also home to what may be the world’s longest snake, the reticulated python. The largest one ever found stretched over 33 feet (10 m) from end to end
Thailand can boast that it has the world’s hairiest girl.
The 17-year-old Thai girl Supatra Sasuphan was awarded the honour in 2011, when still at school Supatra stated at the time being given a Guinness World Record for her hair has helped her become extremely popular. She further added ‘I’m very happy to be in the Guinness World Records! A lot of people have to do a lot to get in,’ she said. ‘All I did was answer a few questions and then they gave it to me.’
Supatra is one of just 50 known sufferers of Ambras Syndrome – caused by a faulty chromosome – to be documented since the Middle Ages. Before the disease was understood, sufferers were branded ‘werewolves.’
Cant see the wood for the trees
A century ago, northern Thailand was covered with dense hardwood forests. Today only about ¼ of the country remains wooded. Thailand has the second-highest rate of forest loss in Southeast Asia. Only Singapore has lost more. Today, logging is banned in Thailand
You could face jail by lighting up
BANGKOK: A popular online police page has confirmed penalties for the possession of E-cigarettes. Users could be jailed for five years and producers face 10 years inside for flouting the law.
The advice from policewoman Sirirat Piankaew on the “Muat Ka” page comes in the wake of the justice minister’s call for amphetamines to be taken off the narcotics list. Much confusion still reigns about the legality of e-cigarettes, reported Daily News.
Sirirat said that while there is actually no law forbidding the possession of E-cigarettes they fall into a category of goods that have not had tax levied on them and their possession therefore is illegal. Offenders could face five years jail or a fine of four times the value of the goods or both jail and fine.
The importation, sale and production for sale of E-cigarettes is also illegal with offenders liable to 10 year sentences for production and sale and a fine of five times the value of the goods or both. This law has been on the statute since December 2014. All services associated with the smoking and promotion of E-cigarettes are also banned.
And there you have it 21 strange and hopefully interesting things to find in this magical land
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