January 13, 2015
How much do you know about Thailand?
Did you know Thailand is not just one of the most visited countries on the planet (9th in the last available figures 2014 ) but it also can boast the following:
The country sits on a huge supply of natural gas and 75% of Thailand’s electrical generation is powered by it.
Thailand has its own version of Bull Fighting and is a traditionally popular sport among the people in the South of the country
With a population of approx. 67.01 million people, Thailand is the world’s 20th most populous country. It is also the world’s 51st largest country. Slightly larger than Spain.
Bangkok or to give it its full ceremonial name Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit (listen). The name is listed in Guinness World Records as the world’s longest place name, but is known to Thais as Krung Thep Maha Nak (listen)
Even after the political difficulties in 2014, Bangkok still was the world’s second most visited city (after London) according to Master Card, welcoming 16.42 million international arrivals.
Parts of Bangkok are now 1 metre (3 ft. 3 in) below sea level and still sinking. There are fears that the city may be submerged by 2030
The original capital of Siam/Thailand was Ayutthaya until 1767 when it fell to the Burmese, the capital was then moved to Thonburi for approximately 15 years. Bangkok was not established as the countries capital until 1782.
The Thai Language
If you are called ‘You’ while in Thailand, it is not an insult as the simple Thai translation is KHUN and is how Thai’s will attract the attention of another Thai he/she does not know. Khun is actually an ancient word for Mr, Mrs or Miss.
You may also be called a Farang (Thai: ฝรั่ง [faràŋ]) this again is not an insult and is in fact a generic Thai word for someone of European ancestry, no matter where they may come from. The Royal Institute Dictionary 1999, the official dictionary of Thai words, defines the word as “a person of white race”.
There are no “a” or “the” in the Thai language. No distinction between singular and plural or between ‘he’ and ‘she’ Therefore a sister can be called a he and vice versa, also there is no word for niece or nephew and therefore the extended Thai family consists of only sisters and brothers, mums and dads.
Slavery in Thailand was only finally abolished in 1905 by King Chulalongkorn, prior to this an estimated 30% of the population were considered slaves. See more click here.
Road traffic accidents are the 5th largest cause of death in the Kingdom only just ahead of Influenza & Pneumonia.
The kingdom is home to approx. 2000 wild elephants. (Down from an estimated 100,000 a century earlier) There are thought to be 250-300 wild tigers still roaming the country, along with an ever decreasing number of wild leopards and bears, including the Sun Bear and the Asiatic Black Bear.
It is also home to 175 different species of snakes, of which 56 are very venomous, not to mention poisonous spiders and other harmful insects.
Having once roamed across most of Asia, they’re now found in the wild in just four countries – India, Nepal, Bhutan and Indonesia. Poaching for their horns and habitat loss are the two greatest threats to the survival of Asia’s remaining rhinos.
Thirty species of rhino once roamed the planet. Now thousands of years later, there remain just five. Human greed, consumption and ignorance have cost the rhino. The last confirmed wild Rhino in Thailand was almost a century ago with a number of sightings since which are believed to be the Asian tapir
A fish that can walk on land and climb trees is one of the Kingdoms strangest inhabitants, Mudskippers are quite active when out of water, feeding and interacting with one another, for example, to defend their territories.
Thankfully there are very few reported deaths or serious injuries from this abundance of wild life.
Did you know that Thailand was the second country in Southeast Asia with Trams?
The first horse-drawn trams appeared in 1888. But as horse-drawn trams were not very suitable in the tropics, they were replaced in 1893 by electric trams which ran until 1968, with over 48 km of track and over 200 trams
Pictures are from circa. 1890 – 1959
Thailand has the second most deaths in the world due to Lightening Strikes so says National Lightning Safety Institute
The Great Buddha
Did you know that The Great Buddha of Thailand, also known as The Big Buddha, The Big Buddha of Thailand, Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin, and Mahaminh Sakayamunee Visejchaicharn. Located in the Wat Muang Monastery in Ang Thong province, is the tallest statue in Thailand, the ninth-tallest in the world and the 4th largest Buddha on the planet, standing at a height of 92 m.
To put it in prospective the picture here shows Spring Temple Buddha 153 m (incl. 25 m pedestal and 20 m throne) 2. Statue of Liberty 93 m (incl. 47 m pedestal) 3. The Motherland Calls 91 m (excl. pedestal) 4. Christ the Redeemer 38 m (incl. 8 m pedestal)
The Big Buddha of Thailand sits 3 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty, but is almost double its size if it were not for the base and foundation of the New York statue.
Thailand can boast that it has the 20th widest waterfall in the world. Thi Lo Su Waterfall is claimed to be the largest and highest waterfall in Thailand. It stands 250 metres (820 ft) high and nearly 450 metres wide the figures are only approx as It would seem that Tee Lor Su has never been surveyed.
Located in the Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Thi Lo in the local language means waterfall and Su means loud, thus, Thi Lo Su means waterfall that makes a loud noise. This is due to its size and the intense flow of the stream. In Karen “Gaolian”, “Thi Lo Su” means Black Waterfall. So the origin of the name is uncertain.
Corruption, gun battles and a “sound” investment
Dalbergia cochinchinensis, otherwise known as Thailand Rosewood or Siamese Rosewood, is an ancient hardwood found in the countries of the Mekong region, namely Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
The demand for valuable furniture carved from Siamese Rosewood, chiefly in China, has led to an epidemic of illegal logging and trafficking, threatening the species with extinction and resulting in a deadly war with poachers, particularly from the Thai government.
An officially protected species, Saimese Rosewood is used to create ornate furniture, often reproductions of pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasties. While the craze for this furniture is real among affluent communities in China, it is largely driven by speculation. Unfortunately, the more rare the wood becomes, the more valuable the furniture pieces. This has led to comparisons between Siamese Rosewood and gold or other precious metals.
Did you know the World Health Authority rated Thailand as the 3rd most likely country in Asia to contract Rabies?
A few other facts on Rabies
Infection causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, mostly in Asia and Africa.
40% of people who are bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age.
Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths.
Immediate wound cleansing and immunization within a few hours after contact with a suspect rabid animal can prevent the onset of rabies and death.
For more info click here
Thailand is the top alcohol-consuming country in ASEAN with 40 percent of drinkers found in North-East region. See more on Isaan drinks click here
Before the year 1919, those sentenced to death in Thailand were publicly beheaded by sword in an intricate ritual that involved two swordsmen, Buddhist monks, and state officials. This practice was discontinued after August 19, 1919, when Boonpeng Heep Lek was the last person to be executed by decapitation in Siam.
Official numbers reveal that Thailand imports three tons of rat meat from Cambodia a day…yes, a day! This number does not include the amount of rats that are caught and eaten in vast farmlands across the north, northeast, and central parts of the country. The kingdom is ranked third behind Cambodia and Laos when it comes to consuming the meat of the small whiskered creatures.
So how do Thais prefer their rat meat? Mostly, we like them grilled, crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. However, it is also widely found that rat meat is used in spicy Thai soups as well.
And make no mistake! The rat meat does not come cheap. Prices range from 180 to 250 baht per kilogram. So far, there is no known brand name for rat meat traders, but who knows, we could have a whole new business just waiting to be discovered.
We also use rats to find landmines
Are you aware of the extensive landmine problem which exists along the Cambodia, Lao, Malaysian, and Myanmar borders? Thailand’s 700km-long border with Cambodia, used as a base by Cambodian non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in the 1980s and 1990s is the worst effected area. Since 2010 the Kingdom has been using giant trained rats to find mines.
For more on Rats in Thailand click on our post
RICE: Back to being the worlds No 1 rice producer with 10.7 billion tons for 2014. Rice is an extremely important part of Thai life. In fact the Thai word for rice “khaw” is often used to mean food in general and a popular greeting you will hear in Thailand instead of saying “Sawadee Ka” which means “hello” Thai’s will say. “Gin khaw rian” which roughly translated means “have you eaten rice today”
Rice farming in cultivated fields has been grown on the land that is now Thailand for at least five thousand years, one thousand years earlier than in India and China
Thai people consume an average of nearly a pound of rice a day (in various forms besides steamed rice, including rice noodles, desserts, crackers, snack foods, rice liquors, vinegar, etc.), half of the rice Thailand grows is exported. Jasmine rice makes up half of the country’s rice exports, Jasmine rice was only identified in 1952
NATUAL RUBBER: World’s top producer. This runny, milky white liquid oozes from certain plants when you tap into them and is found in tens of thousands of products including road surfaces & wellington boots and has been used by man for over a 1000 years.
CROCODILES: Thailand has the largest crocodile farming industry in the world. With around 700,000 crocodiles raised in 951 farms. The Kingdom exports crocodile hides and boned and boneless alligator meat as well as processed foods including crocodile sausage and ground meat.
Crocodile blood is also in great demand in many Asian markets for its perceived medicinal properties.
It also has roughly 200 wild salt water crocodiles on the loose.
FISH MEAL: The world’s No 3 producer
PALM OIL: 3rd largest producer in the world. The oil is used in cooking, as cooking oil and for soap products.
CENTRIFUGAL SUGAR: 5th largest producer on the planet.
COCONUT OIL: 7 th biggest producer. Used in a hundred and one things from furniture polish to hair conditioner and a wound care.
TAPIOCA: The worlds No One producer. There are 2 types of Tapioca (or ‘Cassava’) Sweat Tapioca is suitable for human or animal consumption and is used as a binding agent, while the other is Bitter Tapioca which is used to produce starch, alcohol and now more commonly ‘ethanol’ it is this second type you will see grown in over 48 provinces in Thailand.
POULTRY: The world’s 10th largest producer.
Orchids: Thailand is the world’s number one orchid exporter. It has more than 1,500 species of orchids that simply grow wild within the Kingdom.
Even with their export achievements detailed above, only forty-nine per cent of Thailand’s labour force is employed in agriculture. This is down from 70% in 1980.
After living in this wonderful country for so many years it was a surprise to me, when researching these facts, just how little I really knew about the place. I hope it has brought both a frown to your face and a smile to your lips.
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