For many decades, in the west, Siam had conjured up many thoughts of an exotic Asian country, with a wealthy king and beautiful women.
Today that country is now known as Thailand but it still conjures up in many of us, thoughts of a tropical paradise and as or its king; he is still there and is the world’s longest reigning monarch.
The king is loved by Thai people who are proud to have a monarchy that helped to make them the only country in Southeast Asia, not to have been colonized by any European Empire.
The girls are o course just as beautiful as Thais as they were as Siamese but they came to world’s attention when, in the 1960s, Thailand relaxed its laws on prostitution to cater for the needs of the American soldiers spending their R & R (Rest and Recuperation) there whilst fighting in Vietnam.
This attention caused Thailand’s capital Bangkok, to get a reputation for being the sex capital of the world and soon the American soldiers were being replaced by sex tourists from all around the world.
Although Bangkok is today, still a popular destination for tourists, the vast majority of them are now visiting as regular tourists and photograph Bangkok’s many beautiful Buddhist Temples and Buddha Statues, especially the huge ones or the ones made of old.
Although perhaps most tourists will visit the Temples in Bangkok, as 95% of Thailand’s population of 67 million are Buddhist, there are many temples throughout the country and some of the more adventurous tourist also visit them.
The vast majority of tourists to Thailand will usually stick to destinations that feature beautiful beaches like Pattaya or Phuket as well as Bangkok but they would be welcomed anywhere by the friendly Thai people. In fact there are only 2 small regions of the country where tourists would probably not be welcomed, the first is in the north where Thailand borders with Myanmar and Laos.
This is area which has become notoriously known as the Golden Triangle and is the center of the Southeast Asia drug trade. The second small region is in the south bordering Malaysia where a relatively small percentage (3%) of Thais are Muslim.
If you do venture away from the main tourist areas, there will be less and less Thais that speak anything other than their own language and so you may want to learn some Thai before leaving. Like Lao, Vietnamese and Chinese, Thai is a tonal language which means that one word can have several meanings, depending on how it is written or what tone is used to say it.
If you think this can be confusing don’t worry you are not alone as even today, scholars are perplexed in how to accurately translate Thai’s written language into English. Although you may more readily pick up the 5 different tones in the spoken words, the 4 different tonal notifications in the written word are a little more confusing and difficult to transcribe into another language.