Thailand - The Land of Smiles
Thailand is the most well-liked tourist destination in South-East Asia and has been for decades.
This is because the climate alters throughout the year from hot to cool and even cold, if you want to look for it;
Thai food is world-famous; the assortment of wildlife is broad as is the flora; the diving is excellent and the
people are friendly and hospitable. Thailand is not called the Land of Smiles for nothing.
Thailand - The Land Of Smiles
There are also a great deal of festivals, some of which are religious, which means Buddhist, and
others are not. Thailand has been Buddhist ever since the country came into being in the Thirteen Century, but the
people were Buddhist long before that. Or at least the majority of them were. There are also throw-backs to older
religions just as in the West.
In the West Christmas and Easter were moved to hide pagan festivals, but in Thailand they simply
have the old festivals as well. One of the biggest festivals is Loy Krathong in November (the first full moon in
the twelfth lunar month). Loy Krathong is a delightful festival to placate the goddess or water, Ganga, for using
and abusing (polluting) her.
These days, people still remember the old significance of Loy Krathong ('Floating Boats'), but it
has been taken adopted by lovers too. People float symbolic boats out onto the water and ask the goddess to forgive
them and to grant a wish. Lovers push their boats out together and many believe that if the boats, krathong, float
out side-by-side then they will have a trouble-free year together.
Many women don traditional Thai costumes for the evening, particularly if they are going out for a
meal or to a party. Some men do as well, but not so many.
Also in November is the world-famed Elephant roundup in Surin. The elephant roundup is also popular
with foreigners and Thais alike. The city of Surin is full on this weekend so if you would like to go it is worth
booking your hotel with your travel ticket otherwise you might be stranded. Not that it is cold or likely to
Bridge Over the River Kwae week is in November. The bridge is a moving reminder of the horror that
prisoners of war from all around the world underwent at the hands of the Japanese overlords at the time. More Thais
died than foreigners although Thailand was thought of as 'friendly' by the occupying Japanese.
In December it is the King's birthday and Fathers' Day on the 5th. The king is very extremely well
thought of in Thailand and numerous people will light candles in their garden on the roadside to the king in the
This is a very pretty sight, especially in the villages where street lighting is usually minimal.
Constitution Day is on the 10th and is a bank holiday, which usually means a celebration.
Christmas is feted in the cities by tourists, ex-pats and young Thais although it has no real
religious implication outside the Christian churches in the larger cities.
New Year's Day is huge. There are parties that will last all night, dancing, feasting and
Thailand is a wonderful place to come to in November and December and although it is considered
high season, I am sure that you will find it cheaper to come on holiday to Thailand - The Land of Smiles - than it
is to remain at home in the cold.
by Owen Jones