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Professionals and
Long-Term Residents

By Alan Dawson
³ PART 3 ³

º º
º (C) º
º Copyright 1989 º
º º
º Material in this publication is copyright in Thailand and º
º throughout the world. Private use of this material is hereby º
º granted to the user of any computer Bulletin Board service in º
º in Thailand. Material may not be changed, printed or included º
º in any commercial publication except with the written consent º
º of the author. º
º º

| NOTE |
* *
| This publication is a collection of notes and ideas that I |
* gathered over a period of years. It is designed primarily *
| for foreign visitors, for those who intend to stay for a |
* while, or for people here for a while who are interested *
| in learning something beyond what the guide books offer. |
* *
| Thais and foreigners who have been in Thailand for a while |
* will know most of the background already. But I hope they *
| too will pick up the odd fact -- and enjoy the various |
* sections on recommendations. *
| |
* Alan Dawson *
| April 1989 |
* *


Thailand's laws on personal exports are liberal, with two major
The first concerns antiques, which by law are items more than 100 years
old. It is up to the exporter to prove age. Permits from the Fine Arts
Department are necessary for antiques. These are easy to obtain, but the
process takes about 2-3 weeks.
The second problem concerns Buddha images. Because of reports that
foreigners were not treating Buddha images with due respect, all export of
images is forbidden by law. The exception for non-Buddhists is a small
image worn on a chain around the neck. Practicing Buddhists may take one
Buddha image with them upon leaving the country. Enforcement of the ban on
Buddha images is sporadic. But customs officials may seize Buddhas, without
recourse or compensation.
In practice, few bags are inspected upon departure from Thailand.
Although it is not recommended, some foreigners have managed to take out
both antiques and Buddha images simply by putting them in their suitcases
before departure.


Marijuana, opiates and heroin are commonly available in Thailand.
However, penalties for possession, use and sale of marijuana and narcotics
are heavy. In addition, when the Thai courts and jails finish with a
foreigner, they provide his name to Interpol, meaning years of harassment at airports throughout the world -- and deport him.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana is commonly punished by about
two weeks to three months in jail. Major marijuana sellers look at prison
terms averaging about 10 years.
Possession of less than 100 grams of heroin or other opiates or narcotics
is routinely punished with a jail term of between 5 and 15 years.
Possession of more than 100 grams of heroin or other narcotics is prima
facie proof that the possessor is a dealer. The maximum penalty is death,
although the death penalty is rare. Prison sentences of between 25 and 50
years are the norm.
(NOTE: Legislation under discussion may allow for prisoner exchanges in
the future. However, anyone convicted by a Thai court must serve the first
eight years of his prison sentence in Thailand.)
Most of the old stories of widespread and public use of marijuana in
Thailand are just that: stories. In any case, anyone caught using
marijuana, opiates, heroin or other narcotic will serve jail time and gain
an international criminal record.

And surely it is obvious that anyone caught smuggling marijuana or heroin
into Thailand is imprisoned for extraordinary stupidity.


Thailand's nightlife has helped make the country famous. Although
tourist officials try to play up more positive aspects of their country,
nightlife which features a wide selection of "available" young women and men
is still a part of life in Thailand.
World-famous Patpong Road in Bangkok has about 100 bars of various types.
In recent years, the live show has come to Patpong, although generally in a
more naive and less crass form than in Europe. There are three other bar
areas aimed at the foreign community in Bangkok: Soi Cowboy, the Nana
Entertainment Plaza and Washington Cinema Square. Bars in these areas are
all open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and many open in the daytime as well. Most
have entertainment of some sort, ranging from small combos through go-go and
live shows.
There are also a large number of massage parlors and night clubs,
catering mainly to a local clientele, but open to foreigners.
The major gay bar areas for foreigners are around the Ambassador Hotel
and in the Silom-Surawong-Rama IV Roads area.
Open pimping is virtually unknown in areas frequented by foreigners. The
women and men who work in the bars get a small commission on drinks that
customers buy for them. To leave work early, they must pay the bar a "fine"
which usually ranges from 100-300 baht. The customer then must negotiate a
price for the worker, and the bar gets none of that.
In general, a customer pays for his drinks upon leaving a bar. In the
meantime, his bills are put in a cup in front of him or her. The pay-and-
drink style of the West is rare in Thailand.
A few rogue bars in the Patpong area, all second-floor "live show"
establishments, cheat customers by levying a hidden cover charge, thus
running the cost of a beer as high as $40 or more. Local residents have
placed them upon a black list. As of this writing, the bars to avoid are:
The Playboy; the Playmate; The Rio; Thigh Bar, and Jugs. Because
establishments often change hands and policy, it is wise to check with a
resident before a raunchy night out on Patpong. Other Patpong bars, and bars
in the other areas, charge only for drinks and cheating is rare.
In any dispute in a bar over the service, drinks or charges, do not
attempt a violent solution. Kick-boxing is the national sport. Stay calm,
and insist on calling the Tourist Police. Second choice is to go with a bar
employee to the nearest Tourist Police station. If this doesn't work, pay
the bill and then find a Tourist Policeman. At the moment, these worthies
delight in returning to the bar and forcing the manager to return the
customer's money.
Foreign women of any nationality are welcome in Patpong and other bar
areas. In the past, those venturing out on their own have found the staffs
at all bars highly protective in the rare cases of harassment by drunken
Drink prices in foreign-type bars are about $2, with say a 50-cent leeway
either way. Drinks for the male or female employees are about the same, but
often are not alcoholic.


Sports facilities in Thailand are good. There are tennis courts
throughout the country. Facilities for other racket sports, such as squash,
are mostly in Bangkok. The capital has many golf courses.

Many Thai sports edge towards the violent. The ultimate example is the
most popular spectator spectacle, Thai Boxing, a particularly lethal martial
art officially known as Muay Thai. There are fights every night in Bangkok.
On Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights, bouts are at Rajdamnern
Stadium near the Parliament building. On Tuesday, Friday and Saturday
evenings, the venue is Lumpini Stadium on Rama IV Road, near Lumpini Park.
Lumpini has a matinee on Saturday, and Rajdamnern has a card late Sunday
afternoon as well as the evening matches. Bouts at night normally start at
6 p.m. and wind up around 10 p.m. The major bout of the night is the fifth
on the card, usually around 8 p.m. Admission price depends on the quality
of the bouts, but average around 500 baht for a ringside seat.
(LATE NOTE: Lumpini Stadium went into reconstruction in February, 1989.
All bouts were rescheduled into Rajdamnern during the process.)
Other fighting sports involve non-humans. Cocks, fish, beetles and
crickets battle it out, often to the finish and often accompanied by
betting. Bull fighting is popular in the far south, but it is a far cry
from the Spanish tradition. Here, two bulls charge each other until one
grows weary. Seldom are the animals injured seriously.
Around April, the monsoon winds begin to cool off the late afternoons,
and out come the kites in just about any open space. Kite fighting is far
more exciting than it sounds. Often, teams of up to 20 or even more
maneuver "male" and "female" kites through the skies, trying to down the
opponent. The "male" kite works on size and brute strength. The glass-
imbedded string of the "female" works at downing the "male." Sanam Luang,
Bangkok's downtown parade grounds, features a weekend carnival
of kite fighting each spring.
Horses race on Sunday afternoons, alternately at the Royal Bangkok Sports
Club (Henri Dunant Road) and the Royal Thai Turf Club (Phitsanuloke Road).
Admission is usually 100 baht, and the minimum bet is 50 baht. Most races
feature locally-bred horses known as Thai Ponies, much smaller than the
thoroughbreds of the West.
10-pin bowling is popular everywhere. Most towns have lanes. There is
an ice-skating rink in Bangkok with skates available for rent.
The most popular place for jogging is Lumpini Park. Vehicles are banned
from the area, and roads around the park are marked for distance. Most
hotels have health clubs, with short-term membership for guests.
Any beach area, of course, features water sports. Scuba diving has
become popular in Thailand, and courses are available for novices at most
resorts. Water-scooters, sailboats and sailboards are available at the
major beach resorts. Para-sailing, about 200 baht per tour, is also a major
attraction, particularly at the Pattaya resort south of Bangkok.
Arrange a relaxing day of fishing at any beach resort. Big ones aren't
guaranteed, but few return empty-handed. Serious deep-sea fishing is
available through clubs in Bangkok or at the major resorts.
Trekking is popular in the northern provinces of Thailand, with most
treks arranged through agents in Chiang Mai. Note that it is foolhardy to
go trekking along, because of the possibility of running into armed groups
or gangs in certain areas. A guide won't cost much, and his knowledge could
save a nasty situation.

A Day Off

There are a large number of one-day activities in and around Bangkok,
from just exploring the city by taxi and on foot, through organized trips to
the countryside. Special activities are covered in a column in the Sunday
Bangkok Post called "What's On," while residents often have their own
sources of information and ideas if asked.
The State Railways of Thailand offers one-day trips to the Bridge on the
River Kwai area and to Hua Hin beach south of Bangkok. They are so cheap
that it's usually more expensive to get to and from the train station than
the cost of the ticket.
A day at the beach in Pattaya is easily taken by bus (100 baht return,
air-conditioned) from the terminal at Sukhumvit Soi 63
Most tour agents offer half-day and full-day tours of the Bangkok area
for prices ranging from 100 to 500 baht. These are worthwhile early in any
Bangkok stay, because they give you the lay of the land.
The Oriental Hotel's day-long river trip to the old capital of Ayutthya
is a favorite. The trip is made in one direction by bus, and the other by
the luxurious Oriental Queen river cruiser. Full tour and lunch for around
800 baht.
Another way to get up and down the Chao Phya River is via the water
taxis. You can catch one near the Oriental Hotel and, for a minuscule 7
baht maximum fare each way, spend a couple of hours going up the river and a
couple more coming down. Get off wherever you want, wander around, shop and
have lunch.
Private tour boats for about 150 baht an hour are available near the
Oriental or at other locations for a tour of the old klongs (canals) of
Bangkok and, particularly, the old city of Thonburi. Just half a mile off
the Chao Phya, and you're 50 years back in time, where the markets, salesmen
and school kids all commute by water.
A full Saturday or Sunday can easily be spent at the vast Weekend Market
at Chatuchak Park, near the Central Plaza Hotel. Virtually everything is
available here, from antiques (real and new) to animals; from clothing to
delicious fried beetles. A photographer's delight and a browser's dream.
To the south of Bangkok is the world's largest crocodile farm, along with
a unique zoo of albino animals and other attractions. Not far away is the
Ancient City, a sort of cultural Thailand in miniature, and far less crass
than it sounds. You can get there by taxi -- it's next to the suburban
Bangkok city called Samut Prakan (more often called Pak Nam).
The National Museum, in an old palace, is a huge and interesting
building. Admission is free on Sunday, and it is closed Monday and Friday.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, there are free tours, in English,
conducted by museum volunteers, normally housewives.

Culture Shock

For all the tall buildings, hamburger joints and Mercedes around,
Thailand still bills itself in the tourist ads as "the most exotic country
in Asia." Maybe it is; maybe it isn't. But there are a few things that are
done differently in Thailand.
This has become known worldwide by the generic term "culture shock."
This "disease" is more common than the Bangkok Belly. It affects most
people; is recurrent, and seldom if ever disappears completely.
Experts claim that by the age of 16, a child has learned just about
everything he ever will learn about manners, morals and social interchange.
The Thailand visitor and resident from abroad proves the experts wrong.
A whole new education begins when one strolls out of the 747 into this country.
The key to survival is simple tolerance. Everyone claims he has it, but
a new country tests the statement severely. Those who come to love Thailand
and survive the differences are generally tolerant people. And they find
that Thais are among the most tolerant of all.
Every country and culture has a few strong points -- and weak ones as
well. The key to survival in any new country is tolerance. Bear in mind
that contrast in behavior between nationalities is usually not a question of
right or wrong. It's a question of diversity.
For example, newcomers to Thailand are often shocked to see perfectly
macho males holding hands as they walk along a street. But innocent
touching is part of the Thai culture. On the other hand, members of the
opposite sex showing such affection are considered low class or worse.
If a Western waitress smiled, bowed and expressed sincere thanks for a
tip, the customer would respond. In Thailand, a quick smile is more than
enough in return.
In most relationships, especially casual ones, age decides the better
person. The older person, no matter how boorish and obviously stupid, is
"big brother" and is addressed as such. In seemingly equal relationships,
the woman defers to the man in public. This is just the way things are.
The exceptions -- and there are many -- are subtle and learned from
experience, not from a book.
Here are just a few of the culture shock differences that the visitor
will find as he proceeds to find his place in Thailand.
There are no female streetwalkers, but there sure are some males who look
like girls. They are known in Thai as katoey, and are generally well
tolerated. The streetwalking kind has become a rare breed in Bangkok,
thanks to police harassment. But in Pattaya and in the Chiang Mai night
market, for example, there are a lot. Most are exceedingly dishonest, and
many are vicious. Give them a miss.
In the south of Thailand, you may see bullfights advertised. That's what
they are -- fights between two bulls in a ring. A spectacle, and there is
heavy betting.
Trekking in northern Thailand is popular and a lot of fun. But there are
a myriad of political, drug-running and criminal gangs around. Go with a
guide and avoid a possibly nasty climax to your tour of the hills.
If your mind is absolutely set to score some dope, consider this. The
police provide marijuana and narcotics to informers to sell. The informers
receive a reward for turning in a buyer. Among the most common stool
pigeons are taxi drivers and room boys in second-class hotels. Entrapment
is not a legal defense in a Thai court.
Unfortunately for the friendly Thai people, there are organized gangs of
robbers who work the long-distance buses and trains. They strike up a
conversation, and offer food or drink spiked with sleeping pills. The
victim goes to sleep; the gang walks off with his valuables. Sadly,
therefore, you should be wary of accepting hospitality from new friends
while travelling.
Except in large department stores, bargaining over prices is a way of
life in Thailand. Virtually everything is negotiable in value -- except
food and drink.
Women should never look a Buddhist monk in the face. It is considered a
temptation to a religious man, and put that way it is an obvious no-no. The
modest dress expected in a temple, on the other hand, shows respect for the
religion. Since no one will press you to go to a temple, take the choice of
showing that respect or stay away.
Overstaying your visa is not a major offense in Thailand. You can pay a
100-baht-a-day fine to immigration officers as you leave the country.
On the other hand, staying more than 89 days in Thailand means that you
will need a tax clearance before you may leave. You should get advice, but
it is sometimes cheaper to leave Thailand for a day and return, rather than
to go beyond the 90-day mark in one fell swoop.
Souls and soles are important in Thai culture. The soul is in the head,
so don't touch Thais there -- not, at least, on top of the head. The soles
of the feet are the lowliest part of the body, so never point them at
If you drop a coin, don't stamp on it. That's the King's picture there,
and many Thais take offense when they see a foot placed voluntarily on His
Majesty's image.

There is one wonderful bit of tolerance by the Thai people. If you don't
like their customs and differences, they will respect to the hilt your right
to take a hike. Most foreign residents will contribute to your taxi fare to
the airport any time you feel you can't respect the way things are done in


You just don't find many of the sort of people who set Guinness records
in Thailand. It takes a certain type of temperament to hold the kind of
records you find in that book these days.
Thais don't go in much for classy world-class events like long-distance
spitting, for example. The weirdness necessary to generate a personality
who makes a living fast-downing raw eggs is generally missing in this
Thank goodness for that. Few Thai mothers would take pride in discussing
"my son, the long-distance kissing champion."
Now this doesn't mean that there aren't some legitimate oddballs out
there. A Thai lad went out to Happyland several years back and sat on the
loop-the-loop roller coaster for more than three days to get his name into
He got into the book for the longest roller coaster ride. Many thought
his entry should have been under lengthiest resistance to throwing up under
Most of the loony doings in Thailand have distinctly local flavor to
them, and the Guinness people don't certify strictly national events.
Thus, the winner of the loudmouths' husband-calling event a couple of
years back had to settle for municipal notoriety. Roger Crutchley, who
writes a humor column in the Sunday Bangkok Post would have the Miss
Watermelon beauty contest in Guinness' footnotes at the very least. Book
doyen Ross McWhirter won't have it, and that's that.
Thailand does in fact rate a few mentions in the Guinness Book of World
Records. The official name of Bangkok is the world's longest, the record
book notes, although it gives neither the Thai version nor its English
translation. Maybe it couldn't find anyone who knew.
At the city's bicentennial in 1982, the Thai television pool had to hire
a woman who could recite the full name of Bangkok without looking at a cue
card. The intimation was that she was the only person in Thailand who could
do that.
No one has heard of her since she had her 15 minutes of fame. She didn't
make the book herself.
A couple of editions of Guinness also mentioned the solid-gold Buddha now
displayed at Bangkok's Wat Traimit as the most valuable known religious
There were objections to the wording of this. Many religious objects
have greater value, some people argued, because of a combination of their
antiquity and spiritual value.
Many in Thailand maintain that there is a case to be made for the Emerald
Buddha as the most valuable such image in the world. Its place in the
hearts of Buddhists in this country and abroad make it one of the few truly
priceless objects on the planet.
But you'll look in vain through years of record books to find the Emerald
Buddha. Jaded tourist writers are always delighted to point out that it is,
after all, not made of emerald.
The cynical, in fact, might plump for the Buddha image at Wat Traimit to
be entered under a different category entirely -- World's Clumsiest Crane
Operator. Its existence was revealed, after all, only when this character
accidentally dropped and cracked what officials thought was a fairly common,
Ayutthya-style stucco Buddha.
Guinness also manages to leave out the category of World's Largest
Reclining Buddha.

Now, here is one that will be a leader on the Thai version of Trivial
Pursuit when someone gets around to writing this before the copyright law is
finally enacted.
The obvious answer for Thailand, as even most of the tourists know, is
the impressive, 46-meter reclining Buddha at Bangkok's Wat Po.
Ang Thong, whose rice fields and mills attract few Thai tourists let
alone foreigners, has a similar image that's exactly 50 meters from head to
toe. Take an extra turn if you knew that.
Far better known is the world's largest Buddha stupa. This is the Phra
Pathom Chedi at Nakhon Pathom, a short drive from Bangkok. The 120-meter
structure of dome and spire houses a footprint of the Lord Buddha as its
"The Killing Fields," the 1986 Oscar-winning movie, contained umpteen
shots of the Phra Pathom Chedi. Thanks to the makers of the movie, a
generation of world citizens thinks the stupa is in Kampuchea.
But anyway, you won't find it in Guinness. One must make room, presumably,
for the world's largest cake.
Here is a legitimate Thai record, held by the pastry chefs and a hell of
a large group of common laborers at the Central Plaza Hotel. Although
eaters said it was delicious, detractors claim the record itself is pretty
tasteless for a country striving to become "newly industrialized."
Humbug to them.
From the sublime to the slime. Thailand is home of the world's largest
In 1967, an impressive salt-water croc courted a large fresh-water lady.
Not long after their marriage, a large baby popped out of his egg. He
surveyed the Samut Prakarn crocodile farm and liked what he saw.
Today, that baby is five meters long and weighs 1,100 kilograms. He most
assuredly is not seen participating in the crocodile wrestling show. Not
much you can do with a "tame" 1,100-kg croc, except wait until he dies and
stuff him. Certainly you wouldn't want to try anything funny on him while
he is alive.
One animal record that Thailand holds proudly -- and it is noted in
specialist literature here and there -- is home of the world's smallest
It's the Kitthi's hog-nosed bat. It's half the size of an adult's thumb
and -- so far as anyone can discover -- lives only in the system of caves
along the Kwai rivers in upper Kanchanaburi province.
The bat is named after Kitthi Thonglongia, who discovered a colony of the
tiny creatures about 15 years ago.
The Mother Nature who looks after Thailand also contributed to another
world record you won't find in Guinness.
Back in the far reaches of history when Thailand had trees (few people
still alive remember those days), craftsmen chose one especially fine
specimen for a noble purpose.
The tree "lives" today as the Royal Barge Suphannahong, in which His
Majesty the King rides when the Royal Barges are officially used. It is the
world's largest dugout -- nearly 45 meters long and more than three meters
And Thailand gets no mention by Guinness on what the book finds an
otherwise interesting subject -- the original Siamese twins.
Today, a large number of people take the car or little train spur out of
Bangkok to Samut Songkran. They sit beside the river, scarf up a delicious
seafood lunch, make a few buys on the local economy and head back to
When Thailand was called Siam, Samut Songkran was called Mae Klong, after
that river. And it was while little Chan and Eng were swimming in the Mae
Klong years ago that they were "discovered" and quickly taken off for
display in Europe and America.
Chan and Eng are famous as the duo who put "Siamese twins" into the
English language.
But surely they should be remembered as holders of an indisputable record
they are never credited with.
The two men between them fathered 39 children despite the obvious
Guinness doesn't mentions this in its records section. Maybe because of
Or maybe because they needed room to list the current holder of the world
championship belching contest.
Many Bangkokians, of course, are secretly outraged at Guinness for not
including their city under the unrecognized title as traffic-jam champion.
This title seems indisputable. Maybe Guinness will get around to it next

For Your Convenience

Standard office hours in Thailand are 8:30-4:30. Large stores, such as
department stores, usually open at 10 a.m. and close in the early evening.
Private shops usually stay open well into the evening.

BANKS are open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Money-
changing and ATM facilities are often open into the evening. By law, ATM
machines must close by 10 p.m.

TIPPING is expected by foreigners at tourist-oriented facilities. In
hotels and large restaurants, there is usually a 10% surcharge to the bill,
and tipping is not necessary. A one-baht tip is an insult.

TAXIS and the three-wheeled samlors do not have working meters. It is
necessary to bargain the fare before entering the vehicle. Do not tip taxi
drivers, because the tip is built into the bargained fare.

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE RADIO is available most of the day on FM 107. Other
stations including Radio Thailand (97) have English broadcasts at certain
times of the day. Radio newscasts are the least reliable way of getting
your news.

There are two ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NEWSPAPERS, the Bangkok Post and The
Nation, both of which are morning journals. The Nation prints a tabloid,
afternoon edition. Asian-edited versions of the Wall Street Journal and
the International Herald Tribune are flown to Thailand six days a week and
are usually on sale by mid-afternoon.

BOOKSTORES are found throughout Bangkok. Some of the best are DK (main
store in Siam Square; branches throughout the city); Asia Books (Sukhumvit
Road, between Soi 15 and Soi 17), and all branches of the Central Department
Store. By North American standards, the books and magazines are expensive.

ELECTRICITY in Thailand is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Small transformers are
cheap and easy to find.

OVERSEAS TELEPHONE calls are quickly connected by the Bangkok operator.
Dial 100. Collect calls can be made to most countries. BEWARE the tacked-
on "service charge" by most hotels, averaging about 25% of the actual call
price, even on direct-dial calls.

TELEGRAMS may be sent from any post office in Thailand. Telex and Fax
facilities are available at the main post office on New Road, and at certain
other branches.

MOVIES in Bangkok are shown in their original language, with Thai and
Chinese subtitles, unless otherwise noted. Theaters are generally large and
superbly comfortable. The ushers will bring your beer to you if you want,
but smoking is banned. The best seats go for about $2.

DRESS is casual except at Buddhist temples, where shorts, off-the-
shoulder blouses and so on are frowned upon if not banned. Shoes must be
removed upon entry to a chapel where a Buddha image is displayed.


Thailand has five television stations, all based in Bangkok. There are
many up-country microwave repeaters. Broadcasting hours on weekdays are
about 4 p.m. to midnight. On weekends and holidays, broadcasting begins at
8 a.m.
All programs on television are broadcast in Thai. In the Bangkok area,
most English-language programs are carried in English on FM radio simulcast.
The form, then, is to watch the television and listen to the radio.
Following are the FM frequencies for the stations which do this (Channel
5 has no simulcast facilities):
Channel 3 -- 105.5 MHz
Channel 7 -- 103.5 MHz
Channel 9 -- 107 MHz
Channel 11 -- 88 MHz
Channel 9 has a morning newscast at 6 a.m. on weekdays, entirely
translated into English on 107 MHz. The evening news, including foreign
film, is translated between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Most big boxing matches and a few other sports events are carried live in
Thailand, but almost all foreign-origin programming is still on a delayed,
taped basis. Many hotels also have delayed news programs, chiefly the
special ABC Weekly News and CNN excerpts.
Note that Thai TV broadcasts in the PAL system which can not be received
or replayed on the NTSC (North American) system. Videotapes from Thai TV
are thus generally useless in North America.


Thailand has a vast range of radio broadcasting, both AM and FM. Most
broadcasts are in the Thai language. AM broadcasting is virtually all-Thai,
including the music. Many FM stations feature western music, ranging from
rock to classical, at various times of the day.
By law, all radio stations must carry the Radio Thailand newscasts and
commentaries at 7 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Most stations close
down for the night, although there are a few 24-hour stations in Bangkok.
Apart from news and music, most radio stations also feature lengthy
commentary shows. These are all in Thai. Ad rates are very low on the
radio, so stations compensate by carrying a lot of advertising.
A relayed Voice of America shortwave news broadcast in English is carried
at 6:30 p.m. daily on AM radio at 1570 KHz.


The only daily newspapers are printed in Bangkok. There are two in
English, and about nine in Chinese. The rest are in Thai. Both English-language newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation, appear in
the morning, seven days a week. The Nation also prints a small afternoon
Thailand has virtually no censorship, outside Royal Family reporting.
Bangkok newspapers are generally considered the best, and most
informative, in Southeast Asia.
The Asian Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune,
edited in Hong Kong and printed in Singapore, are generally on sale in
Bangkok and up-country tourist areas in the afternoon, six days a week.
Time, Newsweek, the Far Eastern Economic Review and Asiaweek are weekly
publications freely available throughout most of Thailand.

The King and Royal Family

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, was born on December 5,
1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He became King in 1945 upon the death of
his brother Ananda, Rama VIII. In July, 1988, he became the longest-
reigning monarch in Thai history.
His wife is Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, whom he met while both were
resident and studying in Switzerland. Both the King and Queen are direct
descendants of Thai Royalty.
The couple have four children. In order of birth, they are Princess
Ubolraj, who has renounced her Royal titles and is married to an American;
the Crown Prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn; Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and
Princess Chulabhorn. All are known here as His/Her Royal Highness.
The Crown Prince is married to Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali.
They have one daughter.
The Royal Family's permanent residence is the Chitrlada Palace in Bangkok
(not, as many believe, the Grand Palace next to the Emerald Buddha temple).
But the Family has gained fame, respect and adoration by constant travels
throughout the nation, particularly to poor villages. Regular residences
are maintained in Chiang Mai in the North, Sakhon Nakhon in the Northeast,
Hua Hin south of Bangkok, and Narathiwat in the far, mostly-Muslim South.
The King is Thailand's head of state, and takes no part in day-to-day
political affairs. As in most constitutional democracies, the Thai
Constitution demands that the Government "consult" His Majesty on affairs of
In all affairs, foreigners are usually given the benefit of the doubt in
Thailand. But no Thai will suffer slights to either the institution nor the
personalities of Thai Royalty. Lese majeste laws are very toughly enforced.
Thailand employs "diminishing Royalty" in determining Royal rank. After
five generations, in general, members of the Royal Family thus revert to
being commoners, unless they marry upwards. The titles Mom Chao (M.C.), Mom
Ratchawong (M.R.), Mom Luang (M.L.) and Mom in front of a person's name
indicate lowering ranks in this progression. However, these ranks are
passed on only by male Royal Family members.
Thailand has never had a reigning Queen, although there never has been a
legal stricture forbidding this. The current (1978) Constitution
specifically provides for this possibility.
HRH The Crown Prince gained his title at an investiture ceremony in 1972.
Besides the National Anthem, Thailand also has a Royal Anthem which often
is played in lieu of the National Anthem. Both are observed equally, by
standing and remaining quiet.

The King and I

Much of what many foreigners know about Thailand springs from the
musical, and the book upon which it was based, Anna and the King of Siam.
Well, there was an Anna Leonowens. There was a King Mongkut, the fourth
King in the present (Chakri) dynasty, and thus often called King Rama IV.
Unfortunately, that's about the end of the truth of the book and musical.
Anna was one heck of a story-teller, however, and it's unlikely that many of
her myths will ever die.
Anna was born in India to an English army sergeant and his local
(possibly Eurasian) wife and was not -- as she claimed later -- the Welsh-
born daughter of a proper English officer. She married a civilian clerk
named Thomas Leon Owens, who died while running a small hotel in Malaya.
(Anna claimed he was Major Leonowens, and that he died on a tiger hunt.)
She came to Siam as a teacher -- not, as she claimed, as a Royal governess.
She did not live in the palace, but outside its walls.
Her romanticized story, and particularly the musical version so closely
identified with the late Yul Brynner, is nevertheless a delightful one. Her
description of the King's death, however, is more than a little off. King
Mongkut died from malaria that he contracted after travelling south to view
an eclipse which he himself had correctly predicted in 1868. By then, Anna
had already left Siam.
Anna spent a total of five years in the country. Her son, Louis, stayed
on to become a close friend of the Prince Chulalongkorn (King Mongkut's
successor, and thus King Rama V). He founded a Bangkok trading company
which still bears his name.
Yes, The King and I is officially banned in Thailand. Many Thais are
offended by its portrayal of the King and other Royalty. But in recent
years, the present King has spoken well of the play and movie, and Queen
Sirikit attended one of the last Broadway performances by the dying Brynner.
Thus, though the movie is still never shown in public, it is widely
available in video form. Anna's book is available in English and in Thai
translation throughout the country.
Louis Leonowens, Anna's son, is the subject of a fascinating biography
called Louis and the King, written by W.S. Bristowe. Reprints are usually
available in major Bangkok bookstores.
The real King Mongkut, by the way was during his long reign the only
English-speaking monarch in Asia. He is credited, quite correctly, with a
foresight that brought many inventions and innovations to Thailand,
including the nation's railways, and he was a scientist of note.
He did meet Anna Leonowens. He once described her as a "troublesome

The Best

Any list like this has a certain amount of subjectivism, but the
following recommendations will find backing from a large number of citizens
and local residents.
Often, you'll have to pay for the best -- sometimes, quite a bit more
than for second best. But in a surprising number of cases, the best is
available at prices that are average or even a bit less.

In Bangkok and the immediate area, here's where to find The Best.


Best Pizza Madrid Bar, Patpong Road.
Best Hot Dog Bobby's Aroy Dee stand, Patpong 2 next to Foodland.
Best Hamburger The Doctor Dave at Grant's N.C., Sukhumvit Soi 22.
Best Brownies Napoleon, Patpong Road, at lunchtime.
Best Heroes Taster's Choice, Sukhumvit Soi 11 near the
Ambassador Hotel.
Best Steak (Continental) Neil's Tavern, Soi Ruamrudee.
(U.S.) Ma Maison, Hilton Hotel.
Best Fondue Charly's, Sathorn Road at Soi Pipat.
Best Dim Sum Tien Tien, Patpong Road, for lunch.
Best Peking Duck Ambassador Hotel's specialty restaurant.
Best Sushi/Sashimi Daikoku, Rama IV Road, across from Lumpini Park.
Best Kim Chi Koreana, Siam Square next to the British Council.
Best Tom Yam Ban Chiang restaurant, next to the Silom Club.
Best Tandoori Himali Cha-Cha, New Road near Surawong Road.
Best Fresh Milk Chokechai Farms.
Best Breakfast Grant's N.C. Bar, Sukhumvit Soi 22.


Best Thai Silk Thai Silk Co (Jim Thompson's) 9 Surawong Road.
Best Thai Cotton Design Thai, Surawong Road near the Ramada Hotel.
Best Gold Any shop on Yaowaraj, Chinatown's main street.
Best Leatherware Simon's Leather, River City Shopping Center.
Best Bookstore (Asian titles) DD Books, Soi 21 Sukhumvit Road.
(Paperbacks) Central Department Store, any branch.
Best Pirate
Cassettes Rex Records, Petchburi Rd, near Indonesia Embassy.
Best Pirate Videos Mang Pong, 3rd Floor, Mah Boonkrong Center.
Best Handicrafts 1. International School, Sukhumvit Soi 15, on the
morning of the third Saturday of the month only.
2. Lao Son Handicrafts, end of Sukhumvit Soi 19.
Best Browsing Mah Boonkrong shopping Center.
Best Market Weekend Market, Chatuchak Park (weekend only).

Suggested Personal Packing List

Clothing: Bring several changes of light, preferably cotton, clothing, or
plan on buying some in Thailand. Shorts, sandals, T-shirts and the like are
fine on most outings.
Visitors planning to do business with high-ranking government or Royal
officials should bring a suit, or the female equivalent. Ties are common
among businessmen, but not a necessity.

Toiletries and Cosmetics: They are freely available in Thailand, but at
about 2-3 times the North American price.

Sun-screen and/or sun-tan lotion, including at least one bottle of total
block (#15). Sun hats may be purchased locally and cheaply.

Folding Umbrella: For some, this might be good during the monsoon season.
Others may prefer to cool off in the (usually) light rains.

Prescription Drugs (with prescription, in case Customs gets curious): All
other medication is available throughout Thailand over the counter.

Camera: Color film of all brands is available at prices roughly the same as
North America. Processing of all still-camera film is cheap in Thailand,
except for Ektachrome.

Portable Electronics: These are expensive in Thailand, which does feature,
however, pirated cassettes at about $1 apiece. (NOTE: Thai electricity is
220 volts, 50 cycles.)

Bathing Suit

Currency, preferably in U.S. dollars, since that is the most common,
although other currency may be exchanged.

Cigarettes: Foreign brands will not be available at locations outside
Bangkok, in general.

Pipe Tobacco and Cigars: The variety available in Thailand is not great.


It is highly recommended that you bring as few small items of personal value
as possible. Jewelry and the like may be invitations to petty thieves.

High-value items for re-export such as professional-type video outfits and
computers may require prior approval from Royal Thai Customs before entry,
including the posting of an export guarantee deposit of up to 300% of their
value. This procedure normally takes several days.

  3 Responses to “Category : Science and Education
Archive   : THAILAND.ZIP
Filename : TH3.TXT

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: