Land & People
ที่พักบางแสน – Thailand was known as Siam until 1939, when it was changed to Muang Thai or Prathet Thai, which mean “Land of the Free.” Following World War II it reverted to Siam for a brief interval, but eventually became Thailand again in 1949. It’s about the size of France and shaped just like a tree leaning towards the right. Thai school kids are educated to spell out the form of their country as an elephant’s head with a very long hanging backward. It’s bordered to the west and northwest by Burma (Myanmar), to the northeast by Laos, to the east by Cambodia, and to the south from Malaysia, the Gulf of Thailand, and the Andaman Sea.
The Religions of Thailand
The Central Plain
This is a very big and mostly flat alluvial plain where Bangkok stands and in which a huge percentage of Thailand’s rice crop is grown. The heart of this plain is Bangkok, together with the double town of Thonburi across the lake (collectively they’re called Metropolitan Bangkok). Metropolitan Bangkok is a huge, sprawling city of approximately 10 million which has expanded rapidly over the last forty decades. All other Thai cities have been minnows in contrast. Like most other Third World cities, it’s a magnet for the rural poor, and there are extremes of poverty and wealth. It suffers from a weak infrastructure, appalling contamination, and gridlocked traffic. Other significant centers are Kanchanaburi, Nakorn Pathom, Rayong, Samut Songkhram, and Petchaburi, as well as the resorts of Pattaya and Bang Saen. The populace of this central plain minus Bangkok is 14 million.
This is definitely the most scenic area of Thailand, filled with hills and mountains. Chiang Mai, Phrae, Sukhothai, and Lampang will be the key cities, and the area is home to different hill tribes which are ethnically and culturally different from the Thais. The northern dialect is different in certain respects from the Thai spoken in the central regions, and is comparable to that spoken in the Shan states of Burma. Population: 17 million.
Even the Korat plateau is usually thought of as the weakest aspect of Thailand, and it’s less rain than other areas of the country – The main cities are Khon Kaen, Udon Thani (Korat), Nong Khai, Roi Et, and Ubon. The Mekhong River forms a natural boundary with Laos, and the northeastern Isarn Thai dialect is like Lao. Population: 21 million
Peninsular or Southern Thailand
This area extends from Phetchaburi into the Malaysian border and can be just twenty-five miles wide at its narrowest point. It’s characterized by lush vegetation and toward the south you will find rubber plantations. There are a number of vacation islands off the shore, for example Ko Samui and Phuket. Ranong, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, and the railway junction of Had Yai will be the major towns. Population: 8 million