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Do you agree on This?

The Nations article,  The coming decade: Thailand’s ten greatest fears by Kavi Chongkittavorn makes a very interesting read.   Khun Kavi  has listed the followings as the big ten:

1. CONCERN OVER HIS MAJESTY.

2. FEAR OF LOSING THAI WAY OF LIFE.

3. FEAR OF LOSING NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY.

4. FEAR OF INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM.

5. FEAR OF COLOUR-BLINDNESS.

6. FEAR OF INSIGNIFICANCE.

7. FEAR OF POLITICAL CHAOS.

8. FEAR OF TELLING THE TRUTH.

9. FEAR OF ABHISIT’S WITHERING LEADERSHIP.

10. FEAR OF THE FICKLE FUTURE.

This has made me ponder why we Thais with our Buddhist way of  life have so much anxieties and fear over things that the Buddha have taught us  as the fundamentals of being human. We are subject to birth and live our lives in constant state of flux until such a time that our biological bodies come to an end. Yet we all fear change and the biggest of all change, death.

It seems that being modern Thai what we fear of most is uncertainty/ impermanence and interestingly we  fear virtue.

Surely what being Thai is not just what the Tourism Authority of Thailand expound. We cannot forever go on believing that we are amazing Thais who never stop smiling through it all! We risk becoming a cardboard cut-out of TAT campaigns.

As this is the beginning of the year, perhaps we should look at the list and ask ourselves what makes us who we are?

At this moment in time, what makes us Thai to me, is lost in translation.

It makes me post the question, do we Thais really know what historical Thailand is about. It makes me question what do we really know of our history. What we have learnt in school and more importantly what we began to record as our history is not accurate enough as always politic has a hand at writing our history.

May be we should look at the way of life lived outside Bangkok to find out what being Thai is about.

Here is my take on this list,

1. CONCERN OVER HIS MAJESTY = fear of having to grow up and be responsible for our own actions, body, speech and mind!

2. FEAR OF LOSING THAI WAY OF LIFE = fear of change and that also equates to making an effort to change

3. FEAR OF LOSING NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY = we have lost that sovereignty when the CIA moved in 50years ago but shhhh…

4. FEAR OF INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM = this one I agree but it will be nice for some to have the ability to intellectualize first and not follow thoughts of others verbatim

5. FEAR OF COLOUR-BLINDNESS, ditto this

6. FEAR OF INSIGNIFICANCE – yes I have to agree with this and that includes the entire high echelon

7. FEAR OF POLITICAL CHAOS – hold on, we have been living in chaos for the past 3 years, haven’t we?

8. FEAR OF TELLING THE TRUTH – yes this might be seen by onlookers as a Thai trait if we’re not careful

9. FEAR OF ABHISIT’S WITHERING LEADERSHIP – what leadership, show me when he actually does that please

10. FEAR OF THE FICKLE FUTURE – yes but hasn’t this fear been with us since the end of WW 2

Hey but this is only one woman opinion. Why not tell me if you agree or better still what do you think are Thais greatest fear?

Happy 2010 and lets live in hope and not in fear.


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Number 6, on my list of 10 …

Buddhism to most of us today is this!

Buddhism to most of us today is this!

Back to the list of 10 Things I love About You, Thailand and we’re on 6: Access to Buddhism.

Perhaps access is the wrong word to use here.  What I’m referring to  is more the fact that Buddhism is infused into the way of life here but not as apparent as Bhutan or Dharamsala.

Buddhism forms the foundation of  Thai consciousness whether we are aware of it is another story.

Take the Thai language as an example, it has so many   Buddhist reference and not just doctrinal,  more everyday philosophy that can be applied for better understanding of this human condition!

This word, จิต, Jit (citta in Pali) is a good example.  This isn’t associated with intellect or rationale. It’s simply defined by practising monks as the thing that knows. Simplicity in itself and yet it defines it very well. 

Then there is  ใจ,   Jai , defines as  heart  – Christopher G Moore even dedicated some years of his life, compiling and translating the “Jai” words into English. Why not go and find out what you understand? But let me tell you that we use heart a lot and it refers to how we feel, heartfelt! Another example od Buddhist association.

Incidentally จิตใจ, has come to be associated with the quality of being human, similar to the western philosophy bit definitely not the same!

Now take the wai or anjali. We, Thais do this nowadays without giving it much thought, even Ronald McDonald in Thailand stands outside his burger joints with a wai!

What you might not know though and the wicki does not include this explanation either;  a wai or an anjali is an act of surrender.

When you meet someone worthy of respect, you anjali. Traditionally,  you bow with your head to the ground and hands together. A posture that renders you totally defenceless and most vulnerable.

This act of totally surrendering your ego to someone worthy and it is so magnificent! It has become “traditional.” A word that to me, is the cause of Thai becoming muted to the real identities.

Buddhism still has an influence on all Thais, regardless of creeds or religions. A good example is the Thai virtue of generosity, we are world famous for this (even if  the world media only want to depict us as country of scammers, cheats and politically inept). Don’t take my word on it though, go and read Johnny Foreigner blog and decide for yourself.

 

So this is it folks, my number 6 and why I will not leave this country and the access to Buddhism that allows me to centre my life.


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10 Things I hate about you …

Picture from Sweet Nostalgia

Picture from Sweet Nostalgia

Remember my list of 10 things that I love about Thailand? Well, I thought I try a different tact to get your notice!  Since you don’t respond to love then let’s try its equal and opposite and talk about  hate! Or rather what I really hate about living here! See if you care enough to comment!

I’m not the first to write about things I hate about Bangkok! I did see other bloggers moaned about living here, one in particular has 5 x 10 Things he hates about … Guess that makes 50!!! Interesting read indeed!

What is it about hate that fuels our minds! On second thought tell me that later!  Well.  the 10 Things on my list that get up my nose are:

1. Inconsideration of commuters be it cars, buses, trains, Sky or otherwise and pedestrians

The reason this is my number one, is because it makes me the saddest! Commuters the world over are alike, bad mannered, inconsiderate  BUT  (yes it’s a big but! ) I expected Thais to be different. Perhaps because I have memory of another time when people were considerate and had more sati and body awareness!

 2. Over Sweetened Thai Meals

Sugar seems to become the dominant taste  in all savoury foods from curries, somtam and  even noodles … prevent me from enjoying street foods.  It’s even worse in the case of noodles as people who like the sweet taste can put the sugar in themselves!  Obesity will not be a problem as Thai women are excellent at starving themselves but diabetes will be!

3. The lateness of some people

OK so you have to be 2 hours ahead here because of traffic but to all my mates out there, if you are two hours late for our dates again you’re dead! No excuse! That goes for work meeting too. I was once in a meeting which a participant was two hours late because  … no good reason.

4. Hiding the truth behind a smile

Have you ever noticed that white lies are practice to a high art here? One must never offend anyone! Now that is the sort of good manner that I can actually do without. How about this? You can step on my toes or  flick your hair in my face while commuting on trains, busses or underground, in exchange for honesty!

5. Plastic Bags

Yes all of you shop owners out there, no need to wrap up your goods in so many plastic bags! At 7 Eleven, I bought a carton of milk and that had 3 bags! One for the milk, one for the bag that’s holding the milk and an extra one for protection?!?  Asked them not to put the milk in bags, they looked aghast! Bought a guava at the street vendor and that had 3 bags too when all I need is just the one!

6. Thai Soaps on TV

I absolutely adore Thai ads but Thai soap operas sent shivers down my spine even while I’m killing myself laughing! To think that people are addicted to this and some even aspire to the lifestyle, aghhhh!

7. People that waves their bank notes at stall holders to cut ques

Has this ever happened to you? I had this experience too many times! You simply stand there, waiting to be served then someone come along and demand to be served by  waving  the one thousand bank note at the stallholder to cut ques! Gosh that is just insane and damn right rude. This takes materialistic to the extreme! I’m totally aghast at this practice!

8. The amount of paper work needed to conduct a normal civic things like change address, name or get your money out of banks, etc

I’m sure you all know this one! So no need to expand.

9. Rubish Tipping

Yes,  you people who simply chuck your rubbish from your car windows onto the streets, or simply throw your rubbish onto roads just after you’d eaten!  

10. Moaning about how bad things are

Lastly me writing about all these! I actually hate moaning but as I’m getting older and older and older , huh …  I’m turning into Grumpy  Old Woman!

So your turn, come and share your pain with me!

 

 


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Number 5: Easy escape to the country

We are back to my list of 10 things I love about this country again. So here is why I listed this as number 5!

I often wonder what attract foreigners to our country. Many times, the answer I get is how beautiful and unspoilt our countryside is and they are right.

We sometimes overlook beauty that stares us right in the face! 

All it takes to find the unspoilt countryside  is for you to get out of Bangkok.  The trick is getting out and once you’re out the rolling landscape just bewitch you.

Let me show you instead of talking about this!

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya, within an hour if you are lucky, you can be in this landscape!

fieldOfSunflowers

Saraburi sunflowers fields, not Provence, France!

0088-16

Nakorn Pathom has guesthouses that allow you to sleep under the stars!

Samed Beach

Samed island takes a bit more effort as it takes 2 hours drive and a boat ride to get there!

This is not all, if you want to go down South to the unspoilt beaches of Samui, that is an hour flight away and up north to Chiang Rai and the mountains, that is also an hour away! How lucky are we to have all this!

Yes, number 5 reason why I love it here is the beautiful rural Thailand.


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Number 4: Food, glorious food!

Now, we are on my number 4 on my list of reasons why I love Thailand. The Food! Need I say more!

I’m sure that everyone will agree on their love of Thai food.

Think Thai Food then these are the typical list you’d get: Pad Thai, Green Curry, Tom Yum Gung and Som Tam. But we Thais, know that there’s much more to Thai food than that! Nam Prik, for example, is what I regard as our national dish, of which there are hundreds of variations.  And curries are not limited to just green, there are red, yellow or jungle. Yes, you heard right  jungle curry, my most favourite curry of all time.  

Though I have to agree on Som Tam, being on that list. Personally I think it’s the best food on the planet but there is a clause to this, i.e. when it’s made properly! Beware of the cloned Som Tam that might look like a Som Tam but taste nothing like Som Tam!

Number 4 reason for loving Thailand, Som Tam

Photograph courtesy of http://www.simply-thai.com

Having Som Tam is a very sensual experience! It’s sex on a plate and  beats gooey chocolate cake any day.  Let me tell you why Som Tam is everything you ever want on a plate.

1. There are so many variations on the theme so you will never get bored.  The key to a good Som Tam is harmony of taste, flavours and texture.  2. In one mouthful, you can experience every tastes known to man! The different textures carry different tastes experience. Even when you accidentally bite  into the lime skin and get the bitterness, it’s a pleasure!  3. Som Tam is social food and should never be eaten alone! The joy of competing for the last spoonful!

Having Som Tam is a step into Issarn (North Eastern) culture. Issarn food is fantastic but I do have my limit!  Dishes involve insects or raw meat are no go!  But the vegetarian options are spectacular. Mushrooms grilled and made into Laab makes my mouth water at the thought. Omm is a soup dish and it’s on the way to become my most favourite comfort food and if you haven’t tried this, you must! I recommend  chicken Omm though the vegetable one is equally good.

I can spend all day talking about this and might write more on this subject as I’m food obsessed as if you haven’t guessed!


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Number 3: Hope and a happy go lucky attitude

Hope, Optimism, suuny side up!

Sunny-Side Up 🙂

Number 3 on my list was Hope.

When I wrote that, I was thinking of what I consider to be the essentially Thai character trait.  I feel that most Thais are optimistic in their outlooks to life and that gives rise to hope and to me hope is one of the most precious commodity in this world – much more so than oil or rice!

Imagine if you can extract hope into bottles and sell that will make you richer than Bill Gate I’m sure!

Thai optimism makes us a happy-go-lucky race. This is special.

Most Thais do not obsessively analyze and mulled things over. Therefore life here seems less stressful.  We are not overtly concern with making mistakes. If you did something wrong, as long as you admit and apologize, you are forgiven. You get a second … Na you get third, fourth, fifth … chances.

Having lived away from Thailand for many decades I have a good vantage point. In the west, I have learnt to become a thinker, I have learnt to over values rationale. This, I feel, has made me created an overwhelming sense of guilt that weighed me down!

On my return, I noticed that Thais do not behave like that. When they walk, they do not drag their bodies like dead weights around or walked so fast as if they are trying to take flight. They just stroll. They are walking, not concerned about getting there as they know that they will arrive finally.  There are springs to their steps. Some even sashays though that could be their high heels!

They look outwards so they are in step with what is going on.  And it’s this that I have labeled hope.

By not taking things to hearts and being generous and forgiving, Thais are optimistic and eternally hopeful race. It’s a quality that I admire. 

Hope is precious. With hope, brings new life.


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Number 1: The Spirit of Genorosity?

smiling faces

smiling faces

In my last post I listed 10 things I love about Thailand. Number 1 was the spirit of generosity.

Thais have a generous nature but don’t mistake this to mean giving!

Here is a good example.  I was in Chanttaburi visiting a friend and could not find her house. I stopped to ask a  farmer who insisted on taking me to where I wanted to go which was about a kilometer away and walked back. When I offered to drive him back, he thanked me and said the walk will do him good!

This man cares enough to make sure that I get to where I wanted to go and getting me there makes him feel happy, happy to be of help and that is reward within itself for him!

Farangs, be ware! If you stop  locals to ask direction, some might giggle and ran away but don’t take this to heart. It’s not a personal insult. Most probable scenario is they feel embarrassed!

 Right, before you tell me otherwise, of course, there will always be exceptions to the rules but I’m glad that it remains exceptions.

This spirit of generosity runs deep here.

 A way of greeting visitor is : have you eaten? Now that to me speaks volume, doesn’t it?

Generosity, in this case, means generous in the heart and mind.

Thai word for this is JAI DEE  which can be roughly translated as “good heart” and it’s this quality that makes Thailand the country of my choice.

Good hearted means compassionate, caring, expecting no returns.