Spirit of Thailand

Spirit of Thailand

Culture, Relationships,
Thai Massage, Traveling

Island Scenery in Southern Thailand

Islands in Trang province Thailand
Islands in the Trang province of Thailand

When people think of Thailand, they often envision gorgeous beaches, palm trees, white sand and crystal clear ocean water. And yes, this does exist, but only in the southern part of Thailand. The bulk of Thailand is mostly land locked.

I remember when Thailand was hit by the infamous Tsunami in 2004, many of my concerned friends in the western world sent me emails asking me if I was safe. Actually I live over a 1000 miles away from the area which was affected, and the closest I ever got to it was watching it on TV, just like my American friends.

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Family Planning And Condom Use In Thailand

Population explosion is a big issue in some Asian countries. Look at India for example. China had the same problem and in response they instituted the (not very popular) one child policy.

Consequences of over population in developing nations can be starvation, lack of employment, lack of sufficient medical care, inability of the government to provide enough social services, pollution, sanitation issues etc. It’s a serious problem.

Not too long ago Thailand also had a population growth problem. Families were large with lots of children being born, and there was wide spread poverty. The writing was on the wall that sooner or later there would be serious consequences.

Today Thailand’s population growth has shrunk significantly. There is no serious starvation, there are no slums which exist in some other Asian countries, and Thailand is one of the more prosperous countries in southeast Asia. How did this come about?

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The Amazing Voice Of An 8 Year Old In Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand, is famous for its colorful Sunday Market. Hundreds of vendors are selling art, handicrafts, clothes, food, musical instruments, and other creative items. But the Sunday Market is much more than a place where you go shopping.

You can get a foot massage or a Thai Massage in dozens of places – right on the sidewalk. And you can watch lots of musicians perform for donations. It is easy to spend hours there without ever getting bored, even if you don’t buy anything.

One day I saw a little girl, about 8 years old, put on an amazing performance which drew lots of spectators. She had a golden voice and was clearly an up and coming singing talent. I caught one of her songs on video.

If I Left Thailand, What Would I Be Missing?

Is Thailand Really a Paradise?

Beach in ThailandIf you read the tourist brochures, it sure looks like it.

However as a long time resident of Thailand my interest is different from typical tourist attractions like riding elephants, visiting lots of  temples, looking at floating markets, doing jungle trekking, or getting a tan on the beaches.

What matters to me is this:  How is the day-to-day quality of life and my regular interaction with the people here compared to what I would find in other countries. I can speak about other countries since I have lived in eight of them and have visited over 50 of them.

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Temples And Monks In Thailand

temple in Chiang Mai Thailand
This temple opens its grounds every week during the famous Sunday market of Chiang Mai, Thailand, when it turns into a bustling market.

It seems like wherever you go in Thailand there is a temple. Even villages often have impressive temples. The tourists are all busy clicking away on their cameras and admiring the structure, the gold leaf and the fancy carved shapes of the temple.

And when they have seen a dozen or so temples they get tired of them and proclaim that they all end up looking alike after a while.

The Thais look at their temples with very different eyes. They see many aspects that are totally hidden from the tourists. Not that anyone is trying to hide anything, but you really have to live in Thailand to understand why the temples are so important to the Thais.

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Patience and Indifference in Thailand

Thailand along with any other place on the planet has its good and not so good sides. That’s just how life works. We have have to look at the overall balance. For me, there are more good sides to Thailand than problematic sides. That’s why I live here.

It can be quite interesting to look at how one characteristic can be both good and not so good, depending on the context. The Thai people are generally quite patient. This can be very refreshing, especially if, like in my case,  you came from the US where patience is not high on the agenda.

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Chiang Mai, A Holistic Hot Spot In Thailand

meditation at Chiang Mai's Yoga Mala festival
Meditation at Chiang Mai’s Yoga Mala festival

Some places in the world attract holistic, alternative or ‘new age’  communities. This includes practitioners of yoga, massage, various healing arts, meditation, Qigong and many others. Some of those places are in beautiful surroundings like Sedona, Arizona or Bali, Indonesia.

Others are in places with a long history of spirituality like Rishikesh, India. Some of them develop in beautiful beach areas like on the Big Island of Hawaii.

(Make sure to watch the video at the end of this article)

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10000 Monks Assemble in Ceremony of Thailand

Have you ever seen 10000 monks assembled in one place? Most likely not, but I was lucky enough to catch this unique event on camera here in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

It was quite amazing, seeing 10000 monks chanting and collecting alms. This was a profound insight into the Thai Buddhist culture and one of those events that you never forget.

Although this used to be a yearly event, it was discontinued after 2011. So I caught the final time it took place on camera.

The author, Shama KernThe author, Shama Kern, has been living in Thailand and southeast Asia for two decades. When he is not traveling and exploring, he lives with his Thai wife in Chiang Mai. You can reach him at shama@shamakern.com

How My Appreciation Of Thailand Was Renewed

Culture_ShockMost people assume that culture shock is something you experience when you come from one cultural environment into a totally different one.  Mostly this is happening when visitors from first world developed nations visit a developing nation or a third world country where everything is more chaotic, unorganized and unpredictable.

I have been living in Thailand for many years, and nothing seems unusual or strange to me. Thailand is a developing nation, but is surrounded on three sides by third world countries, namely Myanmar (formerly Burma), Laos and Cambodia.

In the USA, a lot of the labor force comes from the poorer countries of Central and South America. They do the jobs that Americans don’t like to do, like agricultural, construction and cleaning work.

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How did I end up moving to Thailand?

The author Shama People ask me all the time: “How did you end up in Thailand?” The truth is that it was nothing planned at all. It just happened.

I have to admit that moving to another country was not such a big deal for me since I had lived in eight countries  previously during my lifetime. But the big deal is that I never stayed in those countries for long, but I have been in Thailand for well over a decade now.

 

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