Thailand: The Land of Smiles
Thailand: The Land of Smiles
Visiting Thailand I quickly understood why it is called “The Land of Smiles.” One visit to any country never makes someone an expert, but our visit to Thailand began to open up the brand new world of the Far East! Thailand is a gorgeous, tropical country, and its people are extremely friendly. Thailand is indeed a “Land of Smiles.” Thailand is a Southeast Asian kingdom that has survived for generations. The lush jungle atmosphere provides a Thailand visitor with beautiful vistas beyond explanation. Be ware, though, the humidity is staggering! Staggering!!
Thailand: A Land of Buddah
Beyond the weather and Thailand’s lush tropical environment, the first thing that is noticeable is the omni-present Buddha. Buddha is everywhere in the form of statues, icons, and monasteries. It was our privilege to visit several Buddhist monasteries and even visit with several monks. Possibly the most memorable of the Buddhists shines for us was the Brahman Shrine near Hat Yai.
The Brahman Shrine is dominated by a huge statue of a Three-headed Elephant. During our entire visit, firecrackers were being fired. (Apparently, they are fired all day long). We were told that the belief is that the noise keeps evil spirits away. Not only were people shooting firecrackers, but they were purchasing dozens
of marigold garlands to wrap around the neck of the shrine’s many elephants. (If you want to visit, there is a cable car to the shrine, or you can drive up the mountain and park; the cost is around 200 Baht, or about $6.00
Pattaya & the Sanctuary of Truth
After a week in the south near Hat Yai with its abundance of rubber trees and villages, we flew north to Bangkok and then took public transportation to the City of Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand. The beaches were beautiful to see, but we
didn’t find them particularly clean. The humidity was even more intense here, but instead of the rural setting, we found ourselves in a major city by the sea. We found our way around well on the local “taxi cabs”–converted pickup trucks. Even though we enjoyed the change to the urban setting with its modern malls and busy streets, we really enjoyed the Sanctuary of Truth.
Pattaya’s “Sanctuary of Truth”
The “Sanctuary of Truth” is situated on the Gulf of Thailand in the city of Pattaya. It is completely constructed of wood and all hand-carved. The different sides represent both Buddhism and Hinduism from several different Southeast Asian countries. The site offers several tourist options that ultimately fill an entire day. Touring the sanctuary itself is most educational and really a must. In addition, the Sanctuary grounds offers cultural dances (included in the video clip above), elephant rides, tours of the Sanctuary craftsmen, and boat rides on the Gulf of Thailand. Please ignore the heat, and take in this most unusual site!
A Day Trip into History
Early one morning on our visit to Thailand, we boarded a small van and began one of the most interesting days of our Thai journey. This day trip took us north to the historic World War II site of the building of the Bridge over the River Kwai.
What a solemn adventure to actually visit the site where so many Allied prisoners of war gave their lives to “help” the Japanese build a bridge from Burma to the sea.
On our way to the site of the bridge we had another “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity when we visited a real Thai floating market. That, too, was amazing and I highly recommend this entire experience. When you visit Thailand, please do your best to visit and experience one of these traditional and fully functioning floating markets.
Visiting Thailand – The Land of Smiles
Obviously, a two week visit to any country is merely a cursory introduction, but our two weeks in this beautiful land was enough to encourage us to return one day, especially to visit the Northern are of Chang Mai. We were captivated by the people, the lush countrysides, the food, and the hospitality.
Other posts from Kathy Slamp
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy Cruising the Yangtze River by Kathy Slamp. I am an experienced Alaska naturalist, so you might enjoy my Alaska posts on this site as well as my specific Alaska website, Alaskathy.