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THAILAND

 WAT - PRA - KEAW - MOR - RA - KOT

 

HISTORY The word " Thai " means free and therefore Thailand means " The Land of the Free. " Thailand was know as Siam until 1,939, and also again between 1,945 and 1,949. On may 11th, 1,949 the name of the country was officially changed to " Prathet Thai " or Thailand, the name by which it has since become known to the world. There are six main periods of Thai history:

Thai Language

The Thai language was developed at the beginning of the Sukhothai Period, so that the King could receive written messages from anywhere in the Kingdom. The Thai language is made up of 44 consonants and 38 vowels. It also has five tones, which means that the same word pronounced in a different tone can have several meanings. In the south of Thailand , many Muslims speak a Malay dialect and in the far north, the hill - tribe people also speak in different dialects.

Thai is from the same language family as Chinese, and is closest to Vietnamese in structure and pronunciation. In the Thai language, there are no capitals letters and no punctuation.To write a consonant, you always start with the little curl, if any.In the Thai alphabet, G is pronounced Gor, the first letter in the Thai alphabet. The second letter, K is pronounced Kor. NG is pronounced NGOR.

Temples

There are 44,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand which are called 'wats.' Places of worship, wats have always been the centre of village life. In days gone by, they were where people received an education, learnt about meditation and astrology, attended ceremonies and religious rites, and observed feasts and festivals all year round.

The wats are supported by donations, and people go there to make merit, meditate and receive blessings from the monks. Some temples also provide a home for old people, poor children and stray animals. Many Thai men still spend one to three months in the monkhood around the age of twenty. They live at a temple, while they devote themselves to Buddhism. Ordinations take place during July, before the three-month retreat during the rainy season.

Thai Houses

A traditional Thai style house is made from teakwood and has a high pointed roof that is either tiled or thatched. The roof has broad overhanging eaves designed to protect the inside from sunlight and rain. The house is built on stilts not only to prevent flooding, but also for ventilation and to provide a space for weaving, woodcarving or keeping buffalo. Larger houses are built with an open courtyard in the centre that is beautifully decorated with plants and flowers. House styles vary in different parts of the country; the northern style for example has two pointed gable decorations on the roof.

In Thailand, it is a custom to always remove your shoes before entering a house.

A Children's game

Thai children play many types of traditional games and one of these is called Phong Phang meaning 'dead or alive'. Any number can play and the children draw lots to find out who is the 'fish'.The 'fish' is blindfolded and made to turn around three times. The others hold hands and walk around him starting a question and answer rhyme: "Catch me if you can. The fish swims by. The fish is blind. Catch me dead or alive. What will it be, a dead or a live fish, everyone must freeze, even when caught. The 'fish' must guess who the person is and if he is correct, he will be replaced by that unlucky person.