You won’t believe what got Thailand into the Guinness Book of World Records, plus these other fun facts about Thailand. Conversation won’t be dull around the bar this evening.
1. Once called Siam, but after WWII it was changed to Thailand, meaning “land of the Tai/Thai People.” This was partly to seem more “modernized” and distance itself from the AXSIS allies during the war.
2. Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia never to be colonized by Europe
3. The story and movie about the Bridge on the River Kwai was based on the building of what is now known as the death railway between Thailand and Burma. The Burma Railway still exists and can be visited in a day trip from Bangkok.
4. Bangkok is not the true name of the capitol of Thailand. It is Krung Thep, meaning “City of Angels”
Which itself is a shortened version of full ceremonial name – Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
Which roughy translated means:
The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.
5. There has been 22 Coups in Thailand since 1912. It’s basically a part of the election process at this point.
6. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand is the current world’s longest reigning monarach at 68 years on the throne. Queen Elizabeth is second with 62 years.
7. Les Majesty Laws – Speaking bad about the Monarchy will get you thrown in jail.
8. You must stand up in movie theaters – at least right before the movie when a small trailer honoring the King is played. You can sit back down after. If you don’t stand you risk insulting the monarchy and well…see No. 7.
9. Yellow Shirts on Monday – If you walk around Bangkok on a Monday you’ll see lots of people wearing yellow shirts. This is to show love and respect for their king.
10. Central World is the 8th Largest Shopping Mall in the World (Siam Paragon is the 13th) the U.S. doen’t make the list till 28
11. World’s largest solid gold statue and largest gold Buddha statue is at Wat Triamit in Bangkok
12. Thailand is the World’s Largest Rice Exporter. For Now.
13. Anna and the King and The King and I are banned in Thailand. See No. 7
14. Bangkok was called the Venice of the East. It used to be crossed with canals running throughout the city. Most have been filled in and paved over, but there is still a small khlong system running throughout the city and used for daily commuting and transportation.
15. Phuket Vegitarian Festival features a parade with people performing self-mutilation. Disturbing and interesting at the same time.
16. Largest Gathering of Christmas Elves – In 2014 Thailand got in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest gathering of Christmas Elves. It’s True!
17. Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand – but Hindu influence on buddhism can be seen throughout the country, like this giant Ganesh Statue in south eastern Bangkok