Episode 003: Tales of Thailand
Bangkok has several concentration areas of people of foreign origin. Yaowarat Road is the home of Bangkok’s sizable Chinatown, while those of Indian ethnicity have congregated around Pahurat Road. At the West End of Silom Road was the first European community in Bangkok called the old Farang Quarter. The Portuguese Embassy operates from 1820 and was the first embassy to be established in the capital, with their community around the Santa Cruz Church on the Thonburi side. The Haroon Mosque, a small, attractive stucco building is used by the local Muslim population. The French Embassy was the second to be established in the area within walking distance from the Assumption cathedral, one of the biggest building in the area, still serving the community. Along Sukhumvit Road communities of Japanese are around Phrom Phong, Koreatown can be found around Asok Station and the nearby Nana Station is dense with Arab and Afican cultures and food, “Little Africa” neighborhood can be found here.
Although it is one of Asia’s most important cities economically, the urban pace of Bangkok is somewhat relaxed, as the city offers enormous amounts of getaway locations. Most residents tend to stress over the amount of traffic in the city. Peak hours are between 6:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30pm to 8:00 at night on weekdays, with a general state of traffic on Monday morning and Friday night.
Many residents leave town on weekends to visit seaside resorts such as Hua Hin, Cha-am, and Pattaya. Others return home to visit elderly relatives in Isan and the northern provinces. Saturday is somewhat considered a work day to many of the residents of Bangkok.
Religion does not play a very influential role in the capital as it would compared to other cities. However, a good proportion of the population remains devout and offers daily alms to the monks who walk their neighbourhoods. Muslims are often either assimilated entirely by the Thai or live in remote parts of the city such as the Nong Chok district where traditional Thai Muslims still live.
The Thai greeting referred to as the wai (Thai: ไหว้, pronounced [wâːj]) consists of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. It is very similar to the Indian Añjali Mudrā/namasté and the Cambodian sampeah. The higher the hands are held in relation to the face and the lower the bow, the more respect or reverence the giver of the wai is showing.
The wai is also common as a way to thank someone or apologise.
The word often spoken with the wai as a greeting or farewell is sawasdee (สวัสดี, pronounced [sàwàtdiː]). This word was coined in the mid-1930s by Phraya Upakit Silapasan of Chulalongkorn University. This word, derived from the Sanskrit svasti (meaning “well-being”), had previously been used in Thai only as a formulaic opening to inscriptions. The strongly nationalist government of Plaek Pibulsonggram in the early 1940s promoted the use of the word sawasdee amongst the government bureaucracy as well as the wider populace as part of a wider set of cultural edicts to modernise Thailand.
Yes, I’m drooling just THINKING about this delicious dish accompanied by a chilled Singha beer! If there’s a more gratifying culinary experience than eating genuine Thai soup in Bangkok, I’ve not yet found it.
Episodes 003 – 005 focused on my visit to Thailand. I selected some strong “Asian” themes from the vast repository of pod-music available to musicians and producers at
Selected artist/track/source in sequential order:
Comfortable / Calling From Japan / http://tinyurl.com/crmwcp6
Elam / Dub Asia / http://tinyurl.com/6trmjfz
Guardian Mind Mix / Asian Sea / http://tinyurl.com/bts2xmc
RaagNRoll / Hariprasad Chaurasia Saarang / http://tinyurl.com/7qrc2uw