Also known as: the Kingdom of Thailand; formerly known as Siam.
Government: Thailand is a constitutional monarchy. The prime minister (General Prayut Chan-o-cha) is head of government and the hereditary monarch (Bhumibol Adulyade) is head of state. In 1932, after the constitution had undergone nineteen revisions and charters, Thailand reformed away from absolute monarchy. Throughout all the constitutional changes, from an electoral democracy to a military dictatorship, Thailand has always maintained the monarchy. The most recent regime change occurred in May of 2014 when the military declared martial law and began a coup. In August of 2014 the National Assembly of Thailand elected the army chief (now prime minister) to office. Martial law officially ended in April of 2015.
Median household income: Finding this statistic online has been hard for us. The lower end of the spectrum such as manufacturing and labor workers can make as low as 6,000 baht per month or the equivalent of $178 USD. On the higher end, jobs that require degrees could make up to 25,000 baht per month, or $745 USD. All in all, although these numbers seem low to Americans, Thailand is doing much better fiscally then the rest of South East Asia.
Weather: The climate in Thailand ranges from a tropical monsoon climate in the south and eastern tip of the country, to a dry savannah-like climate in the mid-regions. Temperatures range from 65-100 degrees F year round, except in the height of the dry season (May) when temperatures can spike well above 104.
Our favorite places:
-The Elephant Jungle Sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai. We swam with elephants, best time ever, enough said.
-The night market by the North Gate of Chiang Mai’s old city. Go to the stand with the lady with the cowboy hat, her khao kha moo (braised pork leg) is probably the best thing you will ever taste.
-The Living Place Hostel. This is where we stayed in Chiang Mai; lovely atmosphere made possible by the eccentric but lovable hostess Aree.
-The Best Tattoo in Chiang Mai. Ele went buck wild and got a poppy flower tattooed on her arm here. No, she has never tried heroin, poppies mean creativity and magic in the Victorian language of flowers.
-Thai massage is less of a massage and more like having a person stretch your body without you exerting any effort.
-All Thai men are encouraged to become a monk for at least two years of their life, usually after they finish school and before they get married and begin a career.
-One major Thai value is to never admit that you don’t know something and therefore embarrass yourself. We had some issues with this when trying to get around, cab drivers would say they knew where we wanted to go even though they didn’t to “save face.”
-(This one truly is a fun fact) Thais also believe that you should always be having fun, in every aspect of life, even work.