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Snapshot of Thailand – Thailand’s official language is Thai, although there are different dialects in the northern and southern border parts of the country. Buddhism is the dominant religion of Thailand, with nearly 95% of the population practicing Theravada Buddhism. Of the remaining population, most are Muslim, with less than 1% of Thai people being Christian. Thailand’s culture has been heavily influenced by Theravada Buddhism as well as India, China, and other southeast Asian countries. Thai people traditionally greet each other by performing the wai, a small bow performed while the palms of the hands are pressed together. The younger person usually offers the wai first before the older one responds, an example of the social hierarchy and respect for one’s ancestors that is considered very important in Thai culture. Touching another person’s head or using your feet to point are considered rude.
Muay Thai, a type of kickboxing, is the national sport of Thailand, though soccer is also extremely popular. Kite-flying and the traditional sport Takraw (similar to volleyball but played using the feet and chest, etc. instead of hands) are also common activities. Rice is the staple food in Thailand, and is generally served with other dishes (usually chicken, pork, or seafood). Thai cuisine uses several different herbs, spices, and chilis, and meals often feature several different types of curry. Meals are generally eaten with a fork and spoon, with diners using the fork to push food onto the spoon. In more traditional places, meals are eaten while sitting on mats on the floor, and sometimes utensils are not used at all. Fresh fruit is generally served after the main meal. Eating insects is also a normal practice in the northern regions of Thailand. It is quite common for street vendors to sell several different types of deep-fried insects as snacks.
Laos and Myanmar (Burma) are part of the Thailand mission but there is no proselytizing missionary presence in those countries at this time.
There are currently 7 different stakes and districts located in Thailand. There are also English congregations located in Bangkok and Pakkret. Most congregations generally have an attendance of about 50-60. A few chapels in the region also have FamilySearch centers. The area is serviced by the Hong Kong temple.
Thai cuisine is usually rather spicy, and uses a wide variety of chilis and other vegetables and spices to give dishes a unique flavor. Rice is a staple food and is served with most meals. Several types of meat, such as chicken, pork, and shrimp are commonly used in dishes. Popular dishes include Khao phat (also known as Thai fried rice, which usually contains some kind of meat) and Phat Thai (or Pad Thai), a stir-fried noodle dish that is a popular street food. Fruits such as mango are often served as dessert. Don’t be surprised to see deep-fried insects being sold by street vendors as well!
There are several types of public transportation in Thailand. It is not uncommon for missionaries to use taxis or songthaew (a type of truck converted into a taxi). Ferries and water taxis are also frequently used to travel up and down rivers, and in rural areas elephants are also used as a form of transportation. Bangkok also has a metro system.
Theravada Buddhism has a large influence on Thai culture and identity. Respect for elders is very important, and older people are often given seniority in decision-making and other situations. It is also considered rude to touch someone’s head or to point with your feet.
Thai has 5 distinct tones that are used in conversation in Thai. The tone being used can alter the meaning of the word. Dialects also vary somewhat from region to region in Thailand (for instances, northern regions are influenced by Laotian/Burmese, etc.)
Thailand is home to many fascinating and unique sites, such as Ayutthaya Historical Park, which contains several ancient Buddhist structures. Bangkok is home to several Buddhist temples, such as the Wat Pha Kraew, as well as unique shopping areas such as the Taling Chan Floating Market.
1645/6 New Phetchburi Road
Facebook Group – “Thailand Bangkok Mission Alumni” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/110620359025372/
Straight from the Thailand Bangkok Mission:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Crest toothpaste, feminine product–really anything American.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice (with every meal).”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Fried Frog and Dog.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“Human life doesn’t have as much value as in America.”
“Elephants walking down the street, wildlife in the city. Also the friendly, trusting attitude of the people.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Thailand Bangkok Mission?
“Don’t be afraid to try new foods.”
“Embrace the culture and the people, forget yourself.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“2 years goes by very fast. Don’t waste it.”
“18 or 19 months can be really really short.”
“If you want to know what a mission is really like watch The Errand of Angels movie.”
“A mission is the best thing anyone can do for their own life and for the life and eternal life of others.”
**Did you serve in the Thailand Bangkok Mission? If so, we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.**