Kanchanaburi

This past weekend, Abby and I finally made it to Thailand. “Now, wait,” you might say, “aren’t you already in Thailand?” In the sense that we live in Bangkok, we also are in Thailand, but in another sense, we’re not. Bangkok. Thailand. We went to Kanchanaburi, in the western part of the country. Kanchanaburi is the home of the bridge over the River Kwai, which I’ll get to later; for now, we’ll look at other things to see in Kanchanaburi. The area has many temples that are tourist attractions as well as religious sites. First we visited Wat Ban Tham. Entrance…

Let’s learn Thai! – part 6, in which it gets worse

Thai has three types of consonants: “middle” consonants, which are simply regular consonants; “high” consonants, which follow certain rules; and “low” consonants, which follow certain other rules. Within the low consonant class, there are “single” low consonants and “paired” low consonants. Paired low consonants match the high consonants, so we start with these. For simplicity’s sake, I am including in the below table only the primary consonant, rather than (for example) all the different ways one can make the “s” sound. “kh,” “th” and “ph” are aspirated k, t and p, respectively. /kh/ /ch/ /th/ /ph/ /f/ /s/ /h/ high…

Loy Krathong

A girl carries her krathong to the lake; a boy with his edible krathong; a variety of styles for sale. Last weekend, Thailand celebrated Loy Krathong. Loi krathong (ลอย กระทว) literally means “to float a basket,” and during the Loy Krathong festival, people make or purchase elaborate little baskets that they put into the river or lake while saying a prayer. Symbolically, when a person releases a krattong into the water, one also releases one’s problems and sins. The baskets are made from banana leaves and flowers or, for the more environmentally-conscious, fish food. Many Bangkok residents head down to…

Spirit houses 2

Spirit houses in their natural habitat. In my quest to find out where spirit houses come from, I started with a visit to the website of K.T. Spirit House (http://www.kt-spirithouse.com). Unfortunately, the store is located far outside Bangkok, and the proprietors didn’t answer my email. I considered heading out and taking my chances, but then I found a store in town that sells spirit houses, and the woman running it spoke English so I didn’t have to struggle with Thai to explain my interest. In response to my first question, she told me that hers are made from molded poured…