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Thailand is one of Asia’s most popular and visited destinations. Have you ever thought of traveling in Thailand in an environmentally friendly manner? There are a number of things you can do to make your next vacation to Thailand more ecologically friendly. The country has about 300 national parks, and 17 percent of the land is set aside for environmental protection.

Tourism that is sustainable

Thailand’s economy is heavily reliant on the tourist industry. To guarantee the healthy growth of Thailand’s tourist sites, it is critical to reducing the impact of mass tourism on the environment and the community. Sustainable tourism addresses current requirements while also considering future generations’ needs.

Eco-tourism

Thailand is well-known for its abundant fauna and beautiful environment. To maintain the country’s beautiful nature, the country’s authorities recognize that tourism and its idea must evolve. There are several options for making your trip to Thailand ecologically friendly. Travelers are provided life-changing experiences like as living with local communities, sleeping in Thai families’ homes, and participating in initiatives sponsored by non-profit organizations and hotels.

Homestay

More and more tourists are opting for a homestay holiday, in which they live with local hosts. It is an authentic approach to learning about the way people live: learning to cook traditional Thai cuisine, aiding with the manufacture of craftwork, or going fishing with local fishermen are all part of the unique experience.

Bo Hin Farmstay in Trang

Trang province is located in southern Thailand on the west coast of the Andaman Sea. The mountainous region contains 46 islands in all. Between December and May is the ideal time to visit the province. Rubber plantation, palm oil production, and fishing provide a living for the inhabitants.

We propose a homestay in Trang province for a genuine Thai experience. You will stay at the homes of local fishermen and learn about their daily lives. The Bo Hin Farm is located on the banks of the Sikao River in Trang Province. The family encourages you to learn more about the unique environment that runs along the Sikao canal, which stretches into the open sea’s pure blue bay.

Artist House Baan Silapin in Bangkok

In the southwest of Bangkok, there is a particular area for art and culture enthusiasts. Thonburi is a less visited tourist neighborhood that is particularly distinctive due to its gorgeous riverfront position. The Artisthouse Baan Silapin is located on the western bank of the Chao Phraya and offers tourists the opportunity to see traditional Thai theatre in action.

Thailand in Green Season

Off-season or shoulder-season travel is becoming increasingly popular. You have more time to explore the attractions, you escape tourist crowds, and you may save money because the price-performance ratio is much better.

And when you finally make it to Thailand and need a place to live, check out VIP Luxury Services website for their list of the best condos in Bangkok.

 

Community-based tourism has been around for a while, but it has only recently gained a foothold due to its growing popularity. In community-based tourism, local people involved in the entire tourism planning process communicate about their culture and community, which helps them highlight how their place and society are developing. In community-based tourism, there is no doubt that people join together. This is because both tourists and residents collaborate and work together for their good, allowing people to learn more about themselves and the community. On the other hand, tourists can live life and gain a firsthand understanding of their culture and way of living.

community-based tourism

Community-based tourism has been a huge success all around the world. However, in Thailand, these have grown in popularity due to the authentic experience visitors receive after visiting. Some of the reasons that have contributed to the success of community-based tourism in Thailand are listed below.

Participation of the locals

Community-based tourism, as previously stated, is all about discovering, exploring, and experiencing something unique to from area. As a result, community-based tourism in Thailand is organized by locals to ensure its success. In Thailand, there are seven major tribes, and community leaders, tourism organization officials, and local company owners are the most common participants in community-oriented tourism. This is because they have a greater understanding of the culture, which supports tourists in understanding the nation, resulting in the success of this type of tourism.

Control over the tourism

The same is true in Thailand, where residents are in charge of community-based tourism. Community-based tourism has proven to be a huge success, as tourists learn more and more about Thailand’s rich history and culture thanks to the information provided by residents. Many travelers arrive in Thailand as tourists to see the country, but the majority of them come to receive a firsthand glimpse into the lives of Thai people. This demonstrates that community-based tourism has the upper hand in the overall tourism business.

Showcasing local talents

Each country has its unique talent. These talents can be in any form, including art, craft, or other skill. Thailand’s residents make it a point to reach out to as many people as possible to notify tourists about the country’s various talents. As a result, local stores or local business owners are integrated into community-based tourism so that tourists can visit their facilities and witness what Thailand is known for.

The leadership and management qualities by the locals

Locals are in charge of the entire management system in community-based tourism. They are the ones who look after guests by allowing them to stay in their homes so that tourists can have a unique experience while in Thailand. As a result, leadership and management skills are critical components of community-based tourism, as they contribute to the Thai community’s economic development.

Thai community's

Authentic experience

Because the Thai community is rich in culture, tourists must get a hands-on understanding of Thai culture by staying with and spending more time with the locals to have an authentic vacation experience that is only successful by community-based tourism.

Are you traveling to escape the rushing metro life? This time, pack your bags for a big fat trip to one of the most promising destinations, Bangkok. More than the monasteries and palaces you can roam about, the city has several facilities to shift you to a peaceful traditional community. If you want to enjoy an authentic Thai life without any urban chaos, check out the following to include them in your list!

Cook and feast on the lip-smacking Thai cuisine

When visiting Thailand itself, you cannot deny trying all kinds of noodle bowls and seafood delights you might have watched in movies and dramas. Rich with local produce of vegetables, greens, and varieties of fish dipped and seasoned in traditional sauces and broths, Thai dishes surely comprise a world-famous cuisine to try.

You can almost find a splendid menu in any eatery or street cart you visit but make sure to search for the ones where you can also try your hands. Some cottage hotels have customized bowl offers or immaculate kitchen teaching sessions, where you can cook and gorge on your favorite combinations.

Soothing Thai massage and spas

The Ayurveda-induced Thai massage is the just required self-pampering no one should miss while in Bangkok. For 5000 years, this massage variation gained significance for its rejuvenating recreation and relaxation effects to energize the body and strengthen the internal organs.

The masseuses don’t use any heat or pressure generating items but apply soothing essential oils to relax your limbs physically. Apart from a full-body massage, you can also get a manicure and pedicure done in traditional methods using no chemicals and machines.

Cheerful floating markets

Chatuchak Weekend Market or the Maeklong Railway Market are the best to visit if you wish to fill up your bags with souvenirs and local goodies. You should definitely enjoy the floating markets with them if you want a glimpse of rural life. Throughout the day, all around the year, the in-city streams of Bangkok are constantly busy with thousands of floating markets on small rowboats. Starting from fresh fruits, local pickles, seafood, or homemade snacks, you can get a glimpse of an old-age era in contrast to the tall malls on the other side of the city.

A peaceful bicycle ride around the suburbs

Bike tours are the best tourist attractions to enjoy the scenic beauty and the local life in the city. Ditch your cars and book for a four-hour-long bike tour in the jungle passages, back town areas, and tourism spots to enjoy the calm village atmosphere. You can find dedicated cycle paths and bikes to rent, which are the best to avoid the hustle of busy streets and market areas. Biking is available for different trails and even night tracks, for planning multiple trips to cover the countryside life.

Plan your trip around the festivals

Festivals are the best moments when traditions and cultures reflect with elegant fervor. Folk programs, religious practices, water fights, community meals, and even a chance for tourists to participate is the best experience one can have. Explore more about the best festivals and mark your calendars to visit the city for a real escapade from reality!

Massage parlors and nightclubs are generally the first things that spring to everyone’s mind when they hear the phrase ‘Bangkok,’ and why shouldn’t they? Almost every visitor who returned after a nice stay has long praised the city for its culture.  However, it turns out that it has much more to offer, as evidenced by the top locations to visit in Bangkok. These attractions not only showcase the finest of Thai culture but also provide a soul-stirring experience.

These destinations are must-sees whether you are on a honeymoon, a single trip, or a family getaway. They provide unparalleled experiences and limitless entertainment.

Let’s have a look at some of the top sites to visit in Bangkok that can help you understand Thai culture while also exposing you to the vibrant nightlife city has to offer.

Wat Arun

With so many gleaming temples and magnificent museums, ‘things to visit in Bangkok’ is the last thing on your mind. Wat Arun, popularly known as the ‘Temple of the Dawn,’ is the most beautiful temple in the city, and it is even more beautiful after sunset. This temple, located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, is a work of art in both architecture and location. The temple’s name is taken from the Hindu God Aruna, and it retains a particular place in the hearts of the people. It is also regarded as one of Bangkok’s greatest sites to visit with family.

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson’s House is an unusual yet interesting site in Bangkok, Thailand. It is frequently listed as one of the top places to see in the city. Jim, the legendary American spy, stayed in Thailand after WWII ended and restored the city’s lost art. The gathering and construction of the six structures here exemplify the majesty of traditional Thai architecture. If you enjoy visiting museums, this Bangkok site should be on your list of Bangkok must-sees.

Grand Palace

The iconic Grand Palace, located in the middle of the city, is one of the most famous attractions to see in Bangkok, and without it, your Thailand vacation would be completed. This historic house of King Rama of the Rattanakosin Kingdom today holds royal rituals and enlightening tours for all types of travelers, making it one of the greatest Bangkok tourist destinations. Get a glimpse of the king’s regal existence that will make you regret your mundane life. Aside from his dwelling, you may also see the magnificence of the ‘Temple of the Emerald Buddha,’ which is located here.

Chao Phraya River

Every Bangkok tourist attraction list is incomplete without mentioning the famous ‘Chao Phraya River.’ This river, which runs south to the Gulf of Thailand, will give you a multitude of opportunities for adventure. While the amazing dinner cruises and pleasant boat tours are reason enough to visit, the breathtaking magnificence set against the backdrop of stunning architecture makes a visit here much more rewarding, making it one of the best Bangkok tourist spots. Winter in Thailand, particularly in this region, is beautiful, so visiting from December to February is a great idea.

Authenticity is essential when visiting any place. Community-based tourism claims to provide travelers with the most genuine experiences feasible. Thailand, too, pledges to provide travelers with an authentic experience through community-based tourism. Is this, however, the case?

As one of Thailand’s unique resource preservation and promotion policies, community-based tourism has favored the government, corporate sector, and universities. Locals have started collaborating with government agencies to provide tourists with a more authentic experience while benefiting their community. But how do they manage it? You can find the answer to this question in this article, which will offer you a better understanding of the subject.

Thailand's

Providing homestay

In the tourism industry, taking a trip and booking a hotel room are pretty standard. Many holiday package providers also claim to provide the most incredible and authentic experience but fail to deliver. This is because, while they may lead visitors to numerous authentic locations, the essence of what is gained by spending time with local people cannot be obtained by visiting a museum and learning about them.

As a result, homestays are provided by Thai locals to make it easier for visitors to understand more about the culture of Thailand. So, instead of staying in a high-tech five-star hotel, people live in bamboo and grass houses among the locals, allowing them to interact with them and experience the nation’s originality. This may seem to be an unimportant gesture. Still, it makes a significant contribution to the community’s economic development while also allowing tourists to experience and respect the lives of Thai people.

Visiting the authentic local attractions

Thailand is a country with a diverse range of tourist attractions in addition to its tradition and culture. It should be noted, however, that not all attractions in Thailand are authentic. There may be locations that have been there for centuries, but can it truly represent the concept of authenticity if it is not tied to Thai culture?

As a result, when visiting ancient sites such as Thailand, it is critical to ensure that local folks are approached first to learn about authentic Thai locations. Local restaurants serving authentic Thai cuisine are among the community-based tourism attractions that may be relied on. Local art and craft shops will display the work of local artists who have captured the essence of Thai authenticity in their work. Tourists can also get an idea about the experiences of Thai people by visiting local learning facilities.

Attending the cultural shows

These are some of the most common forms of entertainment provided to travelers.

Local residents demonstrate their talents in front of tourists at these shows to better understand their folk culture.

These performances are also done in front of tourists in Thailand, where locals dance in traditional attire and sing traditional songs to offer tourists a sense of authenticity.

You will often encounter ladyboys in tourist areas of Thailand.  Their LBGT transgender culture is fascinating. We recommend you check this article providing details on how to pick a ladyboy out of the crowd.

cultural shows

Final Views

It is quite difficult for countries to transmit an authentic atmosphere when visiting a place.

On the other hand, Thailand has invested heavily in community-based tourism to enhance their society socially and economically to provide tourists with an authentic tourism experience.

In the hustle of everyday life, everyone seeks out some time to spend with themselves and their loved ones so that they can relax before going back to their busy day-to-day schedules. There are many ways one can freshen up their mind. It could be by engaging in favorite hobbies, attending or organizing functions, etc. One of the most common and much-preferred ways for many people is traveling to different places, observing different cultures, and knowing interesting things about that particular place.

To talk about the famous tourist destinations, one place that always makes it to the go-to list for many people is going to Bangkok. However, an important point to consider while traveling to any place is that you must be a responsible traveler who doesn’t pose any harm to the culture and the environment of the place you are visiting. For the same, you can try to look out for community-based sustainable tourism options that could be your go-to destinations.

If you are planning to visit Bangkok, here are some nearby local Thai community-based tourism places to visit that could help you have a lot of fun and be sustainable at the same time.

Ban Khwai (Buffalo Village)

If you wish to get an insight into how the rural world of central Thailand functions, Buffalo Village situated in Suphan Buri is you way to go. This place replicates the lifestyle entirely and can make you a witness to the process of making the rice beginning from the care of the seedlings to the final step of rice-threshing. With due consideration to the fact that the number of buffaloes has dropped from three million in 1996 to somewhere around one million at present, this place also serves as the buffalo preservation center.

Ban Bang Sadet Court Doll Centre

Situated in the Ang Thong village, Ban Bang Sadet Court Doll Centre has the potential to portray the lifestyle and the culture of Thai-style through art in an immensely beautiful way. It is a project that aims to provide an alternate source of income for the local villagers as they indulge in doll production. If you plan to visit this place, you can witness how the beautiful pieces of art come into form as the amiable villagers use their skills to create them.

Khwai Thai Khao Ngam Conservation Centre

It is yet another center situated in the province of Sing Buri that aims to preserve the essence of Thai agricultural traditions along with breeding the buffaloes & preserving them. It is an initiative with an ultimate goal to prevent the buffaloes from the slaughterhouse.

Khwai Thai Khao Ngam

Ban Suan Kwan Community Tourism

Visiting this place would make you a witness to the wisdom of local Thai people as they are producing products of good quality without any use of chemicals. It is combined with the tourism activities that are sustainable because visitors are ultimately attracted to see how these local food products are produced to ultimately purchase them. You can even take an e-bike ride to travel around and witness the beauty of Thai culture.

Forgive us for being slightly passed the deadline with this one – it’s worth a mention nevertheless: How a Thai school had to apologize to a Jewish organization for a Nazi celebration.

You heard it right: The “Sieg Heil” salutes happily performed by Thai school kids and the black Hitler swastikas affectionately made by the same kids – both actually meant to be fun.

Well, we farangs just have no sense of sanuk. What should you care as long as you look sexy and mega-chic!

Here’s an Associated Press report dating back to October 17th, 2007:

BANGKOK, Thailand: A Thai school has apologized to an international Jewish human rights organization for its sponsorship of a celebration that involved a Nazi-themed parade, according to an announcement received Wednesday.

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a press release that a group of students at Thewphaingarm School in Bangkok chose to dress as Nazis on sports day, an annual event held in September that divides students into teams.

Photos from the event showed about 200 students — between the ages of 6 and 18 — dressed in red outfits with swastikas on their baseball caps behind a large sign with “NAZI” in shoulder-high letters.

Some students at the school — which also offers an English-language curriculum — wore elaborately stylized stormtrooper uniforms, carried fake rifles or performed the “Sieg Heil” salute.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote a letter to the school earlier this month, protesting that such activity mocks the memory of victims of Nazi aggression and has no place in an educational institution.

“We are long past the time when such incidents take place in Asia that can be excused due to “alleged” ignorance of the Nazis’ atrocities during World War II,” the letter said.

According to the center, school director Kanya Khemanan responded with an apology, saying that the Nazi celebration happened mainly due to a lack of oversight.

The teacher responsible has been removed from his position and the school has since held lectures and discussions on the Holocaust, the center said, citing Kanya’s letter.

Calls to the Thewphaingarm School went unanswered Wednesday.

Nazi regalia and symbols surface from time to time in Thailand and other parts of Asia, often treated as chic design elements for otherwise unrelated products and services.

In 1988, a Nazi-themed bar in a trendy Bangkok mall drew protests from foreigners because of its glamorization of the Third Reich. In 1998, a Thai company used Hitler’s likeness to sell potato chips.

Hong Kong and Japan have witnessed a growth in the casual wearing of SS uniforms, as well as increased interest in “white power” music, popular with neonazis.

South Korea several years ago experienced a surge of public fascination with Nazi imagery, and earlier this year, a pro-Hitler group in Taiwan with approximately 1,000 members attempted to gain official status from the government.

Western reaction to the Asian phenomenon has been one of sharp criticism and utter astonishment. Western diplomats, especially Germans and Israelis, have complained heavily, pointing out that Asians suffered during World War II under occupation by Japan, Nazi Germany’s ally.

Says the Associated Press report.

The problem of “alleged” historical amnesia though runs much deeper in especially the wider Asia. Not that Asians are supremacists, no no.

What brings us to that older story – properly reported by Simon Masnick, a freelance writer living in Hong Kong.

His story back then in October 2005:

Let’s keep Nazis out of fashion

In a crowded marketplace there is a constant battle to stand out. A glance at the numerous magazines on display at a newsstand is a case in point.

And a glance at the moment might find your eyes landing on a quarterly magazine called Akasi, published by the Flying Wind group. The cover displays a scantily clad young woman posing as a Nazi tank commander with a Nazi general, Heinz Guderian. Inside, the magazine continues the theme with a centerpiece explaining Guderian’s life and times. Clearly they are aiming to offend and I will take the bait.

This is the latest example of a long line of “Nazi chic.” Fashion chain Izzue had an infamous campaign involving shops adorned in Nazi flags, swastikas and even Nazi propaganda films playing on the shop wall. There was also Bar Pacific with its photographs of Hitler and Nazi executions lining its walls. Last year another fashion chain was selling Nazi-themed bags. In Singapore earlier this year a school team chose the name “Hitler” for their leadership idol. These are not isolated examples. Rather they are all too common.

Many wonder what the fuss is about. Nazism is poorly understood in Asia, largely because the continent was thankfully immune to its effects. Instead Asia was tied up with its own war, with its different and incomparable evils. And herein lies the problem. There would be a massive outcry should a magazine cover feature a woman wearing Japanese Imperial Army uniform, cavorting with a World War II Japanese general.

Such imagery touches on highly symbolic and still open wounds of the past. There are painful memories to confront and are still the cause of visceral anger, as the anti-Japan riots earlier this year across China will attest. The images of Nazism are the analogous symbols for Europeans and the many victims of the Holocaust and Hitler’s aggression.

When the large majority shrugs their shoulders when Nazism is used as a marketing tool, it is incumbent upon us to raise our voices. In the words of American columnist Jonah Goldberg, “Hitler is supposed to define the outer limits of evil, not the lowest threshold.” Hitler and Nazism are the extremity, not a gimmick to sell magazines. The usual indifference to this blatant use of evil to make a buck reflects a broader intolerance that is all too common.

Ignorance of history is not an excuse. Trivializing the deaths of millions of people across Europe is a slap in the face to their collective memory and is not worthy of modern, civilized people. Ignorance breeds intolerance and hiding behind “I didn’t realize it was offensive” cannot be an excuse, just as it is not in law or other contexts.

The important thing is to find solutions. Governments across the region must ensure that history courses in schools include comprehensive coverage of the European experience in World War II. Along with the Israeli and German embassies, Asian governments should lead a widespread publicity campaign using media, exhibitions, seminars and exchanges to improve knowledge of the evils of Nazism and World War II in Europe.

The media and public need to remain vigilant against such crude desecrations of memory and bring pressure to bear if it happens again.

This is not about free speech. It is about the bounds of good taste and common decency, and making people aware of what those bounds are. Instead of Chief Executive Donald Tsang worrying about the “privatization of morals,” he needs to worry about the “privatization of ignorance.” We all do.

Bangkok is a tourist’s delight in every way possible. It has a very rich culture and its famous Thai cuisine has attained a world-renowned status. If you’re a shopaholic, Bangkok is absolute heaven in every way. It has some of the best malls in the world and is one of the most famous cities for bachelors.

Bangkok also has a very beautiful spiritual side to it. The number of tourists are increasing each year because of the many great tourist attractions such as the beautiful and unique floating market, Khao San Road, Lumpini Park, Jim Thompson House. You can enjoy going on the famous river cruises and enjoy yourself.

Bangkok, Thailand, is one of Asia’s dream travel traveling destinations. Be it your honeymoon trip or a business conference trip, the city is always warm and well-established with the best hospitality. As much as you can enjoy your few days’ trips, Bangkok is really is the best place to settle down too. Looking about what the urban Thai society can offer? Check out the following essential factors to consider before your shift.

Tourist places all around

Full of monasteries, temples, palaces, and museums to visit now and then, Bangkok is certainly the best place if you are a travel addict. While being stuck in your professional life, you can still enjoy the best of nature and Thai cultures. Festivals in and around the city are celebrated in their best grandeur filled with traditional practices, offering you a peaceful location with a natural work-life balance.

The best nightlife enjoyment you can ask for


The Red Light Street, Kaho San Road, or the Soi Cowboy areas are the all-time humming streets to enjoy the best nightlife every day. Clubs, bars, game rooms, drinks, and an array of street food eateries, you name the choice, and there they are readily available for you. You can find thousands of marketplaces, cheap roadside hotels, or even posh restaurants to enjoy your time after the sunset.

Thriving amenities at affordable charges

Though Bangkok is still a developing city, you can find all the demanding amenities to the point. Transportation is no less with Bangkok sky-trains transit system, ferry boats, three-wheeled tuk-tuks, or the taxis always running on the streets.

The city currently stands at no.37 among the world’s best cities to live, providing a suitable lifestyle for every immigrant shifting there. You can find clinics, multi-speciality hospitals, schools, and top-class Asian Universities to afford with splendid discounts and scholarships.

Rent and market are also cheaper as you can find several street-side outlets and cottage shops selling various goods at cheaper rates.

Employment opportunities and immigration support

Shifting to Bangkok requires a formal employment offer or rigid work permit along with a Non-Immigrant Visa(B). Ex-pat employees working in certified organizations can avail of the entire benefits of the country’s employment laws.

With a mix of culture and technology developing in Bangkok, most of the shifted residents vote it for a peaceful lifestyle they enjoy. If you wonder the city only sustains strong due to tourism, the other industries like IT, media, manufacturing, and real estate contribute to a massive chunk in the GDP.

As an ex-pat, if you are worried about immediate accommodation, there are countless boarding hostels for students and workers, and you can easily find a place to rent in no time.

Is security your concern?

While you plan to shift, security in the city is a must. Ranked as the least dangerous country of South-East Asia, Thailand is one of the best for travelers and residents. Though one can’t erase the petty pocket thieves from society or stop the occasional community fights, Bangkok still scores higher in safety for travel and residence, even for solo women. The city is busy day and night with no excuse of aloofness or danger of walking alone anytime.

We received an exclusive paper by renowned Thailand historian B. J. Terwiel on the current Thai strife of colors. The original is a small book in size. So here’s an abstract with Terwiel’s four main points: 1) Background on Thailand’s Tangled Political Situation; 2) Parallels in the Past (does Sarit ring a bell?); the 3) Symbolic Values of Some Colors in Traditional Thai Culture; and a careful 4) Prognosis.

“Baas” Terwiel’s disciplinary base is cultural history. His latest publication A Traveler in Siam in the Year 1655 was published by Silkworm in 2008. If you thought you know what was and what is going on in Thailand, Terwiel adds some new perspectives and explains connections you may not yet be aware of. Chapters 2), 3) and 4) are the essential reading. But even if you know the background, why omit the intro:

1) Dutchman Terwiel describes former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who’s at the center of it all, as “effective and drastic.” Surprisingly most of his election promises were fulfilled – and financed by a booming economy. Much money went into the communes, the granting of loans was eased and Thaksin reacted “immediately and effectively” to crises such as the anti-Thai riots in Cambodia or the tsunami.

By Barend Jan Terwiel

Thaksin made use of the “exceptionally democratic” constitution of 1997 by transforming the political system for his own good. Success became his friend, he won another election even more clearly and filled even more bureaus with friends and party loyalists. The former elite, who wasn’t part of Thaksin’s friends, anxiously witnessed the old benefice disappear.

The anti-Thaksin guard consisting of parts of the military, old families, monarchists and many intellectuals not only rejected Thaksin because of corruption allegations. Thaksin was clumsy in public and towards the international press when speaking with his funny English. For many he became an embarrassment and allegations of vote buying were certainly justified. That didn’t diminish his popularity among the common people, as this is how the Thai political system functioned and still functions.

During his second term as prime minister Thaksin sold his mobile phone business to Singapore – immediately after he had forced a law through parliament freeing him of all taxes. The tax exemption saved him some 600 million U.S. dollars. Clear thing that he blatantly abused his position for own personal gain.

The first wave of protests was launched by Thammasat University, traditionally the moral conscience of Thailand. Thaksin got cold feet and quickly held an election that was boycotted by the opposition and annulled by a court. The army staged a coup and prepared for new elections. Thaksin’s loyalists won again, but two nominees of Thaksin – Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat – were forced out of office by a combination of bizarre court rulings and street protests of the yellow shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy PAD.

The event since then with the airport blockades, judicial double standards and the bloody Songkran are known to everyone, so let’s proceed to

2) Parallels in the Past:

In 1957 Field Marshall Sarit Thanarat (also: Dhanarajata) had staged an unbloody coup d’ètat. He invalidated the constitution and ruled until death in 1963 by decree. The generals Thanom Kittikachorn and Praphat Charusathian were his vice-dictators.

The democratically educated elite was outraged, the international media critical and disgusted. Because of his corruption and immoral personal conduct history doesn’t judge Sarit nicely. But what is ignored by most is that the general population mostly liked the dictator. It was appreciated that there were more no parliamentary debates and no face-losing compromises. People loved clear guidelines.

For instance back at that time there were too many overinsured buildings destroyed by fires. Sarit ruled that whenever an overinsured factory burns down the owner of that building has to be executed. After a first death sentence owners quickly took pains with protecting their premises against arsonists …

Thaksin’s harsh war against drugs was not unsimilar: populist and easily understood, but apparently effective. Sarit for himself was educated in Thailand and clumsy when dealing with foreigners. His own people though he understood – while the monstrosity of his corruption only became apparent after his death.

The intellectuals back then were helpless to do anything against the dictator and his successor, while the little man from the street felt rather protected by the draconian regime. Many Thais felt relief over the end of the political bickering.

There are several parallels between Sarit and Thaksin showing that even back then a split in opinions was visible, with the difference that the middle class and political conscience are much further developed since.

Terwiel recommends the classic Thailand: The Politics of Despotic Paternalism, written by Thak Chaloemitiarana, to get a feel for this time.

Over to

3) Politics of Colors:

The colors red and yellow got a political meaning over the past two years that they did not have in the past. Colors though always had symbolic meaning in Thailand. White and black for instance are not popular, because they are related to grief and death.

Blue since generations is the color of the farmer’s shirt, because indigo since centuries is the colorant of the cheapest clothing material. Certain authors and academics consciously wear a blue shirt to show solidarity with the common people.

Yellow in contrast was traditionally related to the Buddhist religion. In former times the robe of many monks was mostly yellow. A Buddhist flag is yellow.

But yellow is as well a symbol for gold, the most valuable of all materials. Images of Buddha can be beautified with gold foil, palaces of kings were covered with it. A building with yellow roof tiles is most certainly part of a Buddhist monastery.

Some colors have a distinctively complex symbolism in Thailand, which is why the wearing of clothes with a certain color is highly symbolic. In a bus you can define the job of most passengers by the clothes they wear.

All students wear the prevailing color white. Most civil servants and teachers wear a khaki uniform. Every larger company has strict rules what employees have to wear. Thais are used to integrate themselves into a group with their clothes and to demonstrate that belonging to a group membership in public.

Over the past twenty years the wearing of a yellow shirt has become a sign of attachment to the king and the love for the monarch. At the 80th birthday of HM the King hundreds of thousands of Thais were dressed in yellow. The color yellow is intentionally chosen by the PAD to demonstrate love for the Buddhist nation and the king – and to express that they think Thaksin is not good for the nation and against the king.

As the counter movement Thaksin’s loyalists chose red, the color of blood and traditionally the color of the revolution.

The selection of red was pretty surprising. Blue would have been much smarter. But perhaps blue was deliberately not chosen because indigo is the traditional color of the rural population. The red shirts want to show that they don’t only consist of poor people.

Terwiel suggests that red was chosen to imply an aggressive, combative stance. The traditional shirt of the warrior – covered by protecting symbols – was bright red.

Tens of thousands of people in a mono-colored sea of red lead to a highly emotional, euphoric experience for all participants, conveying a feeling of courage, trust and the sensation to be part of an infinite power.

Today the yellow shirts are a symbol for the preservation of the status quo, for order and calm and the coherence of everyone who has achieved a degree of welfare.

Read meanwhile symbolizes for most a just allocation of the national income. Thailand may be a beautiful country, but her laborers miss. Unions have mostly been banned and good social laws almost always stumble upon a corrupt system.

The level of frustration can hardly be underestimated. The red shirts of 2009 can be seen as an awakening of the underprivileged majority. Red stands for charged power, for long overdue justice. Even without Thaksin, the red shirt will invigorate Thailand’s political landscape for some time to come.

Leading us to the

4) Prognosis:

The situation is highly volatile and could explode. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is weak and his most loyal advisors won’t allow Thaksin to come back as the head of government. Thaksin is cornered. He want’s his money and Thai passport back and enforce his rehabilitation. The military is divided and hesitates to enter politics again.

The economic crisis aggravates the situation. Without a compromise granting Thaksin access to his frozen money Thailand runs the risk of heading into civil war.

But a compromise has become highly improbable. A few weeks ago one could ask how much Thaksin was willing to do in exchange for a royal pardon. That path looks closed now.

Neither side will stoop to concede own mistakes while Prime Minister Abhisit does not want new elections the pro-Thaksin parties would most probably win.

Abhisit banks on a slow healing process by appeasing means. He plays for time. A recent appearance on TV could be interpreted as a sign that he hopes for an election method securing his party a majority to prevent Thaksin’s return indefinitely.

Most importantly though the Thai government needs measures to seek confidence, to convince the people that his government is here for all Thais. Part of this is the liberalization of the 2007 constitution.

Abhisit most urgently needs measures to defuse the explosively polarized situation.

If he remains in office long enough, one strategy that may work is to devise strategies that are easy to understand and that benefit the poor, exactly the sort of measures that made Thaksin popular.

It is a little disconcerting though that Abhisit has not yet given much attention to the south, where Thaksin’s misrule has provided the Democrats with a head-start.

“Let us hope,” Terwiel concludes, “that this unexperienced man takes that road and thus breaks the cycle of violence.”