Daily Archives: March 2, 2005

Buddha images for each day of the week

When you visit a Thai temple, you will always see Buddha images in various poses. Although many of them show the Buddha in meditation, there are in fact over 100 different poses which depict moments in his life. In addition, seven of these poses have been sorted according to the actual day they took place. From this, Thai people can pay particular attention to the Buddha image which corresponds to the day they were born. (If you don’t know when you were born, then click here.)

When you go to some temples, you might see a row of Buddha images which represent each day of the week. I took the following pictures at Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.

Sunday is represented by Open-Eye Posture. The Buddha stands with his right hand placed over the left on the upper thigh in a mindful attitude.

Monday is represented by Preventing Calamities which is also known as Pacifying the Relatives. The Buddha stands with the left hand hanging down at the side while the right is raised at chest level; the palm faces outward to depict a gesture which depicted raising both hands as in the picture above.

Tuesday is represented by the Reclining Buddha. The Buddha is depicted as lying on his right side. The left leg rests on the right. The left arm lies along the body. The right arm serves asa pillow and the palm of the right hand supports his head.

Wednesday morning is represented by Holding an Alms Bowl. The Buddha is standing with heels pressed together as he holds an alms bowl with both hands at the waist. (Wednesday evening is at the end of the row so I will come to that in a moment)

Thursday is represented by Meditation. The Buddha sits cross-legged in the meditation posture, placing both palms upwards on the lap, the right over the left.

Friday is represented by Contemplation. The Buddha stands or sits in the postion of contemplation, both hands held at the chest, the right palm over the left.

Saturday is represented by Seated Under the Naga Hood. The Buddha sits in meditation with overlapping hands turned upwards on his lap, while the naga spreads its hood above his head.

The last Buddha image is for Wednesday evening and is represented by Resting with monkey and elephant. The Buddha sits in the Western style, the left palm on the thigh and the right hand on the knee. He is about to accept a honeycomb from a monkey and a water pot from an elephant.

I will write more about Buddha images in the future. In the meantime, you might like to visit our sister site at www.thaibuddhist.com.

Source: Gestures of the Buddha by K.I. Matics

Playing the Numbers Game

There are a number of reasons why knowing Thai language is beneficial to foreign visitors; a better understanding of Thai society and culture is the most obvious one. However, there are other little benefits as well. For instance, the only way you can be an active participant in Thailand’s “numbers game” is if you know Thai numerals well, and can read basic Thai.

Still don’t know what I’m talking about? This game, which can be an endless source of fun, mild amusement, annoyance, alienation and embarrassment is more frequently referred to as the notorious two-tiered price system.

The basics
The game, in its basic form, is very simple. There are two teams: Darkey and Whitey (sorry, but political correctness is not part of the rules). The objective of the game is for team Darkey to fleece members of team Whitey as much as possible, as sneakily as possible. Darkey members have to come up with a variety of ingenious methods to disguise their intention.

That’s quite easy most of the time, since the majority of Whitey members are oblivious of, or couldn’t care less about playing the game, since they are just short-time players. The real veteran players are the ones who love Thailand and are somewhat familiar with its langauge and culture. This small group of core playas tries everyting they can, with their limited means, to trick the Darkey system, and to even the playing field as much as possible. Rules: anything goes, short of killing members of the opposite team. 🙂

Now that you know da playas and da rulez, let’s look at the game itself.
Richard and Gor covered the basics with excellent examples, explanations and a list of Thai numbers on LearningThai.com. Check that out first; I will just supplement it with experiences and some comments of my own.

Game replay
This picture is the ticket booth at the entrance to San Kamphaneg Hot Springs that I’ve visited with a friend last Sunday. (There are more pictures of this trip on the photoalbum for this site.) Even intermediate Whitey playas will immediately get suspicious when they see the prices in Arabic and Thai numbers. Then, after working out the meaning of the Thai numbers, they can figure they are being cheated.

There are few options one can take after this. One could either turn back in disgust, trying to negotiate/trick one’s way in, or just fork out the extra cash. Considering the small scale of the price, and the distance we traveled to get here, we decided to do the latter. However, later we found out that this incident was just an indication of worse things to come. If you take a look at the sign above offering foot massage, you can see the same thing (work out the Thai numbers), except now we entered the realm of three-figure numbers. Needless to say, I didn’t feel like having my feet – and my wallet! – massaged there.

At the Chiang Mai Zoo, the situation is the same, but there we were able to get in on local prices – my Thai friend asked for the ticket. Other times, when a large group of us (two Farang, four Thai) planned to charter a red songtaew for a daytrip to Doi Suthep, our Thai friends asked us to stay behind, while they are negotiating the fare. The reason: the mere presence of Whitey will awaken Darkey greed, no matter how many Thais they also have to cheat that way. At the end, the charter costed a total of 1100Bt for the six of us. A simple one-way trip up the mountain for a single Whitey is 500Bt, as I found out earlier when I tried to go up there by myself.

Temple Games
Orange robes have also joined Team Darkey lately. When we got to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the famous temple on the mountain during the above-mentioned trip, the first sign greeting us at the top of the long staircase was “FOREIGNER – THIS WAY” pointing to the right of the main entrance. There, at a small booth (‘FOREIGNER – PAY HERE), we, the two Whitey members had to buy our way into the temple. Selling popcorn and fries would have completed the illusion of going to a circus. Other visitors, including Asian foreigners, could get in for free, like the locals. I’ve yet to see the Notre Dame de Paris or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome charge extra to their dark-skinned visitors.

The Southern version
But nothing could outdo the avarice of the South Darkeys. Since it is a very popular tourist destination, 10-50times ripoffs are commonplace – again, from my own experience, when peddlers told me about the “good deal” of buying 500Bt-postcards. This was also the place where I witnessed the most ingenious way of Darkey disguise. A general store had various goods displayed, with the standard grocery price sticker saying Thank You, with the printed price below. Each item also carried a similar sticker with a series of short numbers, presumably a barcode of some sort. Nothing wrong with it, right? Well, as it turns out to be, two Thai teachers, who were friends of mine and were travelling with the school group, pointed out to me that the last number in the lower right corner on the second sticker is the actual local price. I thought they were joking. Upon closer inspection however, I noticed that the “Thank you”-price always happened to be the exact multiple of the number on the second sticker. Strange for a barcode…

The true test came when we got to the cashier. I already believed my friends, so I took their offer to put my wares in their basket (I payed them later, of course). I watched with a smirk as the cashier ringed up the “barcode” number.

And if you think that was funny, wait, there is more: I told my experiences to the Thai sitting next to me on the tour bus, who displayed the same disbelief I had just a few minutes ago. He payed the “Thank you” sticker price for his stuff! I directed him to the two friends who helped me. He finally believed it, but he was flabbergasted. Ironic, isn’t it? Darkey greed goes so far in disguise, they trick Thais as well.

Disguising the double standard in Thai numerals, writing prices out in Thai letters, having a double set of menus at restaurants – and now this. I wonder what gave rise to such dishonest practices in the land where honesty and meritmaking are so essential?

Whenever this happens and I’m with Thai friends, they are embarrassed beyond description, for the lowly behavior of their fellow nationals. I know I would feel the same way if my own country treated my foreign friends this way. Money is not the main issue here, though for expats living on Thai terms, it can also mean a significant burden on the long run.

Treating us this way simply creates a feeling of alienation and exploitation. No matter how long I’ll live here, how well I will know Thai culture and language, how much I will help the country – to these people I will remain no more than a walking ATM, due to the color of my skin.

(pro- and contra arguments about this issue are listed in a Gors World story. If you have one that’s not listed there, please let us know by leaving a comment to this blog.)

Buying Mobile Phones

First before anything else, I would like to congratulate those who have been reading my blog. Even though I get mixed comments on it. I also would like to provide information based on my interests and to the best knowledge I can. Sometimes, it might not suit other peoples opinions but if you decided to read my blog, please be acceptable to what I want to say. For those who kindly read and be acceptable about it, I dearly thank you for understanding my potential.

OK now, one thing that came across my mind is buying a mobile phone in England is very much different to Thailand. Here, you can either choose to buy mobiles PAYG(Pay as you go) or pay monthly. In Thailand it is quite different for pay monthly because you’ll have to buy a mobile outright then buy the SIM card which you’ll have to choose between pay monthly or PAYG. You can either choose to buy it outright without SIM card as well but you’ll need to have a SIM card already, otherwise it would not work without one. If you choose to pay monthly, you’ll have to subscribe to a pay monthly plan on top of paying the mobile outright. Now, the system here is slightly different where you;

1. Choose a mobile phone
2. Choose network (In Thailand, there are only 3 major ones)
3. Choose tariffs (plans), this would depend on how many total mins you want. The higher the price, the more minutes you get
4. Choose your number
5. Pay nothing until next month!

Here, you’ll need to pay monthly which is subjected to an either 12 or 18 months contract. Then the phone is yours after you are released from that contract which would be in 12 or 18 months subjected to what you signed in the first place. If you exceed your “free call minutes” you would have to pay according to the excession rate. By this way, I think it is better because you can own a lot of mobile phones if you cancel your current one and sign another at the appropriate time.

I recently signed one not long ago and was amazed by the price differences between PAYG and pay monthly. I can now save upto 10 pounds a month with a new phone! I wish some network would establish this method in Thailand.

The winner of the Thai watch is….

We would like to thank everyone for their entries to the Win a Thai Watch competition that we ran during February. The answer was “fish sauce”. We had hundreds of people send in their answers. The majority of people were correct. We put all of the names into a hat and picked out the following winner:

Vishal Karmocha from Kathmandu, Nepal.

Congratulations! We will be in touch soon to arrange delivery of your prize.

Stay tuned as we will shortly be starting a new weekly competition to win some Thai music CDs! This is brought to you in association with our sister site at www.ethaimusic.com.

A little about myself

Many blogs start out with a list, or similarly some sort of ‘mission statement’. I’m not sure I can be so organised, so apologies in advance to anyone hoping to better themselves from the thoughts I may from time-to-time come up with.

In fact, if betterment is your game, I really cannot advise seeking it with my blog. This is more than likely going to be somewhere I can post specific content that relates to my time in Thailand. I currently visit the Kingdom each year for a period of no more than two months. As with many visitors, I feel I know pretty much all there is to know about Thai culture and modern Thai life. As with many visitors, I am frequently proved wrong. With a little luck, this space will provide me with a way of seeing some sort of progression.

From reading over the other guest blogs here, it seems the norm to provide a little information about yourself before getting down to business. I study Philosophy which I one day hope to study in Chulalongkorn university. I own and run a small internet business. I live with my Thai partner in Oxford and I have been learning Thai and Japanese for a while now.