Daily Archives: March 15, 2005

How to Choose a Thai name

Thousands of people with a fascination of Thai culture visit our web sites every day. Not all of these are tourists – many have already been to Thailand on holiday and want to know more about their favourite destination. It always surprises my Thai colleagues at school when I tell them how many foreigners are visiting our web sites every day. The most popular one with foreigners is ethaimusic.com which gets about 9,000 unique visitors per day. Then about 4000 people visit learningthai.com and a similar number thailandlife.com. This makes them proud to hear that so many people have a fascination with everything to do with Thai life and culture.

However, what surprises them the most is the number of requests we get from people asking for advice on how to choose a good Thai name! These people feel that they have become so connected with Thai culture that they want to go to the next step by getting a Thai name. Some even want to tattoo their Thai name on their body. However, choosing a Thai name is not as easy as it first looks. Thai people don’t just pick names at random or ones that sound nice or have good meanings. Most of them would consult an astrologer or monk in order to choose a name that is auspicious and would bring the child plenty of good luck in their life. Thai people believe so much in auspicious names, that if they feel that their name hasn’t brought them enough good luck they will change it!

I will tell you the experience of Gor when the time came to choose a name for his baby. He went to his “family” monk who is also good at Thai astrology. The first thing the monk asked was the day and time of birth. He then consulted a book to find which letters should and shouldn’t be used in her name. He then wrote these on a piece of paper together with three suggestions for names which have good meanings. (Visit thailandlife.com to see a scan of this paper.)


Gor’s baby was born on a Friday. You can see the choice for a Friday baby in the chart above. On the left hand side are different characteristics which you might like for your baby. The monk chose “sri” (marked with **) which means glory, fame and good luck. This is only for girls. The characteristic “det” (marked with *) is only for boys and means power, luck and honour. By the way, the letters marked in red should never be used by a baby born on a Friday. That group is very unlucky! It means disaster and neverending trouble.

Here are my translations for each group:

บริวาร (bo-ri-waan) – you will always be surrounded by people
อายุ (aa-yoo) – you will live a long and prosperous life
เดช (det) – power, luck, honour for a boy
ศรี (see) – glory, fame, luck for a girl
มูละ (moo-la) – you will inherit valuable things from your parents
อุตสาหะ (oot-saa-ha) – diligent, patient, successful at work
มนตร (mon-dtree) – older cousins and older people will help and support you
กาลกิณ (gaan-gi-nee) – disaster, neverending trouble

The names the monk chose were as follows:

I have marked in green the auspicious letters. Out of the three names, Gor then chose Chanakarn which means “a darling to all people”. It seemed the most fitting of all names.

However, circumstance in your life might lead you to changing your name. Sometimes people do this because a monk didn’t choose their name in the first place. Also, people might change their name if they had a string of bad luck and want to “try again” with life. Suthee (the webmaster of ethaimusic.com) used to be called Suthiphong. His parents changed his name after a piece of bad luck when he was a child involving a bucket of acid on a hot day. Even some of the teachers at my school have changed their names in adulthood which is very confusing. Now, who are you?

Although Gor had chosen “Chankarn” correctly to be his daughter’s name, a year later circumstances have changed that would make the name unlucky for her. As Gor hasn’t written yet in thailandlife.com about why he had to change his daughter’s name, I won’t mention it here yet.

I am sure a lot of children would like to change names that were chosen by monks. Sometimes the emphasis is too much on an auspicious name rather than what is suitable for that child. I know some boys that have girl sounding names. Other names have some really peculiar meanings. I think the majority of my students are 100% embarrassed about their parents’ names. Sometimes during my English classes I might ask the students what their mother’s or father’s names are. They are always hesitant to say this out loud and whenever they do everyone nearly always laughs.

If you want to try and choose a name for yourself, then click here to find out which letters you should and shouldn’t use. However, when it comes to actually choosing a name with good meaning, you should consult some Thai friends. If in doubt, always consult a friendly monk first. Choosing a Thai name is a serious business.

Photoalbum trivia

As I was uploading my latest pictures to the the new photoalbum for this blogsite, I noticed a few odd things about it that made me smile.

I clicked on the “most viewed” button on the main page, just to find out that one of my Lao pics is on the top with 51 views- a good thing, I guess, if it wasn’t for a little disturbing fact: the image depicts a group of Lao female shopkeepers gambling and drinking beer from bottles, while a little girl is watching on.

Hmmm, and I thought that the audience for these sites wants to learn about Thai culture and the way of life in the Land of Smiles! I would have thought that Ayutthaya, Muang Boran and Chiang Mai pictures would easily be more popular than a snippet from the Lao market scene.

To be fair, it’s probably safe to assume that the pic was Googled, and most of those viewers don’t even know about these websites. Nearly all of the other “top-viewed” pictures actually do have something to do with Thai culture.

Then I proceeded to view other stats, such as the top-rated pictures, ie. the ones that got the highest votes. (You can vote for each picture, using a scale of 1-5).

I was pleased to see that the top-score went to a Thai picture from Richard’s Muang Boran collection. It is a very nice picture indeed. 🙂 The other runner ups were some Songkran pictures, and a few of my Lao pics.

A nice feature of the blog photoalbum is its interactivity. Besides voting, users can also leave comments on any picture they found worthy of noting. I usually check out the latest comments and I reply whenever I see someone commenting on any of my pics.

Today I saw a new comment on that notorious Lao Market scene that I just wrote about. My reply also reveals the story behind that picture. Seeing its popularity, I uploaded another, very similar one. Can you find it? 🙂

One picture is worth a thousand words. Besides reading these stories, check out the Thai-Blogs photoalbum regularly, as it tells stories like no written blog can.

Until next time,


Why do English people like holidays?

Just to answer some previous comments. I would like to confirm that the term “train” I mentioned is the “National Railway” However, the national rail or the train is clearly different to “subway” or “tube”. As we all know, trains are much faster than tube. The tube also comes to where I live but when I travel, I consider the bus to be the cheapest method even though you have to wake up a bit earlier but it costs me less. It is not neccessary that if you live in the outskirts of London. You always have to travel by tube. Greater London is devided into 6 zones and a lot people cannot afford to live in central zone 1. So, in order for them to travel to work inside London, they must use the fastest transport which is the National Rail or the “train”. I live in zone 2, so it only takes me about 10 mins by train to central London or about an hour by bus or 30 mins by tube.

Also, yes, London makes a lot of money from transportation. As English people like it, the more antique, the more expensive it becomes. lol…. I read an article once that the cost to insure a London double decker bus costs 10 times more than normal cars. Crazy, hey????

Brighton Beach, England (www.ian-n.com)

Today I would like to talk about why English people like to go on holidays. I have a friend right now who’s from Brighton (south-east of England). Around his place, almost everything is beaches, theme parks, casino, shopping mall etc…. Every holiday break he would take his girlfriend out to Amsterdam, Paris, Nice etc… I was very curious about this so I asked him why? He said, England is always cold and when you have a chance, you should travel around and see the world. I then, understood what he meant. However, because I have only been here 7 months, I cannot apply for a visa. Actually, I can now because you should be here at least 6 months. Still, I do not have the time or the fund to do it yet. Though, I thought England still has a lot to offer me.

I always thought Scotland should be a very nice place to visit. Everybody has been saying nice things about Scotland. I wish to go there someday. However, I have to study hard this holiday first because there’re tests coming up and I do not wish to overlook them. Some of my English friends are very fond of going to Europe. I think this is a good perspective as English people are becoming more open to the world. At least, my friends are. I do not find English people offensive or traditional at all. I feel that everyone who is English are as nice as Thai people. Since I’ve been here, I’ve made a lot of good friends who are from different backgrounds to me and are able to accept me even though maybe, their parents won’t be able to. I feel pleased to move to this country.