Monthly Archives: September 2008

Meanings of Thai Nicknames

Kayo (Kaew) – Glass
Kik – Special friend / Secret Lover
Koy – Little finger (Pinkie)
Kop (Kob) – Frog
Kai – Chicken
Kook Kai – Chick
Kung – Prawn / Shrimp
Kwang – Deer

Khai – Egg
Khing – Ginger
Khanoon – Jackfruit
Khwan – Spirit / Soul / Merit
Khao….. – Rice…..
Khit – Think
Kratai / Tai – Rabbit

Jackajan – Cicada (type of insect)
Jan – Moon
Jampa / Jampee – Champac (type of flower)
Jik – Fussy / Pinch / Steal
Jew – Small
Jingreet – Cricket (as in insect)
Jim – Small / Girl’s private parts (as in English: Fanny)
Jip – Tweet (as in sound of a bird)
Joom – Small
Jaew – Clear / Excellent
Jiap – Chick

Deuan – Month
Dao – Star
Daeng – Red
Dum – Black

Tao – Turtle
Toi – Small / Tiny
Taengmo – Watermelon
Taengkwa – Cucumber
Tik – Sound of clock (as in tick-tock)
Toom – Water jar
Tukata – Doll / Cuddly Toy
Tukataen – Grasshopper
Ta – Eye
Ton – Tree Trunk
Teuan – Warn / Remind (verb)
Tem – Full
Tia – Short
Taen – Wasp / Hornet

Nok – Bird
Nee – Woman
Noo – Rat / Mouse
Nui – Cute
Nit – Small / Little
Noi – Small / Little
Noina – Custard Apple (a Thai fruit)
Nam – Water
Nang – Mrs
Nangfa – Angel
Nim – Soft
Nook – Soft
Nery – Butter
Noon – Kapok (type of tropical tree)
Nong – Younger (as in younger sister)
Baitong – Banana Leaf
Baitery – Leaf (type of tropical leaf)
Boong – Caterpillar (type of)

P la – Fish
Preeow – Sour
Pook – Piggy Bank (type of)
Pui – Fertilizer
Poo – Crab
Pet – Duck
Piak – Tiny
Pia – Piggy-tails
Pao – Target

Pheung – Bee / Honey
Phak – Vegetable
Phing – Warm up (verb)
Phat Thai – Thai-style fried noodles
Phin – Traditional musical instrument (resembles a guitar/banjo)
Phloy – Gem
Phim – Type / Print (verb)
Phrik – Pepper / Chilli
Phrae – A type of traditional Thai cloth
Phorn – Blessing
Phat – Fan (verb)

Fai – Cotton
Fon – Rain
Fukthong – Pumpkin
Fan – Dream
Fah – Sky

Moo – Pig
Mot – Ant
Maew – Cat
Meow – Meow (verb, as in cat cry)
Mon – Magic
Manao – Lemon
Ma-fueng – Star fruit
Ma-prang – Type of plum
Mayom – Star gooseberry
Mali – Jasmine
Manee – Gemstones
Mook – Pearl
Maeng-por – Dragonfly

Yoke – Jade
Yui – Chubby cute
Yim – Smile
Ying – Female
Yai – Big
Yao – Young

Rin – Pour (verb)
Rot – Flavour
Rawt – Straw


I will try to not get political. But in the context of this lesson, I have to go there a little bit. Please understand that I’m not trying to propagate anything. Just showing you what happened and the lesson we learned.

A few weeks ago, I gave my dad a call. Of course, I caught him watching his nightly news and he filled me in on Thailand’s current political climate. strategies to gain control of the country by their influence on PAD.

My dad is among those who speculated that the rich, old elites are funneling money into PAD so they could be in power again after all these years of the “self made millionaire” threatening to take over.

“The PAD seems to want the Democrats to be government and Abhisit as PM,” dad suggested.

“But *I* want Khun Mark [Abhisit] to be the PM…” I whined. I’m biased on the subject of Khun Mark. I had been cheering for his youth, new attitude, and, of course, his charisma (come on, the man’s hot!) since he came onto the scene years ago. Very objective. Yep. That’s me.

“I know, honey. It would be nice. Jus not like this,” dad replied. And I agreed with him.

That was a part of my post where the rest of it was just my droning on about my day. However, it seemed to hit the nerves of one particular PAD supporter, a real life friend of mine.

We got into a virtual row over this.

Angry. Frustrated. Confused. Fed up. Overwhelmed. Despaired. Saddened.

Thai people have become any and all of those these days. Even the littlest thing could send passionate folks into a rampage. One comment could cause a mayhem.

My motherland is thoroughly divided that friends are made enemies and family members stop talking to each other over politics.

My friend the Commenter and I had our heated moment of exchange off the blog over our stances. Since we know each other, the first few exchanges were emotional. It was firmly requested that politics should not be discussed on my personal blog. I felt personally attacked. The friend felt idealogically offended.

The easy way out is for me to shut the hell up…which I didn’t quite do. How could you ignore this giant elephant in the room, threaten to rampage over our friendship?

And so the exchange continued and, amazingly, we found out that we were not standing on the polar opposite after all. The more we unknot each of our ideas, We found that we agreed on every fundamental thing, up to this one fine point. Our intentions are the same. Our ideals are the same. What we want for our country is the same. But we diverge on the HOW part. And it’s not all that difference on how our country could get where we would want it to either.

A very fine line of how our views differ, but enough to let us stand with one tippy toe on the opposite side.

Out of this dialogue, I realized a few things.

First, a civil discussion REALLY can bring parties to a solution. Gosh knows that between two U.S. educated Thais, one a business owner and a parent in Thailand and the other a non-profit employee and childless by choice in California, we might just come up with a solution to solve our country’s problem!

I mean, both of us started off almost at each other’s throat, and now we might just have an answer.

How cool is that?!

And secondly, it hit me.

We were talking politics. We were discussing the state of our nation. We were taking our stands for each of our beliefs. Quite passionately so too.

For the first time since I’ve known the Commenter/Friend, a SERIOUS political discussion slowly grew out of what started out almost like an adolescent spat.

Holy crap.

We have become adults.

First Medical School in Thailand

His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol of Songkhla

In 1881, there occurred a widespread cholera epidemic that killed many people in Bangkok. His Majesty King Chulalongkorn therefore set up temporary hospitals in 48 locations around the capital. Once the epidemic subsided, they were closed down. Realizing the importance of health care for the sick, King Chulalongkorn decided to establish a Royal Hospital to provide health care to the general population. In 1886, a committee was appointed to establish the hospital, with His Majesty donating his own money and land in the abandoned Wang Lang Palace for this purpose.

In 1887, H.R.H. Prince Siriraj Kakudhabhandha, the fifth son of King Chulalongkorn died of dysentery at the age of one year and six months. Later, two more of their young children also passed away in the same year which caused great sorrow to Their Majesties. For this reason, King Chulalongkorn wanted to see a hospital established as soon as possible. After the cremation of the three royal children and also of the Royal Consort, the King ordered the wood used in making the cremation pyre to be used in the construction of the hospital. He also named the new hospital Siriraj Hospital after his son.

In 1889, Prince Damrong Rajanubhab was given the royal permission to establish a Medical School inside Siriraj Hospital with Doctor T. Hayward Hayes as the first medical teacher, conducting a three-year diploma course in medicine beginning on 5th September 1890. The teaching included both Thai and modern medicine. The first group of nine students graduated in March, 1892. The second teacher of medicine was Doctor George B. McFarland who was born in Thailand and was highly proficient in the Thai language. He was devoted to his job and dedicated his life to Siriraj Hospital for 35 years. He is buried in the Protestant Graveyard in Silom. I went there to visit his grave last year.

During King Rama VI’s Reign, medical education was improved through the assistance of the Rockefeller Foundation. The person who played an important role in the negotiations for the fund was H.R.H. Prince Mahidol. The Prince had gone to America in 1917 to study medicine at Harvard. On his return to Thailand, he devoted himself to the development of Thai modern medicine for the wellbeing and happiness of all Thais. Recognizing the importance of modern medicine and public health to the country, he decided to give assistance to the Nursing School and the Medical School at Siriraj Hospital. For this reason, the Thai people regard him as the “Father of Thai Modern Medicine”. He was also the father to two future Kings including our present day King. Prince Mahidol died tragically young on 24th September 1929.

In recognition of his work to the development of medicine in Thailand, the Thai government designated 24th September as Mahidol Day. Special ceremonies are performed at Siriraj hospital and the medical college which had its named changed to Mahidol University in his honour. The hospital has an interesting display near the statue of Prince Mahidol. The information is bilingual and most of the information fo this blog came from these panels. On the grounds of the hospital are a number of museums which are also worth visiting. One of them is the infamous forensics museum that has preserved bodies of executed criminals. You can easily reach the hospital by boat from the pier near the Grand Palace.

Understanding… The Equinox in Thailand

The equinox is the time of the year when the sun is directly above the equator. It means that the sun goes straight up and straight down at the time of sunrise and sunset. It also results in the length of day and night being roughly the same. It happens twice a year, usually around March 20th and September 22nd. In Thailand, it happened during the early hours of this morning. My house is on the East-West axis with the front door facing south. From now until March, the sun leans more towards the south and so this means that the small garden at the back of my house won’t receive any direct sunlight. The point where it does an about turn and heads back towards the north is called the Solstice and this usually occurs around December 21st. This is our shortest day of the year. March 20th is the second equinox, when the sun is again above the equator, and the sun then starts moving towards the north. From this point on, the back of my house starts to receive the sun again. Our longest day of the year is around the second solstice on June 20th. This is when the sun stops its northward march and starts returning to be straight above the equator again in September.

Really, as we are quite close to the equator, our length of day doesn’t vary that much throughout the year. In mid-December, we have 11 hours and 18 minutes of daylight. In mid-June, the length of our day is 12 hours and 56 minutes. So, the difference is only about 90 minutes. During December, I always do a project with my Thai students. They have to find the times of the sunrise and sunset in three different locations. London, England in the Northern Hemisphere. Bangkok, Thailand near the equator. And Sydney, Australia in the Southern Hemisphere. From this they need to calculate the length of day. They then repeat this for June for the same locations. The students are not expecting anything dramatic. In December, the sun rises at 6.37 a.m. and in June it goes up at 5.51 a.m. That isn’t a lot of difference. It probably means that they will still go to school during the daylight. In December in Thailand, the sun sets at 5.55 p.m. In June the sun goes down at 6.48 p.m. So, again, this difference doesn’t really affect the students. They are already back home. Probably inside the house, watching TV or playing video games. So, they probably wouldn’t notice the difference.

I think all of this will only affect people like the monks, who will be going out on their alms round when it is still dark during December. If I am going to take pictures of an alms round, then the best time of the year to do this is obviously around June. At this time of year, it is usually light enough to take pictures by 6.30 a.m. I remember sitting at a temple once at 6 a.m. waiting for the monks to leave. This was about late July. It was still dark and I could only see twenty metres or so. By the time they left at 6.10 a.m. it was just light enough to take pictures. However, any movement resulted in a blur. Then, suddenly at 6.20 a.m., it was light enough to take action pictures as normal. Which was just as well as the monks were keeping a good pace. I guess this is the advantage of living near the equator as it is almost like a light being turned on. In December I wouldn’t be able to get pictures until the end of their alms round.

The students do their research on the Internet. Before they start, I always ask them to guess the time of sunrise and sunset for these different locations. During the project, I teach them that in December, the UK, in the Northern hemisphere is having winter and hence their days are short and nights long. Places like Australia, in the Southern hemisphere, are the opposite and are enjoying the summer with long days and short nights. Even though this is a big clue, there are still completely bowled over when they discover the real times. They find it difficult to comprehend that although they enjoy an average of 12 hours of daylight throughout the year, that people in the UK don’t get much more than seven hours of daylight in December. I told them that when I went to school in the winter, it was dark when I left home and dark again when I got home. Their jaws just dropped when they saw that sunset was at 3.54 p.m. I guess they felt sorry for us, but then they saw that in June, we could play outside in the garden until quite late in the evening without lights.

Two good websites for calculating times of sunsent and sunrise are and If you are planning a holiday to Thailand, then you don’t really need to know more than that it is usually light by 6.30 a.m. and dark by 7 p.m. throughout the whole year. It may be boring compared to some countries in Northern Europe, but at least we are more predictable. I guess the biggest advantage is that we don’t need to worry about daylight saving and having to move our clocks twice a year. I tried to explain this concept to my Primary 6 students last month and I don’t think they really understood. After all, I haven’t done this “length of day” project with them yet. At the moment, they still think that sunrise and sunset around the world happens at exactly the same time.

Related blog:
Understanding… The Thai Lunar Calendar

Amazing Thailand Facts (Part 3)

Quite a while back, I introduced a whole bunch of amazing Thailand facts which were a compilation of weird and wonderful oddities offered in LOS as posted by members over at The thread on 100 things You Didn’t Know about Thailand soon began to sink into the abyss as it seemed most posters had simply run out of stuff to post. That’s where yours name in here has come in handy, continually trying to keep this interesting thread going. Most of the facts posted below have been found by myself while searching the Net, but some of others have been found by other forum members. If you know of any other facts, do comment below!

1. The most expensive Buddhist Amulets are ‘Somdej Wat Rakhang’. Some of them, around 150 years old, are valued at more than 30 million baht.

2. Thailand sent a 1300 strong expeditionary force to France in 1918.This act gave Siam a seat at the Versailles Peace Conference which was used as a platform to regain its full sovereignty in the 1920’s- including the right to impose its own laws on foreigners and set import tariffs.

3. Former actress Jim Sara, is Thailand’s very first ladyboy that is officially registered as ‘Miss’ in Thailand. But she is also the very first Thai ladyboy to ever get legally married – in New Zealand. Read her story here

4. The Marxist historian, author and finally Communist – Jit Poomisak, was the first person to refuse to attend his graduation ceremony to receive his degree from HM The King.

5. The Thai Royal Anthem (Sansoen Phra Barami) was composed by a Russian, Pyotr Schurovsky. Prior to the 1932 revolution, it was the Thai National Anthem.

6 Queen Sunandha, First Consort to King Rama V (and a daughter of King Mongkut!) was killed in a tragic boat accident on the Chao Phraya River. It is said that no-one dared rescue her while she was drowning, as it was strictly prohibited that no commoner touch such a high-ranking royal!
King Rama V was supposed to have been terribly upset that no-one rescued her and ordered in a new regulation that allowed commoners to touch a high-ranking royal in times of such incidents!

7. Thailand’s Loy Krathong (in its present form) is not what it is taught, an ancient festival originating during the Sukhothai era, 700 years ago. It is in fact, a newly invented tradition, made up by the Department of Fine Arts at the end of the 19th century. Read more here.

(Original Somdej Wat Rakhang amulets can fetch amazing prices)

8. The most viewed directly Thailand related video posted on YouTube is the clip of the un-edited fight sequence in the movie Tom Yum Kung. The video has been viewed, as of 21 September – just short of 3,500,000 times. Some movie experts have claimed it to be the greatest fight scene in the history of films.

9. Thailand’s first strip-shows were in Had Yai in 1953. They were ordered by none other than FM Phibunsongkram himself as part of a drive to Westernization he began that year. Worried the strip-shows may be just too intoxicating for the natives if left to their own devices, Phibun made it law they must be located in temple grounds under the auspice of monks.

10. The well-known Thai-English word ‘Butterfly’ widely used in bar-beers for people that ‘play around’, was not originally imported by Westerners. It is believed that the word was in fact imported by the Japanese during their WW2 occupation. The word ‘Butterfly’ in Thailand derives from the name of the 15 year-old Japanese Geisha (nickanamed ‘Cho-Cho’ = ‘Butterfly’) in the opera ‘Madame Butterfly’ who marries an American sailor. The Japanese also imported the bar-beer/go-go bar word ‘mama-san’ meaning the ‘big boss’ (or owner of a brothel!)

11. Thanon Mittraphap (Friendship Road) in the north-east of Thailand, was built with financial assistance from the U.S. It is the first highway in Thailand to meet international standards, and use both asphalt and concrete.

12. The most valuable Thai Baht banknotes ever printed were the special edition 500,000 Baht ones issued in the year 2000 to commemorate HM The King and Queen’s 50th wedding anniversary.

13. Grandfather and grandson – King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII) share the same birthday – September 20.

14. Thailand’s Kings – Top 5 Fathers (number of children)
1. King Mongkut (Rama IV) = 82
2. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) = 77
3. King Loertla (Rama II) = 73
4. King Nangklao (Rama III) = 51
5. King Phutthayotfa (Rama I) = 42

Others: King Rama VI had just one, Rama VIII & Rama VII had none and King Rama IX has four.

(Wouldn’t mind getting me hands on one of these!)

15. The Late Princess Galyani was born in London on May 6 1923. On Her UK Birth Certificate she is named, ‘May’.

16. The world’s largest ever cremation took place in Bangkok over 7 days in December 1997 when over 21,000 bodies were burned. The bodies were those of people killed in road accidents or other fatal incidents and left unclaimed over the previous 10 years.

17. According to the latest up-dates from Forbes, Chaleo Yoovidha the founder and co-parter of Red Bull energy drink is Thailand’s richest man with a fortune of approx. 4 Billion USD.

18. The well-known slang word for a gay, ladyboy-like guy ‘toot’ is English in origin. The word in fact, entered the Thai language after the success of the 1982 movie ‘Tootsie’ starring Dustin Hoffman.

19. The Thai lese-majeste law also applies to foreign heads of states. So, if you come to Thailand and say something patronizing or insulting about the likes of the Queen of England or George W Bush, you can, in theory, be sentenced to imprisonment!

20. The popular Thai dish ‘Phat Thai’ (Thai-style fried noodles) was believed to have actually been invented by the wife (La-iad) of anti-Chinese PM dictator Field Marshall Phibulsongkram at the beginning of the Second World War. According to a biography of La-iad, her husband had asked her to “Dish up a tasty noodle dish (with Vietnamese origins) and call it Thai and not bloody Chinese”.

21. King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V), in the late 19th century, banned the act of crouching (bending down low in servility) in front of members of the royal family in public. The practice of crouching to royalty was only revived by Field Marshall Sarit Dhanarajata during his stint as prime minister (1957-1963).

22. The name Bangkok is in fact Thai, meaning ‘Village of Olives’. In the past, before the name was changed to Krungthep – Bangkok referred to the eastern side of the Chao Phraya and Thonburi on the west. Foreigners didn’t like the word Krungthep and stuck to saying Bangkok. In the Thai southern dialect, they still say Bangkok (Bang – gawk) instead of Krungthep.

23. Khao Kheow in Sri Racha in Chonburi Province is the only visible mountain from Bangkok. Have a look for it the next time you are on an expressway in the capital and especially going in the Bang-na/Suvarnaphumi Airport direction!

24. Contrary to popular belief, Thailand does not mean ‘Land of the Free’. It does in fact mean ‘Land of the Tai/T’ai Peoples’. The original name Siam was changed to Thailand by FM Plaek Phibulongram as part of his plans to re-conquer what Siam had lost in the past. A completely far-fetched idea as the Tai/T’ai peoples are spread throughout Southern China, North-eastern India and as far east as Vietnam. Unfortunately, FM Plaek hadn’t realized that.

25. Meaning “one hundred and one”, Roi Et is a province in the north-east of Thailand named after the city’s gates and satellite cities. However, there are only eleven city gates and satellites cities. The province should have been called “Sip Et” but to exaggerate the importance of the place it was decided to call it “Roi Et”.

26. Published originally in the 1940’s, So Sethaputra’s “New Model English-Thai Dictionary” is recognized as the most famous Thai-English dictionary written. Sethaputra, did however, compile the dictionary during his 11 years in prison as a political prisoner soon after the events of 1932.

Part One can be found here ‘Amazing Thailand Facts 1’
Part Two can be found here ‘Amazing Thailand Facts 2’