An Intro to Thailand

By Lisa Kocay '16

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the Thai Student Association and Southeast Asia at Lehigh (SEAL) hosted Thai Culture Night in the Global Union.

The talk was led by international students from Thailand, and they presented a PowerPoint on the history, culture, and general information of Thailand while wearing their national attire. 

Lehigh students at Thai Culture NightSaran Kunaprayoon ’17 said he came here for Lehigh’s Integrated Business and Engineering program, and he likes the quality of education, how the professors care about students, and the many research opportunities available. Palis Tarasanombat ’11 was also drawn to Lehigh for the engineering and business programs.

“I like the energy from the student body, quality of the faculty, and also the great group of people here and the opportunity to participate in an organization like this,” said Tarasanombat.

Krittanon Sirorattanakul, ’18, said that although the teaching style here is different and people tend to be more independent, he didn’t have a hard time adjusting.

Theravada Buddhism is the most prominent religion of Thailand, and there is much historical Indian influence in the country. There is also a significant population with Chinese heritage present in the country.

The alphabet was shown and there are multiple versions of some letters, such as “k” and “t.” There are fives tones used when speaking: low, falling, high, rising, and neutral, and this affects the meaning. “Like English, the words build on how it sounds,” said Tarasanombat.

Thailand was originally referred to as Siam, so the terms Siamese cats and Siamese twins actually derive from the original name. The students also went into the history of Pre-Ratanakosin, which is the time before Bangkok became the capital. There was the Sukhothai Kingdom beginning in 1238, then the Ayutthaya Period, and finally the Thonburi Period until the revolution in 1932.  With the revolution came the end of absolute monarchy, but then the country was governed by military rule, then ending in 1973.

The students presented a video of the Thai national anthem and explained that it plays everyday at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on every channel, and when it plays everyone is suppose to stop and listen to it.

They also delved into the foods that differ based on region. In the north, there is a large variety of vegetables because it is cooler due to the mountains. It is also what they called “noodle heaven” and is influenced by Myanmar and Laos. The northeast is a plateau region, so the recipes tend to have herby and earthy undertones, and Lao and Cambodia influence the region.

Thai Culture Night at Lehigh UniversityCentral Thailand is rich with rice because it is delta country and the Chao Phraya River runs through it. There is lots of green curry and stir-fry because of the Chinese influence. The south has a lot of seafood in their dishes because it’s a peninsula, and the foods also a lot of curries and tend to be very spicy. Food was served at the event, so the attendees got a taste of the culture.

Thailand is also known for the Takraw sport, which is played with a ball using any part of your except your hands. The game is played using a net or hoop, or done in a circle of people. Muay Thai is a fighting sport that originated in combat as a war art form, and many of the original techniques are no longer used for safety reasons.

They also discussed the different holidays, such as Kom Loy and Song Kran. Kom Loy is a festival celebrated in the north by people lighting lanterns and letting them go into the sky, and Song Krn is the New Year. In addition, they talked about the various attractions and things to do in Thailand, such as go to the Temple of Emerald Buddha – also known as Wat Phra Kawe – which is the most sacred temple in Thailand, or the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in Bangkok.

“We have so much culture here [at Lehigh] so it’s good to understand each other more,” said Sirorattanakul.