Getting to Know THAILAND and The THAI People

Getting to Know THAILAND and The THAI People

By Harold Stephens
Travel Correspondent for Thai Airways International

How time flies. And how pleasant it can be when you are doing those things you like to do,  that you enjoy doing. Mine is traveling to new places and meeting the local people who live there. Since the early 1970’s as travel correspondent for THAI, I have been writing travel pieces for the airline with regular columns in the Bangkok Post.

Severn years ago Mr. Teerapol, who then was Detector of Royal Orchid Holliday, called me into his office and asked if I could prepare a weekly on-line travel feature but with something more than mere designation pieces. I accepted and I am proud to announce that this feature marks Number 401.

Now let me add something new to Weekly Travel Update.

Thailand is known the world over as The Land of Smiles, and rightfully so. Those who have travelled in the Kingdom will certainly agree, whether it’s the baggage attendant at the airport or the young girl in a flowered sarong cooking noodles in a shop in Chiang Mai. In deed, the Thais are a happy smiling people. But what makes them smile? What is behind that smile? Were they always that way? Who then are these Thai people?

To bring you that answer, I will introduce readers some of these Thais on Weekly Travel Update--from time to time. Some weeks will be travel.  You will meet these people close up, and by doing so, perhaps you will learn something not only about them but about the country as well, our customs, our traditions and our culture. I will choose a wild selection of Thais from every walk of life, and from every profession and trade. We will met a former Miss Thailand and a pretty Thai Classical dancer, a boat boy and a fishermen,

Down at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, magnificent fishing boats with up-turned bows come into port with their holds bulging with a cargo of fish. The ship and crew have been at sea for months. What’s it like being a Thai fisherman? You will meet one of these fishermen.

You plan to travel to Phuket. From Bangkok you book a Bangkok Air flight.

You will meet a senator and a Thai artist. We will introduce you to a writer who was the first Thai to win the prestigious Southeast Asian Writers Award 18 years ago, what you will lean what the award meant to him.

And there will be more, taxi drivers and tutuk drivers, and a hill tribe lady who has the biggest antique emporium in northern Thailand and yet has never ridden on an elevator or been to Bangkok.

Elephants in Thailand are always an interest. If you are curious about the people who handle them, their mahouts, we will introduce you to an elephant boy who lives with his elephant, and works the teak forests in the north.

What does it take to be a Thai classical dancer, and that doorman at the Oriental, what interesting people did he meet during his 46 years of loyal service for the hotel? (He just retired but I interviewed before hw did.) And you have seen those photos of Yao hill tribe women, those with the long necks. Do they ever take the rings off, and how do they sleep at night. We will introduce you to one of these women.

A soldier guarding the northwest frontier, a princess living in a palace, a lady who owns a chain of hotels in Bangkok, a jungle doctor who cares for the poor—you will met them all.

Harold Stephens
E-mail: ROH Weekly Travel (

Note: The article is the personal view of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited.

You will meet Mrs. Banyan, antique dealer in Chingi Mai

Meet hill tribe girls in the north

Fishing boat men on the list

Mahout start as boys

Stephens at Angkor Wat

Interviewing Patty, Mexican restaurant owner

Stephens talks with the Queen Mother of Bhutan