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A Word in Your Ear, Part 3

Our last two issues have featured some Thai words and Chiangmai place names which will have helped identify some local sights and the history behind the name. In this concluding section, we feature a mixture of Thai words and place names from a broader background than purely Northern Thailand 'though some local descriptions still occur.

  • Aroi (or Aroy): The very best compliment you can offer a Thai chef, restaurateur or even the owner of a humble noodle stall. It means "Delicious" and when you say "Aroi maak, maak" (very delicious/tasty) you are sure to be rewarded with one of those lovely Thai smiles.
  • Bangkok: Capital City of Thailand, called by the Thais "Krungthep" which translates as the "City of Angels". The city was originally established in 1782 by King Rama I after the fall of the old capital, Ayutthaya, to the invading Burmese. The full name of "Krungthep" runs to 17 words (Guinness World Records and citizens of Wales take note!); for fun, we suggest you ask a Thai to say it for you.
  • Bhaenthee/Panthee: This is the word for "map". Many visitors have said that our magazine (we are magazine publishers) produces the best maps available of Chiangmai and suburbs. We are delighted you find them useful, and are flattered by visitor praise, otherwise, we couldn't possibly comment.
  • Farang: Probably yourself! This is the Thai word for a Caucasian Westerner (irrespective where you are from be it Australia, Sweden, Canada or wherever). The word possibly comes from a corruption of "Francais" as French colonialists were the first Europeans to come in contact with Thais. Thailand (or Siam) never became part of French Indo-China nor, any other colonial empire.
  • Galare/galae: This is the carved wood decoration which adorns the roof of many Thai houses and buildings. It looks like an elegant, sculpted "X" which straddles the roof apex and is a sign of Northern architecture.
  • Jao: A polite suffix as in "Sawadee Jow (instead of Ka) used by Northern Thai ladies/girls. It can also indicate the affirmative (yes) or simply be an assent of understanding.
  • Khantoke: A traditional, and cultural, Thai dinner where guests dine Thai style while being entertained by classical musicians and dancers. In former times, a Khantoke dinner used to be the reserve of the elite and visiting dignitaries but, nowadays, anyone may enjoy.
  • Klong: The Thai word for "canal". Bangkok, and Chiangmai to a lesser degree, used to be a city of canals until town & traffic planners converted them into roads and created the mess Bangkok is today. Expats, when having their final drink "one for the road" in Thailand usually say "one for the klong" but make sure you don't have "one too many" as ending up in a klong isn't much fun.
  • Kon Nai Muang: Literally "city people" as opposed to "Kon Baan Norg" who are "country people". City people, or city slickers, have their own reputation worldwide (on which we shan't comment!) but Thailand is still largely an agricultural society where the friendly, unhurried "Kon Baan Norg" far outnumber their city brothers and sisters.
  • Kon Muang: This word is applied to Northern Thailand or Lanna. It means espicially that northern citizens are in the cities of Chiangmai, Chiangrai, Prae, Naan,etc. when the conversation covers the city areas. Meanwhile, it can mean broadly that then citizens belong to the whole northern region.
    Lanna: An abbreviation of the old term Lannathai which means "million rice fields". In those olden days, Lannathai was the northernmost, separate Kingdom of old Siam until it fell prey to invading Burmese armies. Citizens fled south to consolidate and, seeking a stronger ally, pledged allegiance to the Kingdom of Siam. Thus united, but many years later, Lannathai subjects followed prince Gawila's armies as they savaged the Burmese invaders for the victorious restoration of their "land of a million rice fields".
  • Phuket: We've heard it all before so please resist the temptation to be "clever". Phuket (properly pronounced "Pooket") is a wonderful, beautiful island (now linked by road to the mainland) in the South of Thailand. A holiday haven for millions of tourists from around the world and one time host to that most famous of spies 007 Phuket is to the beach lover as Chiangmai is to the trekker and nature lover. A complimentary pair Chiangmai in the north and Phuket in the south be sure to enjoy the best of Thailand.
  • Raan Aharn: Thai word for "restaurant" of which there are many. In fact, visitors may be spoiled for choice as there is everything from Western fastfood outlets to the most sophisticated Le Coq d'Or. But, as you're in Thailand, isn't it a good idea to try as many Thai restaurants, and dishes, as you can?
  • Roangraem: This is "Hotel" and, again, the selection is wide. From up market properties like the Amari Rincome or Westin, to family and budget class establishments. In Chiangmai, you are sure to find a bed which suits your style and your pocket.
  • Rote Fai: This is Thai for "railway train" and literally translates as "fire vehicle". This dates from the times when railway locomotives were wood or coal tired, belched smoke and clouds of steam and were absolutely wonderful! Nowadays, diesel locomotives hauls passengers from Chiangmai to Bangkok on an efficient, if slow, journey. The terms "Express" or "Rapid" are purely flights of the imagination! From Bangkok, the State Railways of Thailand can link travelers to other regions of the Kingdom.
  • Tourist Police: Thailand is one of the few countries in the world which has a Police Department dedicated to you, the visitor. And we mention this special unit because, as a visitor, you are reading this magazine. Whilst we hope you never need the assistance of the Tourist Police, be assured that they are a helpful bunch of people, located in all the major tourist areas, who are understanding and all fluent in English. Back home, try finding a London "Bobby" or someone in the NYPD who speaks Thai

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