THAILAND is the place where I was born and the place I consider home, even though I have lived in Singapore for seven years now.
In Thailand, we are proud of our food. Actually, many tourists who have visited Thailand will say our food is the best. Moreover, it is also very affordable. Forget about all the fancy food like steak or wine. You can enjoy authentic Thai food along the streets. For only two dollars, you can fill your stomach with one plate of papaya salad, grilled chicken and a little rattan basket of sticky rice.
For some reason, I am truly fortunate to be able to eat home grown rice. Of all rice I have ever eaten, Thai rice has the best taste, and isn’t it any wonder then that Thailand is the number one rice exporter in South-East Asia, where rice is the staple. Imagine the millions of people all over Asia eating Thai rice. My heart just glows with pride.
I feel the same way for King Bhumibol Adulyadej—pride mixed with great awe. The King passed away on the 13th October 2016. It was a very sad day not just for me, but many Thai people. He had led a life dedicated to his country and his people. And as a Thai, I felt as if he was another father. Even though he is no longer with us, he serves to be a continual light in my life. The King is known for his generosity and love for the Thai people.
During his lifetime, he led many loyal projects. There’s Doi Kam, an initiative that helped tobacco farmers to stop growing tobacco, but organic fruits and vegetables instead. Then there’s the Rama VII bridge across Chao Phraya River that helped to ease the traffic congestion in Bangkok. These are merely two of many projects he has done in his lifetime.
Just as the King loved his people and embraced the Thai culture, so do many of the Thais, myself included. Even though Thailand’s education system is not the top in Asia and our minimum wage is only 300 baht per day—the equivalent of 12 dollars—Thai people are down-to-earth. They are satisfied with what they have. They are generally helpful and happy people.
On the culture front, Thailand has unique festivals like Loy Kratong and the Lantern Festival. Loy Kratong is when Thais make an offering of light to the River God who provides water for the people. Loy Kratong, literally “floating boat,” refers to how the Thais send off little gifts of light on a candle pierced into a disc cut out from the trunk of a banana tree. These are just one of many festivals that we have in Thailand. These festivals bring the Thais together in a joyous celebration as a country.
In my life, there are not many things that I can be proud of, but one thing I can be proud of is my country, my Thailand.
Jiji Setavoraphan, Secondary Four
For more essays by Jiji, visit Jiji Writes.
This essay was written in response to the question:
What makes you proud of your country, and why?