The Land of Smiles, a tropical paradise, hoilday destination to ever increasing numbers of people and home to me and 60 or so million others. A strange, exciting, unpredictable, funny, dangerous and bloody hot country. I love it, or else why would I be living here? Though sometimes I do wonder... A forum regular just asked me to start this thread, so I don't really have an opening salvo thought up, but I'm sure enough people have been here or heard about some of the things that go on here to have a few comments? However, I shall present you with a few basic realities of daily life, as I have witnessed over the last few years. Please feel free to disagree. The minumum daily wage here is approximately 3 dollars. However, it is not widely enforced and so it is easy to find people getting even less. Unless forced to or caught nobody seems to pay tax, other than payrolled, city types. Approximately 90% of the population are Buddhist. Temples are everywhere, monks are highly respected. The King is idolised and his picture hangs in every house and shop. Critical comments about the King and royal family are not well received. The basic language is Thai (hello?), but as in many countries there are many different dialects as you move around the country. It is a tonal language, meaning the same 'sound' to a speaker of a non tonal language (eg English) has five different pronunciations according to the tone used - high, mid, low, rising and falling. In other words, you not only need to know the sound of the word, but the tone also. So if I tell you 'kao' means news, that's of little use if I don't add that it's kao pronounced with a low tone. There is also vowel length, which can be long or short, so in practice you could have 10 thai words per English sound (confused? I understand). The language is written in it's own script, which if I remember right did evolve from Sanskrit, though I would rather linguistic experts comment further on this aspect Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! It is not readily convertible to English so reading transliterations of thai words in English is risky business. Names and spellings can change, sometimes drastically, between different people, road signs, menus etc. It is important to the average thai person not to 'lose face'. Hence difficult or antagonising situations may well be avoided, rather than an arguement or worse ensue. Equally, should they not know the way to the post office rather than say 'I don't know' they are just as likely to smile and say nothing, or worse send you off down the street knowing full well it's not that way. Not everyone, but it happens. Did I say it's hot?