We asked you five fairly tough questions about Thailand. Here come the answers!
- The Thai calendar is based on the Eastern version of the Buddhist Era (BE). How many years ahead of the Gregorian (Western) calendar is it?
543—so as of the time this quiz was published (April 2016) it’s 2559 in Thailand. The BE calendar is based on the year in which Buddha died and thus (Buddhists believe) reached nirvana, freeing him from the cycle of reincarnation. Although Thailand’s calendars now start their years in January, the Thais still celebrate the traditional New Year at the Songkran festival in mid-April.
- King Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX, is the ninth monarch of which dynasty?
The Chakri dynasty, founded by Phra Phutthayotfa Chulalok (Rama I; reigned 1782–1809), who is credited with the founding of Bangkok as Thailand’s capital. King Bhumibol is the world’s longest-serving head of state, having acceded to the Thai throne on 9 June 1946.
- The number 555 often appears in online comments in Thai or about Thailand, particularly in social media. What does it mean in that context?
Laughter. The Thai word for ‘five’ is ‘ha’—with a long ‘a’ and a falling tone—so 555 is shorthand for ‘ha ha ha’.
- Which body took over the government of Thailand after a coup d’état in May 2014?
The National Council for Peace and Order, a junta dominated by the Thai army. The army declared martial law on 20 May but initially denied any attempt at a coup; two days later a coup was declared. Although martial law formally ended on 1 April 2015, the NCPO retains control of the government.
- Thailand declared war on the UK and US on 25 January 1942. Why did the US not consider itself at war with Thailand?
The declaration of war was never delivered. On 8 December 1941 the Japanese had invaded Thailand, which capitulated after brief resistance. Although the Thai Ambassador to the UK obeyed his instructions to hand over the declaration of war, his counterpart in Washington refused to do so and instead offered to organise support for the anti-Japanese Free Thai Movement. The US continued to recognise him as Thailand’s legitimate representative and gave him access to frozen Thai assets.
How did you get on? Why not let us know?