Thailand is formally known as The Kingdom of Thailand because, well, there’s a king. Even the signs in the airport refer to it as The Kingdom of Thailand. On every street there are pictures of the king, and he and the queen are well respected throughout the country. All kings are called King Rama (the first, second, third, etc.). Currently, the king is not a huge political factor (it’s more like the royal family of England), but in the past the king had complete power. A good example of power in Thai history is the power of the kings when it came to opium. King Rama II was the first king to try to cut down on opium use in Thailand. King Rama III decided to enforce it even more strictly and installed a death penalty for opium dealers. However, King Rama IV caved to the pressures of Great Britain, and he actually allowed opium to be sold and monopolies to form. This decision greatly increased the government income (using heavy taxes), but it had a detrimental toll on the citizens of Thailand as more people began using opium.
Even though Thailand was never a colony, it’s clear that Great Britain also had some power because they were able to introduce opium trade to Thailand.
I have yet to make any firm observations about social classes and power here, but maybe that’s something I’ll keep in mind for the next week.
The first 5 days of withdrawal from opium have the worst symptoms. After that, it is up to the person to control his/her mind in order to not relapse.
So far most of our exposure to addiction has come from the book Opium Fiend (I will talk more about that in a later post) and our experience at Wat Tham Krabok.
See post on Wat Tham Krabok.
Temples, temples, and more temples. This deserves its own post so be on the lookout for that coming up!