Romain’s next destination, Cambodia’s neighbor to the west - Thailand. Another small Asian country, Thailand is similar in size to the state of California and has a population of approximately 64 million people. One of the most distinctive Thai customs is the wai, which is similar to the Indian namaste gesture. Showing greeting, farewell, or acknowledgement, it comes in several forms reflecting the relative status of those involved, but generally it involves a prayer-like gesture with the hands and a bow of the head.
Amongst the most famous of Thailand's cultural art forms is the Khon. Khon masked drama evolved in the royal court of Siam, although its roots lie in folk dances of the countryside. Here, performers don elaborate jeweled costumes; men wear masks and women gilded headdresses. Music accompanies the dance and the dialog, and songs are performed by an off-stage chorus.
Maritime trade is especially important to the Thai people. The Choa Phraya and Mekong River provide resources, transportation, and irrigation for rural Thailand. The Gulf of Thailand houses the country’s largest seaport in Laem Chabang and also provides maritime access to its largest city and second largest port - Bangkok. Because of it's location on the Gulf of Thailand, Bangkok is the political, social, and economic center of Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Thailand is also called home by the Indochinese tiger. Placed on the endangered species list, a male tiger can measure as long as 9 feet and weigh more then 500 pounds. Mother tigers give birth to two or three cubs at a time. It is thought that as few as 1,000 of these majestic animals still exist in the world. Indochinese tigers live in secluded forests in hilly to mountainous terrain, the majority of which lies along the borders between countries. Entrance to these areas is frequently restricted and, as of late, biologists have been granted limited permits for field surveys. For this reason, comparatively little is known about the status of these big cats in the wild.
Elephants are another animal which roam Thailand. Elephants have been revered in Thailand for many centuries. Famous as the strongest beasts of burden, in Thailand they were important in battle, with kings mounted on elephants fighting the Burmese to defend Thailand on many occasions. They have also been noted for their intelligence, memory and pleasant nature. A white elephant is even included in the flag of the Royal Thai navy, and the "Order of the White Elephant" is one of the highest honors bestowed by the king. White elephants are very rarely completely white. The skin has to be very pale in certain areas to qualify as a "white elephant" .
Both the beauty and toughness of these animals nicely highlight the same traits in Romain's RGM Model 254. The movement is beautifully finished but a workhorse, or we should say 'work elephant', when it comes to the durability of the mechanical movement housed in the 254. Next month we follow Romain as he travels to the archipelago of Indonesia. To find out more about the 254 North Pointer or any other watch in the RGM collection please visit our web site, or call us at 717-653-9799.