Friday, 24 June 2011

The happiness index in Amazing Thailand, the Land of Smiles.

Although it literally translates as 'Land of the Free', Amazing Thailand has long been known as 'The Land of Smiles' for the very good reason that it seems a smile is naturally not very far away from the lips of most Thais.

As any traveller will tell you, you usually receive excellent return on investment every time you offer a smile and a polite greeting to a Thai. (Compare this with trying to get a smile and a hello out of someone passing in the street on a grey winters day in, say, Frankfurt.)

But are Thais really happy people or is this just some sort of cultural defense mechanism?

I've done some rummaging about for you, and there are several answers ...

The Bangkok Post recently published an article that indicated that Thais have grown happier each year since 2008 according to the National Statistical Office who publish a 'Happiness Indicator' each year. The Happiness Index scores have risen nearly 6% since then.

Further, they found the happiest residents on average -- and presumably the largest Thailand smiles -- in Phang Nga (that's south near Phuket, not to be confused with Phangan where the smiles are more to do with mushrooms), followed by Trang (south, near Krabi), Maha Sarakham (no idea, look it up yourself), Narathiwat (deep south) and Tak (halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and deemed to be the starting point of Northern Thailand).

Now get this ...

In the Happy Planet Index 2009, Thailand ranked 41st of all countries. Hmmm, not very high satisfaction you might think. But look at some other results: UK - 74th! Australia 102nd! USA 114th!

Now any Americans reading this and questioning the methodology, etc, had better listen and listen good. Because here's a second opinion. And not just any opinion, but one from a North Korean Happiness Index report on the internet, so you know it's objective, reliable, impartial and accurate, jing jing.

North Korea ranks China as the happiest country in the world, followed by North Korea 2nd. Last place? The USA. So there you have it.

So look around you ... are people largely smiling or frowning? Now go for a walk down the street and smile at someone ... did you get a big sunny grin in return that threatened to split their cheeks -- or did they threaten to call the cops on you?

If it was the latter, perhaps it's time to travel to Thailand, the land of smiles.

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