Bangkok Dining at the Joe Louis Puppet Theater

Top Bangkok Dining experience at the Joe Louis The Art of Thai Cuisine and Thai Puppet Theater

Author: Pen Drageon. 

Discover Thailand with Thailand Discovery

Bangkok Dining
Bangkok Dining
CR: Joelouis cuisine Bangkok Dining

While Bangkok, fondly known as the “Big Mango” offers an eclectic selection of dining venues and experiences, few or any can truly rival the unique and original concept of the renown Joe Louis Puppet Theater and Restaurant which is located at Asiatique the Riverfront. This restaurant not only offers an authentic array of traditional Thai cuisine for the taste buds but also a unique display for one of the treasured lost art of puppetry in Thailand.

Bangkok Dining

Conveniently located at the front entrance of Asiatique the Riverfront, it is hard to miss with its contemporary design style and a blend between a casual and fine dining ambiance. There are various puppets on display at the counter to give a hint of what is to come as part of your dining experience. The upper level of the restaurant is making way for a new puppet theater for those who only want to watch the show but at the moment any full length performance is only available by special invitation at private performances.

The Joe Louis Puppet Theater and Restaurant started out as atraditional Thai puppet outfit that was passed from several generations back. It is now considered one of the national treasures of Thailand and under the patronage of HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand to revive this ancient traditional art form. This puppet troupe has won numerous international awards and accolades forbest puppetry performances and is recognized as a master craft in Thailand. Major performances are only available for private functions but you can get a glimpse of these puppets during a dinner performance at their restaurant. Each puppet requires at least 3 performers to manipulate the intricate movements of the puppet.

Bangkok Dining
CR: Joelouis Cuisine Bangkok Dining
Bangkok Dining
CR: Joelouis Cuisine Bangkok Dining

The restaurant serves a good selection of traditional Thai cuisinebased on olden recipes with the freshest ingredients. Prices are reasonable for the quality of the ingredients and cooking. Recommended dishes are the mixed Thai appetizers which comes in 4 sampling varieties per order and consists of the traditional Thai spring roll, a light pastry basket with meat fillings and a special chili sauce, deep fried minced shrimp on a slice of toast and Thai spicy fish cakes. Other signature dishes from the menu are spicy wing bean salad, and off course their varieties of authentic old-style curries which puts a zing to your taste buds with all the aromatic spices and herbs used in the cooking.

Bangkok Dining
CR: Joelouis cuisine Bangkok Dining
Bangkok Dining
CR: Joelouis cuisine Bangkok Dining
Bangkok Dining
CR: Joelouis Cuisine Bangkok Dining

The puppet performance at Joe Louis restaurant starts around 7.00 pm on Fridays to Sundays only. You will be entertained to a short introduction of the puppetry arts and a performance by the lovable character of Hanuman the monkey god in tales of the Ramayanatogether with another character, the Princess Sita. This is the only time you will be able to watch just such a marvelous display ofancient Thai puppetry and be able to interact with the puppets as they seemingly come to live at the hands of the skilled puppeteers. Joe Louis the Art of Thai Cuisine and Thai Puppet Theater is one of the top 10 things to do in Bangkok whenever you visit the Big Mango.

Bangkok Dining
CR: Joelouis Cuisine
Bangkok Dining
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Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

Author: Josh@AsiaBackpackers

Discover thailand with Thailand Discovery

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival. This unique Karen festival is to help return wandering lost souls and to show more of the rich culture of these ancient people

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

When: held on the full moon day of the ninth lunar month (17th Sept 2016)

Where: Ratchaburi or Rat Buri Western Thailand.

Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival (ประเพณีกินข้าวห่อ หรือ อั๊งหมี่ทอง), is a spiritual festival of the Karen people living in this western province of the Kingdom. While The Karen of Thailand mostly live in the more remote mountainous areas due west of Chiang Mai in the Mae Hong Son Province, in Ratchaburi 1.1% of the population are members of what is coloqually termed as Hill Tribes, mostly Karen with most living near the border to neighbouring Myanmar

For the local Karen people this annual festival is a time to appease the demons, as they believe that the ninth lunar month is an ominous time when ghosts and evil entities hunt and eat “Klar”, the spirit of people.

The 37 spirits of each Karen

A hugely important Karen Animist belief is that everyone has thirty-seven klar (also known as ‘Khwan’ or spirits) living within them: thirty-six minor klar and one major klar. If one or more minor klar wander away from the body, the person may become sick, Klar are known to be quite fickle and some simple love to roam, which can result in the soul being unable to return to the body, because it gets lost or is caught by evil spirits.

It is also believed that if the major klar wanders away the person may become crazy. In either case to call the Klar back to the body a traditional healer will conduct a ‘Phook Khaen Riak Kwan Ceremony’, where the wandering klar is lured back with incantations, gifts of fruit, cooked rice and betel nut. After the ceremony, a red string is tied around the wrist of an adult, or the neck of a small child, to prevent the klar wandering away again, (it is said that if all thirty-seven klar leave, a person they will die).

 

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

 Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

Tying White String around the Wrist

The Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival has its roots in the ceremony known as Baci (Lao: ບາສີ; Thai: บายศรี-bai si) and su kwan (Lao: ສູ່ຂວັນ; Thai: สู่ขวัญ), meaning “calling of the soul”.

‘Baci’ is an  important ceremony practiced in Lao culture plus Northern and Isan Thai culture, and is considered aphi ritual (“religion of the Gods”), it is used to celebrate any number of important events and occasions, such as births and marriages, entering the monk-hood, departing or returning home, beginning a new year etc.

The ritual of the baci also involves tying strings around a person’s wrist, (normally white in colour) to preserve good luck, and can be seen almost everywhere in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Food at the event

Another difference in this local Karen festival is in the food that is offered, in this ceremony, people cook “khao ho” which is sticky rice molded and wrapped into a cone shape, which they then steam similar to khanom chan. The Khao Ho, once cooked is dipped in either honey or coconut.

 

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

 Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

What more to expect

The day is also the chance for guests and visitors to immerse themselves in Karen culture, with numerous performances in folk music and dance. There are also demonstrations in the traditional Karen pastimes; a race with a basket on ones back, an oily pole climbing competition, the game of tossing Saba seeds, plus of course your chance to try more traditional local delicacies such as Kaw Naw and see many local handicrafts.

 

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

 Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

While this festival is a uniquely Ratchaburi event, it is your chance to witness first hand some of the traditions of these ancient people, who like most of the Hill Tribes of Thailand were persecuted and driven from their home lands to eventually seek sanctuary in the Kingdom of Thailand

For more on the Karen people click here

 

Not to be confused with the other festivals around the kingdom held to appease the ghosts that will walk once more among the living, they are The Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month, which is mainly a southern festival, the biggest held in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand. The Por Tor Festival or ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’, that is held annually across southern Thailand. The Tiggkrahad ritual is also is similar to the purely Thai event; Festival of Offerings to the Dead (Sart Day) วันสาทรไทย, which is held all over the Kingdom and the purely Mon festival, The Mon Floating Boat Festival, which is held in September in the same district.

Thailand Info Khao Ho or Ang Mi Thong Festival

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Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival

Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival

Author Josh@Asiabackpackers

Thailand Info Discover Thailand with Thailand Discovery

Bangkok Thailand. 01/08/2016 What to do in Thailand

Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival. No this is not the wild and alcohol fueled ‘Full Moon Parties’ found on Koh Phangan but an ancient and spiritual festival held across Asia to celebrate the end of the harvest.

While the Moon Festival – Moon Cake Festival originates from China the event is celebrated through-out Thailand’s Chinese communities.The Festival also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, takes place at the full moon of the eighth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is when the moon is said to be at its fullest and roundest – the so-called harvest moon and marks the end of the harvest period when family and friends gather to celebrate a time of plenty.

 

Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival

Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival

When: September.

Where: Across Thailand

Chinese Legend

The ancient Chinese believed in rejuvenation being associated with the moon and water.

According to traditional Chinese legend, a beautiful girl named Chang E worked in the Jade Emperor’s palace in the kingdom of heaven, an idyllic place where people lived and worked amongst the immortals. One day Chang E angered the Jade Emperor (not known for forgiveness) when she accidentally broke a porcelain jar, and in his anger he banished her to Earth.

 

Thailand Festivals Mooncake FestivalOnce there, she was transformed into a member of a poor farming family. As she approached her teenage years, her beauty flourished. Admiring her beauty from afar, a hunter discovered Chang E viewing herself in the reflection of a pond. The two soon became lovers.

Sometime later, ten suns rose into the sky rather than one, casting an intense heat across the land. The hunter stepped forward and shot an arrow into the sky, successfully sinking the nine extra suns. Instantly becoming a hero and source of great admiration, with this new found fame the two were married. The two should have lived happily ever after, but unfortunately the hunter grew into a tyrant, ruling with a cruel and oppressive hand.

He sought great power and ordered that an elixir be created in order to extend his own life. Chang E came upon it and unknowingly consumed the elixir, enraging her husband. Attempting to flee him, she jumped from the window of her palace bedroom, yet rather than falling, she simply floated through the sky towards the glowing moon.

It is said that by staring at the moon during the festival you can glimpse the dazzling Chang E as she dances and resides in its light.

 

Moon Cakes

Moon cakes are eaten at this time and hence why the festival is also known as the Moon Cake Festival, the cakes are traditionally round in shape and quite small with a thin crust wrapping a sweet and oily filling. Within the center of the pastry are nestled salted egg yolks, representing the shape of the moon. Though this may sound unappetising the salty flavour of the egg yolk manages to compliment the sweet outer pastry. Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on the top of the crust, which can signify the name of the bakery, the Chinese characters for ‘harmony,’ or identifying the flavour.

Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival

Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival

Modern day Moon Cakes now come in all different shapes and fillings, from coffee and peanut butter to prune and sweet potato. If you do nothing else this day look for a Chinese bakery and try a cake for yourself and if you get the chance, do look to the heavens and the moon and remember the beauty of  Chang E.

Thailand Festivals Mooncake Festival

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead

Author: Josh@asiabackpackers

Festival of Offerings to the Dead (Sart Day) วันสาทรไทย

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When: Annually around the 1st waning-moon night to the 15th waning-moon night in the 10th Lunar month

Where: Across the Kingdom

 

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead

‘Preta’ also known as Praet and Peta

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead. While not widely known out-side of Thailand and it is at times confused with the more famous Chinese ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’  (known to Thai’s as the Por Tor Festival), this purely Thai occasion is celebrated across the Kingdom but is known by different names in the differing regions. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to be the start of the ‘Vegetarian Festival’ that also occurs around the same time in the Thai lunar calendar. (Both festivals coincide with the period when farms produce their best crops)

Influences from Hinduism

In eons past, this time of year was called simply the ‘First Planting’ or ‘First Rice’, later local Beliefs across the Kingdom were infused with the Hindu religion and the event took on a part of the Hinduism tradition of the  ‘Pali’Sarada Merit Making ceremony (‘sarada’, meaning “autumn season”) in which a rice pudding called Kheer is offered to Ganesha the elephant god.

It is at this time of the year when crops are at their most bountiful, that the local people believe that the spirits of their ancestors return to this world to feast with their living relatives. These spirits are only allowed to meet their relatives for 15 days and must return to from where they came before sunrise of the 15th day.

 

Southern Thailand

In the South of Thailand the festival is known as งานบุญเดือนสิบ (ngan boon duan sib) also called ประเพณีสารทเดือนสิบ (bra pae nee sat duan sib) or Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (ประเพณีเทศกาลเดือนสิบ). In the North the name of the festival is ประเพณีตานก๋วยสลาก (bra pae nee da guay sla). In Isaan it is called การทำบุญแจกข้าว (gan tam boon jag khao), the Isaan festival should not be confused with Phi Ta Khon (also spelled Pee Ta Khon ผีตาโขน), the most common name for the festival held in Dan Sai, Loei province Northeast Thailand, where people where colourfuly painted masks and takes place over three days some-time between June and July, the dates being selected annually by the town’s mediums (see picture left).

 

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead

Phi Ta Khon Festival

While in Central Thailand, it is not a specific celebration as in the other parts of Thailand and does not have a different name, and in turn is not that commonly celebrated, it is simply known as Sart Day. It is possibly the combination of this jumble of names and the confusion with both the Chinese celebration,  Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month and that of Phi Ta Khon that makes this purely Thai festival little known to non-Thai’s.

 

Traditionally it is a time for families to come together and visit their local temple to give offerings to their deceased relatives and to other deceased people to whom they are not related. Thai people have a strong belief in ghosts and the spirit world, especially in ‘Preta’ also known as Praet and Peta, (see picture above)  these are giant ghosts with small mouths who are always hungry.

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead

 

The offerings are special food each of which have a special individual meaning, the first is Phong, representing a vehicle that will take the spirits to heaven. The second is La, as clothing for the dead, thirdly is Kong as an accessory. Fourth is Di Sam, which is believed to be used as money by the dead. Then there is Ba given as a tool for playing Songkran, there is a belief among the older people that one should also add La Loy, to act as both a bed and pillow. The majority of these are dried food snacks and therefore can be kept for a long time.

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead. Other dishes that are commonly seen during the Sart rite differ across each part of Thailand. However, the basic ones must be made from rice. The major food is called “Krayasart” prepared from sticky rice, bean, sugar and sesame which is cooked into a paste and then wrapped in a banana leaf. Others are Kao Pong, Kanom La, Kanom Kong, Kanom D-sum, and Kanom Ba. The food is brought to the Buddhist temple to be offered to the monks. The rite being complete when libation water is poured as the monks chant the Dedication of the Transference of Merit to benefit all spirits, and the deceased relatives who are still in the realm of the living. It is believed that all the spirits should be given sufficient food and water, to fulfill their needs during their transition, and that the merit assists them to move toward favorable rebirth.

 

While Thailand has very close historical links with China and there are similarities to the Chinese Hungry Ghost festival (similar in the way food is offered to the deceased relatives and other dead), this is not a Chinese festival, but a regional Thai festival. Celebrations are bigger in the South, especially in Nakhon Si Thammarat, where they have their own Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (ประเพณีเทศกาลเดือนสิบ), with most of the festivities taking place on the 14th and 15th days of the waning of the 10th lunar month.

 

It is here in the South that there are various parades, fairs, cultural shows and other activities. It is also here that there are subtle differences on how the food and snacks are offered to the Pret’s (commonly known as the Ching Pret ceremony), in many of the southern provinces the food is placed on very tall posts to enable the ghosts to get to eat. After the ceremony is over, children and the poor are allowed to rush and grab the food.

 

As is very common in the Kingdom where there is such a diversity in culture, beliefs and ethnicity, there are many similarities in the festivals that are held across its shores, one thing they all do have in common is the warmth of the people and their desire to enjoy themselves during these events.

Thailand Discovery The Walking Dead

 

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August Festivals Across Thailand

August Festivals Across Thailand

Author: Josh at Asia Backpackers.

Discover Thailand with Thailand Discovery

August Festivals Across Thailand. While July is undoubtedly the month of candles and Buddhist lent, August is the month for the deceased to return to this realm.  Getting to the bottom of the actual dates of any event in the Kingdom is never easy, with the dates determined by all manner of calendars and other strange and wonderful reasoning. See more.

Listed here are the biggest and best events across Thailand in August with links to more of our posts on each subject and links to what’s happening in each province and how to get there.

 

Queen’s Birthday & Mother’s day in Thailand

 Queen’s Birthday & Mother’s day in Thailand

August Festivals Across Thailand

When: 12th August every year

Where: Across the Kingdom

While Mothers Day is celebrated across the world on various days, most commonly in the months of March or May, here in Thailand it is celebrated annually on the 12th of August and is known as “Wan Mae” (literally Mother’s Day).

Mother’s Day was first introduced to the Kingdom on 15th April, 1950. Later in 1976, it was changed to 12th August to commemorate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, Queen Regent of Thailand and the Mother of all Thai people.

While the monarchy in Thailand are deemed as semi-divine, this is not the only reason the people love their King and Queen. Her Majesty is venerated through-out the Kingdom for her compassion and goodwill.

For more on this special day click here

 

 

Por Tor Festival ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’

Por-Tor-festival

Por Tor King of hell

August Festivals Across Thailand

When: Full moon of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese lunar calendar (21st Aug – 27th Sept 2016)

Where: Through-out Thailand

 The annual Por Tor Festival, known in Southeast Asia as the “Hungry Ghost Festival” is celebrated through-out Thailand with the biggest festivals held in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai (for details of major dates and locations of the events in Phuket click here.

This festival should not be confused with the purely Thai festival of ‘Offerings to the Dead’ or ‘Sart Day’ which occurs around the same time each year.

The festival begins on the 15th day of the seventh waxing moon according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is an important merit-making occasion for the Thai-Chinese people, who many believe that the spirits of their ancestors return to visit their relatives once the gates of hell are opened and the spirits of hungry ghosts are allowed to roam the earth.

At the heart of the festival is the belief that families of the living can help ease the suffering of the spirits of deceased relatives who were perhaps less than pure in heart and in their actions during their lifetime and are now trapped in any one of the 18 layers of hell, found in Buddhism and traditional Chinese folk religion.

It’s also a time to honour those lost souls set adrift in the beyond who might have died suddenly or far from home, or otherwise weren’t given a proper passage from life to death.
During the festival believers offer food including fruits and colourful desserts, which along with candles and paper money are placed at altars not only for their own ancestors but also to honour the spirits who have no living family to visit. See More.

While there are many public events across the Kingdom, most Por Tor events take place in the family home. These normally consist of an elaborate meal laid out for the dearly departed. Traditionally, plates of rice are set around the table for each of the visiting ghosts, with an incense stick placed into each meal. Once the incense has burned through, the plates can be removed as this signals that the spirits have satisfied their hunger and the living relatives are then free to gather at the table to dine.

For more on this festival and the subtle differences with other festivals that mark the same return of spirits from another world click here 

 

 

Ang Thong International Drums Festival

Ang Thong International Drums Festival 2016

August Festivals Across Thailand

When: August 2016

Where: Ban Phae Village (Drum-making Village), TambonEkkarat, Amphoe Pa Mok, Ang Thong Central Thailand

The Ang Thong International Drums Festival is an annual event held in what is known as the Kingdoms Drum-making Village.  The locals of Ban Phae are renowned for their production of drums, which they would traditionally make at the end of the harvest season as a secondary form of income. While this is still the case for most of its inhabitants, so much so that many shops are only open seasonally. This festival is an event to show case the local peoples long mastery of this art of drum making.

During the normal 3 days of celebrations you can find many demonstrations and parades, including the Wai Khru Klong Ceremony, majestic drums procession and a nightly mini light-and-sound presentation, telling the “Legend of the Drum-making Village”.

The festivities also includes both regional and International drum and cultural performances. For more on this event click here

 

 The Akha Swing Festival

Akha People and the Swing Festival

 

When: End of August until the beginning of September
Where: The mountains of Chaing Rai Northern Thailand

The 80,000 or so Akha people who now reside in the mountains of northern Thailand and are now known colloquially as one of Thailand’s ‘Hill Tribes’ once had their own Kingdom in what is now China, but over centuries of persecution, slavery and prejudice (the latter is still evident today) they find themselves still fighting to keep their own unique identity.

Swinging for fun and the dead

Perhaps the most important annual festival for the Akha people is commonly known as the Swing Festival. The four-day festival comes in late-August  and is known by the hill tribe people as, Yehkuja, (or Loa Cher Bee Err) which loosely translates as “eating bitter rice”, a phrase which is believed to be a references the previous year’s dwindling rice supply and incorporates the hope that the expected rains will soon water the newly planted rice crop.

Festival activities include ritual offerings to the family ancestral spirits at the ancestral altar in a corner of the women’s side of the house. (Akha life is segregated by gender both in the home and in common areas). The swing festival is particularly important for Akha women, who eagerly wait the opportunity to wear the clothing and the ornaments they have spent all year making and to show, that they are becoming older and of marriageable age.

For more on this festival and the Akha ‘Hill Tribes People’ click here

 

Southern Agricultural Fair (งานเกษตรภาคใต้)

August Festivals Across Thailand Songkhla Fair

 

When: annually during July – August

Where: Prince of Songkhla University. Songkhla Southern Thailand

The Fair features activities relating to agricultural-industry, including sales of goods produced from in the Southern provinces. There are a number of produce contests, and various demonstrations of farming techniques and local handicrafts.

 

The festival of Tiggkrahad Buri also known as Thing Krachat (งานเทศกาลทิ้งกระจาด)

 

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When: The merit-making festival is held annually around August–September

Where: Around the Dragon Descendents Museum  Suphanburi Central Thailand

Suphanburi has a long and glorious history with the Chinese people this can be seen in the cities arguably two largest events that of the Chinese New Year and this festival of Tiggkrahad Buri. This strong association can be seen in the recently opened Dragon Descendents Museum which now plays its part in this festival.

This event features a colourful parade, with bands, traditional dancers, the thunderous noise from war drums and fire crackers. Ladies in traditional costume, Lion and dragon dancers a multitude of decorated floats carrying drums, lion dancers attempt stilt walking and pageant queens.

There are also numerous traditional Chinese monk merit making ceremonies, a lantern parade, releasing fish and birds ceremonies, plus Chinese exhibitions, including Chinese opera, lion dancers twisting and turning high above the crowds on stilts. To add to the fun there is a traditional Thai fair and of course a mass of vendors selling a multitude of different local food, drink and handicrafts.

For more on this festival click here

 

Kaeng Hin Phoeng White-water Rafting Festival

August Festivals Across Thailand PrachinBuri rafting

 

When: 1 June – 31 October 2016

Where: Kaeng Hin Phoeng, Prachinburi

White-water Rafting at Kaeng Hin Phoeng Festival is an annual event and during the rainy season, the water level is practically high, providing a faster flow, cleaner rapids, and generally less hazardous conditions. Through-out the event, there are a number of rafting competition.

 

Yala Product and Cultural Revival Festival (งานเทศกาลฟื้นฟูประเพณีและของดีเมืองยะลา)

August festivals in Thailand Yala Produce and cultural Festival

A vibrant mix of 4 cultures, that have been blended over centuries and is showcased in this musical extravaganza

When: The festival is held annually on the first weekend of August

Where: On the grounds of the Yala Municipal Office. Yala Southern Thailand

This eagerly awaited annual event is packed with Folk cultures from the various groups, in what is the only landlocked province in the south of Thailand, with its southern region bordering Kedah and Perak of Malaysia. The festival is awash with sound and performances that blends Thai, Muslim, Indian and Chinese Musical Performances. For more on this eventclick here

Dok Krachiao Blooming Festival

 

 

When: 1 June – 31 August, 2016

Where: Pa Hin Ngam National Park, Thep Sathit district and Sai Thong National Park, Nong Bua Ra Haew district, Chaiyaphum

It is here during the rainy season when the blossoms of the wild Krachiao flowers (Siam Tulip), cover vast areas of these two national parks in a vibrant purplish pink colour. The festival also includes a selection of nature tours and treks around the national parks along with local performances and music concerts. There will be a vast array of booths selling local indigenous handy-crafts and delicious food from the Chaiyaphum province. The best time to visit the fields of flowers is early in the morning when the dew is still on the ground and the early morning rays bounce of the just washed blooms.

 

Sukhothai Mini-Light and Sound show

Sukhothai Mini-Light and Sound show August festivals

Picture from TAT News

When: 5th August 2016

Where: Sukhothai Central Thailand

The former Thai capital city of Sukhothai will once again present a series of the mini-light and sound presentation with one show per month scheduled between February and September 2016. The show consisting of classical Thai folk performances, a fireworks display and a Loi Krathong scene starts from 19.00 hrs and lasts about 1.5 hours.

Visitors can listen to the narration in several languages during the event; including English, Japanese, French and German. The event is all about joining in and taking part in the festivities and visitors are welcome to take photographs with the performers, or floating a krathong or launching a hot-air balloon and Best of all its FREE.

Sukhothai, which literally means “dawn of happiness”, is located 439.7 km north of Bangkok or about four-five hours by car or 1 hour 15 minutes by air.

 

Khek River Rafting Festival

Khek River Rafting Festival August events

Picture from TAT News

When: 1st July – 31st August 2016

Where: Phitsanulok. Lower Northern Thailand

If you need your adrenaline fix then try this river for rafting. During the rainy season (don’t let the rain put you off it never lasts long and you will be wet anyway!) nature brings new life to the river that originates from the Phetchabun mountain range and the rapids become a wonderful (if at time scary) joyride. The full course is 8 kilometres long and takes around 2-3 hours, the course is divided into 1 – 5 difficulty levels, with 17 rapids.

 

Trang Cake Festival 

 

Trang Cake Festival

When: August

Where: Ban Lam Phu Rais village. Trang Southern Thailand

The province of Trang is famous nationwide for its mouth-watering food, which it showcases in this annual Cake Festival. The small rural village of Ban Lam Phu Rais is renowned for their delicious cakes and scrumptious sweets, made using recipes that date back several generations, these frosting-free cakes have a special characteristic in that the texture is similar to kanom kha Plai, in which Rice Flour is mixed with Toddy Palm and Shredded Coconut.

These cakes come in many flavours, including orange, coffee and coconut. Apart from these delicious sweet treats, there will be numerous other locally produced food and drinks and hand-made gifts on sale plus a colourful parade and a number of demonstrations on cake making, along with different stage performances.

Rambutan Fair

Surat Thani Rambutan Fair

August Festivals Across Thailand

When: 18 – 29 August 2016

Where: Surat Thani Southern Thailand

The Rambutan with its strange hairy skin and pale fruit is celebrated once a year by the people of Surat Thani, who in turn have been growing this deliciously sweet gem for almost 100 years. The fair is a blaze of colourful displays of local handicrafts, fruits and ornamental plants and an equally vibrant parade of floats bearing more of the same. There are also demonstrations from trained monkeys used to harvest coconuts along with an open air Thai Fair with traditional games and rides.

 

 Hua Hin Food Festival

Hua Hin Food Festival

August Festivals Across Thailand

When: 1st – 31st August 2016

Where: Hua Hin Queen Sirikit Park 19 Rai, Prachuap, Khiri Khan, Central Thailand

The event will highlight a wide variety of local food and international delicacies cooked by professional chefs from participating hotels and restaurants in Hua Hin and Cha-am.

Throughout three-day, the event will showcase professional skills from talented kitchen staff in a series of competition, including ice carving, vegetable and fruit carving, and cooking.

There are also free evening mini concerts by Thai leading singers.

For more information contact Hua Hin TAT on Tel: +66 (0) 3251-1047, 0-3251-1347, 0-3253-2433

August Festivals Across Thailand

 

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

Author: Josh at Asia Backpackers

Discover Thailand with Thailand Discovery

The 80,000 or so Akha people who now reside in the mountains of northern Thailand and are now known colloquially as one of Thailand’s ‘Hill Tribes’ once had their own Kingdom in what is now China, but over centuries of persecution, slavery and prejudice (the latter is still evident today) they find themselves still fighting to keep their own unique identity.

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

Swinging for fun and the dead

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand. Perhaps the most important annual festival for the Akha people is commonly known as the Swing Festival. The four-day festival comes in late-August  and is known by the hill tribe people as, Yehkuja, (or Loa Cher Bee Err) which loosely translates as “eating bitter rice”, a phrase which is believed to be a references the previous year’s dwindling rice supply and incorporates the hope that the expected rains will soon water the newly planted rice crop.

When: End of August until the beginning of September
Where: The mountains of Chaing Rai Northern Thailand

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand. Festival activities include ritual offerings to the family ancestral spirits at the ancestral altar in a corner of the women’s side of the house. (Akha life is segregated by gender both in the home and in common areas). The swing festival is particularly important for Akha women, who eagerly wait the opportunity to wear the clothing and the ornaments they have spent all year making and to show, that they are becoming older and of marriageable age.

 

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

Women’s New Year

Because of the fact that the village women spend so much time making their traditional clothing and jewelry to wear at the event, which they display with such pride while performing traditional dances (You Tube link) and songs for the other villagers, the Swing Festival is also known as ‘Women’s New Year’, the traditional New Year which falls in late-December is known as Men’s New Year.

While the village women are invited singly or in pairs to swing as high as they can to bring good luck and bountiful harvest to the village, the event does not exclude men from joining in what looks at times a suicide pact.

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

Building the Swing

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand. A new swing is built for the festival each and every year, under the guidance of the village leader called a Dzoeuh Mah; villages without this most revered spiritual leader cannot build a swing.

Firstly last year’s swing must be removed, four long poles are cut from the surrounding jungle and two new post holes are dug. The new swing must use two of the holes from the previous year’s swing. It is a time of shadows and where everyone has to be alert; the swing must be in a spot where no house shadow falls across it and the diggers cannot let their shadows fall across the postholes.

The poles once imbedded into the earth inside the village form a quadrangular about four metres apart. At this stage of the build, a ceremony is held, during which the spirits that owned the soil are asked for permission to use it. Whisky, tea, fermented rice, and coins are offered, to appease the ground spirits and insure against any untoward mishaps.

The Akha believe that their spirits can influence both, the daily life and longer-term fortunes of the living and it is believed that the Swing Festival, in part is also a ritual in which thanks are given to the spirits of dead ancestors and asking them for help in the future harvest.

Once this important rite is finished men climb to the top of the poles, which are then firmly tied together with rope, creating what looks like the skeleton of a huge wigwam. There after a heavy wooden yoke is added to the top of this large edifice, to which is added a length of strong, course woven vine, which acts as the pendulum.

When the giant swing is completed, the Dzoeuh Mah will tie a handful of stone, thorny vine and Devil’s grass to the hanging seat. The stone represents strength and stability, while thorny vine and Devil’s grass are to enhance health and prosperity

 The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

The Four Days

Each of the four days of this annual event has its own meaning so states The Ban Jalae Hill Tribe Life and Culture Center; located in the capital district of Chiang Rai province, twenty-two kilometers from the city of Chiang Rai.

The first day

Known as the Jar Bear ceremony, Akha women wear their traditional dresses along with a huge array of ornaments and will do so until the end of the festival. They collect water from a holy well for the rite of “E Joo E Saw” which is a ritual for their dead ancestors of each family, when Sticky rice buns with black sesame, steamed chicken, rice wine and hot tea are offered at the ancestral altar.

For every major festival sticky rice grown in a special field, is steamed and then pounded in a wooden pestle, called “Hor Tong” until worked into a sticky mass. Small black sesame seeds called “luuh seeh” are added along with some salt and the paste is shaped into cakes which are given to guests.

The second day

Known as Jew Ma’s, the day starts with all the village members meeting the Dzoeuh Mah, asking his guidance on what will take place over the day and who will be allocated the task of building the ‘Swing’ . No other rites are held this day, excluding asking the spirits of the land for their permission to erect the swing and no animals will be killed. Once the swing is complete the Dzoeuh Mah will be the first to try it and to give his approval, there after all are welcome to play on the swing. The day comes to an end when families have finished building their own far smaller swings for their children (Err Ler), made from bamboo.

The third day

Known as “Wan Lor Da Ar Pew, this is the major day of the event and where all the families join in preparing food for the main party. The village elders conduct their own rite and bless the people, along with their invited guests, with the hope that they have good fortune and happiness in the year to come.

The whole day and night is a riotous combination of food, drink, singing and dancing, as the air is filled with the laughter and whooping as people try to outdo each other on the swing.

The final day

Known as “Jar Sar”, is the last day for every-one to play on the swing as come 6pm, the Dzoeuh Mah in his ceremonial robes will remove the rope binding the swing and while the posts will remain this is the last time it will be used. After the evening meal has finished and the sacrificed items are removed, this year’s festival is drawn to a close.

 

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

If you are going to attend this festival it is best to note that this is the rainy season in the North of the Kingdom and if it doesn’t rain during the festival, it is regarded as a bad omen.

There are actually 3 different kinds of swings found in all Akha villages:

  • The giant swing which is built by the cooperation of villagers (Laa Cher)
  • The Spinning Swing (Kam Laa La Cher)
  • The Small Swing which is built at the front of each house (Err Ler).

 

A Time to Reflect

 

There is a song of the Akha people which goes something like, “you still can feel free while swinging in the air”, this single verse possibly sums up the plight of these at times, still ridiculed people. This annual festival held in their remote villages in the mountains of the North surrounded by their green and blue mountains, brings into focus that when during the four days they swing to and fro, this action is possibly a simple reflection of their long and at time tragic history.

 

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

 

For more on the Akha people click here

For more on the seven Hill Tribes of Thailand click here

The Akha Swing Festival Thailand

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival

Author: Josh @ Asia backpackers

Discover Thailand with Thailand Discovery

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival. The Phi Ta Khon Festival (also spelled Pee Ta Khon (Thai: ผีตาโขน), sometimes known as the Ghost Festival) is the biggest attraction in this otherwise mainly farming community and while the days normally simply float past the sleepy district and town of the same name, Dan Sai, once a year it erupts into life with the unique and magical Phi Ta Khon Festival

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival

 

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival

When: 6-8th July 2016

Where: The town of Dan Sai, Loei province. North-Eastern Thailand

The town of Dan Sai is nestled in what is sometimes referred to as the Thai highlands, with both the Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park and Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary on its doorstep.

While this world renown Isan Festival is peculiar to Dan Sai, it does combine elements of the other equally well known Isan event, the Bun Bang Fai, rocket festivals which literally explode all over the region in  June each year. The biggest and strangest being the Yasothon Rocket Festival  and which has some of the same sexual undertones as the Phi Ta Khon Festival. In 2016 the event is held in the same month as the Buddhist festivals of Asanha Bucha Day and Wan Khao Phansa, sometimes referred to as Buddhist Lent Day.

 

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival

 

The date of this three day event was once selected annually by the town’s mediums. This is not uncommon in the Kingdom (see more) with the dates of some events not know until a few weeks before they start, thankfully today’s visitors only have to look to the Thai lunar calendar, in fact to the first weekend after the sixth full moon (see so much easier!).

The whole three day event is called Bun Luang, part of a Buddhist merit-making holiday also known as Bun Phawet.

 

 

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival The first day is the Ghost Festival itself, also called Wan Ruam (assembly day). The town’s people start the day by seeking protection from Phra U-pakut, the spirit of the Mun River. They then hold a series of games and when finished they take part in the grand procession wearing masks made of rice husks or coconut leaves with hats made from rice steamers, plus traditional patchwork clothing, to which they attach bells.

A good number of the leaping and dancing masked characters will carry a carved wooden axe with its handle carved to look like a male Phallic symbol (orphallus), while others will carry just a big wooden phallic charm called a Bhalad Khik. (This is similar to the Rocket Festival in Yasothon) This mad slow moving parade is a riotous mixture of colour and bawdy good natured fun.

The origins of this part of the festival are traditionally ascribed to a story of the Vessantara Jataka in which the Buddha in one of his past lives as a prince, made a long journey and after a time was presumed dead. The celebrations on his return were so raucous that they were believed to have awoken the dead, today’s festival is a re-enactment of this glorious and noisy time.

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival

Phi Ta Khon or Ghost Festival

 

There is a smaller parade on the following morning, plus costume and dance contests, while later that afternoon its time for the rockets. Unlike its bigger brothers elsewhere in North Eastern Thailand these far smaller rockets produce more a splutter and a less than menacing roar than the full grown heaven bound rockets of the likes of Yasothon or Nong Khai Rocket Festivals but never the less they make for a pretty good display.

 

On the last day the local temples take centre stage, at Wat Phon Chai, there are several activities planned including traditional dance performances, it is here you can also listen to the 13 sermons of Prince Vessandorn.

At the ancient pagoda of Wat Prathat Song Rak, residents will make merit and leave offerings to both the monks and the spirits, in the case of the later these consist in the main of colourful pyramidal bamboo frames with wax shells affixed to them.

Phi Ta Khon Festival this year is 6-8 July 2016

As with most all festivals in the Kingdom the festivities are a combination of riotous fun and spiritual calm, here is no exception. The mayhem of the first two days eventually gives way to the peace and solemn prayers. All in all this festival is a reflection of Thai life where its long and colourful history sits hand in hand with its spiritual past.

For more on other festivals in July click here 

 

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