Friday, May 11, 2007

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Songkran - The Water Festival

So hot and humid in the mid April, what else would you be doing in Thailand to keep yourself fresh and cool. No problem, as virtually wherever you are the Water Festival is the answer. With the temperature potentially rising up to 40 degree centigrade and with presumably ample amount of fresh water despite the dry season, water plays a big, central role throughout the country -- Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya, Phuket, you name it! Starting already from as early as the beginning of the month, people in provincial towns throw water to passerby on major streets. But, the real festivities are on April 13th - 15th when the Thai people travel purposefully to see their families. The Water Festival is also considered the traditional Thai New Year with its legacy dated back to more than 10 centuries. The Thai New Year had been practically used as the start of the year in Thailand until 1940, when it adopted the solar calendar system. Traditionally, this festival teaches people to respect the elderly by paying a visit, to express gratitude to those having fostered them, to make boon (according to the Buddhism's doctrine), and in short just to be with the family. I personally find this well compares with Christmas in the West, though the climate differs greatly. So, we throw water to other people out off the bowl, splash off the bucket, squirt off the hose, yet most mobile, shoot off the water pistol; and thereby, cool ourselves down.

The Water Festival is just so much fun, so much water, so much wet, and so much cooling you down as you would like to expect!

Now, let's take a glimpse of the Water Festival "Songkran" at this official invitation footage 2006:

Contrast to to the Thai traditions, see how Westerners and also some Thais enjoy water fighting. Here is a clip from Koh Samui:

Boone (

Friday, April 13, 2007

Factoid: Chakri Day

April 6th is a public holiday, "Chakri day". Workers have the day off in remembrance of the current Siamese dynasty of Chakri. The dynasty dates back to 1782 and have ruled the monarch with 9 kings!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chiang Rai - the Northern Most of Siam

Less than two hundred kilometres away from the northern capital of Chiang Mai lies the sister Lanna province of Chiang Rai -- the northern most of Thailand with borders to both the Union of Myanmar and Lao People's Democratic Republic. Though it is not considered a main-streamed touristic destination like its larger sister, Chiang Rai is very well worth a visit. With the age of older than 800 years, it hosts a lot of historical evidence and cultural heritage in the ancient Lanna days, not to mention a countless number of genuine Buddhist temples or Wat. Apart from that, the country side landscape is ideal for doing outdoor sports -- no matter your tests are, there is something for you. Mountain biking, hiking, white-water rafting and elephant riding are amongst the most popular activities here. Thanks to its relatively high altitude and latitude, the climate is unbeatable countrywide. You can smell the fresh mountainous air, soothing from outside in, while doing such open-air activities. If not for these moderate and comfortable weather conditions, Somdej Phra Srinagarindra Boromarajajonani or the Princess Mother of Thailand would not have chosen Chiang Rai as her seasonal palace at old age. The inhabitants, in particular those in hill tribes, are all grateful for her kindness to have helped gradually transform the planting and cultivation of illegal opium into all those valuable flowering plants. Chiang Rai is now renowned for its hospitable environments for growing many of Western cold flowers. The tribe population also await visits from the rest of the world to share their unique cultures. To say the last, spend a day or two to Chiang Rai whenever you plan a trip to the North, and you will see a contrast similarity to Chiang Mai that you couldn't otherwise see.

Boone (