THAILAND

All posts tagged THAILAND

Rites of passage

Published April 20, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30367983

  • An ancient statue of Mae Hong Son’s ruler is carried on horseback to protect the Sang Long processions from demons.
  • Mae Hong Son’s annual Poy Sang Long Festival is held during summer to pay homage to Lord Buddha.
  • Relatives act as “Ta Pae” (horses) to carry the Sang Long from their houses to the temple.
  • The colourful Sang Long processions roam around the town.

Rites of passage

big read April 20, 2019 01:00

By Korbphuk Phromrekha
The Nation Weekend

Young Tai Yai boys become novices in an annual ceremony that draws visitors from far afield

THE SUN has barely risen over the northern province of Mae Hong Son, but already the Tai Yai residents are out on the streets banging Lanna gongs and beating long drums to mark the beginning of the annual Poy Sang Long Festival.

The festival is centred on Wat Pha Bong Nuea, which serves as the main ceremonial venue and turns its pavilion into a dressing room for veteran and amateur make-up artists to groom the young boys who take part in the traditional ordination ceremony to become Sang Long (novice monks) in a tribute to Lord Buddha.

Mae Hong Son’s annual Poy Sang Long Festival is held during summer to pay homage to Lord Buddha. 

The festival’s name is a combination of three Tai Yai words – Poy meaning an event and Sang, which is thought to come either from Khun Sang (Brahman) or Sang (novice monk). Long is derived from Along, meaning Bodhisattva or the king’s lineage.

In Tai Yai tradition, the novice monks don the very finest costumes as a symbol of Prince Siddhartha. Legend has it that King Ajatashatru hosted the ordination ceremony for his son to redeem his sins, while a folk tale focuses on a poor widow and her son, both disciples of Buddhism, who wanted to take part in an ordination ceremony hosted by the aristocracy.

Indra perceived their wishes and descended from the heavens using gold and silver waters to transform her son into a handsome prince. Brahman also gave him a crown and a gold breast chain and served as his godfather, hence the belief that the Sang Long is an adopted son of Brahman.

The celebrations are held during the long school break to ensure the Tai Yai boys have enough time to learn religious practices. Each ceremony takes three days and the kids will spend a few days memorising their lines for the ordination and undergo the tonsure ritual the day before the event.

The boys ask for forgiveness and receive the five precepts from the monks

The Hub Sang Long Day starts with a bathing ritual, which sees the boys cleaning themselves in water mixed with acacia and full of precious gems and gold to bring them prestige. Dressed in white shirts and refined jong kraben, they head to the temple and attend a ceremony to ask for forgiveness and receive the precepts from the monks.

“Sang Long’s costumes are inspired by the clothes worn by the angels in the second heaven where Indra dwells. They dance to welcome Lord Buddha back to Earth,” says Tai Yai elder Jing Na.

“The Sang Long ceremony is more important for Tai Yai culture than being ordained as a monk because the kids are still innocent. This is regarded as making major merit. The procession of novice monks will usually start at 3pm or 4pm – the time when Prince Siddhartha departed his hometown to start his pilgrimage.”

The ceremony continues late morning with a colourful procession of men known as Ta Pae who carry the boys around the town on their shoulders The procession stops at several sacred places and at private houses, where villagers and elders offer the boys culinary delights and tie string around their wrists as a blessing.

The remarkable procession known as Kho Lu is the highlight of the second day. Here the boys dance while perched on the shoulders of the Ta Pae and local residents carry monks’ necessities to the temple, with an ancient statue of Mae Hong Son’s ruler perched on the back of a horse to serve as a guardian to protect the procession from demons.

 In the evening, Sang Long and celebrants will be entertained with Nok Ging Kara dances and other cultural performances.  

In the evening, the Sang Long attend a ceremony during which string is tied around their wrists and feast on Kin Pak 12 Mee, a meal featuring 12 auspicious dishes while guests can enjoy a programme of cultural performances like the Nok Ging Gara dance. The sacred ordination ceremony takes place on the last day, which is called Wan Lu.

“According to Tai Yai beliefs, the families have to join the Poy Sang Long Festival when their first son is 10 years old though boys as young as seven can be ordained. They’re old enough to learn dharma. The novice monks can extend their status until they’re 20 if they don’t want to study in a formal school,” says Uncle Sophin Kaentun, who serves on the Ban Pha Bong committee.

“In the past, some Sang Long disappeared from the ceremony and we believed that the spirits tried to hide them from our eyes. The families now provide at least two guards to watch closely over the young novices even when they go to the bathroom.”

The Tai Yai descendants have managed to conserve their cultural heritage and the religious ceremonies are hosted to promote solidarity in their communities. Sang Long’s costumes are elaborate and each neighbourhood comes up with different designs. Up north on the border with Myanmar, the outfits are adorned with gold ornaments while residents of Mae Sariang district have adopted Lanna fashion. The original Tai Yai tradition only used breast chains and women cut their braids to decorate Sang Long hats to make merit. Today, the families spend around Bt100,000 to host an ordination ceremony.

After the procession arrives at the temple, the parents will treat Sang Long to the Kin Pak 12 Mee feast.

“The Sang Long festival in other villages has changed but here in Ban Pha Bong, we follow the original Tai Yai traditions. For example, Sang Long’s shirts are decorated with lace woven into star shapes to match the jong kraben, while celebrants still don traditional Tai Yai costumes and hold small bunches of orchids,” adds Jing Na.

Advertisements

Blasts from the past

Published April 14, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30367622

  • All generations of Mon are pouring water through a long bamboo tube to bathe a Buddha image.
  • Tourists in Ayutthaya have fun in a water battle with the elephants.
  • Asiatique the Riverfront joins the Water Festival with a wide range of delightful retro-themed activities.

Blasts from the past

Thailand April 13, 2019 01:00

By The Nation Weekend

3,595 Viewed

Tourists as well as local residents have the opportunity to travel back in time and enjoy a retro-style Songkran. Here’s where

IT’S SONGKRAN and while plenty of Thais will head home to spend time with their families, cities all over the country are celebrating the Thai New Year with ceremonies, performances, fun activities, food and the occasional water fight.

We take a look at what’s on over the holidays.

Bangkok 

Known for celebrating the most beautiful of Thai traditions, the Water Festival is once again turning nine iconic piers along the Chao Phraya River into entertainment venues from today to Monday.

Designed on the theme of “Yoo Yen Pen Sook” which literally means “live peacefully”, the festival invites visitors to pour water over elders’ hands in the rod nam dam hua ceremony, bathe Buddha statues to ask for blessings and have fun creating their own handicrafts at a series of workshops.

One of the popular stops is Lhong 1919, where visitors can pay respect to the Mazu Goddess, watch a contemporary long-drum dance troupe perform, check out the food truck carnival and learn how to prepare Thai desserts, craft fish out of palms and make Thai flower garlands.

The Tha Maharaj community mall is transforming itself into a Thai temple fair and offers a variety of classic games, Thai brass and long-drum troupe performances, watercolour classes and a Thai kite-making workshop.

From 5 to 10pm on all three days, Asiatique the Riverfront joins the celebration with concerts featuring Thai favourites Lada R-Siam, Wan Thanakrit and Paowalee Pornpimon. Here visitors can walk through the Very Cool Loincloth tunnel, experience Wet ’n’ Wild Sea Boxing, roam around the old market, join the traditional loincloth workshops and ride the giant Ferris Wheel to watch the sunset over the Chao Phraya River.

Thai cultures and traditions are the focus at Iconsiam.

Thai cultures and traditions are also the focus at the Iconic Songkran Festival 2019 being hosted by Iconsiam on the Thon Buri side of the river until Monday.

Visitors are invited to pour sacred water on four revered Buddha images from different periods, namely Shinnasri Buddha from the Sukhothai period, Nimit Vichitmarn Molee Sri Sanpetch Borom Tri Lok Nart Buddha representing the Ayutthaa era, Buddham Viseth Sasada Buddha from Thonburi and Siam Dheva Thirat Buddha of the Rattanakosin period.

The Songkran exhibition depicts the festival’s history and tradition and features performances of the Viva Songkran dance, silk reeling dance and traditional drumming. Here too visitors can take part in free workshops such as making scented fans and scented water, Thai-pattern fabric painting and the art of fruit and vegetable carving and also dress up in traditional costumes for a photo shoot.

Top Thai actresses will join the procession by dressing in royal court costumes from four eras – Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Rattanakosin. There’s also some water splashing and a concert by Nont Tanont and Da Endorphine.

Iconsiam’s Sook Siam zone is home to the “Sook Siam Yoo Yen Pen Sook” where visitors can pour water on hands of senior residents from the Ban Bang Khae Elderly Centre. Other highlights include a Ferris wheel, the egg pond game, sand pagoda making, a Songkran beauty contest and the presentation of traditional foods and handicrafts.

From 9am to 10pm, celebrants can take advantage of the free Chao Phraya Express Boats cruising to Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklaram, Wat Arun Ratchawararam, Wat Kalayanamitra Worawararam, Wat Prayurawongsawat Worawihan, Tha Maharaj, Yodpiman River Walk, Lhong 1919, Iconsiam and Asiatique.

Pathum Thani

Just 30 minutes away from downtown Bangkok, Thai-Mon residents are gathering in the grounds of the provincial hall today to take part in the grand Hang Hong Thong Takhab processions, which see statues of swans decorated in coloured mirror glass and centipede-inspired handcrafted flags carried to the temples.

All generations of Mon are pouring water through a long bamboo tube to bathe a Buddha image. 

They will also show off their skills in making the traditional hot season dish khao chae and building sand pagodas.

Continuing through Thursday, the festival includes the rod nam dam hua ceremony, culinary demonstrations of khao chae and mixed red sticky rice, Thai, Muslim and Chinese cultural performances, a sand pagoda building competition, Mon dance and Mon orchestra concerts. Youngsters will play Mon skittles in a showcase of the ethnic group’s unique culture.

Ayutthaya 

Travelling back in time to the good old days of the old capital, Si Sanphet Road will serve as the main Songkran venue throughout the weekend. Here tourists can join the bathing ritual of Buddha statues and sand pagoda building and have fun with retro Thai dance and water fights with elephants from Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Kraal.

Tomorrow, the Thai-Mon residents of Bang Pa-in district will don traditional costumes for a unique centipede-inspired flag procession to Wat Thong Bo and join a bathing ritual of Buddha statues, in which they will pour water through split bamboo tubes to ask for luck, happiness and success in the coming year.

Ratchaburi

Nang Yai Wat Khanon National Museum is the place for art lovers to celebrate Songkran. Taking place today and tomorrow in a classic Thai ambience, the event features an art market and Thai-Mon food street where visitors can use cowrie shell money to bargain, a grand shadow play, a pong lang performance, a likay hulu dance and Lanna-style khon (masked dance drama).

Wat Ban Sing in Photharam district is today hosting the Bai Si ceremony to bring luck and happiness to Lao-Wieng residents for the year to come. There are also several cultural performances and activities to enjoy.

Later than in other parts of the province, Wat Ched Samian will celebrate the beginning of the Thai New Year next week with Flower Car processions, a long-tail boat racing tournament, a sand pagoda contest and the rod nam dam hua ceremony.

Sukhothai underlines its traditional heritage in the Songkran celebration at the historical parks.

Sukhothai

The Retro Songkran Splendours event at Sukhothai Historical Park runs until tomorrow and features a variety of cultural activities and performances including a sand pagoda building competition, a Songkran beauty contest, bullock-cart processions from 12 communities, traditional sports and a market selling all kinds of local dishes, snacks and desserts.

The city is also hosting the Flowery Shirt Songkran Khao Tok Road festival around the Clock Tower until Monday, which will see residents building sand pagodas at Wat Thai Chumpol and dressing in colourful flower-covered shirts for the “flower car” procession. Other activities include retro Thai dance and a Miss Songkran contest.

Phetchaburi 

The Amazing Songkran 2019 event, which runs until tomorrow at Phra Ram Ratchaniwet, takes visitors back to the contemporary culture during the reigns of Kings Rama V and VI.

Visitors can bathe Phra Buddha Sothon, register for royal cuisine workshops and watch demonstrations of 10 traditional Thai handicrafts, and enjoy a classical music concert by Sunatraporn Big Band, Vietrio, Lula, Radklao Amaradit, Saranya Songsermsawad and Praew Kanitkul.

The reception hall serves a formal Afternoon Tea set and guests can dress in period costumes to join a palace tour and watch a vintage car exhibition.

 

Chiang Mai is hosting the Pee Mai Muang Festival all over town. 

Chiang Mai

The Northern city always prides itself on fantastic Songkran celebrations and this year the old Lanna capital celebrates its cultural heritage with the much-loved Pawenee Pee Mai Muang Festival that gets underway today and continues through Monday.

Running from Tha Pae Gate to Wat Phra Singh and the Three Kings Monument, this morning will see residents taking part in the alms-giving ceremony, the bathing rite of the revered Phra Buddha Sihing and a spectacular procession of Buddha images to mark the beginning of the New Year.

Tourists can enjoy several Lanna handicraft demonstrations and free workshops by TAT Chiang Mai Office, along with a temple fair, wisdom art performances and a Light & Sound presentation telling the story of Songkran Festival.

Other activities include a parade of women riding bicycles while holding umbrellas, the Lanna Traditional Devotion Ornaments Contest and the Miss & Mister Songkran Contest.

Chiang Mai University’s Lanna Traditional House Museum meanwhile gives visitors a chance to celebrate Songkran as their ancestors did. Here families will gather on an open space to build their stunning sand pagodas, join a bathing rite of Buddha statues and a rod nam dam hua ceremony and learn how to craft tung sai moo (an elaborate paper lantern resembling a pig’s intestine).

The old Lanna market serves as the main entertainment and dining venue with local dishes on sale and a stage for classic cultural performances and music.

Mukdahan 

Featuring the Cool-Isaan water tunnel, Isaan classic dance by the Mekong River and a Sand Art contest, the Northeast province of Mukdahan is hosting the Muk-Savan Fun & Fin Festival on Had Mano Phirom until Tuesday

Not to miss is the sand sculpture zone boasting lifelike models of such tourist attractions as Wat Roi Phra Phutthabat Phu Manorom in Mukdahan, Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Dragon Paradise Park in Suphan Buri, the Phi Seua Samut statue in Rayong and Wat Maha That Woramahawihan in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Mukdahan draws local villagers and tourists with the MukSavan Fun & Fin Festival.

Phuket

Down south, Dee Buk Road in downtown Phuket will be lined with 40 booths selling a wide selection of local dishes and desserts from today to Monday as part of the Water Festival.

Visitors can rent Baba costumes and take pictures in front of old Sino-Portuguese houses, join a bathing rite of Buddha statues and admire a collection of Phuket sketches by art students from King Mongkut’s Institue of Technology Ladkrabang. Lipta and Bird & Heart provide the entertainment tomorrow and Monday.

Samui

The resort island turns Chaweng Beach into a water splashing riot today and tomorrow. Before the water fights, celebrants can take part in alms-giving and rod nam dam hua, take in the dazzling Alpha Gay parade around the town and watch 100 villagers perform a traditional Nora dance.

The Songkran celebration at Nathon Market draws to a close today by inviting visitors to dress in Thai costumes and join several fun activities on the Cultural Street.

Flowers raised by cool waste

Published April 14, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30367607

Flowers raised by cool waste

Thailand April 12, 2019 15:05

By The Nation

2,376 Viewed

PTT is showcasing how cool waste can be used to nurture flowers in the 8th Wonders of Cool-Season Crops – Tulip in Bloom Festival that runs until April 21 at the Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Herb Garden in Rayong.

On the theme “Charming Wonder Village”, this botanical garden, which is powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, boasts more than 120,000 colourful tulips and several entertainment activities for people of all ages.

“PTT has fully supported the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) project, initiated by the Thai government to accommodate the Thailand 4.0 initiative. The EECi helps create a value-based economy that is driven by scientific knowledge, technology and innovation and enhances the competitiveness of the Thai industry,” said Chansin Treenuchagron, president and chief executive of PTT.

“The company leverages cool waste from the regasification process at its LNG receiving terminal in Rayong, helping to add value to the country’s farm sector. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide derived from the gas separation process in its plant is used to speed plant growth.

The chemical substance is also used as material for the production of dry ice, an ingredient in the artificial rainmaking process, enabling PTT to fully support the operations of the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agriculture Aviation and disaster relief operations.”

This year’s highlights include the Rocky Gateway tunnel that transports visitors to the middle of the village set in a mountainous European town. Visitors can walk along a see-through glass Miracle Bridge and admire the field of tulips underneath.

Other activities include a puppet performance, Bozo the Clown show, live storytelling a painting corner, a concert, a One Tambon One Product fair and a gardening workshop conducted by the Eastern Flowers and Ornamental Plants Welfare Association. Visitors can also join the bathing ritual of Buddha statues to celebrate the Songkran Day.

“We aim to promote tourism in the local communities and help residents to generate more income. Our garden showcases 15 different types of tulips. Each year, we come up with a fresh idea for a cool waste management project to create a great experience for visitors,” said Nattawoot Krerpradab, vice president of Natural Gas Products Distribution.

Tickets are Bt40 and all proceeds will go to Rayong’s long-term care institution in Ma Ta Phut district.

Splendours of the South

Published April 7, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30367221

  • Khanom Jeen Pa Son, opposite Chao Mae Ma Cho Po Shrine, offers riceflour noodles with curries and a wide array of vegetables.
  • Travellers take photos in front of a mural painted by Alex Face and explore the city of Phang Nga in a song thaew, the local distinctive taxi.
  • The street-food eatery Khrua Nong earned a Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award for good value for money.

Splendours of the South

Thailand April 06, 2019 01:00

By Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Nation Weekend
Phang Nga

Taking a gustatory journey through Phang Nga province

LOCATED SOME 800 kilometres from Bangkok, the Southern coastal province of Phang Nga is well known for its stunning scenery. Less known but equally as stunning are its culinary creations that take the visitors on a palate-pleasing journey through its streets.

Phang Nga is one of 55 secondary cities being promoted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to draw travellers eager for new experiences. The second edition (2019) of the Michelin Guide Bangkok has been happy to play along, extending its coveted ratings to the best dining venues in Phang Nga and Phuket.

The fishing village of Bang Pat on the mangrove peninsula of Phang Nga Bay is home to about 80 families, most of them Muslim. 

After a short flight from Bangkok to Phuket – the nearest airport to Phang Nga, I climb into a car for the 70-kilometre trip to the fishing village of Bang Pat on the mangrove peninsula of Phang Nga Bay.

A small 200-metre concrete bridge leads to the village, which is home to about 80 families, most of them Muslim. Fresh and dried fish, shrimp paste and palm sugar are on sale at very reasonable prices in front of many houses, which also offer comfortable homestays. I pass locals busy mending their nets before setting out to sea at night and other preparing sun-dried fish.

The Bang Pat Village offers fresh seafood and dried fish at affordable prices.

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit visited this village in 1997 with her son – the current King Maha Vajiralongkorn – to encourage its residents to preserve the mangrove forest and set up a crab bank to promote sustainable fisheries. Photos taken during their visit grace the walls of many homes.

The village is known for its fresh seafood and Khrua Aree is a seafood eatery packed with locals and tourists alike. Foreign travellers are dropped off at the pier for lunch after a morning spent visiting the various islands along this coast.

The seafood eatery Khrua Aree offers dishes at resonable prices, at Bt250 net per person for each meal.

Crab, fish, shrimps, squids, mantis shrimps and shellfish are cooked in different styles and each meal costs Bt250 net. Groups of up to four diners are invited to choose five dishes with seven offered to larger groups.

For our group of 15, the dishes on offer range from steamed crab, tom yum goong, stir-fried squid with ink, deep-fried sea bass, stir-fried Venus shells, spicy sea grape seaweed salad and fried rice with shrimp.

After lunch, we set off to explore the cultural route designed by the TAT’s Phang Nga Office and covering eight spots in the town’s Muang district. We pack into song thaew – the shared pickup taxi with a bench along each side of the cargo bed.

Travellers take photos in front of a mural painted by Alex Face and explore the city of Phang Nga in a song thaew, the local distinctive taxi.

The Song Thaew Cooperative of Phang Nga has joined the campaign, allowing eight to 10 interested travellers to hire the whole song thaew for a very reasonable Bt800 and takes them to visit the eight spots over the course of four to five hours.

Our schedule is tight and we only have time to visit three attractions. Driver Chanchana Saelim first takes us to the Phang Nga Museum housed in the Colonial-style building constructed in 1930 that once served as the town hall. After renovations, it opened as a museum in 2013 and relates the history of Phang Nga as a marine trading port and tin mining town.

The Phang Nga Museum tells the history of the Southern coastal province during its time as a marine trading port, emphasising its tin mines and cultural diversity. 

Among the exhibits are maps illustrating the marine peninsular route in Southern Thailand, the equipment used for mining tin, the distinctive dress of the Buddhists, Muslims and Thai-Chinese who inhabited the town, as well as photographs of the Sino-Portuguese row houses in the old town and the Southern-style food.

The next stop is Chao Mae Ma Cho Po Shrine, one of the most revered shrines among Thai-Chinese residents, and the residence of the goddess of the sea who is believed to give Chinese merchants and immigrants a spiritual anchor along the coast.

 Khanom Jeen Pa Son, opposite Chao Mae Ma Cho Po Shrine, offers riceflour noodles with curries and a wide array of vegetables.

Local guide Viriyah Hongkhao suggests we stop for food at local favourite Khanom Jeen Pa Son directly opposite the shrine. The self-service eatery is known for its rice-flour noodles and curries, which include nam yanam priktai pla and gaeng paa, priced at Bt30. Gracing the long tables are more than 20 vegetables – fresh, blanched and pickled – as well as fried dried small fish and pineapple for all you can eat.

Several walls in the city have been painted with colourful murals by Thai street artist Patcharapol Tangruen, aka Alex Face. He’s best known for his iconic three-eyed child Mardi, who peers out at passer-by with her eyes half-opened and a sense of weary vulnerability and who has graced walls in Bangkok as well as Singapore.

In Phang Nga, visitors are encouraged to ride song thaew to find the three Mardi murals in the city. In one Mardi is wearing a sarong and holding a metal pan to extract ore and in another, she is sitting behind a giant glass bottle containing a junk.

“Alex was commissioned by TAT and the local administrative office to paint three murals in the city to tell the history and the multi-cultural diversity of Phang Nga. He finished last month and the murals are now popular spots for visitors to snap a photo,” Viriyah says.

“Phang Nga is a charming and peaceful city where you can enjoy fabulous seascapes, mountain views and jungles bustling with wildlife. The city is also becoming a popular place for elderly Germans to live out their retirement. They rent a house and spend their time sunbathing and hiking.”

Members of Baan Pring Local Enterprise showcase how to make local sweet treats.

Our last stop is Baan Pring Local Enterprise, which produces such local foods and desserts as nam prik goong siab (Southern-style chilli dip made with dried shrimp) and local pastry tao sor in gift packaging. Visitors are also invited to knead the flour and cook the fillings.

The other five spots on the route are Phang Nga City Pillar Shrine, Chedi Khao Lang Bat, Tham Sam Rock Art, Saraphimuk Temple and Rai Foon Road and while we couldn’t visit them, we stop off at the popular viewpoint called Samed Nang Chee in Takua Thung district. To see the stunning scenes of Phang Nga Bay and pristine beaches from the top, visitors have to board four-wheel drive vehicles offered by the local community at Bt90 per person for a round trip.

 A traveller takes a selfie with a backdrop of Phang Nga Bay from Samed Nang Chee viewpoint.

The two-kilometre, zig-zag trail is high and steep, requiring skilled driving and visitors are told to grab the rack firmly. It is a thrilling experience and the view from the top makes it all worthwhile.

Samed Nang Chee is actually a good spot to watch the sunrise and to marvel at the Milky Way at night. The only blimp is the sign bearing the name Samed Nang Chee, which has a colourful Thai font and is out of place with the natural scenery.

The street-food eatery Khrua Nong earned a Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award for good value for money. 

My culinary journey in Phang Nga ends at the small street food eatery Khrua Nong in Takua Pa district that earned Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award for its good value for money. In this case, it means a maximum price of Bt1,000 for three-course meal.

The owners are husband-and-wife team Komson and Chanida Jewsakul who left behind their careers as a photographer and a secretary in Bangkok to operate this eatery 18 years ago. Despite its humble setting and compact space, Khrua Nong offers about 200 dishes made with fresh ingredients that are locally sourced.

“I returned to my hometown to take care of my mother. Cooking runs in the family. My grandfather had a Western-style restaurant when Westerners worked in the mines. My mother and her sister also run a made-to-order eatery. We started with just four tables and today can accommodate a maximum of 80 diners,” says Komson.

Komson and Chanida do all the cooking themselves in an open kitchen as diners watch on. During my visit, they had just taken delivery of fresh river prawns, which they used to make a delicious tom yum soup. A dish not to miss is the deep-fried spotted mackerel fillets seasoned with home-made soy sauce for Bt200. Other tempting choices include deep-fried soft shell crab with garlic (Bt160), stir-fried sato beans with shrimp and shrimp paste (Bt120), and stir-fried bai liang leaves with egg (Bt70).

“We were so honoured to get the prestigious Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award. From an overlooked eatery that normally serves local people, we are welcoming more customers from different provinces. We’re renovating the space by replacing the roof and building an additional toilet that is user-friendly for the elderly and handicapped,” Chanida says.

The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Authority of Thailand’ southern region.

IF YOU GO

Learn more about tourist attractions in Phang Nga at Facebook.com/wonderful.phangnga

Bangkok Airways operates daily flights to Phuket. Check the flight schedules at http://www.BangkokAir.com.

The Song Thaew Cooperative of Phang Nga can be reached by calling Chanchana Saelim at (093) 794 9966.

Contact Khrua Aree at Bang Pat Village at (086) 274 4557.

Khanom Jeen Pa Son, opposite Chao Mae Ma Cho Po Shrine, can be reached at (086) 593 9658.

Contact Baan Pring Local Enterprise at (081) 537 5370.

Khrua Nong can be reached at (080) 389 5554.

Songkran’s fruity flavours

Published April 7, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30367061

Songkran’s fruity flavours

Thailand April 05, 2019 01:00

By THE NATION

2,215 Viewed

Travellers flying with Thai Smile between April 13 and 17 will be welcomed on board with two special fusion desserts created by Audrey Café.

“Thai Smile is committed to delivering excellence services beyond customer’s expectations as always. We provide inflight meals and beverages to all passengers for free on all flights and during festivals offer a special dish that symbolises the occasion,” said Nednapang Teeravas, chief customer service officer of Thai Smile Airways.

 

The Songkran treats are Mango Sago Panna Cotta that gets its crunch from pearl tapioca crumbled with young coconut meat and topped with mango. Marian Plum Panna Cotta adds a sweet and sour taste thanks to the slightly sour plum sauce.

“Audrey Cafe is delight to create these two special dishes with local seasonal fruits,” said Janista Charoonsmith, chief executive officer of Audrey Group.

“Panna cotta is our best seller. We’ve crafted two new desserts to cool passengers throughout the Songkran festival.”

The desserts are available on both domestic and international routes (except WE011, WE051, WE177, WE419 / 420, WE426 and WE609).

For flight information, go to http://www.ThaiSmileAir.com.

An elephantine task

Published March 30, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30366804

  • Visitors join a Walking with Giants tour.
  • Elephant masters from Surin’s Ban Ta Klang elephant village perform a traditional ritual to celebrate the Nation Elephant Day.
  • Animal osteopath Tony Nevin teaches visitors how to massage the elephants.

An elephantine task

big read March 30, 2019 01:00

By Pattarawadee Saengmanee
The Nation Weekend

A foundation dedicated to helping pachyderms and their mahouts holds and educational open day

SITTING ON a border of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) in Chiang Rai recently opened its camp to celebrate the National Thai Elephant Day and give local and foreign visitors a chance to experience several educational activities about elephants and mahouts.

Set up in 2006 by the five-star Anantara Hotels chain, the foundation aims to solve the problem of elephants coming to city streets and generally improve elephant welfare in Thailand. Today, all elephants in its camp are rented from different villages to conduct the exclusive mahout and trekking programmes for the guests staying at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort and Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle.

 The Elephant Buffet is stacked high with fresh fruits.

“Anantara took over this property with its elephant camp back in 2002. We recognised the potential for tourism in the Golden Triangle and wanted to do more with the land. That gave birth to the idea of setting up the foundation and inviting mahouts to work with us rather than taking the elephants to towns to walk on the streets,” says John Roberts, director of Elephants and Conservation Efforts of Anantara.

“In those days, tourism in this part of the world was still relatively small and the mahouts had no other ways of making money.”

But despite the good intentions, the foundation hasn’t always had it easy. Last year, Anantara Hotels was put in the hot seat after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) released worrying video footage showing mahouts using bullhooks to beat and jab elephants during the polo matches, resulting in all the big names drawing back their sponsorship.

Anantara took quick action and launched the inaugural King’s Cup Elephant Boat Race and River Festival to replace its annual polo match. The charity event is taking place this weekend, joined by veteran Thai Navy paddlers and international teams from China and the Philippines.

“To improve the situation, we provide a positive and targetted training programme that can help the villagers teach their elephants without using bullhooks or hitting them,” Roberts explains.

“All mahouts learn the basics for controlling an elephant from their parents. It’s like learning to drive with our parents. It might not be the best way but this is tradition and the techniques have been passed on from generation to generation for 4,000 years. We don’t want to touch their heritage. We just come up with a different way that can help them do better.”

The GTAEF camp in the luxury Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort occupies 2,000 square metres as is home to 25 rescued elephants and a small village of mahouts and their families. Many of elephants here came from the streets but others used to work for illegal logging camps or elephant shows. The camp pays Bt25,000 a month to provide mahouts with an guaranteed income and also supports their spouses in their silk weaving group.

For the recent celebration, the lush jungle was transformed into a ceremonial ground, where a group of elephant spirit men from Surin’s Ban Ta Klang Elephant Village performed a Kui traditional ritual to pay respect to the guardian spirits.

A long table was set up in the middle of the lush grounds packed with offerings and nang pa kam, a sacred 100-year-old robe made from buffalo leather that has been used to capture a wild elephant in the past.

“Being an elephant spirit man is local wisdom and passed down from father to son. We pray in the Kui language and blow sang (a buffalo horn), which is traditionally used to capture wild elephants. The offerings include a chicken chin, a pig head, fruits and bai si,” explains Uncle Chalerm Salangam, 70.

“Today, our village has 300 elephants and we’ve trained a new generation of elephant spirit men to maintain our traditions.”

The elephants themselves were more excited about the buffet, eagerly tucking into watermelons, coconuts, bananas, sweet corn, pumpkins and pineapples.

Elephant masters from Surin’s Ban Ta Klang elephant village perform a traditional ritual to celebrate the Nation Elephant Day. 

A short walk from the ceremonial venue, development manager Laddawan Yonthantham was acting as a tour guide to give visitors an introduction to sustainable elephant welfare management.

“About 30 years ago, the government enacted legislation to ban logging in the jungle and mahouts became unemployed. To generate income, they shifted to putting on elephant shows at tourist attractions or took their elephants to the city essentially to beg. Raising elephants is expensive as they need 200 to 300 kilograms of pineapples, watermelons and sugar cane, depending on their weight – and the average weight of an elephant is 2,500 kilograms,” Laddawan says.

“Our camp offers natural space near the river so that the elephants can exercise and eat organic fruits from the local plantations. Initially, we purchased some overworked and street elephants from mahouts but they bought new elephants to sell to us again. So, we rented the elephants and hired the mahouts to conduct eco-friendly activities for our all-inclusive hotel packages.

“Mahouts can take advantage of Anantara’s staff welfare programme, which includes a residence, uniforms and three meals a day. Based on sustainable living, it aims to keep them from falling back into the same cycle.”

Hotel guests can register for trekking and riding an elephant or learn the basics of being a mahout while the elephants get additional exercise. As we walk around the property, we see domesticated giant Bo and her friends jumping into the Ruak river and having fun in the clear water as they take their daily bath.

“We limit work to three-and-a-half hours and even have a customised exercise routine for elephants so that they can stay healthy. They love jumping into a mud pond to cool down,” says Laddawan.

Mahout Wattana Salangam and his giant friend Bo have worked with the elephant camp for 14 years. Before that they were in Bangkok, roaming the streets to earn money.

“I was in debt so I took Bo to Bangkok. We would walk around the streets and would collect about Bt2,500 a day. We made ourselves a camp on vacant land to save money. Then we moved to the elephant foundation in Phetchaburi and had to take care of many elephants, most of them belonging to other people. It was dangerous because most elephants only obey their owners,” Wattana says.

“Here, I started on a salary of Bt18,000 and now receive up to Bt25,000, plus extra income from guest activities. I’m happy to work here. My elephant has enough food no matter if I have work or not.”

An elephant splashes dirt to chase off bugs on his back.

“Our foundation doesn’t support mahouts to breed their elephants. Today, there are more than 4,200 house elephants and not all of them live in good conditions. We can’t release them to the forest because they have no skills to survive. Normally, elephants live in a group and don’t accept strangers,” Laddawan says.

An in-house veterinarian team is in charge at the positive reinforcement target training station where elephants learn to perform certain tasks such as raising a foot in a purely positive manner. A small branch is used but no punishments are meted out. Instead the elephants quickly learn about rewards.

“Our camp set up this training in cooperation with Dr Gerardo Martinez, a world renowned large animal trainer from the Africam Safari Park in Puebla, Mexico. This target training can be used to train the elephant in the event that they need veterinary treatment. It can help feel free and release stress for both elephant and vet,” says Laddawan.

The camp also conducts Elephant Cognition (problem solving) Research. Here, visitors can see the elephants using their trunks to pick up tokens of different textures and work as a team.

Next door was the space for Elephant Osteopathy Demonstra-tions undertaken in collaboration with veteran British animal osteopath Tony Nevin. Adapted from techniques used with humans, the massage treatment is designed to relieve muscle tension and pain.

“We focus on the elephant’s spine and balance while walking. The massage starts from the neck and goes from rib to hip. This treatment can be used for other animals too, like giraffes, horses and ostriches,” Nevin says.

The Walking with Giants activity takes place in the early morning and takes guests to explore a trekking trail around the camp and learn about daily life of elephants. For example, elephants splash dirt over their back to chase bugs and black dung means they are eating too much dirt probably have flatulence.

Animal osteopath Tony Nevin teaches visitors how to massage the elephants.

“For the next step, we would like to help the elephants in several trekking camps have access to better welfare. We will also continue to train mahouts across Southeast Asia in positive reinforcement and elephant friendly training and handling techniques,” director Roberts says.

“We have teamed up with US Agency for International Development (USAID) to teach travellers not to buy ivory. We’re also working with Srinakharinwirot University, which is going to send students to the area where villagers are facing problems with elephants coming out from the forest. We will try to identify what is the best practice to keep both people and elephants happy when they come out from the national park.

 

PACHYDERM PARADISE

>> The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation is located in Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort, Chiang Rai.

>> Find out details at http://www.HelpingElephants.org.

Splendid in Si Sa Ket

Published March 23, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30366337

  • The spectacular architecture of Sa Kamphaeng Yai Temple
  • Bueng Ban Bok is a new attraction in Sisaket.
  • Pha Mo I Daeng is the best viewpoint from which to admire the sunrise.
  • Visitors to Ban Takuan are welcomed with a the Bai Sri Su Kwan ceremony.
  • Don Tuan Sanctuary showcases the ancient arrest warrant in Khmer language carved on the pillars
  • Pha Mo I Daeng boasts three ancient basreliefs.

Splendid in Si Sa Ket

Thailand March 23, 2019 01:00

By Pattarawadee Saengmanee
The Nation Weekend

With its Kmer ruins, breathtaking scenery and welcoming residents, this lower Isaan province is perfect for a weekend break

TEN YEARS AGO, the Preah Vihear dispute between Thailand and Cambodia put paid to Si Sa Ket’s tourism hopes. Now, though, it’s back on the map, offering visitors a wide range of interesting historical sites and wildlife sanctuaries plus eco-cultural activities for people of all ages to enjoy.

The province is home to four ethic groups –Kui, Lao, Khmer and Yer – as well as 300-rai of rice fields and 500,000-rai of plantations of rubber trees, durian, mango, sweet corn, shallot and garlic.

Pha Mo I Daeng is the best viewpoint from which to admire the sunrise. 

“Si Sa Ket’s average income decreased significantly after the road to the controversial Preah Vihear Temple was closed in 2008 and this province was regarded as the home of Thailand’s poorest population who only survived by eating dirt,” says Governor Verasak Vichitsangsri.

“Now, we promote sustainable tourism to generate more income for the communities. Our residents are farmers and the ethnic groups co-exist happily, each happy to show off their own cultures. This is an asset for Si Sa Ket.”

Located a one-hour drive from Ubon Ratchathani Airport, Bueng Ban Bok in Non Khun district is a popular stop for visitors to admire a sea of pink lotus blooms and fields of sunflowers that stretch as far as the eye can see.

The swamp is linked by a striking 300-metre- long bamboo bridge with relaxing corners where visitors can lounge on a bamboo hammock and take in the cool breeze, a welcome relief from the 40 degrees Celsius the area reaches in the middle of the day.

At the end of the bridge is a small cafe serving Thai-style coffee and refreshing herbal drinks along with a shopping area selling handicrafts and local snacks.

Bueng Ban Bok is a new attraction in Si Sa Ket. 

“This swamp was originally used for agricultural purposes and we converted it into a new tourist attraction last year. Our village took part in the Nawatwithi One Tambon, One Product (Otop) Community Tourism project and spent Bt500,000 renovating the landscapes and building the bamboo bridge. This is the best viewpoint to see the pink lotuses that are in full bloom in December and January,” says village head Kingthawee Pokaew.

“We also plan to offer rafting to a nearby horse farm, a cycling route and a homestay service.”

For now, however, , the Northeastern province is covered in fragrant white cheesewood flowers known as lamduan, which welcome visitors to Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Park in downtown Si Sa Ket, the venue for the annual floral festival.

The festival, which runs for three days, features four markets, each representing one of the ethnic groups, cultural performances, a photography exhibition and an extravagant light and sound show telling the tale of the founding of Si Sa Ket, – Kurukaset as it was originally known – by King Jayavarman VII back in 1037.

A popular venue with local families is the Si Sa Ket Aquarium, the first in the lower Northeast, that’s home to more than 100 rare species of fish and creatures both from the river and ocean. It is divided into seven zones, where kids have fun learning about different aquatic ecosystems.

Its highlight in the 24-metre-long tunnel in the centre, where visitors can get up close and cosy with giant catfish, Siamese giant carp, albino striped catfishm royal knifefish and manta rays.

Visitors are greeted with a tempting feast of Isaan specialities.

The next day, we’re up long before the roosters start crowing to greet the morning and climb up to Pha Mo I Daeng, the best vantage point to admire the sunrise over the Khao Phra Vihan National Park. The temperature is lower than 20 degrees and the astonishing views of Dangrek mountain range, which forms the natural border between Thailand and Cambodia, take my breath away.

Facing east, this sandstone cliff boasts three 1,500-year-old bas reliefs. In the centre is a man with a sandalwood flower behind his ear, who is supposed to be the Giant of Hell’s Gate or a Khmer king who performed a ritual before the construction of Preah Vihear began.

A few minutes away from Pha Mo I Daeng are the ruins of Don Tuan Sanctuary built between the 10th and 11th century. A mixture of wood, laterite and brick, it has four sandstone pillars that are shaped to resemble an arched gate, with a rectangular sandstone base of an assembly hall and a pond on the southeast side of the complex.

In addition to the Khmer-style historical sites, Kantharalak district is home to Pan Koon Garden, which is promoted as a learning centre for mixed farming.

Set up in 1987 by Phatthasat Masakul and spread over 50 rai, it boasts some 500 volcanic durian trees, more than 2,000 mangoes of different species, mangosteen, rambutan and bananas as well as a rice field. Visitors pay just Bt30 to pick and eat the fresh fruit though the durian is excluded.

Phatthasat Masakul and his wife grow durians in the rich volcanic soil of Pan Koon Garden.

“For more than two decades, I have cultivated four types of durian– Mon Thong, Chanee, Kan Yao and Long Hin – using the volcanic soil rich in minerals and peculiar to Kantharalak, Singharn and Sirattana. My durian is less sweet and has a soft but crispy texture and doesn’t smell strong,” Phatthasat says.

The garden also offers 12 comfortable guestrooms as part of a homestay programme with a night’s stay priced at just Bt500 including breakfast and fruit picking. Guests are also invited to check out a variety of products including honey baked banana, dehydrated durian and banana cake, all of them delicious.

We arrive at Trakuan village in Sirattana district just in time for lunch and are greeted with a tempting feast of Isaan specialities. We enjoy kaeng kluay (coconut curry with unripe bananas), tom yum with chicken, spicy minced catfish salad, fried morning glory and fried crickets, while the villagers, both young and old, entertain us with traditional dance.

After the meal, a Brahmin and senior residents invite us to join a Bai Sri Su Kwan – a traditional welcoming ceremony to bring guests luck, good health and success. The offerings include coconut, khao tom mad (sticky rice with banana), boiled eggs, banana and marigolds, which symbolise purity, prosperity and abundance.

The villagers also take us around their homes, some of which are used for workshops in making herbal medicine, cultivating silkworms and preparing local desserts.

In the middle of the village, Yongyuth Mettaboon proudly reveal his integrated farm. He has a big mushroom farm and organic rice paddies and also raises pigs, ducks, chickens, fish and crickets.

“Focusing on sustainable living, I started an integrated farm in 2007 and use pig manure, sawdust, husk and microbes to produce organic fertiliser. I’ve planted Yang Na trees to absorb water and serve as an underground bank for my rice field.”

On the last day of our journey, we are taken to the historical ruins of Sa Kamphaeng Yai Temple in Uthumphon Phisai district. Built in the reign of King Jayavarman I, all structures were fashioned out of laterite and adorned with mural sculptures depicting Hindu deities and auspicious animals.

The sanctuary is home to five pagodas and the main one is in the middle of complex, taking inspiration from Mount Meru. A new viharn has been built alongside and houses the sacred 1,000-year-old Buddha in meditation posture on Naga’s tail created in reign of King Javarman VII after he converted from Hinduism to Buddhism.

The spectacular architecture of Sa Kamphaeng Yai Temple

We continue to the ancient Khmer village of Ban Mueng Luang in Huai Thap district. Famous for its black traditional blouses with elaborate embroidery locally known as suea saew, the Ban Mueng Luang Silk group was formed in 1992 and weave silk in the old Isaan motif of look kaew to earn more income.

“Saew means seam stitch and each ethnic group in Si Sa Ket has different patterns. These days, we draw our inspiration from nature to develop such creative designs as a bunch of roses, water clover, candlestick and latticework,” says Chaluay Chooseesattaya.

“We dye the silk with local plants and flowers. For example, we use coconut husk for pink, bastard teak for orange, myrobalan leaves for green and lac for red.”

We are shown how the fabric is dyed with ebony tree, mud and ming aralia that make its texture more durable and fragrant. The village also offers a tailor-made service that offers customers a choice of designs and colours.

 

ALL ROADS HEAD NORTHEAST

>> Si Sa Ket is an hour’s drive from Ubon Ratchathani Airport. Thai Smile, Air Asia, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air offer daily flights from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani.

>> Ban Trakuan village is Srirattana district. Book a sightseeing tour at (091) 834 1195.

>> Ban Mueng Luang village is in Huai Tap district. Call (085) 763 4261.

SilkAir to add another Singapore/Phuket flight on this popular route

Published March 13, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30365573

SilkAir to add another Singapore/Phuket flight on this popular route

Thailand March 11, 2019 13:25

By The Nation

2,184 Viewed

SilkAir prepares for the holiday season with the launch of a sixth daily service between Singapore and Phuket effective May 24.

SilkAir currently operates five flights per day on the popular SingaporePhuket route, and the new service will be operated by Boeing 737 aircraft, which feature both Business and Economy Class cabins.

Customers will receive a fullservice experience, including inflight meals, wireless inflight entertainment on SilkAir Studio, complimentary baggage allowance as well as through checkin in case travellers are connecting to or from another SilkAir or Singapore Airlines point via Singapore.

The additional flight –MI760 – will depart Singapore at 9.50am (Singapore time) and arrive at Phuket at 10.45am (Phuket time). The return flight will operate as MI759, departing Phuket at 11.35am  and arriving in Singapore at 1420hrs.

As the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, SilkAir extends the SIA Group’s network by seeding and developing new, exciting destinations in the AsiaPacific. The airline took to the skies in February 1989 as Tradewinds the Airline, before evolving into SilkAir in 1992.

In its early days, it catered to passengers holidaying in exotic destinations in the region, including Phuket and Tioman. As the carrier developed, regional business destinations such as Phnom Penh, Yangon and Kuala Lumpur were added. Today, the fullservice airline operates about 400 weekly flights to 49 destinations in 16 countries.

Check out the flights at http://www.SingaporeAir.com/silkair

Slow train to history

Published March 10, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30365454

  • The old market offers a variety of local delicacies and desserts prepared to traditional recipes.
  • The 911 Special Train runs from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station to Hua Hin’s Suan Son Padipat Station on weekend, with a stop at Phetchaburi.
  • Wat Yai Suwannaram is home to a beautiful red teak pavilion.
  • The magnificent European architecture of Phra Ramrajnivet Palace

Slow train to history

Thailand March 09, 2019 01:00

By Pattarawadee Saengmanee
The Nation Weekend

3,892 Viewed

A new eco-cultural tour takes day-trippers from Bangkok back in time to the unspoilt town of Phetchaburi

THERE’S SOMETHING very relaxing about travelling on a train. True, it takes a little longer, but anyone wanting to take a day trip from Bangkok to the coastal town of Phetchaburi this summer, will be rewarded by a relatively hassle-free journey with fabulous views of lush fields and a rare chance to observe the local life.

Famous for its unique culinary delights made from jaggery palm sugar, this southern province boasts tranquil pristine beaches, ancient temples, historical sites and old communities dating back to the glorious days of the Ayutthaya period.

The 911 Special Train runs from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station to Hua Hin’s Suan Son Padipat Station on weekend, with a stop at Phetchaburi. 

Available every weekend as well as on national holidays, the new eco-cultural tour programme “Chom View Rot Rang, Tiew Tang Rot Leng” (admiring a view from a train, travelling by tuk tuk) has been put together by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the State Railway of Thailand and local residents and is part of the Amazing Thai-Teh campaign. The first 1,000 visitors can take advantage of a free tuk tuk service with knowledgeable driver guides to explore the provincial town.

Arriving at Hua Lamphong station early on a Saturday morning, I board the 911 Special Train for the three-hour journey on the Bangkok-Suan Son Pradipat route. The 911 is scheduled to depart at 6.30am and at first it seems that will run on time. But just a few minutes later, the 100 or passengers of whom I am one are told to disembark and watch helplessly as our train is towed away, apparently with a technical problem. We are left high and dry for the next hour, with no update on when or even if we will be leaving.

Wat Phra Pathom Chedi is a popular stopover for travellers. 

Our train tour eventually gets underway at 7.55am and I find myself relaxing in the air-conditioned second-class coach. It takes almost an hour and half to reach Nakhon Pathom station, where we are invited to disembark again, though this time to explore.

Located a short distance from the station, I walk through the morning market, where local vendors are offering street food and sweet delights. At the end of the street is Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, home to Thailand’s largest Lanka-style bell-shaped chedi built in 1853 to enshrine the Buddha’s relic.

Back at the station, the conductor rings the bell to indicate the train will soon be leaving. The vendors are unfazed though, continuing to serve snacks to the hungry tourists until the very last minute. An hour later, we pull into Phetchaburi station where more than 10 tuk tuks are waiting to take us on a sightseeing tour.

The magnificent European architecture of Phra Ramrajnivet Palace

A five-minute drive from the Phetchaburi station is Phra Ramrajnivet Palace, built in 1910 as the summer retreat for King Rama V.

Inspired by Kaiser Wilhelm’s castle in Germany, this luxury two-storey mansion originally named Wang Ban Puen is considered one of the masterpieces of German architect Karl Siegfried Dohring. It boasts a magnificent European design with high-ceilinged rooms and floors covered with Italian marble.

Occupying 349 rai, the construction was completed in 1916 in the reign of King Rama VI and in 1918 it opened to welcome royal guests. The ground floor has the Throne Hall and a dining room with yellow glazed tile walls overlooking the garden. German-style wrought iron embraces the doors and windows, which offer a view of a classic sculpture of Poseidon and the sea beyond.

Covered with green glazed tiles, a beautiful double spiral staircase takes visitors to the second floor, which is home to the queen’s chamber, a spacious study room and veranda where the royal family would appear to the public. The highlight is the King’s chamber with its oil paintings and an elegant bathroom with a vintage tub and water heater.

Wat Mahathat Worawihan has been recognised for its ancient murals and splendid stucco works. 

Not far from the summer palace is Wat Mahathat Worawihan, famous for splendid stucco works that showcase Phetchaburi’s first-class craftsmanship. Built in the Dvaravati period, this ancient temple houses the towering five-tiered, corn-cob shaped stupa in a mixture of traditional Thai and Khmer styles.

Based on Mahayana Buddhism beliefs, this stupa is constructed to resemble Mount Meru – the centre of the Buddhist universe – and contains relics of the Lord Buddha brought to Siam from India. The main hall boasts murals created by such Phetchaburi masters as Kru Infahsaeng depicting the way of life in bygone days.

Thailand’s past political conflicts are remembered elsewhere in the temple. A stucco sculpture of MR Kukrit Pramoj, who served as a prime minister between 1975 and 1976, and holding the base of the sacred Ayutthaya-style Luang Poh U-thong Buddha on his shoulders, stands proudly in the small hall. The sermon hall, meanwhile, has elaborate pediments adorned with stucco works that portray university students fighting with armed soldiers on October 14, 1973 and May 17, 1992.

Shophouses on the banks of Phetchaburi River are adorned with street art. 

Standing on the banks of Phetchaburi River, the old market has long been a popular dining and shopping venue for local residents and tourists. Colourful street art covers the walls of the shophouses lining the narrow alleys, illustrating everything from daily life to a litter of cute kittens and a map that shows places to eat and visit.

The old market offers a variety of local delicacies and desserts prepared to traditional recipes.

I find refuge from the summer heat in Mae Orn, a 60-year-old restaurant offering khao chae. Said to be the best in town, it serves the parboiled rice immersed in ice-cold jasmine-scented water with shrimp paste balls and glazed Chinese turnips. Next door is Cheng Yi Seng, famous for khanom pia, the Chinese pastry filled with mashed taro, gourd and salted egg yolk.

Wat Yai Suwannaram is home to a beautiful red teak pavilion.

After lunch, we climb back into the tuk tuks and head to Wat Yai Suwannaram. Built in the late Ayutthaya period, its main hall boasts 300-year-old murals portraying the Jakata tales. Another highlight is a red teak pavilion that was once part of the Grand Palace in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It’s furnished with refined woodwork and home to an ancient gold throne that was used to enshrine part of the ashes of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in the royal cremation ceremony.

Wat Phra Phut Saiyat enshrines a 400-year-old reclining Buddha. 

The last stop is Wat Phra Phut Saiyat located to the southeast of Khao Wang. Left abandoned for several decades, it was restored on the orders of King Rama IV and a main hall was built to shelter a 43-metre-high statue of the holy 400-year-old reclining Buddha.

The day trip is almost over at 5, I board another train 912 to return home to Bangkok hoping that we won’t be delayed and that my window seat will offer me the chance to watch a beautiful sunset.

IF YOU GO

Tickets are Bt120 for a third-class seat and Bt240 for second-class. Make a reservation by calling 1690 (the State Railway of Thailand).

Find out more by calling Tourism Authority of Thailand, Phetchaburi Office at (032) 471 005-6.

Destination of deities

Published March 4, 2019 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/thailand/30364600

  • Another highlight is the dragon dance.
  • Young pilgrims show their spirit in the sacred fire walking ceremony./Photo by Khob Jai Thailand page
  • On 14th day of the first month, the more than 400-year-old statue of the goddess Lim Ko Niao is brought out from the Leng Chu Kiang Shrine and carried around the town.
  • The pilgrims continue the procession by swimming across the Pattani River.
  • Local residents set up an altar table to welcome the deity procession, while a million firecrackers are burnt to celebrate.

Destination of deities

Thailand February 23, 2019 01:00

By Pattarawadee Saengmanee
The Nation Weekend

4,945 Viewed

The charming Chinese festival to honour the goddess Lim Ko Niao was held this week in Pattani

WITH THE Chinese New Year celebrations done and dusted for another year, the people of Pattani turned their attention last weekend to the southern city’s annual festival honouring the highly revered goddess Lim Ko Niao.

Young pilgrims show their spirit in the sacred fire walking ceremony.

The festival, which started last Saturday and drew to a close yesterday, saw the Chinese descendants of the town turn the sacred Leng Chu Kiang grounds and Chinatown on Anuro Road into a lively entertainment venue. Thousands of local residents as well as tourists both Thai and from neighbouring Malaysia answered present for the festival, the highlights of which include a sedan-chair procession, the carrying of ancient deities to the river for bathing and walking through fire. On the sidelines, an outdoor theatre offers an interesting programme of cultural shows like Chinese opera, the southern shadow play and a Nora dance to pay homage to the deities while the walking street bustles with vendors selling local delicacies and souvenirs.

“This celebration reflects our identity and the diversity of our history and religious beliefs. Pattani has long been a multicultural community, where Thai Buddhists, Chinese and Muslims have learnt to live together in harmony. The economy is still driven by tourism and this festival is telling the outside world that Pattani is alive and well and different from what is seen on the news,” says assistant professor Noppadol Tippyarat, dean of the faculty of fine and applied arts at Prince of Songkhla University.

The pilgrims continue the procession by swimming across the Pattani River. 

Legend has it that Lim Ko Niao crossed the South China Sea from China to Pattani to bring her brother back home to be with their dying mother. The young man, Lim To Kiam, declined her request, preferring to stay in Pattani because he had married a daughter of Phraya Tani and converted to Islam. Lim Ko Niao was frustrated by her brother’s refusal and ended up hanging herself from a cashew nut tree. The villagers later carved a wooden statue and built a shrine next to Masjid Kerisik to remember her life.

In 1879, Luang Cheen Kananurak refurbished the Leng Chu Kiang Shrine and moved Chao Mae Lim Ko Niao to her new home. The shrine was originally built to honour the goddess medical doctor known as Zhou Shi Gong.

On the 14th day of the first month according to the Chinese calendar, the divine rituals begin with the goddess Lim Ko Niao procession. Only men are allowed to carry the red wood palanquin enshrined with an original figure of the goddess and her presence is supposed to bring residents fortune and prosperity.

The highlight is a grand procession of Chinese deities on the full moon of the first month, 15 days after the Chinese New Year. At midnight, Chinese men, young and old, gather at the Leng Chu Kiang Shrine and perform a ceremony to ask the goddess when they can start and how to arrange the line.

On 14th day of the first month, the more than 400-year-old statue of the goddess Lim Ko Niao is brought out from the Leng Chu Kiang Shrine and carried around the town. 

Featuring 18 statues of deities in the Leng Chu Kiang Shrine, plus seven others from local residences in the neighbourhood, this year’s procession began at 4.15am and was led by four original and imitation statues of the goddess Medical Doctor and goddess Lim Ko Niao, followed by goddess Tubtim, goddess Tiger, goddess Guan Yin, goddess Guan Yu and the fortune goddess.

“There’s no evidence that allows us to trace the beginning of this celebration. We don’t know when it started or who initiated it, but it has become a beautiful tradition handed down from generation to generation,” says 74-year-old Sathorn Kanjanasim, who serves as a committee member of Leng Chu Kiang Shrine.

“Pattani pioneered the tradition of the holy deity procession and this is now held in both Yala and Narathiwat. The difference here is that we don’t allow a medium to join the ceremony.”

After roaming around the town, the procession reached the Dechanuchit Bridge and the young men showed their respect for the goddesses by carrying all 25 statues across the Pattani River. It was deep and not easy to swim while carrying a statue but the men were cheered on in their task by Muslim villagers standing alongside Thai and Chinese pilgrims.

Late in the afternoon, the visitors moved to the ceremonial ground in front of the Shrine to find the best spot to watch the breathtaking fire walking ceremony. My friend and I climbed up to the roof deck, hoping our vantage point would allow us to capture stunning photos.

 Local residents set up an altar table to welcome the deity procession, while a million firecrackers are burnt to celebrate. 

“We believe that the water brings out the inauspicious elements from the statues when they are soaked in the river and that the fire walking ceremony burns wickedness,” Sathorn explains.

“I’ve been part of the deity procession for 40 years. We need to observe religious precepts for three to nine days before performing a fire walking ceremony to purify our minds.”

Surrounded by red fencing and off limits to women, the fire path is set up with charcoal, rice, coconut leaf stalks, salt and paper talismans. The deity procession continued to the entrance of the ceremonial ground where the hundreds of barefoot men were blessed with holy water before stepping into the fire.

Teerasak Kwansurat decided to take part in the fire walking ceremony when he was 19 at a friend’s invitation.

“I was born in Pattani and I first served as a volunteer for the Leng Chu Kiang Shrine. The fire walking ceremony is a way for a man to prove his maturity,” Teerasak, 32 says.

“After I saw other people walking on fire, I found myself wondering how hot it really was. I decided to find out for myself and prayed to Chao Mae Lim Ko Niao. If I came out of it safely, I would swear off beef for a life. And from the first steps, I never felt the heat of the fire. The streets are hotter. I stay focused on every step and I observe the religious precepts for three to nine days before the ceremony. It’s an individual belief.”

Carriers of the status meet to walk round the ceremonial ground three times while in a meditative state. 

My media friend Chainarong Kitinartintranee also joined the ceremony though he didn’t fare quite so well: he ended up with a burn on his foot.

“Not everyone that can participate in this auspicious ceremony, so I was quick to accept Teerasak’s invitation. I didn’t feel the fire was hot. But I walked on the black charcoal and that’s when I got burnt,” he says.

“At first, I found the palanquin was heavy but the atmosphere gave me power and strength. The senior members encouraged us and urged us to keep focused and everything went smoothly.”

The ceremony wrapped just before 6 when the procession entered the shrine. The statues were dressed in new costumes and jewellery, while the pilgrims offered fruits and joss paper to ask for fortune, success and good health in the Year of the Pig.

 

FANNING BELIEF

>> The Leng Chu Kiang Shrine is located at 63, Anoru Road, Pattani.

>> Find out more details at http://www.Facebook.com/LimKoNeaw.pn.

%d bloggers like this: