วันอาทิตย์ที่ 26 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2553

Oh Tao



Oh Tao is similar or the same as Hoi Tod mussels friend mush.
The O-Tao is a delicacy made from flour and taro, with oysters added small pieces of crispy pork and slice spring onions. It is best taken with a sweet and spicy sauce that further enhances the flavor. One of the popular restaurants that serve this dish is Mee Sapam and Bang Niao.



วันอังคารที่ 21 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2553

Songkran


There was little that could have prepared me for my first experience stimulating Songkran in Thailand. On the first day of the feast, I innocently went to my apartment in Bangkok and got into what looked like a surreal war zone and watery. The streets were flooded with water full of warriors wielding water guns, super soakers, hoses, buckets, garbage cans and anything that could get their hands on to disperse their liquid ammunition. The teenagers took refuge behind road signs and street corners and launched strategic attacks on vehicles and pedestrians. Gang crammed into the back of pickups and fired shots into the crowd violently, as he crossed past. There were drive-by squirtings everywhere. It Songkran, Thai New Year. I was unarmed and foreign fun and an easy target for young people around me. A few minutes after the frenzy agog open water, was completely soaked with laughter and robbers, wet and bewildered, hurried back to the safety of my apartment. What the hell was going on out there, I wondered, while watching the madness of my window. It was mid April, and as I soon discovered, Thailand celebrates the Lunar New Year festivals massive water for several days very soggy. The origins of Songkran almost a thousand years ago, when the Tai people (ancestors of present-day Thailand) in Yunnan Province of China celebrate the beginning of a new crop cycle during the fifth full moon lunar calendar. The Songkran water is used both as symbol of purification and renewal, and in the past, Thai delicately scented water sprinkled silver bowls in the hands of family members respected. They also made pilgrimages to the temples and gently bathe the Buddha images in a similar manner. In recent years, however, the humble religious aspects of holidays has given way to the water war without restrictions. The youth wielding water pistols, buckets and hoses to the attacks of vertigo for pedestrians and every other day and night. Lunar New Year falls on strike in the middle of the hot season in the region, the holidays are a good way for everyone to cool. Festival is a fun and crazy, but for maximum enjoyment, it pays to be prepared. The next day, you can bet he was ready. My wallet and camera, and a towel and change of clothes, were safely stowed in plastic bags. He was armed with my newly purchased top of the range supersuper-ultra-soaking, and I was not afraid to use it. I arrived at Khao San Road, popular with backpackers Banglamphu refuge and center of the Songkran festivities with a mix of fear and excitement. When I arrived, the street was packed with revelers throwing water and soaked in all directions. People lined the street with buckets of water, pumped from large guns on the back of trucks, jets sniper windows, the street was filled with artificial rain. Great Valleys Water has been placed at various points along the road to foot soldiers could refuel. Despite the high temperature baking was clearly no shortage of ammunition here. Would be a long battle and wet. Besides launching wild water, people also faces soaking each other with a paste of white powder. Originally, this powder is applied to the bodies of others as a sign of protection or to ward off evil, but today during the Songkran is smeared indiscriminately to anyone within reach. Standing there, surrounded by hundreds of screaming white faces for a moment I wondered if he had inadvertently wandered into the set of low-budget zombie movie.Then the first stream of water from an unidentified attacker fell on me in a jet ice and I remembered my mission. Guns wet, they marched boldly into chaos in order to everything in sight. Although usually the enclave of Khao San Road is a haven for foreign backpackers, during Songkran multicultural becomes a free for all, with the Thais and foreigners soaked and smiling, high on the fun of the festival. And many of them had played, obviously this game before. Songkraners smarter than they were wearing rain ponchos, umbrellas and even goggles. Less mind was made almost characters in costume, with Superman and Spiderman to be the favorites - but even superheroes who have had trouble avoiding a dive that day in particular. Music pumped out of the bars and speakers along the street, small groups stopped dancing madly where once there was space, and the whole crowd threw with an energy and enthusiasm was simply intoxicating. I danced for hours and sprinkled with the best of them, and more fun than you could shake a water gun. When he finally came home much later that night, I was in a sorry state. Her hair was wet and matted, my face was smeared with talcum gloopy, and needless to say I was wet. If not for my great smile that could have appeared in a zombie movie myself. This year I will be back in Khao San Road for another water war, but this time I will be much more prepared. I'm sure people laugh when they see me come into my boots, goggles and a plastic poncho, but I will be the drying and laughing at the end of the celebrations and I can not wait.Although Songkran is a unique Thai tradition, the fun character of the party has a very universal appeal. As I danced along Khao San that day, watching the smiling faces covered with paste of all nationalities around me reminded me that even though each is unique, in our pursuit of fun that are also undoubtedly "same same.

Poetry


วันศุกร์ที่ 17 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2553

Doi Mae Sloang


Doi Mae Sloang in Tambon Mae Sloang nawk, Mae Fah Luang district of Chiang Rai province is the site of the village of Santikiri, formerly known as Baan Mae Sloang nawk. This is a village of settlers from the 93 "who fled after the Division of Burma in Thailand. In 1961, members of two battalions moved their settlements. The 3" battalion based in Fang district in Chiang Mai, while Mae chose the fifth battalion Sloang nawk.From December through February, visitors to Doi Mae Sloang will be received by the white-pink cherry blossoms that grow abundantly on the hillsides. This is the smallest of sakura flowers and is very rare in Thailand, as it only thrives in very cold weather. Another attraction of the mountain top is the Phra Chedi Sri Thart Nagarindra Sadhitmaha Santikiri. This pagoda, whose architecture is similar to the Lanna style, was built as a dedication to the late mother of the Princess. Seen from afar, especially at night, the pagoda stands out clearly - the addition to the overallbeauty and elegance of the mountains.The fact that Doi Mae Sloang lies 1,200 meters above sea level gives you two distinct characteristics as an attractive destination. From the top of the mountain, you can enjoy panoramic views of the mountains - a landscape together amazingly beautiful. Moreover, with the altitude, the area enjoys a mild climate all year round. This makes it ideal for growing tea, and as a result, there are many tea plantations in the work of local people. Oolong tea is famous for its mild flavor fragrance is grown here. It makes an excellent gift and is available in virtually every store in town.Getting there: By car, follow the Chiang Rai - Mae Chan route of 30 kilometers. From Mae Chan district, drive a mile, then turn left and continue the drive for 12 miles to reach the hill tribesmen Welfare Development Centre. The center was created to help mountain tribes to develop their skills in making money. Eleven miles from the center is to Doi Pha Yao Deua Village, a picturesque gazebo, where hill tribe handicrafts are on sale. From Baan Yao, the road to Baan I-Kaw. Turn right at the intersection of Terdtai the village, followed by another left into a new direction, Doi Mae Sloang is 18 miles on this route. That makes the whole trip to Chiang Rai Doi Mae Sloang a walk of

Sanam Chan Palace


Built in 1907 near the end of the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Sanam Chan Palace in Nakhon Pathom province is recognized as a sacred structure that has witnessed many events of historical importance. The name "Sanam Chan Palace 'was granted by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), called' Noen Prasat ', as this area is believed to have been the site of a former palace. A large pond, called 'Sa Nam Chan, currently' Sa Bua (Lotus Pond), is nearby. The name 'Sanam Chand Palace' is derived from Sa Nam Chan.When he was crown prince, the king intended VajiravudhSanam Chan Palace building as a residence during his trip to Nakhon Pathom to pay homage to Phra Pathom Chedi (Great Pagoda) and spending time there. I also wanted to build this palace as a fortress to fight the national crisis, as the compound of Sanam Chan was considered a strategic location.For this reason, King Vajiravudh bought a plot of 888 rai (355 acres) of a local villager and Luang Phithakmanop assigned to design and build the palace. Sanam Chan still has the important role it played in the past, although its architecture and structures have been renovated several times. This indicates that this ancient building that deserves to be preserved as part of local and national heritage.Sanam Chan The compound consists of two buildings of Thai and Western style blended harmoniously. Vajiravudh king ordered the construction of classrooms, dormitories, and a monument. These buildings include Phra Thi Nang Phiman Pathom, Phra Thi Nang Aphirom Ruedi, Phra Thinang Watchari Rommaya, Phra Thi Nang Samakkhi Mukkhamat, Prasat If Wichai, Khanet Thewalai, Olan Thammathet Hall, Phra Thinang Patih Thatsanai, Phra Thi Nang Chali Mongkhon cases , Phra Thinang Banlang Ratcharat Mari, Thap Tam Nak Phra Kaeo and Tamnak Thap Phra Khwan.Built in 1907, Phra Thi Nang Phiman Pathom was built as the first room of the royal residence of King Vajiravudh, who also used for study and as a courtroom and a reception room to greet the royal guests. This concrete building is two-story Western-style, with carved designs. Next to this room in the south is Phra Thi Nang Aphirom Ruedi, also in western style, which served as the residence of Queen Intharasaksachi, the consort of King Vajiravudh.Phra Thinang Watchari Rommaya, a Thai style house, with a ceiling decorated with driver (stack corneum), bai raka (ridges like teeth on the edge of a slope to the fence), sadung nak (carved figure of the Naga), and hang hong (small spikes protruding from the two corners of the pediment) was sometimes used as a study room real. Is connected to Phra Thinang Samakkhi Mukkhamat room, large audience. King Vajiravudh used it as a meeting place for scouts and the test site for Khon (masked dance) and other actions. This building can accommodate a large number of people and is often called Tong Khon "or a theater of Khon. Today, a classical dance is performed only on weekends.Phra Thi Nang Patih Thatsanai is a small room built as a place where the king is Phra Pathom Chedi. Amongst the royal residences is Tamnak Thap Phra Khwan, with a group of eight bungalows, which consists of four main houses and four children. They are all made of teak wood, and a terrace that connects them all. Not a single nail was used for each part of the houses together. Fine craftsmanship and dedicate wood carving is evident in many parts of the complex.According to historical records, King Vajirvudh wanted to build this house in order to preserve the traditional Thai houses. Chaired the opening ceremony and spent the night at the residence on January 25, 1912.Chali Tamnak Mongkhon Phra Phra Thi Nang A and Mari Ratcharat Banlang, both Western-style sales prominently in the compound Sanam Chan. The names of these two buildings were derived from the book "My Friend Jarlet ', inspired by King Vajiravudh, who translated into Thai as" Mit Thae.Chali Tamnak Phra Mongkhon A was built in 1908 and is in the mix of French Renaissance architecture of wood and half of England. The two-story building with red roof. The upper floor includes a study room, bedroom and bathroom. On the ground floor to the west is a waiting room for an audience. During the SixthReinado, who was used as the residence of the king in his capacity as commander of the scouts, and as a scout training center. The King has often been in this building from the end of his reign.In front of Phra Tamnak Chali Mongkhon Al is a monument to Ya-Le, a pet dog of King Vajiravudh. It is made of copper, with a written statement by the King in memory of the dog, who had been shot dead. On the top floor of this room is a bridge with a tile roof, linking Phra Ratcharat Banlang Tamnak Mani, a teak house red two-story neo-classical style.In the midst of Sanam Chan is Thewalai Khanet, a shrine of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god of the arts. Phra Thi Nang Phiman Pathom, we can clearly see Phra Pathom Chedi, Khanet Thewalai and Phra Pathom Thinang Phiman, located on the same line.Currently, Sanam Chan Palace is under the supervision of the Office of the Royal House. It is open to visitors every day between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, except holidays.On the occasion of the celebrations of His Majesty the King's 80th birthday, December 5, 2007, coinciding with the centenary of Sanam Chan Palace in Nakhon Pathom province, the Office of the Royal House, Nakhon Pathom province, and the University Silpakorn have decided to join hands in organizing the celebrations of the centenary of Sanam Chan Palace from November 23 to December 2, 2007, between 9:00 am and 10:00 pm This event is also meant to honor King King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Vajiravudh. The general public is invited to participate in various activities as part of the celebrations and appreciate the delightful atmosphere of Sanam Chan Palace at night. For more information, please call the Office of Sanam Chan Palace, tel. 0-3424-4236-7, or by fax. 0-3424-4235.

วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 2 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2553

The Art Library


Libraries in Bangkok - The Art Library at the Center for Art and Cultural Bangkok (BACC)Strategically located in the heart of downtown Bangkok, Mah Boon Krong address (MBK) Shopping Center, the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) is a new installation in the middle of the city for contemporary art. The BACC is designed to create a meeting place for artists to open a new basis for cultural dialogue, networking and creating new cultural resources, both public and private.
Located in the basement (L floor) of the center, the Art Library is truly a hidden gem in this cosmopolitan city. The library has become a favorite meeting place of intellectuals in the city offers books on art and literature as well as free high speed Internet. The service is available to all library members. There is also a corner where both children, where children and parents can interact and a reference section.
To become a site of cultural exchange in terms of content, curatorial and cultural management, giving Bangkok a base of operations in the international art scene, the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center (BACC) proposes to add 5,000 new books per Next year collection of the library and reading areas to create more pleasant for everyone to sit and enjoy a good book.
Next to the library is easy, if you live, work or study in Bangkok, all you have to do is come to the library with your passport (local can produce your ID card). Registration fee is 50THB (USD 1.65) and the members are renewed every year (10 THB - U.S. $ 0.33)). You can borrow 2 items per week. (With the exception of reference, the real work of art and English books). Overdue charge: 1 Baht / day / item.
The BACC is under the supervision of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center Foundation, established by the city of Bangkok.
Opening hours:10 am - 6 p.mClose on Monday
Getting There:The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) is easily accessible from the National Stadium BTS station and connected by a walkway.

spicy salad


With an abundance of Thailand throughout the year of vegetables and herbs growing spicy salad with fresh dishes show the interaction between seasonal flavors and textures. Amplify the acidity of a modest Westherb vinaigrette, Thai-style salad dressing uses lime juice, fish sauce, pepper, garlic and palm sugar to create an explosion in the mouth.Taling-piing chips, a green fruit, give a mild taste bitter Come plaa yum. Once commonly used in many traditional Thai dishes, especially in the south, where it is common, Taling piing are now only found in private gardens and kitchens of connoisseurs. Mixed with crunchy pieces of dried fish, shallots and lemon grass mountain thinly sliced, spicy salad is a perfect accompaniment to a cold beer.With the plethora of waang Ahaan offering a wide seductive dishes catering for all tastes and budgets, you may be tempted to ignore the warnings of her mother about how excessive snacks ruin your appetite for the right food below. After all, why resist, one could argue reasonably, when the meal is a meal in itself?ฟังอ่านออกเสียง

Chiang Mai


Virtually everyone who visit Chiang Mai is delighted with this lovely province. The natural landscape of high hills, lush forests and fast flowing rivers is great, while preserving the local culture, art and architecture of the ancient kingdom of Lanna in the city of Chiang Mai was the capital.A lot of traditional crafts and contemporary home decor items, to the city of Chiang Mai, a true shopper's paradise. "The city also has many excellent hotels, quality restaurants and cafes that help is a completely satisfying holiday destination, its charm enhanced by its pleasant location on the River Ping.

วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 18 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2553

Himmawatpradhes


According to Indian legend, the Kinnaree is a man of "Himmawatpradhes" known in Thailand as the "Forest Himmaphan." Kinnaree is the name given to the female figures, while male figures are called "Kinnon." Kinnaree in Thai literature from India, but was modified to adapt to the thinking of Thailand. The Thai Kinnaree is therefore represented as a young woman of sublime beauty wearing an angel costume-like. The lower body is like a bird, enabling it to fly anywhere she wants, and travel back and forth between the human and mythical worlds. When swimming, she shed her wings and tail, and then she has a picture of a beautiful young ordinary woman. The Kinnaree is known for its flight speed, which allows its reach to many mysterious places where ordinary human beings can not go.The most famous of Thailand Kinnaree is the figure known as "Menorah" in a tone of Thailand entitled "Panyasachadok." The dance called "Manorah-Buchayan" presented as part of this literature is one of the more esoteric between high classical dances of Thailand.

วันศุกร์ที่ 22 ตุลาคม พ.ศ. 2553

Pattaya


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Fundamentals of Thai Grammar
comprehensive 350 page grammar ebook of Thai grammar includes several informative appendices including a transliterated dictionary. Throughout the book, all Thai is shown in Thai characters and transliterated phonetics. Runs on any Windows system.

วันอังคารที่ 13 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553


The Dramatic Arts College, shown here at the main campus in Bangkok, is the current source of young Thais who will learn the skills and techniques to continue the country's rich history of musical and dance performances.

The supernatural
is never far away in Thailand, and fragments of the magic arrow found nearby have been ground and made into amulets that make the bearer as powerful as Rama himself.
Yet another uniquely Thai cultural tradition that has been influ­enced by the Ramakien is the ceremony known as wai khru, literally `paying respects to the teacher'. At its most basic level, this ceremony, allows students to pay homage to their real, i.e., human teachers, but the tradition also honors deceased masters and spiritual teachers, including Buddhist, Hindu, and animist spirits. The Hindu spirits are represented by a display of khon masks. This ceremony takes place on an annual basis at the institution of learning, and by tradition always on a Thursday. An abbreviated ceremony paying respects to the deities resident in the khon masks takes place before all dramatic perform­ances of Ramakien origin, and on other special occasions as well. Indeed all khon masks are believed to possess a spirit are treated with great respect.
It is testimony to the power and versatility of this ancient epic that it can serve such a multiplicity of functions. As a dynastic genealogical mythology, a means of teaching children ethics, and a form of enter­tainment for all from prince to pauper with its tales of true love and bravery overcoming all odds, the Thais have built themselves an edifice they call the Ramakien, nurtured it, and it has repaid them many times over.

วันจันทร์ที่ 12 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553


Hun lakorn lek puppets are a modern adapta­tion of hun lakorn puppets. The modern version is less complex to maneuver by the
puppeteers. Traveling shows like this one enter­tain crowds at temple fairs across Thailand.

The hun Luang puppets of Rama II's time are now found only in museums, but a vibrant tradition of puppet theatre still thrives. A Thai National Artist, Sakorn Yangkiosod, popularly known as Joe Louis, has continued a tradition of puppets known as hun lakorn lek, which were first created during the reign of Rama VI (1910-1926). Similar in size to the hun luang marionettes; three puppeteers stand behind the puppets and use rods rather than strings to manipulate them. Sakorn's new Joe Louis Theatre located in the Lumphini Night Bazaar holds nightly performances of these puppets, performing various episodes of the Ramakien. Magnificently designed and executed puppets are on display in the theater, as are a selection of khon masks and Ramakien dolls. The troupe also makes public performances at venues in other cities throughout Thailand.
Yet another form of puppet that tells the Ramakien tale to the masses is the rod puppet or hun krabog. These are small, half body puppets which are based on a design which originated in China. Although the original Chinese characters and their operas are still popular, the hun krabog also have been constructed to portray Ramakien characters and perform in the classical style of the khon.A subject as known and loved as the Ramakien could not help but finding its way into a most fundamental aspect of culture; langdage. Colloquial expressions in Thai abound that relate to the tale. A partic­ularly complex or detailed task may be described as yung yang kap Ramakien, or 'as complicated as the Ramakien'. Someone who has undergone much hardship will be described as ngom Phra Ram, or 'as bruised as Rama'. Place names based on the Ramakien abound as well, such as the lake in Lopburi Province known as thalae chub sorn, or the lake where the arrow was dipped' in reference to the belief that Rama consecrated a magic arrow by dipping it in this lake.

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 11 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553



A gilded lacquered panel showing Phra Ram and Phra Lak aboard their chariot in full charge led by the monkey general Hanuman and his troops.



Antique hun krabog puppet heads. Their fangs identify them as demons, and their spired crowns denote vice regal status.

The craftsmen labored for several years to complete the murals that tell the Ramakien tale from start to finish. As with the mother of pearl inlay doors at Wat Pho, the artists give license to their imagination and the murals abound with scenes of everyday Thai Life, binding the celes­tial characters of the Ramakien with the Thai people of the era. Cooking, commerce, and entertainment (including puppet theatres) are all depicted. Sadly, the frescoes' condition has deteriorated over time and restorations included revisions, which deviated from the purely Thai style of mural painting. Western concepts of volume, shading and perspective were introduced, rendering the overall impression less authentically Thai. Nonetheless, the murals remain a vital portrayal of the Ramakien, and a tribute to the artistic taste of the Chakri monarchs. Taking refuge from the crowds that surge around the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, an examination of these murals while leisurely strolling through the shaded gallery housing them is one of the most satisfying ways to experience the Ramakien story.
Also within the compound of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, among the soaring gilded chedis (pagodas) are twelve statues of protec­tive demons known as yaksa in Thai. All twelve of the demons are denizens of Longka, the underworld in the Ramakien, including Totsagan, Rama's archenemy. Clad in colored mirror tiles in the blazing sun, they bedazzle more than frighten.
Another visual art reflecting the Ramakien theme is gilded lacquer ware. This art form, that began in the Ayuthaya period and continues until today, employs gold leaf designs on a black background. Indeed one of the treasures of the National Museum in Bangkok is the restored Buddhaisawan Chapel that contains ancient manuscript cabinets for holding Buddhist scriptures that are elaborately gilded with scenes from the Ramakien. This art form not only continues, but has been highly commercialized, with a plethora of small plates and boxes sold to tourists usually employing imagery based on the Ramakien.
Reading of temple art and court performances, one could conclude that the Ramakien exists only in rarefied elements distant from the worlds of the average Thai today, much less the visitor. Fortunately, this is far from true. Every Thai child hears the tale of the brave Phra Ram, his loving brother Phra Lak, the loyal monkey and general Hanuman, and their struggle to free the lovely Nang Sida from the evil Totsagan. The story is told in schools, and children's books relate the tale both as didactic literature and in the entertaining form of comic books. The National Theater and the Fine Arts Departments of regional universities regularly schedule khon performances that are well attended.

A gilded lacquered panel showing Phra Ram and Phra Lak aboard their chariot in full charge led by the monkey general Hanuman and his troops.


Antique hun krabog puppet heads. Their fangs identify them as demons, and their spired crowns denote vice regal status.
The craftsmen labored for several years to complete the murals that tell the Ramakien tale from start to finish. As with the mother of pearl inlay doors at Wat Pho, the artists give license to their imagination and the murals abound with scenes of everyday Thai Life, binding the celes­tial characters of the Ramakien with the Thai people of the era. Cooking, commerce, and entertainment (including puppet theatres) are all depicted. Sadly, the frescoes' condition has deteriorated over time and restorations included revisions, which deviated from the purely Thai style of mural painting. Western concepts of volume, shading and perspective were introduced, rendering the overall impression less authentically Thai. Nonetheless, the murals remain a vital portrayal of the Ramakien, and a tribute to the artistic taste of the Chakri monarchs. Taking refuge from the crowds that surge around the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, an examination of these murals while leisurely strolling through the shaded gallery housing them is one of the most satisfying ways to experience the Ramakien story.
Also within the compound of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, among the soaring gilded chedis (pagodas) are twelve statues of protec­tive demons known as yaksa in Thai. All twelve of the demons are denizens of Longka, the underworld in the Ramakien, including Totsagan, Rama's archenemy. Clad in colored mirror tiles in the blazing sun, they bedazzle more than frighten.
Another visual art reflecting the Ramakien theme is gilded lacquer ware. This art form, that began in the Ayuthaya period and continues until today, employs gold leaf designs on a black background. Indeed one of the treasures of the National Museum in Bangkok is the restored Buddhaisawan Chapel that contains ancient manuscript cabinets for holding Buddhist scriptures that are elaborately gilded with scenes from the Ramakien. This art form not only continues, but has been highly commercialized, with a plethora of small plates and boxes sold to tourists usually employing imagery based on the Ramakien.
Reading of temple art and court performances, one could conclude that the Ramakien exists only in rarefied elements distant from the worlds of the average Thai today, much less the visitor. Fortunately, this is far from true. Every Thai child hears the tale of the brave Phra Ram, his loving brother Phra Lak, the loyal monkey and general Hanuman, and their struggle to free the lovely Nang Sida from the evil Totsagan. The story is told in schools, and children's books relate the tale both as didactic literature and in the entertaining form of comic books. The National Theater and the Fine Arts Departments of regional universities regularly schedule khon performances that are well attended.
The hun Luang puppets of Rama II's time are now found only in museums, but a vibrant tradition of puppet theatre still thrives. A Thai National Artist, Sakorn Yangkiosod, popularly known as Joe Louis, has

วันเสาร์ที่ 10 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553


The marble bas-reliefs of Wat Pho, which depict only the middle episodes of the story chronologically, are both famous and easy to miss, given their small size and obscure loca­tion. Close examination reveals superlative
stone carving skills on these panels, which were originally crafted in Ayuthaya.


Above the bas-reliefs, the doors on the Ubosot
at Wat Pho soar three meters in height and are . inlaid in extremely delicate mother of pearl
work depicting selected scenes from the Ramakien. This is the only major use of mother of pearl inlay to illustrate the Ramakien in Thailand.


Like the khon performers, on whose costumes they are modeled, they are clothed in elaborately embroidered and bejeweled costumes. The puppets are manipulated by up to 12 strings that run to the base of the puppet and are pulled from the puppet's base by the puppet master, unlike Western puppets that are manipulated from above. The performances of hun luang belong to history, but the puppets them­selves have been lovingly restored to their former splendor by a group of Thai artists, and fine examples of this work are on view in the National Museum in Bangkok.
While the nang yai performances are rare, another form of shadow puppetry has flourished. Known as nang talung, they are cut out like the nang yai puppets but much smaller, ranging in height from fifteen to fifty centimeters. They are cut from calf hide and painted in bright colors. This folk art originated in the Southern Thai province of Phattalung, but itinerant troupes travel the country performing at temple fairs and other public gatherings.
The third Chakri monarch, now known as Rama III (reigned 1824-1851), did not share his predecessor's taste for the performing arts such as khon and hun luang. A reserved and pious ruler, he chose to continue the Ramakien epic's legacy in the visual arts, and it was during his reign that some of the most important works of Thai paint­ing and sculpture were created. Located in Koh Rattanakosin, the heart of Bangkok, and the area chosen by the Chakri kings as their adminis­trative and regal center lays the temple of Wat Phra Chetuphon, commonly known as Wat Pho. This is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, and it its central chapel (Phra Ubosot) contains the remains of the Chakri Dynasty's founder, Rama I. Lining the base of this simple chapel are 152 carved while marble panels, measuring only 45 cm. square. Likely salvaged from the ruins of Ayuthaya and transported here, they depict a variety of scenes from the middle part of the Ramakien tale. Amid the powerful splendor of the other attractions of Wat Pho, such as the immense reclining Buddha, these delicate carv­ings are easy to overlook, but a careful examination reveals their fine craftsmanship. The doors of this requillary chapel also display art related to the Ram akien in another motif—mother of pearl inlay. Soaring 3-meter doors, with two wings, located on the front and rear of the chapel have been decorated with scenes from the Ramakien and surrounded by ornamental borders. Rich in detail, the artists seem to have taken delight in the fantastic elements of the Ramakien tale, and the panels abound with a Menagerie of imaginary animals, such as the kinaree, the half man half bird creature of Thai mythology.
Wat Phra Keow, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, within the confines of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, houses yet another visual art depiction of the Ramakien epic. In 1831, again during the reign of Rama HI, master painters worked their art on the walls of a shaded cloister surrounding the temple compound in a series of 178 murals.

วันศุกร์ที่ 9 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553


A mural from the Wat Thong Thammachat temple in Bangkok depicting a hun krabog puppet performance, including a rather boister­ous audience scene.


This antique painted screen from the collection of a Thai prince shows a nang yai performance from backstage. Note the puppeteers, musicians, and actors in costumes standing by for their performance to follow.
The Chakri sovereigns realized that in order to establish the Ramakien as a true national epic, art forms that were more accessible than literature would have to reflect the tale. The second Chakri monarch, Rama II (reigned 1809-1824)-who directed the composition of another version of the Ramakien in verse form, was a noted patron of the arts and took particular delight in dance and drama performances. It was under his auspices the uniquely Thai masked dance pantomime known as khan was developed. Khan performances take their content exclusively from the Ramakien, and rather than attempt to synopsize this lengthy work, deal with specific episodes, with alluring titles such as The Floating Lady' or 'The Golden Deer'. Khan performances were considered sacred rites and until the establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1934, were held only within the royal court. The general populace, however, was not excluded from the Ramakien. Under the patronage of King Rama II, a shadow theatre, which first appeared in Thailand during the Ayuthaya era, was revived and adapted specifi­cally to Ramakien performances. Known in Thai as nang yai, (literally, large hides) elaborately cut figures made from buffalo hides about one meter in height were held behind a translucent screen and manipu­lated to the sounds of a traditional Thai piphad orchestra, consisting of oboe-like woodwinds, xylophones, gongs, and other percussion instru­ments. Narrators relate the story and deliver the lines of the characters represented by the shadow figures. Hundreds of these intricately cut hides portray the dozens of Ramakien characters individually, paired and in groups, with differing background scenery according to the episode being performed. After this art form nearly disappeared during the late 1900's, it was revived under the patronage of a Thai princess, Her Royal Highness Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, at Wat Khanon, a temple in Ratchburi province, west of Bangkok. Beginning in 1994, over 300 elaborately crafted nang yai puppets have been constructed, and regular performances are given at the temple in the small town of Photharam. The puppeteers and musicians are all local high school students. Their skill and commitment attracts a regular pilgrimage of puppetry aficionados to this otherwise remote area. Yet another performing arts genre that flourished during the reign of Rama II was hun luang, or court puppets. As the name implies, these performances, like the khan, were given only within the royal court. Hun luang are full body marionettes, standing about one meter tall.

วันอังคารที่ 6 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553


The original source of the story of Prince Rama was India, where it is known as the
Ramayana. It is still performed there in various dramatic styles. Here a young boy in a traveling dance troupe prepares for his role as a monkey warrior.


Although clearly based on other versions of the tale, the Thai Ramakien is unique in that it draws upon other Thai artistic traditions, including styles of royal garments such as the peaked epaulettes and the spired crown worn by this khan performer.
It was, however, the current Chakri Dynasty that truly elevated the Ramakien to a Thai national epic and art form. Soon after the Burmese sack of Ayuthaya in 1767, a military counselor, Phra Phuttayotfa, took power. He established a new capital in the then village of Bangkok, but giving it a new name, Krung Thep in shortened form. The full name, which is the longest place name in the world, included references to the city of Ayuthaya, and the Hindu god Vishnu, Rama's divine incarna­tion. The new dynasty was named Chakri, after the chakra or discus, one of the four attributes of the god Vishnu. A link between the Ramayana and the Thai dynasty was firmly established. Thailand was barely recovering from its disastrous defeat at the hands of the Burmese and was in dire need of social and political unification. Among Phra Phuttayotfa's many acts in achieving this goal was the creation of a uniquely Thai version of the Ramayana epic, called Ramakien (liter­ally, the worship of Rama) in Thai. The work in verse commissioned and supervised by the new king, now known as Rama I (reigned 1782-1809) was completed in 1798. It was twice the length of the Ramayana of Valmiki, and included references to the flora, fauna, geog­raphy and social customs of Thailand. This literary endeavor marks the transition from an Indian art form used in Thailand to a truly local creation. To enhance its popularity among the general population even further, the tale emphasized humorous and amorous behavior on the part of Hanuman, Rama's monkey warrior. The tragic ending of the original story was changed to allow Rama and his faithful wife to live, after many trials and tribulations, happily ever after.

วันเสาร์ที่ 3 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553

The Ramakien


Although fully costumed and mashed. actors in khon performances must perform rigorous, even gymnastic maneuvers as the battle scenes unfold. Here Hanuman attacks a demon.
A solitary reed flute wails sonorously across a darkened and empty stage. A white masked dancer enters in an unmis­takably simian crouch wearing a bejeweled and form fitting costume. An even more fantastically attired partner, whose green painted mask is adorned with frightening tusks, joins him. As the orchestra slowly builds, they engage in a combative duet. Simultaneous with a crash of cymbals and orderly rhythm .of xylophones, the pair is joined by their respective armies of monkeys and demons, all resplendent in painted masks and iridescent costumes, to engage in a gymnastic performance of ritual battle. Thus begins a performance of khon, Thailand's signature artistic performance. Bedazzling and enchanting to the first time viewer, it is in fact only one of many representations of a theme that pervades not only the artistic, but social and even political realms of Thailand. Khan performances detail episodes of the Ramakien, a Thai version of the Indian epic Ramayana.
In addition to the masked dance performances of the khon, the Ramakien story is told in a variety of the perform­ing arts, notably puppetry, including shadow puppet performances. Beyond the performing arts, the Ramakien tale emerges in the visual arts in painting, sculpture, gilded lacquerware and mother of pearl inlay. The tale has also permeated folk art and most significantly the very essence of Thai life, the monarchy. The oldest extant version of the Ramakien was authored under the auspices of the first king of the current Chakri dynasty, who is now known as Rama 1. King Bhumipol Adulyadej, Thailand's revered monarch is known as Rama IX, following the lineage of his royal predecessors that began with Rama I over 200 years ago. So, what is this Ramakien, and how did it evolve from an Indian tale of the Hindu gods to become the national epic of the predominantly Buddhist Kingdom of Thailand?
The Ramayana, which can be translated from the original Sanskrit as 'the glory of Rama' tells the story of a mythical Prince Rama who appears in the tale as an incarnation the Hindu god Vishnu. Original versions are as old as history, but an Indian poet and scholar known as Valmiki is said to have compiled the oral recitations of the tale that existed at his time, over 2300 years ago, into 24,000 coupled verses of Sanskrit. Considered a sacred text, the Ramayana codifies the Hindu concept of the righteous God King in a primordial struggle against the forces of evil. Like its Thai successor, the Ramayana combined art, entertainment, and religious and political edification. It is clearly not by chance that the abode of the dark demon race was located in the South and known as Longka, this at a time when the light skinned Aryans were in conflict with the Dravidian Tamil people who had taken refuge on the island now known as Sri Lanka. It was, however, not the religious significance, much less the political usefulness of the tale that gave it such immense popularity among the people of India, or that insured its diffusion across Asia. The romance of Prince Rama and his lovely bride Sita, her abduction by the evil demons of Longka, and the loyalty of Rama's brother and his wily monkey ally in their struggle to recover the princess continues to enthrall audiences across dozens of cultures. It is indeed the versatility of the saga that has insured its popularity and relevance to the art and culture of South and Southeast Asia.
Scholars debate how the Ramayana reached Thailand, but influ­ences of the tale are found in bas-relief sculpture as early as the Sukhothai period in the 13th century. Indeed the Thai king credited with developing the Thai writing system took his royal appellation from the tale, and was known as King Ramkamheng, or King Rama the Valiant. Sukhothai was eventually eclipsed by another Thai kingdom, whose capital was named Ayuthaya, in honor of the city of Prince Rama in the Ramakien epic.

วันศุกร์ที่ 2 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553


The elaborate costumes worn by the performers are one of the major attrac­tions of Thai classical dance. In addition to exquisitely embroidered garments, the dancers wear spired crowns, called chada.
A discussion of the Thai dance tradition would not be complete without a mention of lakorn nok (literally outer theatre). While scholars may dispute whether it qualifies as 'classical', the genre nonetheless uses elements of the classical tradition, such as costumes and dance postures, and the palace itself has at times has its own troupe of lakorn nok performers. The more likely venue for these performances, however, is the temple fair in a rural area. Fantastic folk tales such as Sang Thong, which tells of a hero born in a conch shell, the son of a queen, but raised by a demoness, fill the hearts of the young and old with mystery and awe, and provide a link with their ancient cultural traditions.
From the rarefied confines of the royal chambers to the dusty compounds of isolated villages, Thailand's rich tradition of dance drama brings inspiration and joy to all who witness it. But Thailand's most venerated theatre tradition is the enactment of the ancient Indian mythological tale, the Ramayana. In Thailand it is known as the Ramakien.

วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 1 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2553

The Ramakien and Thai Classical Dance


An exquisitely painted cabinet showing a scene from the Ramakien in the Buddhaisawan Chapel, built in 1795. The chapel has been restored and is located within the compound of the National Museum in Bangkok.
Floating_a across the stage with exquisite delicacy, wearing a bejeweled crown and an intricately embroidered costume, the young woman seems to embody the natural grace of the Thai people. Hands outstretched and
fingers turned back, she moves seemingly without effort. The beauty holds a meaning as well, for like many Asian dance performances, the movements tell an ancient story. Thai dance and drama are inseparable, and preserve traditions of literature and music.
Thailand is a melting pot of Asian culture, and the classical dance traditions can be traced to a variety of sources, but the most direct came from the Thai conquest of the Khmer capital of Angkor in 1431. As was the custom in those times, the conquering Thai army from the kingdom of Ayuthaya took human booty, and trans­ported the Khmer court dancers and musicians back to the Thai capital. Thus began the tradition of Thai dance drama that continues to this day. In addition to the masked dance drama of the khon, which was performed originally by men only, maidens of the royal harem were trained to perform a delicate dance drama known as lakorn nai, which means 'inner theatre', since it was performed exclusively in the royal palace. The costumes are made of silk, embroidered with gold and silver threads and decorated with imitation jewels. Ornaments and headgear identify characters, with the regal characters wearing the chada, a uniquely Thai spire-like crown. Male characters (played by women in the lakorn nai) are clothed in breeches and a form-fitting top with peaked epaulettes. Women characters are clad in ankle-length skirts and a shawl. The most popular plot of the lakorn nai dance drama is based on a Thai version of an originally Javanese epic known as Inao, which tells the story of a prince separated from his beloved, and their adventures as they seek each other.
Another form of Thai classical dance, known as lakorn nora, comes from the South of the country. While it lacks the elevated status which the lakorn nai carries as a court entertainment, it is an important dance genre. Stylistically differ­ent as well, with costumes and dance movements which look almost Indian, the overall effect is more supernatural than elegant. Also called manora, after the most regularly performed plot, it tells the story of a kinaree (a supernatural half bird half human) princess, her travails with an evil king and her ultimate salvation by a valiant prince. Lakorn nora performances also include prayers and comedy, and are considered to hold an element of magical power. For this reason, such perform­ances are often organized and paid for by person making a wish or fulfilling a vow. The Erawan shrine is Bangkok is the archetypical example of this ritual.

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 25 เมษายน พ.ศ. 2553

Earthenware Mortar for the Kitchen


The typical kitchen earthenware mortar, i often referred to as krok kabue, is made of clay, which is shaped into a bowl before being fired. With this mortar, housewives can pound cooking ingredients into minute pieces. It is used together with a large pestle, which is made of hardwood to make it heavy enough to pulverize food in almost no time. An earthenware mortar in the ancient style has a large circular rim. Like a cone, the body from the rim to the bottom gets narrower, but it has a wide base, so that it can accommodate the force of the pounding.
Thai people have used mortars as a major household utensil since ancient times. It was during the early Rattanakosin period that the Thai mortar started to change its form, since Thais were engaging in more trade contact with the Chinese, leading to frequent cultural exchanges between them. Then the kitchen mortar changed in both its size and form, and later, many began to be made of stone, which is still popular.An earthenware mortar has several constraints, however. For instance, it cannot contain much food, as it is hard to break a large amount of food into pieces. And if the pounding is too heavy, the mortar may break. However, the kitchen mortar is still used widely in Thailand, because Thais feel that no utensil can grind food as well as a mortar and pestle can.

Within a vast compound on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, the Bank of Thailand headquarters stands prominently. It consists of a group of stately, elegant buildings, dating from the early 20th century. Many local people are familiar with the former name of this venue, 'Bang Khunphrom Palace'. In 1899, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) bought this plot of land for his son, Prince Paribatra Sukhumbhand, also known as Prince Nagara Savara, the royal founder of the Paribatra family. One side of the palace is connected with the Chao Phraya River and the other side with Sam Sen Road. He used his personal funds to buy the plot from several owners. Here is an excerpt from an important document, issued by King Chulalongkorn:
"This letter is to certify that I agree to give this plot of land and the buildings here onto my son, Prince Paribatra Sukhumbhand. The money to buy this plot came from my own personal funds, with no connection with the Government."
It took five to six years to build Bang Khunphrom Palace. Carl Sandreczki, a German architect, and Paolo Remidi, an Italian engineer, made the design of the 'Tamnak Yai', or main building, in November 1901. The responsible structural engineer was Carlo Allegri. After the construction was com­pleted, the building was used as the Prime's royal residence and as the venue for organizing garden parties to welcome foreign dignitaries. It was also used for social functions among members of the royalty. Foreign teachers used this palace to teach various subjects to princesses and ladies of other courts as well. The palace was called in those days 'Bang Khunphrom University'.
The architecture of Bang Khunphrom Palace is in the European style, combining Rococo and Baroque art forms. The Tamnak Yai is a two-story building, and at the end of one of its wings is found a round, three-story tower. The designs also included several magnificent columns that are round, square, and spiral-shaped and decorated with elaborate stucco. The windows, regarded as the most beautiful of that time, are in several forms, such as those in an oval shape, surrounded by stucco designs in the figure of Cattleya orchids, and those in a semicircular shape with figures of creepers and fruits. The windows were constructed on curved walls, so they had to curve, as well. The ceiling is carved in the figure of a gold vine, making it stand out against the white color of the ceiling. The bedroom ceiling, in particular, is carved in a bouquet design. Another magnificent point is the marble staircase in the hall of the lower floor, leading up to the second floor. The iron handrail is beautifully designed. At the foot of the staircase on both sides are female figures holding lanterns. The beauty of Tamnak Yai was known far and wide among the people, as evident in several statements, such as that made by one of the Prince's daughters, Princess Churairat Siriman, who wrote the following statement:
"Initially, father's residence at Bang Khunphrom Palace was similar to the palaces of European royalty. The lower floor consisted of a small living room, a study room, and a dining room for Western guests mainly. There was a private room upstairs for father to have meals with mother. There was also a large bedroom and a dressing room. On the upper floor, there was a large pink living room, next to a small blue room".
Prince Paribatra brought many decorative items and utensils from Europe. Queen Sukhumala Marasri, who was the Prince's mother, prepared some objects for her son, such as ceramic plates, each with a privy seal.
The building facing the Chao Phraya River has a circular, European-style pavilion in front, where a brass band composed of navy and army officials would welcome guests, so it is called the 'brass band pavilion'.
Not far from this area is the 'Tamnak Nam', or Water Building, located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Formerly, it was a one-story building, and later another floor was added to accommodate a study room and a bedroom. It was also used as a place for the Prince to embark on board a ship when he performed his duties in the Royal Thai Navy.
While Prince Paribatra lived at Bang Khunphrom Palace, this palace earned itself an excellent reputation as a major venue for organizing receptions. It was famous for its Thai and Western-style cuisine. Many members of the royalty used this venue for their social gatherings. Princess Chongchitthanom, who was expert in cooking, supervised the chefs and the food
preparation herself. The khanom chin (Thai vermicelli) of Bang Khunphrom was a popular specialty. The Prince translated the recipes of Western dishes, so that Thai cooks could learn how to prepare Western food. He also sent some cooks from the Royal Thai Navy to study Western culinary arts. This might be the reason why Thai navy officials have long been famous for catering.
Moreover, Prince Paribatra had a great love and apprecia­tion of music. He could play almost all kinds of Thai musical instruments, as well as the piano. In those days, members of the royalty usually set up their own musical bands for contests with one another. The well-known musical bands at that time included those from Tha Phra Palace, Burapha Palace, Bang Khunphrom Palace, and Ladawan (or Daeng) Palace. The Thai band at Bang Khunphrom Palace, with Chang Wang Thua Phatthayakoson as the conductor, gained wide recognition.
When Thailand changed its administrative system from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one in 1932, Prince Paribatra moved out of Bang Khunphrom Palace and left Thailand. He took up residence in Java, Indonesia, passing away there in 1944.
The royal quarters of Bang Khunphrom Palace were soon turned into government offices. For instance, it was once the location of the Department of Military Youth, which was later dissolved and replaced by the National Culture Council.
In 1945, the Treasury Department allowed the Bank of Thailand to rent Bang Khunphrom Palace as the central bank headquarters, with a leasing period of eight years, starting from 1 March 1945 to 28 February 1953. In the first four years, the rental fee was 12,000 baht a year. The fee rose to 14,400 baht a year four years later. The tenant was required to pay an electrical guarantee of 200,000 baht, while the Finance Department was the beneficiary.
When the leasing period ended in 1953, the Bank of Thailand continued to rent the building from the Treasury Department until 1959, when Ban Managkhasila was ex­changed for Bang Khunphrom Palace, so that this palace could be the permanent location of the central bank. The Bank of Thailand was willing to pay the differential in cash.Today, Bang Khunphrom Palace has been developed as the Bank of Thailand Museum, which is of great value in architec­ture and art and is of high historical significance. The palace celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006. The museum is open on Saturdays (except public holidays). Group visitors are welcome between Monday and Friday, but permission must be obtained in advance at the Bank of Thailand, tel. 0-2283­5286, 0-2283-5265, and 0-2283-6273, or on the website

Songkran



There was little that could have prepared me for my first exhilarating experience of Songkran in Thailand. On the first day of the festival, I stepped innocently out of my Bangkok apartment and stepped into what appeared to be a surreal and watery war zone. The flooded streets were filled with water warriors brandishing squirt guns, super soakers, hoses, buckets, garbage cans and anything else they could get their hands on to disperse their liquid ammunition. Teenagers took cover behind street signs and corners and launched strategic attacks on vehicles and pedestrians. Gangs crammed into the back of pick-up trucks and wildly fired shots at the crowd as they cruised past. There were drive-by squirtings everywhere.
It was Songkran, Thai New Year. I was unarmed and foreign and a hilariously easy target for the youngsters around me. Within minutes of gaping agog at the aquatic frenzy, I was completely soaked by giggling assailants and, wet and bewildered, hurried back to the safety of my
apartment. What on earth was going on out there, I wondered as I watched the madness from my window.
It was mid-April, and as I soon discovered, Thailand celebrates the new lunar year with massive water festivals for several very soggy days. The origins of Songkran date back nearly a thousand years to when the Tai people (ancestors of modern day Thais) in China's Yunnan Province celebrated the start of a new farming cycle during the fifth full moon
of the lunar calendar.
Water is used in Songkran as both a
symbol of cleansing and renewal and, in the past, Thai people would delicately sprinkle scented water from silver bowls on the hands of respected family members. They would also make pilgrimages to temples and carefully bathe Buddha images in a similar manner.
In recent years, however, the humble religious aspects of the holiday have given way to unrestrained water warfare. Youngsters brandish water pistols, buckets and hoses for giddy attacks on pedestrians and each other, day and night. As lunar New Year falls smack
in the middle of the region's hot season, these festivities are a welcome way for everyone to cool down. It's an extremely fun and crazy festival, but for maximum enjoyment, it pays to be prepared.
The next day you can bet I was ready. My wallet and camera, as well as a towel and change of clothes, were stowed safely in plastic bags. I was armed with my newly-purchased, top of the range super­super-ultra-soaker, and I wasn't afraid to use it. I hit the Khao San Road, Banglamphu's popular backpacker haunt and urban centre of Songkran festivities, with a mixture of dread and excitement.
When I arrived, the street was already thronged with drenched revelers hurling water in all directions. People lined the roadside with buckets of water, huge cannons pumped from the back of trucks, snipers squirted from shop windows; the street was awash with man­made showers. Huge water troughs had been positioned at various points along the road so foot soldiers could refuel. Despite the baking hot weather there was clearly no shortage of ammunition here. It was going to be a long, wet battle.
In addition to the wild water throwing, people were also dousing each others' faces with a white powdery paste. Originally this powder was applied to the body of others as a sign of protection or to ward off evil, but nowadays during Songkran it is smeared indiscriminately on anyone within reach. Standing there surrounded by hundreds of shrieking pale faces I wondered for a moment if I had inadvertently wandered onto the set of a low-budget zombie movie.Then the first torrent of water from an unidentified assailant rained down on me in an icy gush and I remembered my mission. Guns squirting, I marched bravely into the mayhem aiming at everything in sight. Although usually the Khao San Road enclave is a haven for foreign backpackers, during Songkran it becomes a multicultural free for all, with Thais and foreigners alike soaked and smiling and high on the festival fun.
And many of them had obviously played
this game before. More savvy Songkraners than I were decked out with rain ponchos, umbrellas and even swimming goggles. Less practically minded characters showed up in costume, with Superman and Spiderman being the favorites - though even superheroes would have had a hard time avoiding a soaking on that particular day.
Music pumped out of bars and loudspeakers along the street, small groups paused to dance madly where ever there was space, and the entire crowd heaved with an energy and enthusiasm that was simply intoxicating. For hours I danced and squirted with the best of them and had more fun than you could shake a water pistol at.
When I finally left for home much later that night, I was in a sorry state. My hair was damp and matted, my face was streaked with gloopy talc, and needless to say I was dripping wet. Were it not for my huge grin I could have featured in a zombie flick myself.
This year I'll be back on the Khao San Road for another water war, but this time I'll be far more prepared. I'm sure people will laugh when they see me approaching in my Wellington boots, swimming goggles and plastic poncho, but I'll be the one dry and laughing at the end of the celebrations and I can't wait.Although Songkran is a uniquely Thai tradition, the fun nature of the festival has a remarkably universal appeal. As I danced along Khao San that day, looking at the smiling paste-covered faces of all nationalities around me, I was reminded that, although we are each unique, in our pursuit of fun we are also undeniably 'same same'.

Huai Mae Khamin Waterfall, Kanchanabun, s Mighty Thi Law Soo


The 200-kilometer drive from Bangkok to
Kanchanaburi province passes through Nakhon Pathom province. From the munici­pality of Kanchanaburi, continue further to Srisawasdi district. Then, take the one-hour ferry ride to the other side of the river before the five-hour journey begins in earnest. This will surely make a worthwhile trip given the sight of the mighty waterfall that looks more like a painting from orre of Thailand's classical literatures. Instead, it is purely the work of nature. The destination is known to tourists as 'Haui Mae Khamin Waterfall' in the Sri Nagarindr Dam National Park.


The great waterfall is breathtakingly beautiful, set in the midst of the rich and lush greenery of countless species, where tons of water from the watershed over the Kala mountain range east of the national park meanders down to Sri Nagarindr Dam. Huai Mae Khamin is made up of seven layers, each at different height and distinct beauty, named separately in the order of Dongwan, Marn Kahmin, Wang Nah Pha, Chatr Kaew, Lai Jon Hlong, Dong Phi Seua and Rom Klao respectively.
Of the seven layers, Chatr Kaew, the fourth layer, is said to be the most spectacu­lar; the name itself means 'a cascade as clear as glass'.


Coupled with the fertile environment of the surrounding watershed, the height and fall of the seven layers of cascade have won the hearts of many a tourist who nicknames it the mighty 'Thi Law Soo Waterfall of Kanchanaburi province'.Tourists can explore the surrounding nature by taking advantage of the trails to each of the seven layers provided by the Sri Nagarindr Dam National Park Authority. For more information, contact the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conserva­tion, at 0-2562-0760, Monday - Friday between 08.30 a.m. - 06.00 p.m.

Raksawarin Hot Spring, Ranong


The first province in southern Thailand, Ranong is on the east coast of the Andaman. Water, therefore, is the province's most prominent natural resource, be it sea, rainwater, or hot spring which is famous among local and foreign tourists.
Because Ranong's hot spring is sulphur-free, it is regarded as the country's best hot spring and is also ranked among the world's top three best quality hot springs. However, Ranong's most popular hot spring is the Raksawarin Hot Spring inside the Raksawarin
Public Park right in the heart of the province. This Hot Spring could be dated back to the reign of King Rama V who, during a visit to Ranong in 1890, named the road to the hot spring the 'Cholra-u' Road. The Raksawarin Hot Spring comprises three natural springs known respectively as Bor PoriBor Mae and Bor Luke. The mineral water in each of the three springs contains therapeutic and healing proper­ties. Yet, the 65-degree-Celsius water in the three hot springs is ideal for boiling and poaching egg. Those who wish to enjoy a relaxing dip in the hot spring are therefore advised to enjoy the body-tempera­ture spas provided by the Raksawarin Public Park and other private spas.uittuaus:uoudsifroinnau niuzflu D'uTkigUnisaout-ujl unwnildiriamiutOouinsita: onduAuthuelturnitiii ci TuuovianAt Raksawarin Hot Springs, make sure you have a taste of the mineral-water coffee which is one of a kind in the world. However, the experience will not be complete without enjoying it with either hard-boiled or poached egg of your choice. Raksawarin Hot Spring is located two kilometers east of Ranong Municipality on Highway 4005. For details, contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Southern Office Zone 5, at 0-7728-8818 - 9 or Ranong Tourism and Recreation Center at 0-7782-1071

Ban Ta Klang


At Ban Ta Klang, Kapho subdistrict, Tha Turn district, in the northeastern province of Surin, there is a tribal group of Kui origin, which has existed since the days of the ancient Khmer kingdom. Villagers in this group have lived in harmony with elephants, and the wisdom of elephant raising has been passed on among them for a long period of time. Today, this community has become known as the Elephant Village, which still preserves the culture of elephant raising in the traditional style. This culture remains in the soul of the younger generation of Ban Ta Klang.
The mahout, known among the local villagers as ku yo chiang, is responsible for looking after big and small elephants, which are treated like members of the family. When an elephant becomes two years old, it will be trained to act in accordance with orders from the mahout. For example, it will walk where directed, or help the mahout climb onto its back. The training will enable them to live in harmony with humans. When elephants are trained, they will travel separately from their mahouts to various places separately and will return to the village again for important ceremonies.
On the full-moon day of the sixth lunar month, which marks Visakha Puja Day, usually in May, both male and female elephants from this village take part in a procession of tonsured, white-robed candidates for monkhood (known as the nak). A hundred elephants with painted faces lead the procession to Wang Thalu for the worship of sacred objects. The sound of music in the procession seems to bring elephants and Kui villagers closer together through their bonds of love.During the period from November to December, mahouts usually return to the village for rice harvesting. They will come with their elephants to join the Elephant Round-Up, an annual cultural event of Surin province. This period is the best time to visit the Elephant Village to experience the beautiful lifestyle of villagers'Of the Ban Ta Kiang, a land of elephants in Surin province.

Baan Sueb Nakasatian Memorial


Located in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Uthai Thani province, the Baan Sueb Nakasatien'Mernorial was erected to commemorate the/death of the celebrated conservationist, Sueb Nakasatian, the former head of the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. The memorial, built on the very spot where Sueb Nakasatian lived, worked and took his own life on 1 September 1990, was also designed to help promote his legacy of wildlife conservation.
In the Memorial Compound is a Sueb
Nakasatian Memorial Building, a multi­purpose building for different activities, meetings, seminars, lectures and video presentation on the conservation efforts at Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. There is also an exhibition with displays on Sueb's life and works and his perspectives of wildlife conservation.
Sueb Nakasatien Memorial effectively reflects the personality of the beloved Sueb Nakasatian as a wildlife specialist who was fond of trekking the wild with his backpack to collect information on the wild, to paint and taking photographs. The compact bungalow-like building, where Sueb lived and worked during his service as head of the Wildlife Sanctuary, is kept with his personal utensils and office equipment intact in the same condition prior to his death.Today, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is a world heritage, the first natural reserve in Thailand to be proclaimed by UNESCO on 9 December 1991 following Sueb Nakasatian's essay to UNESCO on his approach toconserving the wildlife sanctuary.



Wat Pho, Thailand's First University



Known officially as Wat Phra Chetupon Wimon Mangalaram Rajjawora-mahaviharn, Wat Pho is a grade-one royal temple built by King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty following his instruction to make Bangkok's old Wat Photharam of the Ayutthaya Period a royal temple by the Grand Palace.
The name Wat Pho is clearly an abbreviated version of Wat Photharam of the Ayutthaya Period.Evidence in the inscription stones indicates that King Phra Buddha Yodfah Chulalok ordered the ministers and Krom Chang Sip Mu (the organization of the tencrafts) to oversee the repair of Wat Photharam. Seven years later, after the completion of the repair initiative, it was renamed Wat Phra Chetupon Wimon Mangalawas which underwent another change during the reign of King Rama IV when it was called Wat Phra Chetupon Wimon Mangalaram Rajjawora-mahaviharn.
Located west of the Grand Palace, the royal temple was built over an area of approximately 20 acres. The temple is dominated by 'Iuntun', the huge Chinese giant sculptures built to guard all the temple entrances. Each 'Iuntun' has a different feature. By word of mouth, Tha Tien is as flat as it is today because of the fight between the giants of Wet Chang (the Temple of Dawn) and Wat Pho with the giant of Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) acting as the referee. A related account suggests that the three giants must have been relative in size. 'Luntun', meanwhile, has been misunderstood for the giant of Wat Pho. In fact, the giant sculptures of Wat Pho, like those at Wat Phra Kaew, share the same characteristic with that of the giantess of the Ramayana. The only difference is that they are a lot smaller in comparison, thus become possible to encase them in the portico to the mondhop of the Buddhist Scripture Library.
The Health Park adjacent to the southern chapel and the 'mound of exercising hermit' - kao ruesee dud don, is yet another point of interest initiated during the reign of King Rama I who ordered the gathering of all the knowledge pertaining to traditional medicines and ancient skills from the Ayutthaya Period at the temple. The founder of the Chakri Dynasty believed the hermits' different exercise poses were relaxing therapeutic exercise that could ease physical pains and aches. Applying them to the indigenous belief which regards hermits highly as teachers of different sciences, he commissioned their sculptures in the tradition of the yoga discipline practiced by the holy men of the Sub-Continent, namely an artistic exercise aimed at maintaining a strong health.

Sam Yot: Former Location of a Gambling Den

Bridge, intersection at the end of Charoen Krung Road, Sam Yot was the name of the Bangkok outer city gate in the early Rattanakosin period. King Rama I (1782-1809) constructed this gate together with city walls and other city gates around the outer area of the capital.
At that time, the Sam Yot gate was the only city gate made of wood. It was built straddling a small road and was given the name 'Phruekthimat' gate by the King.
Later, in the reign of King Rama III, this city gate with one pinnacle on top was in poor condition. The King ordered the construction of a new cement gate with a war tower on top to defend the capital against attacks from enemies. King Mongkut (Rama IV) ordered the construction of Charoen Krung Road passing through this gate.
More and more vehicles ran on this road, and when they arrived at the Phruekthimat gate, they had to stop because the gate was too narrow to pass through. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V)
then changed the single gate to three gates connecting to one another. On top of each gate was an intricately designed pinnacle. Seeing that this gate was quite unlike the others, local people called it PratAam Yot, or the three­pinnacled gate. The area where the gate was found was also called Sam Yot subdistrict.
The Sam Yot area during the reign of King Chulalongkorn was quite crowded, as it was the location of a gambling den, called Huai (lottery) Ko Kho, operated by Khun Banboek Burirat, or Yi Ko Hong (the forefather of the Techavanich family).
An excerpt from the book Bangkok Yesterday, written by Khun Wichitmatra, or Kanchanakphan, says, "The Huai Ko Kho house was adjacent to the palace of Prince Alangkan on Mahachai Road. This kind of lottery was also scrapped 60 years ago and the gambling den has changed so tremendously that many people today do not know where the den was; they simply hear the words 'Huai Ko Kho'."
The Huai Ko Kho gambling den was dissolved in the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), but the Sam Yot gate had been dismantled earlier, late in the reign of King Chulalongkorn. Traffic on Charoen Krung
Road began to be congested and heavy, so the King ordered the expansion of the road and the Sam Yot gate built over Charoen Krung Road was dismantled.Although the Sam Yot gate has disap­peared, many people still have a vivid memory of this prominent gate. The name Sam Yot has been used for call several important sites in this area, such as Sam Yot district, Sam Yot Crime Suppression Division, and Sam Yot Radio Station.

MAY IS THE MONTH OF THE PHUKET SEAFOOD


MAY IS THE MONTH OF THE PHUKET SEAFOOD Festival, an annual event that entertains with music and parades, as well as plenty of palate-teasing dining. The festival promotes the many varieties of seafood found in local waters and gives the talented chefs of the island's many hotels the chance to show off their skills.
The Seafood Festival is centered on Phuket's famous Patong Beach, though other villages host their own concerts and carnivals. Parades honour the marine resources industry and its contribution to Phuket's society and economy, and there are cultural shows to watch and join in.
When the sun goes down, you can wander around the seafood stalls and watch demonstrations of the preparation of regional cuisines. Seek out your favourite dish or sample something new – but beware of the fiery Thai chilli that finds its way into most recipes.
Of course, in typical Patong fashion, once you've had your fill of fine food you can party well into the night at the many bars and clubs that line central Bangla Road and the beachfront.

The cultural and medical treasures of Wat Pho have been recognised




WAT PHO (OFFICIALLY KNOWN AS Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmang­klararm Rajwaramahaviharn) is a 200-year-old royal monastery in
Bangkok, just south of the Grand Palace that attracts visitors for various reasons: the temple is famous for its huge gold Reclining Buddha and its 20 acres of beautiful grounds containing over 1,000 more Buddha images. It's also renowned as the centre for traditional Thai medicinal massage, but a recent accolade relating to both its cultural and medical significance is about to make Wat Pho, and Thai massage, even more famous internationally.
PROUD MOMENT Right Try a traditional
massage at Wet Pho Below The significance
of the inscriptions at
Wat Pho have been recognised by UNESCOInscriptions on marble around the walls of Wat Pho's ceremonial hall and nearby pavillions are all that was known about Thai massage dating from the reign of King Rama III. This art treasure has fascinated visitors who flock to the attraction both to see its historic beauty, and also to indulge in a superb Thai massage. The famed inscriptions have just been registered by the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Memory of the World (MOW) for Asia and the Pacific region. The letter of recognition was presented to Wat Pho's abbot, Phra Thampanyabodi, on March 31 this year, the anniversary of King Rama III's birth.
Wat Pho also held a grand merit-making ceremony in honour of the king who commissioned the 1,360 inscriptions on marble plates in the 19th century. The plates show Thailand's religious and secular knowledge, ranging from Buddhi precepts and literary works, to traditional medicine and Thai "hermit" yoga postures.
Preeda Tangtrongchit, director Wat Pho's Thai Traditional Medic Massage, says Unesco's recognitk the inscriptions will make Thai
traditional massage better knowr
Thai traditional massage scienc either a herbal massage or it folio, the contorted hermit postures.

GET A THAI MASSAGE
A traditional massage at Wat Phc costs THB150 for 30 minutes, TE for an hour and herbal massages available for THB350 an hour. It' possible to take courses to learn traditional Thai massage. These for 30 hours, cost THB4,500, ant be-Spread over 10 to 15 days.

the greener side of Thai life


EVER WONDERED HOW CHILDREN HAD FUN BEFORE THE INVENTION OF REMOTE-CONTROLLED CARS, HOME THEATRE ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEMS AND THE INTERNET?
One of the things Thai parents did in the past was to walk into their garden and find some palm leaves with which to make a
"pla to pien", or carp mobile. It's no cakewalk for the origami-challenged, but once you get the hang of it, you'll find that plaiting leaves together to make a fish isn't all that difficult.
For babies, these carp mobiles work wonders as they sway back and forth in the wind to slowly encourage sleep. Older children usually have their bit of fun by tying a carp onto the end of a stick and pretending to walk home with their "catch of the day".Who says entertainment needs to be energy-consuming and expensive? With basic skills – and a bit of imagination –batteries and electricity are a luxury we can do without.



KEEPING THE ART ALIVE


Australian art connoisseur Anita Sinclair
elegantly described the different emotions
that can be transmitted through the art form
of puppetry: "Through puppetry we accept
the outrageous, the absurd or even the
impossible, and will permit puppets to say and do things no human could. We allow a puppet to talk to us when no one else can get us to speak. We allow a puppet to smile at us even when we have not been introduced. We also allow a puppet to touch us when a person would lose an arm for the same offence."
Puppetry takes many forms but they all have one element in common — they share the process of animating inanimate performing objects. Puppetry is used in almost all cultures both for entertainment purposes and ceremonially in rituals and celebrations.
A very ancient art form, which probably originated about 30,000 years ago, puppetry has been used since the earliest times to animate and communicate the ideas and needs of human societies.
ROOTS OF PUPPETRY
Evidence of earliest puppetry comes from the excavations at the Indus River basin. Archaeologists unearthed terra-cotta dolls with detachable heads capable of manipulation by a string dating to 2500BC. Other excavations include terra-cotta animals that could be manipulated up and down on a stick, archiving minimum animation in both cases.
The art form also spread across Asia. Puppets first surfaced in India, then in China with its pi-ying xi, the "theatre of the lantern shadows". There, puppets played to all social classes including the highest courts — yet, despite the intricate and beautiful nature of the art, puppeteers in China were always considered part of a lower social stratum, which was also the case in Europe.
Japan also has many forms of puppetry such as the Banraku, a traditional puppet theatre, which was founded in Osaka in 1864. Indonesia, with its very popular Wayang Kulit (shadow puppetry), showed a strong tradition in puppetry. So much so that, in 2003, UNESCO designated it as a "Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity".
In Thailand, puppetry, known throughout the Kingdom as Hoon Krabok (small-sized, bamboo rod puppets), has a well-established history. In fact, Thai theatrical puppetry is unique among the various forms of puppetry in several ways: in addition to representing a character taken from the Ramakian (the Thai version of the Indian epic Ramayana, each puppet also requires the synchronised efforts of three puppeteers, dressed all in black, to effect its highly nuanced manipulation.
KEEPING THE ART ALIVE
Following what some may call mystical inspiration, a young couple in Chiang Mai, the charming city in the northern part of Thailand, is struggling to establish a different form of puppetry: traditional dance movements used in conjunction with contemporary music.
Clad in classical costumes that represent the typical tailored cut of the reign of King Rama IX, the present monarch, the puppets of Mr Phasakorn and Ms Saphthiwi, his wife, perform their dances, as the tradition imposes, on street corners and in parks. They are often invited to the homes of well-off people to perform at private parties.It has been said that the Muses — the Greek mythological goddesses who inspire the creation of the arts and of literature — call their sons. These two young artists at first endeavoured to establish a small business with flying lanterns, but without success. One day at home, talking about what they could do to earn a living, they stumbled onto an old dolls and puppetry essay that Phasakorn had bought when he was completing his architecture degree in Bangkok. The article was just the flash of inspiration they needed – the Muses had called to them.
Since Phasakorn's mother had made dolls for sale when he was a child, he recalled all the knowledge he had gained as he watched her craft these unique and graceful pieces of art. Full of enthusiasm, he and Saphthiwi began to cut, shape, tailor, paint and assemble the pieces until a pair of exquisite puppets finally came to life in their arms.
Instead of following the traditional Ramakian theatre, they crafted their creations to enable them to dance and bring joy to people with their harmonious movements to music. It took them more than a year to learn how to make the puppets graciously move and glide to the rhythm of the notes. They asked a friend who was a dancer to teach them classical dance movements, which they then practised in front of a mirror until they could pull and push the strings and rods to articulate the puppets properly and authentically. The result of all this hard work and dedication is simply amazing.When Phasakorn and Saphthiwi perform in public places, a large crowd always gathers around the stage. The puppets' life-like movements entrance onlookers, and there have even been cases in which particularly sensitive people had wept. The two puppets dance to both modern music and traditionalnorthern songs – it is stunning to observe how the puppeteers and their
success. One day at home, talking about what they could do to earn a living, they stumbled onto an old dolls and puppetry essay that Phasakorn had bought when he was completing his architecture degree in Bangkok. The article was just the flash of inspiration they needed – the Muses had called to them.
Since Phasakorn's mother had made dolls for sale when he was a child, he recalled all the knowledge he had gained as he watched her craft these unique and graceful pieces of art. Full of enthusiasm, he and Saphthiwi began to cut, shape, tailor, paint and assemble the pieces until a pair of exquisite puppets finally came to life in their arms.
Instead of following the traditional Ramakian theatre, they crafted their creations to enable them to dance and bring joy to people with their harmonious movements to music. It took them more than a year to learn how to make the puppets graciously move and glide to the rhythm of the notes. They asked a friend who was a dancer to teach them classical dance movements, which they then practised in front of a mirror until they could pull and push the strings and rods to articulate the puppets properly and authentically. The result of all this hard work and dedication is simply amazing.
When Phasakorn and Saphthiwi perform in public places, a large crowd always gathers around the stage. The puppets' life-like movements entrance onlookers, and there have even been cases in which particularly sensitive people had wept. The two puppets dance to both modern music and traditionalnorthern songs – it is stunning to observe how the puppeteers and their creations move as one, melding into an attractive and exquisite performance.
But the life of an artist is never easy, and it's no different for Phasakorn and Saphthiwi. There are no state or public organisations in Chiang Mai willing to help or even encourage these street performers. Even private organisations can do very little to support them. They live in the hope someone will someday take care of this form of art so it can be kept alive and establish itself as a new standard. But for now they are working on a new dance routine based on the well-known sad song, Ma Mia, which involves two new characters riding a magic dog – the very complicated figure requires a lot of skill and dexterity to operate properly.Phasakorn and Saphthiwi put all their heart and soul into puppetry. Every Sunday you can see them perform at the Three Kings Square surrounded by a crowd of mesmerised children and wide-eyed adults. And as their puppets move flawlessly, they dream of one day owning their own little theatre where people of all ages could gather to watch them perform – and where they could pass on the awe-inspiring art of puppetry.