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Bangkok Travelbug February 2016 Thai Tourism Fair 2016
January 28, 2016
Northeast Region or Isarn
Visitors who enter Lumphini Park from the Sala Daeng entrance will proceed to the displays from the North-eastern region. They will encounter the sight of these long garlands strung up on poles. These garlands aren’t made from flowers, they are "malai khao dork" or popped rice garlands.
Malai khao dork – popped rice garlands from Yasothon
Unhusked rice is heated to produce popped rice which is similar to popcorn. The popped rice grains are strung into beautiful garlands of various designs.
This custom is observed on Makha Bucha Day (Buddhist All Saints’ Day) by the people of Ban Fa Yat, Maha Chana Chai district in Yasothon province. In the evening, the garlands made by the community are paraded and brought to Wat Ho Kong to be offered to Buddha.
The display station from Yasothon
Makha Bucha Day falls on the 15th night of the waxing moon in the 3rd lunar month. This year it falls on 22 February 2016. It commemorates the day when 1,250 disciples of Buddha who were ordained by him and all of whom have attained Enlightenment, gathered impromptu at a park to listen to a sermon by Buddha.
Next display is from Udon Thani the location of the Ban Chiang archaeological site with relics from a civilization more than 5,000 years old. The pottery here is painted with the designs of the pre-historic pottery found at this archaeological site which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.
Pottery pained with the Ban Chiang designs
Nakhon Phanom on the banks of the Mekong presents its bamboo mouth organs, lutes and flutes.
Bamboo musical instruments from Ban Na Wa, Tha Rua district, Nakhon Phanom
The Phu Tai of Ban Kutwa, Kuchi Narai district, Kalasin have an exquisite handicraft of bamboo garlands to celebrate their Boon Khan Pradub Din Festival on the 9th and 10th lunar months.
Bamboo garlands from Kalasin
The Phu Tai were originally from Dien Bien Phu in north western Vietnam, they later migrated to Laos and then to Thailand in the 1800s. There are several Phu Tai communities in north-eastern Thailand
Decorative items made from bamboo at the Kalasin station
For more on the Phu Tai of Kalasin
Masks for the ghost festival in Amphur Dan Chai, Loei
Golden mantle silk from Ban Tha Sawang, Surin
The unmistakable designs of Phrae Wa silk
from Ban Phon, Kalasin
Cultural dancers from the northeast preparing for their performance
There’s a noticeable a change of setting, dress, handicraft and products as we move to the displays from the Southern Region. The provinces on Thailand’s southern borders and some of the Malay states in northern peninsular Malaysia were once part of the Pattani kingdom and we shall see some common cultural traits.
Kris dagger maker from Yala, a province in southern Thailand with common borders with Kedah and Pahang in Malaysia
Bird cage makers from Songkhla
Wickerwork from Phatthalung made from a grass called krachut or Cyperaceae (sedges)
Wickerwork from Krabi made from the screw or Pandanus pine
Nang talung shadow drama is a speciality of Nakhon Sri Thammarat and consists of puppets carved into different shapes from cowhide and painted. These puppets are moved behind a screen with a light shining on them thus casting their shadows on the screen.
The drama is performed with traditional musical instruments and a narrator. Its Malay equivalent is wayang kulit performed in the northern Malaysian states.
There was a long queue for this drink, cha chak or teh tarik in Malay, dragging the tea to produce a frothy brew. This stall is from Satun, a province across the border from the Malaysian state of Perlis.
Cha chak from Satun
However one exhibit in the Southern Region display area that stood out was the reconstruction of a Chinese shrine from Pattani. This is the Chaomae (Goddess) Lim Ko Niao Shrine that was built during the Ming Dynasty in 1574!
Lim Ko Niao Goddess Shrine, Pattani
A beautiful arch of flowers welcomes visitors to the Northern Region display area. There are two major attractions here; a wide selection of silks from the various provinces in the north and scaled-down models of local markets from the north with their specialities.
The floral arched entrance to the northern region
Colourful umbrellas from Bo Sang, Chiang Mai
Silks from Uthai Thani
Silks from Lamphun
Akha fabrics from Ban Lorcha, Chiang Rai
Woven bags by the Karens from Tak
The model markets from the north are based on markets in Lampang, Lamphun, Petchabun, Sukhothai and Tak.
Northern deserts with different flavours
Drink from Sukhothai blended from young rice shoots
Pad Thai from Sukhothai
Visitors on entering the display of the Eastern Region will meet this figure of Phra Aphai Mani, a character from the most famous work of Thailand’s Poet Laureate, Sunthorn Phu, a native of Klaeng, Rayong.
For more on Rayong the poet’s inspiration
Phra Aphai Mani playing his magic flute that could even charm the ocean ogress
The Eastern Region covers the coastal provinces of Chonburi, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat popular for their beaches and island resorts and the inland provinces of Prachinburi and Sa Kaeo.
Hats from Prachinburi made from bai lan, the leaves of the fan palm
Here’s something very special from Sa Kaeo on the Thai-Cambodian border. The handicraft involves weaving bamboo jackets with intricate designs to fit ceramic vases of various shapes. This is done by a group of housewives from Sa Kaeo.
Bamboo wickerwork wrapped on ceramics
Mortars and pestles from Angsila, Chonburi
Hand-woven fabrics from Ban Puek, Chonburi
Khao Lam consists of sweetened glutinous rice grilled in bamboo tubes over a coal fire, a speciality of Chonburi and the eastern coastal provinces.
Khao Lam from Chonburi
The Central Region consists of the provinces in the Chao Phraya basin and the main agricultural activity is rice planting.
The stage here is actually a traditional Thai house from the Central Region, an indication of the painstaking care taken to create a realistic atmosphere for the fair.
Stage in the Central region
Kanom bueng is a popular Thai desert made from flour, eggs and coconut shavings
Masks for the Khon drama
This display from Ayutthaya consists of intricate designs of fish (pla taphian) woven from the leaves of the fan palm (bai larn).
Lastly we have the distinctive Benjarong ceramics from Ban Don Kai Dee, Samut Sakhon.
The lake in the centre of Lumphini Park was converted to a huge floating market scene for stalls by the waterside and boat vendors. Here’s where I took a break and had my desert of coconut juice and coconut ice cream.
Floating market in the lake
Thank you for joining us on this quick tour of a cross-section of Thailand to have a brief idea of her people, culture, handicraft and food. I’ve tried to include as much as time and space permit. Hope you enjoyed it and see you again next month.
Map to Lumphini Park
If the map doesn’t appear, click on this link
How to get there
By skytrain or subway
Take the skytrain (BTS) to the S2 Sala Daeng station or the subway (MRT) to the (SIL) Silom station and walk to the main entrance of the park where the King Rama VI Monument is located.
From the Silom subway station visitors can walk right out to the main entrance of the park which is opposite the Dusit Thani Hotel.
Admission is free
The Thai Tourism Fair 2016 was held from 13 – 17 January from 1200 – 2200 hours. This fair is usually held at Lumphini Park, Bangkok annually around mid-January. Don’t miss it next year.
It’s suggested you visit the fair on a weekday in the early afternoon. It’s less crowded; you can have a closer look at the displays, better photo opportunities and a more leisurely visit.
Suphanburi National Museum, Suphanburi
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