Archive for Thailand

Bangkok Swisshotel’s Enormous Floral Display

Guest post by Hendson Quan

The Bangkok Flower Show

It is officially known as the Nai Lert Park Bangkok International Flower Show and held annually at the five-star Swissotel Hotel. In its 28th year in 2014, and happening this October 2 – 5, its proceeds go to charitable educational, mental illness cure and children development causes, with recent years’ funds approaching THB 5.0 million ($ 155,000 USD) for the 4-day event.

“Enormous” is not used here to describe the number of floral items as it is used to literally say that each floral display or arrangement is simply humongous and impressive.
At the show, take time and concentration to admire each piece. See how meticulously and painstakingly the flower designers and arrangers have created and put together their work. Like putting yourself in a giant garden, full of colorful flowers in various shapes and forms, you get the feeling of being in another world, one filled with fragrance, beauty and grand design.

Driving on Wireless Road in Bangkok, one can’t miss the huge sign announcing the event. At the turnoff to the hotel, a guard stationed at the security post stops visitors, vehicles and pedestrians alike, for a quick visual check and maybe a few questions. Then it’s about a quarter mile (400 meters) drive from which one gets the sense of entering a garden resort. Trees and flowers line the road, and statutes along the way beckon a welcome feeling. You can hear, but not see, soft waterfall sounds coming from some distant spot.

Bangkok Swiss Hotel LobbyThe lobby is expansive. Head to the right of it for check in, head to the left for the flower show. Or before all that, just take your time and enjoy a couple of tropical cocktails at the bar straight ahead while listening to the two performers, accompanied by a pianist, singing past and present favorites. You may even place a personal request with the singers.

At the entrance of the flower show, giant floral birds, bees and rabbits greet visitors. There is even a huge pot (of Thai tea?) waiting for guests as well. The giant eggs seem so real and freshly laid.

Greetings!

Tea, Madam

Inside the show, among many others, are five goldfish that most homes would not be big enough to keep, a big red high heel shoe filled with flowers that any girl would envy to own, a reclining mermaid that many a young man would dream about meeting, and a tall flower vase that if filled would break most men’s bank account.

A Handful of Goldfish

Watch Your Step

Mermaid of the Sea

A Very Tall Vase Indeed

International Swisshotel RestaurantThis is a show well worth attending, and that is not even counting the events that are part of it: an auction of fine paintings, a dining experience given by a world-class chef, and afternoon tea. Rounding out your day’s experience, satisfy your gastronomical appetite after fulfilling your aesthetic tastes from the show, do the lunch buffet at Swissotel’s ISO Restaurant, whose tall and huge windows allow you to look out to a lush garden area and add to the idyllic feeling from the show experience.

 

 

Songkran Day In Thailand

Songran Day in ThailandApril 13 has a special significance in Thailand as it is Songkran Day, the traditional Thai New Year Festival which until 1940 used to be the Siamese New Year. The festival is the most important in the Thai Calendar and is traditionally held when the sun moves out of Pisces.

As the nation prepares to party through its third new year in 4 months, Chiang Mai is as ever, dubbed as the center of activity and it is there that the celebrations are most vigorous.

If you’re intending to be there at the hub of things, you should be already booked. If not, be quick. The main events take place over three days starting on the 13th.

Firecrackers are let off at dawn on the 13th as people start to spring clean their homes. In the afternoon Buddha images from local temples are paraded through the streets as people toss lustral water (water scented with perfume and flowers) to bathe the images.

Ceremonies are not held on the second day which separates the new year from the old.

The new year begins on the third day but water throwing takes place continuously throughout the festival. Daily drenching begins as early as nine in the morning and goes on till sundown. It continues for at least four days and sometimes longer in the countryside. Drive slowly and beware of water hitting you at high velocity, especially if you’re on a motorcycle.

The entire nation arms itself with buckets, squirt guns and anything that can project water – and drench all but monks, the aged and mothers carrying very young children. Wear clothes that you can be wet and happy in. Foreigners are always a welcome target so protect cameras, wallets, etc. in plastic bags.

Of course, the activity is not limited to Chiangmai as the whole country goes water crazy in the hottest month of the year. Perfect.

Bangkok tends to suffer a longer bout of drenching as does Pattaya which virtually sees 2 weeks of revelry with the follow up Pattaya festival immediately after the new year.

For those in less of a party mood, more traditonal style parades etc.. can be seen in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan or the northern villages.

However, the watchword is to book early or be disappointed. Hotels book up far in advance and even guest houses are usually at capacity before Songkran day. Rail and bus tickets are impossible to find at festival time as relatives head up country to visit their families. The whole country is in transit for a week.

For 2001, the beach destinations have been fully booked for some time and it is the northern towns, other than Chiangmai and Kanchanaburi province that always show the last of the accommodation availability.

In this respect, that’s good value for money as most upcountry destinations do not increase their prices anywhere near the escalated rates of the beach resorts. An unwelcome recent addition is the noticeable “compulsory” Songkran dinner which has started to appear on some hotel reservations

Neighbouring Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and even Nepal have similar festivals at this time so its perhaps the busiest annual period for the region, not just for the land of smiles. Venturing out of the country either for the holidays or to avoid a drenching can therefore be similarly frustrating when booking accommo-dations and flights. It also makes Malaysia and Indonesia very popular destinations, even allowing for Easter visitors.

For many expatriates it is an ideal opportunity to make headway on the sightseeing within the region that requires those extra few days. Such holidays involve Teman Negara and Mount Kinabalu along with Sandakan Orangutan sanctuary in Malaysia. In China, Yangtze cruises prove more than popular, especially with a Great Wall and Terracotta Warrior excursion thrown in. A visit to Japan prior to the May blossom festival will always be a cheaper(!) treat than a month later. For the Phillipines, Cebu and Boracay seem closer and worthwhile when the extra days are taken into consideration. Sri Lanka, although celebrating the Easter festival is one of those destinations also requiring that little extra time to see enough of it – and Songkran is a perfect time for that.

All in all it’s a big break as well as a third new year for all those resident in the kingdom. As ever, the fact of actually being here offers a tremendous choice of how to spend that holiday time.

Personally, I am staying put to take advantage of an empty capitol and to see all of those things I have been unable to reach during those heavy traffic days – Wat Indrawiharn, Kamthieng House, Vimanmek, Suan Pakkard, Muang Boran – as well as also enjoying some non-noise pollution days.

Seriously, Bangkok is a treat at any holiday time, but especially at Songkran when it is the least busy and everything is so attractively accesible. Of course, I will get wet, but not behind the ears. Sawasdee Pimai.

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Tom Aikins is a Bangkok-based journalist who runs an Online Marketing Excellence business at http://www.marketingbangkok.com and does IT consulting at http://www.itready.co.th

Article Source:http://www.articlesbase.com/exotic-locations-articles/songkran-day-in-thailand-1634396.html