Vol. XI No. 23
Friday 6 June - 12 June 2003

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by Parisa Santithi

 



 

 

FEATURES
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

India takes over the Raj!

Rayong Ladies Circle’s annual charity bazaar once again offers shopping bonanza

Bun Bang Fai in Nong Khai

More quality accommodation springing up in Pattaya

India takes over the Raj!

Miss Terry Diner

Finally, many years after Gandhi walked from one end of India to another, the British Raj crumbled under the onslaught of more Indians than anyone ever could have imagined. At a star spangled evening last week, Pattaya welcomed in the new order - the Indian Raj!

Welcoming the guests to his new restaurant venture on Pattaya Third Road, was Amorn Malhotra, resplendent in his Pathan outfit from the northwest frontier. The serving girls flashed hither and yon in their Punjabi costumes, while the guests’ smiles grew larger as they watched the massed thousands of Indian performers doing the dance of the 17 dervishes on the restaurant TV monitors.

It must be said that the Brits did not go down without a struggle. Jimmy Howard, the sole remaining warrior from the Indian siege of Third Road, was fetchingly disguised in a Nehru jacket and matching pyjama pants while wearing a red pith helmet. He appeared to have curried favour and given up all territorial rights to the Raj after the fifteenth beer, and peace was called soon after.

Despite the light-hearted atmosphere, there were some serious moments such as when Chanyut Hengtrakul, advisor to the minister of Tourism and Sports, gave the Raj his blessing and cut the auspicious garland, wrapped around the entrance, ushering in good fortune, while Mayor Pairat Suttithamrongsawat and Sopin Thappajug also attended with others from the city’s upper echelons.

Many of Pattaya’s top chefs were also seen, including Fredi Schaub (Bruno’s) and Walter Thenisch and Stefan Beutler (Royal Cliff Beach Resort) while other hoteliers present included Ranjith and Chitra Chandrasiri (Royal Cliff) and Andrew Khoo (Hard Rock).

Pattaya’s Tourist Police did a splendid job getting some of the patrons across the road to their waiting hansom cabs. Ah yes, the old Raj was never like this! I will be reviewing this new restaurant in a few weeks, but you don’t have to wait for me.


Rayong Ladies Circle’s annual charity bazaar once again offers shopping bonanza

Suchada Tupchai

The Rayong Ladies Circle, based out of Ban Chang held their annual charity bazaar at the Eastern Star clubhouse in Bang Chang last Thursday.

Opening at 10 a.m., the bazaar featured arts, crafts pottery and Thai silk. Those wanting to get an early start with their Christmas shopping this year also had the chance to buy decorations and plenty of other unique items.

The bazaar attracted a large crowd, with many members of the Pattaya International Ladies Club (PILC) joining in to support their Rayong counterparts. Proceeds from ticket sales at the door and donations will be used for the club’s charity projects.

Helle Ransten, charity coordinator of the Rayong Ladies Circle said the activity is one the many events run by the RLC to aid the club’s service projects.

The Rayong Ladies Circle has joined hands with the PILC to renovate the girl’s dormitory building at the Eastern Child Welfare and Protection Center in Huey Pong. The government-run facility is desperate need of support due to budget constraints and is unable to raise the living standards for the center’s 300 or so residents.

Textiles of all sizes at bargain prices - you can’t go wrong here.

Brightly colored dolls are a dream come true for many a young lass.

Mommy, can I have that one, and that one, too?

Jewelry is always a big seller at the bazaar.

Welcome to the Rayong Ladies Circle Bazaar 2003.

How much if I buy all of these?

Ah yes, just what I was looking for.

Colorful hand made gifts caught many an eye.

This beautiful silverware would make a nice addition to any home.

Hand stitched items make good gifts.


Bun Bang Fai in Nong Khai

Kathryn Brimacombe

May 15th was a significant day in Nong Khai. Not only was it Visakha Bucha Day, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha, it was also the first day of the Bun Bang Fai, or Rocket Festival.

Several older men and women wearing striped sarongs, oversized shirts, wide hats and sunglasses sang and danced to the music, oblivious to the oppressive heat, passing bottles of whiskey and beer to one another as a young man walked beside them, keeping up the beat with a hand-held drum.

Soon we heard faint traditional Isaan music growing louder and as we looked down the road we saw two lines of young girls wearing bright pink blouses and yellow flowers in their hair dancing barefoot towards us.

A man perched in the back of a pickup truck, surrounded by children, was playing what appeared to be an electric double-ukulele that had what looked like a large flame carved onto the headstock.

Every year during the sixth lunar month, the rural people of northeastern Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia hold an ancient festival to beg the gods for rain. During this celebration, homemade rockets are fired into the sky. Some people say the rockets pierce the clouds to allow the rain to fall, while others claim that the rockets fired into heaven alert the rain god, who will bless the people on earth with rain and a bountiful rice harvest. Thus, the festival is a fertility celebration.

Yet Bun Bang Fai is also a time for sanuk, or having fun. Competitions are often held for the largest rocket, furthest distance, and largest explosion. These rockets, often 4-5 metres in length, are packed with gunpowder and can travel up to one kilometre before exploding into a huge fireball.

In Nong Khai, Bun Bang Fai was held over three days. The first day was designated for the parade, where the rockets were led through the village on colourful floats to the launch site several kilometers out of town, while the second and third days were selected for the lighting of the rockets in rice fields from tall bamboo launch pads.

Having participated in the rocket lighting festivities previously in Laos, and remembering fearing for my life as dancing drunken revellers fired rockets indiscriminately along the ground, into crowds of people, and across the river, narrowly missing boat-loads of partiers - hey, all in good fun! - I was more than happy to accept my friend’s invitation to join her and her family to watch the parade, a less dangerous celebration!

As we pulled up in front of her elder sister’s home in a village on the outskirts of Nong Khai, I was quickly introduced to her numerous brothers, sister, nephews and nieces who spilled out of the doorway to the patio outside. A mug of liquid the colour of ripe banana peels was placed in my hand by her elder sister, and I noticed everyone was drinking the same yellow brew. I asked her what it was and she said, "Sat-oh." I took a long sip. Instantly, I recognized the familiar taste of the sweet rice wine, and took another mouthful.

"Arroy mak," I told her and received beams of pleasure all around.

After sharing several more mugs of sat-oh and many plates of delicious food we all set off down the soi to Meechai Road, where the parade was just beginning. My friend and I threaded through the crowd and stood at the edge of the road to wait for the procession. People young and old gathered in anticipation. Some waved fans to cool their hot faces, or held umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun’s strong glare, while others clumped together under the shade of trees or just braved the heat all together. Impatient children, tired of standing in the hot sun, sat on the pavement holding miniature rockets or scampered back and forth across the road until an adult warned them to stay still as the parade was coming.

Soon we heard faint traditional Isaan music growing louder and as we looked down the road we saw two lines of young girls wearing bright pink blouses and yellow flowers in their hair dancing barefoot towards us. They moved elegantly on the hot pavement, turning their bodies in time while their arms twisted gracefully in the air, their thumbs and forefingers touching as their fingers extended back towards their wrists, their dark faces bathed in sweat.

Following them was the source of the music, a man perched in the back of a pickup truck, surrounded by children, playing what appeared to be an electric double-ukulele that had what looked like a large flame carved onto the headstock. Alongside the truck, several older men and women wearing striped sarongs, oversized shirts, wide hats and sunglasses sang and danced to the music, oblivious to the oppressive heat, passing bottles of whiskey and beer to one another as a young man walked beside them, keeping up the beat with a hand-held drum.

Next, the floats slowly rolled past us as the music continued and people danced. A handsome man and beautiful woman dressed in traditional Thai costumes sat astride a life-size replica of a white horse in the back of a pickup, while behind them I met the gaze of the rain god. With a golden face, a wide-open mouth, two huge fang-like teeth and bright red eyes, surrounded by billowy white and blue painted clouds, its was a presence one wouldn’t want to mess with. Several more musicians came along playing traditional Isaan music while villagers followed, dancing and singing songs that had many in the crowd chuckling.

As the last of the floats rolled past, the crowd began to disperse and we headed back to her sister’s house. It was then thunder grumbled low and loud from dark, heavy clouds covering the sun. People turned their heads to the sky, chattering to each other and smiling. A cool wind picked up sharply and my friend grabbed my hand, saying we must run as it was going to rain. As we reached the front door, large droplets began to pelt our shoulders. For several minutes we stood in the doorway watching the rain fall in torrents as people dashed for cover, holding bags and newspaper over their heads and laughing, happy that the heat wave had passed and the rains had come.

I think the rain god was happy too.


More quality accommodation springing up in Pattaya

Pattaya is certainly headed in the correct direction, with more emphasis being placed upon quality, not only in facilities and attractions, but in accommodation as well.

Luxurious studios at affordable prices.

Fancy a swim? Sunshine Vista offers 2 swimming pools on the 10th floor.

One of the latest boutique serviced apartment hotels is the Sunshine Vista Serviced Apartments in Soi 3, North Pattaya, and is notable for the quality of the development, as well as the location, in a quiet street running down to Pattaya Beach.

Sunshine Vista is one of the latest developments by the Sunshine Hotels and Resorts group, and a particularly favoured project of the group executive director, Thanet Supornsahasrungsi. As opposed to the usual hotel rooms, which are devoid of kitchen facilities, as serviced apartments, the accommodation in Sunshine Vista is designed for long-stay as well as short-stay residents. Electric hobs, microwaves, range hoods, larger sized refrigerators and dedicated dining areas in the rooms are all part of the accommodation package for the guests.

Remembering that this is also a tourist resort city, the Sunshine Group has not forgotten to offer swimming pool facilities to their guests, with two pools available on the 10th floor of the building, plus a pool bar for those on holiday.

Sunshine Vista has its own tropical (and inexpensive) restaurant on the ground floor, which was subject of the Dining Out review in last week’s Pattaya Mail. The summation of the Terracotta Restaurant from the reviewer was, "This venue is offering restaurant quality at cafeteria prices. Well worth a visit for an inexpensive night out." This again fits into the Sunshine Groups concept of affordable quality.

The building houses 131 units, ranging from superior rooms to studio apartments, executive studios and then to one and two bedroom family suites. Further information can be obtained at 038 414 760-7 or at www.sunshine hotelsresorts.com or email [email protected]



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