HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Offerings made to the guardian spirits during centuries-old festival

Ancient wood carved into Buddha statues

Residents build sand pagodas to honor ancient Buddhist beliefs

Charity Club visits Prostheses Foundation in Chiang Mai

Best bartender shows his best moves

Navy personnel compete for edible prizes

Navy comes up with novel way to deal with naughty monkeys

Offerings made to the guardian spirits during centuries-old festival

The leader of the procession chats with the audience.

The always amusing “sea-boxing” draws plenty of mirth.

Vimolrat Singnikorn
Naklua residents and visitors gathered at Lan Pho Public Park on April 20 for the Kong Kao (rice harvest) festival, offering food and sweets to the spirits in a centuries-old tradition.
Mayor Itthipol Khunplome opened the festivities, which in addition to worship and prayers included sports and games activities, and plenty of enjoyment for people of all ages.

This one almost ended in a draw.
Candles and joss sticks were lit and a blessings ceremony held as the food and sweets were laid out for the spirits and angels. During the afternoon, visitors enjoyed watching the slingshot competition, the hoop takraw and a four-meter oily post climbing competition for adults and a 3.5-meter oily post for youngsters. The bamboo poles were greased with oil and had 500-baht notes attached to the tops for the winning climbers to grab.
The always amusing “sea-boxing” where kids balance precariously on a horizontal pole trying to knock their competitor off before losing their balance and falling into the drink, drew plenty of mirth.

The spirits and angels receive food and desserts in the belief that they would be pleased and that happiness and prosperity would be assured for another year.
A “Tri Bhumi” performance depicting heaven, earth, and hell delighted the audience. The ancient fighting art of “kratoa tang sua” was also a highlight. During the last portion of the show, superstar performing artist Kod Chakapan showed up, much to the delight of the audience.
Thai traditional folk dance was also featured and a country music performance rounded off the day’s activities.
No one knows how old the Kong Kao tradition is, but elder citizens say it was always associated with the Songkran festival and that it was already an old tradition when they were youngsters.
In times past, villagers believed that guardian spirits and angles watched over them, and at the time of the New Year they offered food in the belief that the spirits would be pleased and that happiness and prosperity would be assured for another year. After the ceremony, food collected was equally shared among the ceremony attendants.

Ready, aim… He’s taking careful aim in the slingshot contest.

Chai Yo! This little guy managed to climb the greased pole
and retrieve the 500 baht note at the top.

Young spirits also take part in the proceedings.

Beautiful young maidens in traditional dress pass out treats.

Despite the oppressive heat, the hoop takraw game went ahead as scheduled.

Ancient wood carved into Buddha statues

The smaller statues made from the same wood are equally as impressive.

Buddhists worship the 10-meter-long Buddha
carved out of what is believed to be ancient wood.

Pramote Channgam
Large Buddha statues carved from old Takhian trees, recently found buried underground in Chachoengsao Province, were recently worshipped at the Banglamung School Field beginning April 22.
Ancient sections of the Takhian trees (Hopen oderata), believed to be thousands of years old, were excavated from under five meters of soil when Siyad Dam was being built in the Thatakiab District in that province.
The Kao Lom abbot realized the value of this ancient wood so had it carved into different Buddha postures, delicately sculpted by craftsmen. Carvings include an omniscience meditation posture 109” long and a nirvana posture 10 meters long and 3 meters high, which has become one of the largest wooden Buddha carvings in Thailand.
On April 20 the statues were paraded on the roads around Banglamung District for everyone’s good fortune.
The carvings were scheduled to be moved from the school on April 28, although at press time they were still there.

Residents build sand pagodas to honor ancient Buddhist beliefs

Patcharapol Panrak
As usual at Songkran time, residents around Wat Sattahip, government officials and other worshipers pitched in together to move sand to the temple.

Children and animals prostrate themselves before the Buddha in this entry.
On April 17 sand was brought to the temple by many helping hands for the construction of ceremonial sand pagodas in various delicate designs with flags stuck on top, as per tradition.
The large amount of sand is then available to use for further renovation of the temple or for making new buildings.
This is also seen as giving the sand back to Buddhism as whenever people leave the temple, grains of sand go with them on their shoes.
Usually in between summer and the rainy season, right after the Thai New Year at Songkran, people living near the canals and swamps would dig up sand to donate to the wat.
The digging also makes the rain water flow more efficiently to prevent floods during the rainy season. This is a fun activity for the villagers as it also builds unity among them.
Sattahip District Chief Chaichan Iamcharoen said that technological progress could be seen in the fact that people who used to carry one or two buckets of sand to the temple now bring it in huge trucks.
This building sand pagodas is called the construction of Phra Sai Nam Lai which later became shortened to Wan Lai

A little paint and a Thai flag spruce up this entry.

Judges walk around inspecting the finished products.

Residents begin to make their magnificent sand castles.

Charity Club visits Prostheses Foundation in Chiang Mai

Christina Boden
After the Charity Club raised 100,000 baht for the Prostheses Foundation in Chiang Mai, they were going to do the presentation in December, but, as the airport was rather full at the time they decided to postpone the trip until a later date!

Christina & Malcolm donate 100,000 baht to Dr. Therdchai.
With Songkran approaching they decided it would be a good time to have a weekend break in Chiang Mai. They arrived in Chiang Mai on Friday morning staying at the Ratilanna Hotel overlooking the Mae Ping River. 9.30 a.m. Saturday morning the Foundation came to collect them and on arrival they were greeted by Dr. Therdchai Jivacate, secretary-general of the Prostheses Foundation.
The Prostheses Foundation of H.R.H. The Princess Mother
The Prostheses Foundation of HRH The Princess Mother was established in 1992. HRH The Princess Mother set up the foundation when she learned that Dr. Therdchai was able to make artificial legs which were lighter, more comfortable and 10 times less expensive than imported ones, since they were made from recycled plastic and recycled aluminium.
The Prostheses Foundation provides free artificial legs for poor amputees, regardless of nationality or religion.

Foot and joint testing machine.
The Charity Club arrived armed with thousands of ring pulls from cans of soft drinks and beer cans, which they use to melt down, as well as the cash donation. The Ratilanna Hotel also donated a large amount of tabs when they knew the Charity Club were going to the foundation.
Many of the tabs from Pattaya were donated by Ron and Yawadee Hall - half a dozen from Yawadee’s soft drinks and the rest generously donated by Ron from his beers! Cheers Ron keep up the good work!
Dr. Therdchai is a very quiet, humble man and is still very hands on at the foundation even though he has trained many people to make the limbs. The main building has offices, lecture rooms, workshop areas, and rooms to conduct research and to make parts for artificial legs.

Limbs that are available.
They also have accommodation for disabled people who come from outside Chiang Mai.
Dr. Therdchai club took members on a conducted tour of the factory where they saw how the limbs are made and the types of limbs available.
Not wanting to intrude too much on the patients they observed just two: one a young lady being measured for her new limb after losing her leg to cancer and a gentleman who was adapting to his new limb in the Physio Dept.
After coffee and cake members saw how a limb was made from start to finish, materials and machines used that make the limbs, test the limbs and finally how they adjust the limbs.

Christina, Malcolm & Dr. Therdchai discuss the children in Isaan.
Thailand has around 40,000 patients with missing legs, which is rising as we speak. Most of the patients are poor farmers who live in rural areas and have no money to travel to Chiang Mai to receive the services from the Foundation.
Dr. Therdchai put together a team and trained 2 or 3 villagers in the art of making limbs, they then built a small workshop and provide materials for the new assistants to use in those areas.
The Mobile Unit
The Foundation also has a mobile unit, which along with Dr. Therdchai visits rural areas for 5 days at a time. They make trips to many Thai provinces, Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar.
The mobile unit has provided service to 14,130 patients, made 17,251 new prosthetic legs, and repaired 2,336 legs.

Mobile Unit.

When the Charity Club saw what can be achieved with the mobile unit they have already decided to raise funds at one of their charity events to buy the Foundation a second unit.
Malcolm and Christina were amazed to learn that the Foundation has fitted over 21,710 legs in the 16 years that the amazing Dr. Therdchai has been fitting limbs. At the Foundation, Dr. Therdchai does on average 4 limbs a day, which is 1,500 a year!

Mosha’s first fitting.
Dr. Therdchai doesn’t just use his amazing skills for mankind … he has also made prostheses for dogs and a baby elephant called Mosha who lost the lower part of her leg when she trod on a landmine while walking with her mother.
The Foundation also does research and development to improve the production process and to produce equipment to make prosthetics using local materials. A special farmer/agricultural prosthetic leg has been fabricated so that poor farmers can go back to their work using this very sturdy leg, even in muddy rice fields. Amazingly, it only costs 500-1,000 baht.

Start of a new limb.
The Foundation is always doing research and they have recently introduced a simple, but most efficient technique called sand casting to make prosthetic legs. The Foundation now can make a good prosthetic leg for a below the knee amputee within 4 hours instead of 8 hours.
As you may know, the Charity Club of Pattaya also have many projects in Isaan, so while they were with Dr. Therdchai they showed him some of the pictures of the Isaan people he maybe able to help. A mobile unit will be in the Isaan area around September, and Dr. Therdchai has already agreed to see an 11-year-old boy and a 25-year-old lady from Isaan.
If you would like to make a donation towards the mobile unit or donate a collection of ring pulls you can contact the Charity Club at any of the following; Christina on 0895454185 - Malcolm on 089 7441040, [email protected] or www.charityclubofpattaya.bravehost.com

Best bartender shows his best moves

Ariyawat Nuamsawat
Bartender Danai Panpoosa from the Diana Inn showed his shaking moves and cocktail mixes that amazed the judges to win the Fifth Diana Group Bartender Contest. Young Supassaya Prayoonwikrai from Diana Garden Lodge and Driving Range won Miss Bartender.

Kittisak Harnkla (right), PR chief of Chonburi awards Waranya Boonmeepitak, Miss Mass Media.
On April 16 Niti Kongkrut, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Pattaya, presided over the contest and Sopin Thappajug, managing director of the Diana Group, gave a welcome speech to guests before the event held at Diana Inn on Pattaya 2nd Road.
The first bartender contest was held in 2005 for making iced coffee and fruit juices and attracted a lot of interest from tourists.
This year’s contest was divided in to three categories: alcoholic-cocktails, Miss Bartender and the best moves in making iced coffee. There was also a cheerleading contest to add more color to the already colorful event, plus curry making contest and table dressing contest.

Supassaya Prayoonwikrai from Diana Garden Lodge and Driving Range performs an outstanding Indian dance, winning her the Miss Bartender contest.
Prizes were trophies, sashes and a total cash purse of 60,000 baht. The event was supported by Thai Beverage Company, Beer Chang and Royal Coffee.
The keen bar workers participating were staff from Diana Dragon, Diana Millennium, Diana Garden Resort, Green Bottle Pub, Diana Garden Lodge and Driving Range and Diana Inn.
Judges included Jintana Wetchote, educational chief of Pattaya, Kittisak Harnkla, PR chief of Chonburi, Yanyong Tonetoh, manager of Pom Burapa and Pratheep Malhotra, managing director of Pattaya Mail Publishing.
The best iced coffee maker was Supot Boonchuay of Diana Garden Lodge and Driving Range; the best bouquet arrangement was by Muay Sartmarerng; winner of the sweet and sour curry contest was Adul Prathumtong of Diana Garden Resort, and the wining cheerleading team was from the Diana Garden Resort. Press favorite was Waranya Boonmeepitak of the Diana Garden Resort.

Bartender Danai Panpoosa from the Diana Inn
won this year’s Diana Group Bartender Contest.

Sopin Thappajug, managing director of Diana Group, and honored guests together press the pineapple button to begin the event.

Diana Garden Resort wins the cheerleading contest with their bizarre performance.

Navy personnel compete for edible prizes

Patcharapol Panrak
The new navy training center held a fun family sports day with prizes such as rice, fried food, fish sauce and vegetable oil.

Winners of the balloon race receive the spoils of victory.
The commander of the New Navy Training Center, Captain Noppadol Supakorn, awarded foodstuff to promote loving and happy families and to welcome the Thai New Year.
On April 16 Captain Noppadol assigned Captain Virat Somjit, vice commander, to preside over the opening ceremony of the event, held on the “drug-free sports field” at the new training center.
Such athletic endeavors as three-legged races, 3-meter races whilst carrying a lemon with chopsticks, and racing with a child on your feet set standards not likely to be bettered soon.
Captain Virat said that the purpose of this event was to build strong relationships within the families as all the sports require at least two family members playing in the same team.
This builds cooperation between the families of both non-commissioned and commissioned officers, winning trophies that can be eaten, he said.
This is a very happy event, especially to the commanders to know that their officers can save a lot of money on food for a few days with their prizes.
Everyone was very satisfied with the event and asked for it to be held every Songkran with the same prizes.

Starting the three legged race with a little extra baggage.

As one winner makes off with some food,
other contestants get ready for the next race.

Oops, she dropped her lemon.

Navy comes up with novel way to deal with naughty monkeys

Patcharapol Panrak
Faced with a plague of hungry wild monkeys stealing from statues, cars, houses and offices, the Royal Thai Navy dug deep for a defensive answer less drastic than artillery or torpedoes.

A fake python on top of this car prevented any monkey business … this time.
They came up with a so far seemingly brilliant idea: putting artificial pythons around to deter the raiders. So far the wily monkeys think this predator is real, even if it doesn’t seem to move very much.
On April 17 at Laem Poo Chao, Captain Suttinan Samachant, Commander of Transportation at the Sattahip Naval Base, and other officials bringing offerings to the statue of Admiral Phrajaobaromawongtur Krommaluang Chumporn, or Sadej Tia, found no usual monkey horde coming to steal the offerings.

So far, the fake python seems to be working.
Captain Kampanart Singhudom, Security Commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, said that usually when people come to worship Sadej Tia, there are always monkeys coming to steal offerings and properties on pickup trucks or even from cars with windows down.
The thieves then quickly disappear into the forests, ruining the mood of worshippers.
The seven sculptures of crocodiles in front of the shrine at first seemed to work but the monkeys all too soon worked them out.

The mischievous little devils wait alongside the road.
Firecrackers or shooting rubber bands don’t work either. So far, this idea of using a fake python has been working. But what then after the monkeys realize that the fake python is totally harmless?
Vice Admiral Srivisoot Rataroon, Commander of Sattahip Naval Base, said that for the problem of wild monkeys up on Laem Poo Chao had been an issue for a long time, causing extreme annoyance.
So the Security Division of the Naval Base has been assigned to immediately solve the problem without use of violence, hence the python defense.

The fake crocs worked for a while,
until the monkeys found out the crocs really were a croc…