Magic moments in Khmer heritage

Magic moments in Khmer heritage
Magic moments in Khmer heritage
A splash of sunlight penetrating an ancient temple cloister signals a distinctive celebration at Prasat Phanom Rung.
Knowing the exact moment to witness a spectacular sunrise through the doorway of an ancient Hindu temple requires a detailed calculation. The most auspicious day is 3 April; the time, 0602.32 at sunrise, as the amber sun is perfectly aligned in the centre of the main doorway to a temple standing on a former volcanic mountain in northeast Thailand.
Actually, the sun rays pass straight through 15 perfectly aligned doorways of Prasat Phanom Rung, a revered and ancient Hindu monastery, just four times a year -– two sets of sunrises, in April and September, and two sets of sunsets, in March and October.These spectacular solar-related events, that also bear religious significance in the Hindu faithful, span just three days –- 2, 3 and 4 April. The second day is considered the most auspicious as the sun is visible dead centre of the outer doorway of this Khmer Hindu temple. Sun rays cast light through 15 aligned doorways that span 75 metres of the temple’s inner courtyard illuminating a revered lingam deep in the main sanctuary. On the other two days, the sun passes one of the corners of these doorways.
Located about 120 km east of Nakhon Ratchasima, the gateway to the northeast region, Prasat Phanom Rung presents a picturesque setting high above the surrounding countryside. A series of steps lead to this ancient monument that stands on the peak of an extinct volcano offering panoramic views of rice fields and hazy mountains on the border with Cambodia.
While photographers will not want to miss the opportunity to capture the 3 April sunrise perfectly aligned within the lintels of the doorways, most visitors will settle for the evening festivals and a colourful light and sound show organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand performing nightly from 2 to 4 April.
Officially known as the “Ascent of the Mountain Annual Festival” or the “Festival Of The Thousand Year Miracle of the Phanom Rung Grand Shrine” the celebrations start with the religious significance of the sunrises, but continue with community festivities on each of the three days, well into the night.
The 80-minute light and sound show, that start at 20:00, highlights the history of Prasat Phanom Rung and explains the significance of the sunrise and its alignment with the temple’s courtyard doors. The show is described as an “extravagant outdoor Son et Lumiere performances led by a large cast of actors, dancers and acrobats.”This evening spectacular, held within the temple complex, compliments the daytime activities that start with the sunrise ceremonies and are followed by colourful festivities throughout the day. In the afternoon there is almost a carnival spirit as visitors enjoy the local food specialities sold at stalls, the folk music and dances as well as handicraft displays. Many visitors are tempted to stay on to admire the floodlight sanctuary, or slumber through night under the stars to ensure they have a prime spot to participate in the sunrise ceremonies on the following morning.

Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Naga Fireball)

Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Naga Fireball)
This extraordinary miracle always occurs at the beginning of the full moon night in the eleventh lunar month (End of Buddhist Lent). It can be seen along the Mekong River in the districts of Mueang, Phon Phisai, Pak Khat, Bung Kan, Tha Bo, Si Chiang Mai and Sangkhom. Bang Fai Phaya Nak is a term used for red and pinkish fire balls, which according to belief, belong to Phaya Nak or the great serpent of the underwater world. On the day marking the End of Buddhist Lent, a great number of people come to witness this phenomenon.
Naga Fireball Festival in Nong Khai
It remains a mystery that never ceases to puzzle both visitors and locals alike. Just what is the origin and nature of the fireballs that fly from the surface of the Mekong River high into the night sky for all to see?Locals swear there is absolutely no doubt at all about the origin of the fireballs. Naga, the serpent reportedly dwelling in the murky currents of this mighty river, propels fireballs skyward, probably to remind villagers to treat this life-giving river with respect.Of course, there are detractors, researchers who have spent years of study attempting to explain away the fireball phenomenon, all to no avail.Some say it is an elaborate hoax, but the only way to find out is to travel to Nong Khai and check out river scene and the carnivals that villagers organise to celebrate the now famous legendary serpent.Festivities run from 10 to 16 October, along the Mekong River bank, in Phon Pisai district in Nong Khai province. There are also corresponding celebrations on the Lao side of the river and no shortage of theories on whether Thailand’s neighbours, on the opposite bank, may know more than they are admitting on what causes the spectacle.But there is no denying the fact that there is something almost mystical that causes the fireballs to erupt from the surface of the river, and villagers are taking no chances, hence the religious activities at various temples in the district to appease the Naga.Visitors can participate in a traditional "Tak Bat Thevo" ceremony, or the early morning alms giving to monks. It involves offering sticky rice wrapped in coconut leaves, presented on the important final days of the three-month Buddhist Lent.In the evenings, during the festival week, people gather at the river bank for the Naga procession and cultural performance that reflect the rural village traditions of the northeast region.If all goes to plan the highlight of the trip will be the amazing sight of the Naga fireballs erupting into the sky, a phenomenon that is very likely to prompt some light hearted banter and arguments at riverside food stalls over glasses of ale or the local rice whisky on their origin. The most convenient way to reach Nong Khai is to take one of the many daily flights offered from Bangkok to Udon Thani, either on the national airline Thai Airways International, or one of the low-cost airlines. The flight takes 50 minutes and from Udon Thani, mini buses offer a 40 minute transfer to Nong Khai. An alternative is to take the rail service that runs every evening from Bangkok to Nong Khai.
Contact :TAT Udon Thani, Tel. : 66 (0) 4232 5406-7Nong Khai Provincial Administration Office, Tel. : 66 (0) 4242 0323Website : www.tourismthailand.orgE-mail : tatudon@tat.or.th


The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Mukdahan provincial authorities, Mukdahan municipality, the Triathlon Association of Thailand and the Asian Triathlon Confederation (ASTC) are jointly organizing the 2007 Mekong River International ITU Triathlon Asian Cup competition to promote sports tourism and foster closer relations among the six Greater Mekong Subregion member countries namely Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and southern China.
Contact information: TAT Northeastern Office – Region 4 Tel: +66 (0) 4251-3490-1Fax: +66 (0) 4251-3492E-mail: tatphnom@tat.or.th

Phangan Triathlon 2009

Phangan Triathlon 2009 Date : March 14 -15, 2009Venue (Start/Finish) : Thongsala beach, Koh Phangan, Suratthani, Thailand
Koh Phangan Tourism Promotion association, Koh Tao Tourism Association and Phangan Triathlon Association are hosting the Second Phangan Triathlcn to help build a reputation as attractive triathlon destination. Distances : 1. Duathlon : Run 10 Km. Bike 40 Km. Run 5 Km.2. Triathlon : Swim 1.5 Km. Bike 40 Km. Run 10 Km. 3. Triathlon Team Competition : for three (male and female)4. Triathlon : The age under 15 and Team : Swim 500 M. Bike 15 Km. Run 5 Km. Prize money for the duathlon open category is Bt5,000 and Bt8,000 male open.Triathlon prize money is Bt10,000, except for male open, Bt12,000 and age under 15 Bt5,000.
For more information : www.phangantriathlon.com

Buffalo Racing

Buffalo Racing You could be forgiven for thinking that a domesticated buffalo is not built for sprinting, but in Chonburi town, the gateway to resorts along the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, farmers have managed to tweak a turn of speed from these working animals that is nothing short of amazing.
The annual Buffalo races, 3 - 4 October 2009, are a hotly contested series of sprints across on an open space in front of the town’s municipal offices.Tourists and the town’s residents turn out for these amazing races that have been featured in the past on CNN and the BBC as a must-see event.The races are taken very seriously by the owners of the buffaloes. Prizes for the first nose past the finishing line guarantee owners go to considerable lengths to ensure their buffaloes are in tip-top condition. Clouds of dust rise as these hefty animals pound down the short course at an alarming speed, reminiscent of a stampede. The crowd roars in support of the favourites and the atmosphere is as an enthralling as watching thoroughbred race horses.Admittedly, mites slower than a race horse, but the buffaloes are no slouches when it comes to making a short dash for glory.
Although this day of fun and competition would succeed with just the buffaloes as the celebrities, there are other activities to make it a worthwhile outing for families.A fair with food stalls and handicrafts appeals to visitors who love authentic Thai food, snacks and sweets. Then there are the rides for children, concerts of folk music and, of course, a beauty contest where the prize is the honour of being declared Miss Buffalo. Not exactly the most adhering of titles for an aspiring beauty queen, but it does not seem to deter contestants from seeking the limelight of the catwalk.Here is a festival that provides photo opportunities to capture an unusual adaptation of the 100-metre dash. Well worth seeing, is always the conclusion of those who make the effort to travel to Chonburi.

Aka Hill Tribes Mini Light and Sound Presentation

Aka Hill Tribes Mini Light and Sound PresentationDate : Saturday 10 January / 14 Febuary / 14 March /11 April 2009Venue : Chiang Rai Social Development Centre 12 on the Doi Mae Salong road in Pa Sang Sub-district of Mae Chan, Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai province hosts its annual light and sound show that presents insights into the culture and daily life of the Aka hill tribes, resident in hilltop villages in Mae Chan District. First introduced in 1999, the show is now staged once a month during the tourist high season from January to April.
This month, the show will be presented, 10 January, 14 Febuary, 14 March and then finally on 11 April, at the Chiang Rai Social Development Centre 12 on the Doi Mae Salong road in Pa Sang Sub-district of Mae Chan.

Aka hill tribe villagers perform at the centre demonstrating authentic renderings of their culture and lifestyle to visitors. There are also handicrafts on display. The centre is also considering the introduction of home-stay accommodation that will focus on international tourists to encourage community-based tourism. It will allow visitors, who are interested in Aka traditions, to study the village up close with village elders providing instruction and insights into cottage industry and cultural activities.
The light and sound show is presented in both Thai and English, and runs from 1730 to 1930. Tickets cost Bt150 per person and the show with dinner is priced at Bt300 per person.
For more information, please callTAT Chiang Rai OfficeTel. 66 (0) 5374 4674-5, 66 (0) 5371 7433Chiang Rai Social Development Centre 12

Tel. 66 (0) 5391 4471

Lamduan Flower Festival 2009

Lamduan Flower Festival 2009Date : 9 - 15 March 2009Venue : Srinagarindra Park, Si Sa Ket College of Agriculture and Technology, Mueang District, Si Sa Ket Province
Featuring the numerous of Lamduan Flower, Buddhist seermon and meditation, a light and sound presentation, enjoy cultural performances and local entertainment during the fair
For more information, please contact :Si Sa Ket Municipal Office : Tel. 0 4561 1591, 0 4561 2018TAT Si Sa Ket Office : Tel. 0 4451 4447-8TAT Call Center 1672

5 th World Thai Martial Arts Festival

5 th World Thai Martial Arts FestivalCELEBRATION NAIKHANOM TOM DAY ASSOCIATION INSTITUTE OF THAI MARTIAL ARTS & WORLD MUAYTHAI FEDERATIONWai-Kru Ceremony Muay Boran & Krabi – Krabong SeminarNai Khanomtom Pro/Championships BeltDate: 15th - 17th March 2009, Venue: City of Ayutthaya Stadium, Ayutthaya, Thailand

In Muay Thai, the boxer will always preface the fight with Wai Kru and this tradition is still practised nowadays. This ceremony is usually performed to rousing Thai music from pipes and drums, and with the initial Ram Muay (the boxing movement). The Wai Kru & Ram Muay are useful, since the Boxer gains encouragement from paying homage to his Teachers and feels that he is not on his own: he has his Teacher & the other Teachers of the Muay Thai discipline to support him.

The Wai Kru process will also give him time to concentrate & revise what he has learned, as well as display the nature of his weapons and the high degree of his skill. The steps, movements & use of his weapons are designed to warm up the body’s muscles, survey the field of play & conceal the contestant’s style of fighting. When the traditional Sarama music sounds around the ring it is recognised by all who are present as a symbol of deference & respect. Prior to the fight, the music helps to urge the fighter on, and rouses his spirit until he is ready to face his opponent in the boxing ring in manly combat.
Programs Sunday 15th March 2009 07.00 - 16.00 hr. Seminar of Muay Boran Courses & Krabi Krabong 08.00 - 16.00 hr. Competition of Amateur Muay Thai, Muay Thai Boran and Krabi Krabong 17.30 hr. Introduction to all the Grand Masters and Masters all Ranking of Kru. Oats of respect to all teachers. Present Mongkon and blessing to the new comers. the Fighter for Muaythai ready for the start. 19.30 hr. Welcome Party Monday 16th March 2009 07.00 - 16.00 hr. Seminar of Muay Boran & Krabi Krabong Courses 08.00 - 16.00 hr. Competition of Mae Mai Muay Thai, Amateur Muay Thai, Muay Thai Boran and Krabi Krabong (Semi-Finals) 10.00 - 16.00 hr. Local Thai Sports Show… Muay Thai Boran, Muay Tabchak and fighting cock19.00 - 20.00 hr. Competition of Aerobic Muay Thai Tuesday 17th March 2009 "WORLD MUAYTHAI DAY (NAI KHANOMTOM DAY)" 07.00 hr. For anyone must go to pay respect and holy 10.00 - 15.00 hr. Ceremony at Nai Khanomtom statue. President arrival at the statue Start of the Holy Ceremony The final 3 bout of Amateur, Final Muay Boran, demonstration Presentation of Wai Kru, Mae Mai & Amateur Medals And Special Nai Khanomtom Amateur Local Thai Sports Show… Muay Thai Boran, Muay Tabchak and fighting cock 10.00 - 16.00 hr. Closing Ceremony For More Information : www.ideabar.com/muaythai

Pattaya International Music Festival 2009

Pattaya International Music Festival 2009
Cool music to beat summer heat
Pattaya International Music Festival gets underway 20 March to help residents and visitors to beat recession blues.
The grand Pattaya Music Festival is back in town to entertain music lovers. This is an unrivalled opportunity to enjoy a weekend of listening and dancing to beautiful music performed by more than 100 musicians. Fun awaits everyone, 20 to 22 March.
Postponed last year, the festival is back and promises to be an annual event. According to Pattaya’s city hall it was revived to lighten the mood to give residents and tourists all the more reason to smile and enjoy the resort. It echoes the sentiments of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night – “if music be the food of love play on”…
The event is also part of a wider nation-wide campaign “Amazing Thailand Amazing Value” managed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to deliver events and value-for-money features to Thai and international travellers.
For music lovers it will certainly enhance their holiday and will also help to turn Pattaya into a musical paradise broadening its appeal.
The event is supported by well-known music companies such as GMM Grammy and its partners Modernine TV, Channel [V] Thailand, Channel [V] International and the Korea Foundation for International Exchange.
International musicians will be flown in by recording companies such as SM Entertainment from Korea, EEG from Hong Kong, Ocean Butterfly from China, House of Indies from Vietnam, Halo Music from Malaysia, AMPHEAD from Australia, INDEE RECORDS from Laos, and AVEX from Taiwan.
Visitors can choose their own style of music too. Are you into Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B, or Rock musicω The event features three music stages located at the Bali Hai pier at the southern end of the main bay, central Pattaya, and Pattaya Soi 4. Music themes will rotate between all three stages.
On Friday 20 March, visitors can enjoy Pop songs at the Bali Hai, Rock at central Pattaya and easy listening music at Soi 4. On Saturday, Pop and Rock will be performed at the Bali Hai stage, Hip-Hop at central Pattaya, and Jazz at Soi 4, while on Sunday, visitors can enjoy Rock at Bali Hai, Country Western music at central Pattaya, and Pop Rock at Soi 4.
Thai musicians include Golf&Mike, Pancake, Clash, ABNormal, Paradox, Bodyslam, Ebola, Zeal, Joey Boy and THE STAR.
International artists such as SHINEE and Girl’s generation from Korea, Kym Jin Sha from China, Cirque due Freak from Australia, Minh Thu from Vietnam, Rynn Lim from Malaysia, and Kenny Kwan from Hong Kong will also join the event.
TAT is responsible for two of the stages, one at the south Pattaya pier (Bali Hai) and one at Soi 4 on Pattaya beach road. The third stage in central Pattaya, is funded by a Bt10 million budget and run by Pattaya city and Chonburi Provincial Administrative Organisation. For more informationTAT Call Center 1672TAT Pattaya 66 (0) 3842 1005-6e-mail : tatchon@tat.or.th

Singapore And Thailand Launch World’s First Medical Tourism Concierge Network

Singapore – February 24, 2009 – FlyFreeForHealth, the world's first comprehensive Business-to-Customer and Business-to-Business medical tourism hub with the support of Tourism Authority of Thailand, today launched the world's first medical concierge network which signifies a new trend in consolidating borderless healthcare globally. Inter-country medical tourism concierge network is starting to be established between major medical hubs in Asia to offer medical travelers around the world immediate access to personalised medical tourism information in various languages at a ‘click-away’. Speaking at the launch, Dr Wei Siang Yu, founder of FlyFreeForHealth said, “the new business to consumer shift (B2C) is seeing the behavioural pattern of medical travelers changing – they look for more options; they also want more interaction before selecting the doctor.” Merely looking for information on the internet is no longer sufficient. “The current model of hospital’s agents/facilitators just assisting medical travelers in hospital booking has been completely revolutionised by FlyFreeForHealth’s digital Medical Butler – iMedical Butler. Medical travelers look for unbiased information platform that can assist them in the process of doctor selection before having direct contact with the hospitals or doctors. Our nurses are trained in hospitality, IT and tourism to facilitate this selection process. iMedical Butlers act as an online researcher enabling medical tourists to obtain personalised information for health and lifestyle services, invite them to webinars by renowned doctors for a content rich pre-selection interaction”, Dr Wei further added. In addition to the B2C trend, businesses are also looking for more cost efficient and integrated solutions for all the partners. In this Business to Business (B2B) shift, all the players such as the hospitals, government bodies, airlines and travel agencies are looking at providing a more cost efficient and seamless experience to their clients, and hence the formation of synergistic medical concierge network for end to end service. With the support from the Tourism Authority of Thailand, partnership with medical service providers and travel agent in Singapore – CTC Holidays, FlyFreeForHealth is setting up an unprecedented medical tourism concierge network. The network will consolidate existing medical tourism destinations in Asia as one region with seamless integration in health and lifestyle services. iMedical Butlers will assist the medical travelers from the beginning till the post-procedure management after they return to their country seamlessly. Such end-to-end solution which includes post-op cross border patient management will further improve the patient’s quality of recuperation. Medical travelers for the first time will be engaged in an impartial communication during their doctor selection process. Speaking at the occasion, Mrs. Porntip Makornpan, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “Thailand is the largest health and wellness destination globally with more than 1.5 million medical tourists last year. The recent launch of Seven Amazing Wonders by Tourism Authority of Thailand, will not only integrate existing health and wellness tourism market but also with other aspects like – meditation, eco-tourism, shopping etc. Tourists can expect amazing value from a broad range of wellness products from the Land of Smiles.” The attraction of affording high quality healthcare is attracting patients annually to Asia for healthcare needs in Thailand, Singapore, India, and Malaysia. According to Deloitte Centre for health solutions, the number of Americans travelling abroad for care is expected to reach 6 million in 2010 and 15.75 million by 2017. $16 billion in cross border revenues is expected to grow by 325% to $ 68 Billion in 2 years. “FlyFreeForHealth has solved my entire problem and given me assurance, now, I can chat with the iMedical Butler and have the butler help me research on my desired aesthetic services I want before I select the doctor. Not to mention, I am bringing some friends along who can’t wait to lay their hands on my shopping vouchers”, said Lucy Tan who is looking at tapping great value provided by health service provider in Thailand. Singapore to Thailand traffic for medical tourism can look extremely favourable now, with the Singapore government setting the green light for medisave claims, which was recently featured in the news.iMedical Butler has not only transformed the consumer interface for medical tourism, hundreds of nurses and parahealth professionals are now signing up to be part of this powerful online concierge network. For further information, please email us at info@flyfreeforhealth.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Or http://www.flyfreeforhealth.com


Discover the Most Well-Known Market of Thailand! Chatuchak MarketIf you are looking for the delightful handicrafts and fashionable products, let’s join our trade mart tour and see it for yourself.
During your visit to our Bangkok International Gift Fair and Bangkok International Houseware Fair 2008 (BIG+BIH 2008), the Department of Export Promotion would like to invite you to join “Thailand Trade Mart Tour” to visit Thailand’s famous handicraft and fashion center at Chatuchak Weekend Market, J.J. Plaza and J.J. Mall on Saturday 18th, October 2008 at 9.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the world’s largest weekend markets covers area of 70 rai (28 acres) altogether divided into 28 sections, contains more than 15,000 booths selling goods from every part of Thailand. Chatuchak Weekend Market is a very popular shopping centre to Thais and has become a popular place to tourists and foreigners. There have over 200,000 visitors each day (FRI-SUN). There are almost everything can be found here at a bargaining local price, and most vendors actually come from local factories, like antique wood carving, clay handicrafts, local souvenirs, hand made decorated flowers, ceramic wares, trendy fashions, silk, etc.
J.J.Plaza is another famous open-air market. There are more than 700 shops in 17 rai (6.8 acres), where you can find a great variety of goods everyday. This place is a big market for Thai local products export. The variety and lively atmosphere of J.J.Plaza has added color to Bangkok people for a long time.
J.J.Mall is next to Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is a 3-storeyed and air-conditioned shopping center, which contains more than 1,100 shops. It is a center of various merchandises ranging from products from wisdom and exported goods to delicious cuisines for domestic and foreign shoppers. J.J.Mall is an everyday Bangkok shopping paradise where you can buy everything from clothing, handicrafts, arts & paintings, and various items of home décor & accessories.

Walk in Registration:At Thailand Trade Mart Tour Counter at Challenger 2,(14-17 October 2008) IMPACT, Muang Thong Thani, Bangkok, Thailand.
Organizer: Department of Export Promotion, Ministry of Commerce International Business Consulting Center Contact person: Miss Nongnapat Toupthong (Pha)
Trde Advisor, Trade Mart Division +66 80 924 7960, +66 81 930 4046 E-mail:nongnapatt@depthai.go.th, gornthongt@depthai.go.th Fax. +66 (2) 5120328, +66 (2) 5120323