Vol. II No. 16 Saturday 19 April - 25 April 2003
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FEATURES
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

When the streets turned into rivers

Cars, motorcycles and audio on display at Chiang Mai Motor Show

Romantic, indulgent, exclusive and private - the Lanna Spa at the Regent!

Poi Sang Long celebrated in Chiang Mai

When the streets turned into rivers

City shuts down for annual Songkran Festival

The entire city was nearly brought to a standstill once again during this year’s celebration of the Thai New Year. It was almost impossible to drive from one end of the city to the other, but that didn’t stop tens of thousands of wet and happy revelers from having the time of their lives during the annual Songkran celebration in Chiang Mai. 

Wet and Wild - the annual Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai

Armed with water pistols and guns, tens of thousands of Thais and tourists alike last week took part in the Songkran festival on this northern capital’s roads.

A large number of tourists and visitors flocked to Chiang Mai’s city moats to enjoy Songkran water splashing.

Panoramic view of the Songkran in Chiang Mai.

Water throwing on Changlor Road.

It was Songkran time again in the northern capital.

Splashing water on each other.

More revelers abound.

Some defied the Culture Ministry that had asked authorities to discourage Thai teens from wearing revealing outfits during the water festival, others did not. However, since no restrictions were placed on overseas tourists, most “came as they were” without feeling like they were breaking any governmental taboos.

Songkran, the water splashing festival in Chiang Mai, started on Saturday, April 12 and gave much fun and for all people over the long weekend right through till Wednesday, April 16.

However, many Songkran activities caused traffic jams and road accidents in the city, and Chiang Mai is one of the worst accidents spots in the country, after Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima.

Ice being readied for the cold water treatment.

A tourist enjoys himself.

Gotcha!

Wooden “mai khams” were set up during the Songkran period to prolong life and security for all.

Thais and tourists enjoy water throwing on Huay Kaew Road.

Some wore plastic coverings - though most likely in vain.

On their way to celebrate Songkran.

Some poured holy water onto Buddha images to bring the good luck and prosperity.

A pagoda of sand built at a Chiang Mai temple.

Stop or I’ll shoot! Too late...

Young boys on a tuk-tuk get ready to spray.

Some attractive pretties in action.

Gun-toting tourists.

Bandits? No, just some Thais having fun in their own way.

Chiang Mai’s biggest Nam Pa Yon, the northern Thai sausage was on sale at Thapae gate to tourists and visitors.

Most of the crowds enjoying splashing water around the city were at the Thapae Gate and the city’s moats.

Numerous tourists and visitors also took photographs of the biggest northern sausage was on display at the Thapae Gate. This amazing sausage was available for sale at the prize 50 baht per kilogram. The income raised from the sausage sale will be given to Chiang Mai provincial Red Cross and any public charitable events.

During Songkran days at Chiang Mai University’s Art and Culture Museum, the “Follow the Footsteps of Craftsmen” fair was held, and there were many interesting activities at the Chiang Mai Zoo.

During April 11-15, Wat Pra Singha arranged the traditional merit making ceremony, bathing of Buddha images, including paying homage and pouring water on the Buddha Singha image, one of the most respected and revered in Chiang Mai. Lanna performances and local products fair were also organized in line with the event.

Songkran Day - Buddhist Year 2546 (13 April 2003)

The word “Songkran” comes from the ancient Sanskrit language meaning “passing” or “entering”. In this sense it means the period determined in Western Astrology as the “Vernal Equinox”. This is when the position of the Sun creates days and nights of equal length.

The vernal equinox is defined in astronomy as that point in space where the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, the ecliptic, intersects the plane of the Earth’s equator extended into space. This occurs as the Sun moves from a position south of the equator to a position north of the equator. In astrology this moment is the “0 degrees of Aries” and depicts the entering or passing into a new season. The Earth’s orbit around the Sun is divided into 12 x 30 degree segments, each being a “Sun sign” of the Zodiac beginning with Aries.

The Water Pouring Ceremony is held to pay respect to relatives and elders in the community, and receive blessings in return.

Each year the passing occurs approximately during the same time. The timing and exact calculation are deducted by an Ephemeris. Songkran 2546, or passing, occurred on Sunday 13 April when the Sun passed through Pisces and entered Aries, and as a new rainy season approached Thailand.

Preparations began on Saturday with people cleaning their houses and business areas. The following day was observed in a manner of near silence without saying anything to offend others. An ancient belief is that one should not wash ones hair on this day.

Thai New Year actually began on Tuesday, 15 April, occurring at precisely 21:12:36 hours. Shortly thereafter, Buddhist “Tham Bun” ceremonies were held at various temples and chedis to honor and pay homage to Buddhist clergy. The Water Ceremony is performed for parents, teachers and elders in the community, including respected individuals and Buddha images.

Young people engage in different sports, traditional Thai dances and plays are in abundance for the enjoyment of residents in local communities, and in many localities, beauty contestants compete for Miss Songkran.


Cars, motorcycles and audio on display at Chiang Mai Motor Show

Supatatt Dangkrueng

The auto trade got together in Chiang Mai to present the Chiang Mai Motor Show at Central Airport Plaza at the same time as the Bangkok International Motor Show.

New models on display (the car, not the woman, silly).

Car audio presented at Chiang Mai Motor Show - yes you, too, can rattle the neighborhood windows.

Our motor show ran from April 4-9, at the Lanna Hall on the fourth floor of the Plaza. There were many auto brands on show from the Chiang Mai dealers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Peugeot, Audi, Ford, Toyota, and Honda.

Attendance at the show was beyond the expectations of the first time exhibitors, who took the opportunity to offer special discounts for the Chiang Mai Motor Show only. Those who went were also rewarded with the sight of the attractive auto presenter girls, who were ready to give their spiel on the vehicles on their stand.

Five pretty presenters and a Ford.

“Space-Age” looking, eye catching new motorcycles.

Taking a close look at the Audi A4 2.0 multitronic.

In addition to the cars and motorcycles in the show, the car audio industry participated to promote their woofers and tweeters. It was a one-stop shop for car enthusiasts to enjoy and appreciate automobiles and car audio.

The largest attendance day was April 9th, coinciding with the official opening of the Central Airport Plaza.


Romantic, indulgent, exclusive and private - the Lanna Spa at the Regent!

Marion Vogt

Chiang Mai is becoming hotter every day, so on my day off the decision was easy: time for another treat. This time our decision was a spa day, and since our ‘cooking day’ was such a success, it was ‘The Regent’ again.

Our ‘Rice and Spice Body Scrub’ was a feast for the skin and the eyes. A combination of herbs and spices blended with cloves and ginger. Rice farmers have used this concept for generations.

The elegant reception area and spacious lounge.

One of the sculptures which are artfully placed in alcoves throughout each suite and the reception area.

How can I describe this world of luxury? It’s like entering a different world, leaving all your worries outside the door with your shoes. It is like coming to a temple of harmony, a temple for the body, mind and soul.

The Lanna Spa opened in 1999 and it portrays a uniquely ‘Lanna Thai heritage’ of architecture and interiors together with artworks and sculptures. It is housed in a three story building in lush tropical vegetation, carefully blending the spa into the resort’s existing environment. We were stunned, since we had not expected such impressive design.

The always present Sangwan from the PR department explained that this spa was specially designed by Mr. Lek Bunnag of Bunnag Architects, a very prestigious Thai designer. In order to give each treatment suite an individual identity, Lek chose a clearly defined room-type of architecture in which he then created ‘diminishing perspective’, which gives each room visual depth. It is all inspired from the gates of Wat Phumin, one of the most beautiful and distinctive Lanna temples in Nan Province. For protection in the spa, a sacred Lanna style ‘Naga’, or snake sculpture, surrounds the whole building and is creatively incorporated into the overall design.

A ‘must-have’ is the reflex massage for tired feet and hands, using the oil of your choice.

A ‘diminishing perspective’ - a Western massage bed is used for the scrub in one of the suites.

Wooden panels, huge comfortable couches, gold, white and maroon are the dominating colors of the reception area and treatment rooms.

Fairytale stuff - dreaming away in a bathtub with rose blossoms and watching the views.

But now, enough of designs description, since we are getting carried away, but these were our first impressions about this beautiful and exquisite place. However, we were here for treatment.

But what a range to choose from! Do we want something to revitalize us or something to relax? A tropical rain treatment or better try out Ayurverda, where oil is poured onto the third eye to balance mind, body and soul? It is not easy, let me tell you. And you are not done after choosing the treatment. The flavor also has to be decided on. Do you prefer an oil massage with a blend of lemongrass and orange essential oils that will embark your body and mind on a journey of ultimate relaxation and wellness? Or perhaps a slimming body oil massage with a combination of long pepper and cinnamon essential oils that will keep your body draining toxic wastes and re-sculpt our figure?

What kind of massage do we prefer? A traditional Thai massage or a Swedish or an oriental massage? Without the help of the experienced staff at the Lanna Spa we would have been completely lost.

We started with filling out a questionnaire for the staff so they could find out our medical history and preferences, while we sipped on a cup of ginger tea. This way they could help us make our spa day a ‘tailor made’ experience, just for us. After everything was decided we were ushered upstairs through a spiral staircase lighted by dozens of tea candles.

Now, after changing out of our normal clothes into a sarong, we were led to one of the suites and since we had decided on a rice and spice scrub, “a sensuous combination of herbs and spices to warm the muscles and increase the blood circulation”, this very healthy smelling paste was carefully applied to our skin and professionally massaged through. This was so nice, that we almost fell asleep, but the time for a shower came and after this we were led outside to soak in the outdoor tub filled with water and rose blossoms scattered all over the surface, in a private ‘sala’ with a stunning view toward Doi Suthep and Doi Pui mountain range. It was fairytale stuff! Just this view and these minutes sitting in this tub with the jacuzzi bubbling around us were worth the whole day!

This was then followed by a ‘like coconut milk’ looking lotion creamed or better massaged in the skin. This lotion was actually a pry lotion and left our skin feeling revitalized and smooth. Soothing aromatic oils and soft hands gently massaged away the troubles and cares of the world. We floated off and away, to be gently woken with a request to turn over. We did and the soothing sensations again lulled us away with the fairies.

After this massage we were ushered to dress again and led downstairs to sip another cup of the ginger tea in order to calm us and prepare us for the outside world again. But our bodies and minds were already calm and had been relaxed to the fullest; we can truly say we had had “A totally wonderful out-of-body experience.”


Poi Sang Long celebrated in Chiang Mai

Traditional Thai Yai event imported from Mae Hong Song

Autsadaporn Kamthai

Poi Sang Long is an important ceremony which has been preserved from the older generations of Thai Yai minority peoples, handing down their belief and faith in Buddhism. According to their faith, Thai Yai people try to host this ceremony once in their lives so that they will make much merit. “Poi Sang Long” is from three Burmese words meaning the Buddhist ordination ceremony for novices. “Sang” means novice and “Long” means the race of the lord Buddha.

The parents offering to help make merit.

A young boy has his face made up.

A novice poses for a photo with his relatives in the front of Wat Pa Pao temple’s pagoda.

The clothes of Sang Long are exquisite and elegant and the novices wear a Chada (headdress shaped like a crown) or place a flower behind their ear and wear ornaments such as necklaces, bracelets and rings, as well as having make-up applied to their faces.

Most Thai Yai people live in the Mae Hong Song bordering province between Thailand and Burma and this ceremony is held and promoted by that province. However, the ceremony is also arranged in Chiang Mai since many Thai Yai stay and work here. Each year the Poi Sang Long is held at Wat Pa Pao, near the Sri Phum city corner on Maneenopparat Road.

This year the ceremony was held April 4-6 and there were 43 young boys prepared to be ordained. The first day, in the early morning there was the ceremony of admitting Sang Longs to be ordained and, after that, the Sang Long procession moved to pay respect to Chiefs of Muang Chiang Mai District and the Provincial Monks Committee.

Novices get ready to go around the temple.

The Poi Sang Long procession moves around the temple’s pagoda.

Sang Longs sat on an adult’s shoulders and went around the pagoda to understand five religious precepts, and were given ten precepts by the monks.

The novices on the shoulders before the procession moves on.

Thai Yai clothes on sale at the temple grounds during the ceremonial Poi Sang Long.

People with their drums and gongs march around the pagoda in the Wat Pa Pao temple.

In the afternoon, the Sang Longs sat on an adult’s shoulders and went around the pagoda to understand five religious precepts, and were given ten precepts by the monks.

On the second day, the Sang Long procession paraded from Thapae gate to Wat Pa Pao. On the third day, there was the ordination for the Sang Longs, all dressed in yellow robes given to them by their own parents.



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