When the streets
turned into rivers
City shuts down for annual Songkran Festival
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.
number of tourists and visitors flocked to Chiang Mai’s city moats to
enjoy Songkran water splashing.
view of the Songkran in Chiang Mai.
throwing on Changlor Road.
Songkran time again in the northern capital.
water on each other.
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.
being readied for the cold water treatment.
tourist enjoys himself.
“mai khams” were set up during the Songkran period to prolong life and
security for all.
and tourists enjoy water throwing on Huay Kaew Road.
wore plastic coverings - though most likely in vain.
way to celebrate Songkran.
poured holy water onto Buddha images to bring the good luck and prosperity.
of sand built at a Chiang Mai temple.
I’ll shoot! Too late...
boys on a tuk-tuk get ready to spray.
attractive pretties in action.
No, just some Thais having fun in their own way.
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
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
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
Cars, motorcycles and audio on display at Chiang Mai Motor Show
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.
models on display (the car, not the woman, silly).
audio presented at Chiang Mai Motor Show - yes you, too, can rattle the
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.
pretty presenters and a Ford.
looking, eye catching new motorcycles.
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!
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
‘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.
elegant reception area and spacious lounge.
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
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.
‘must-have’ is the reflex massage for tired feet and hands, using the
oil of your choice.
‘diminishing perspective’ - a Western massage bed is used for the scrub
in one of the suites.
panels, huge comfortable couches, gold, white and maroon are the dominating
colors of the reception area and treatment rooms.
stuff - dreaming away in a bathtub with rose blossoms and watching the
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
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
Poi Sang Long celebrated in Chiang Mai
Traditional Thai Yai event imported from Mae Hong Song
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.
parents offering to help make merit.
boy has his face made up.
novice poses for a photo with his relatives in the front of Wat Pa Pao
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.
get ready to go around the temple.
Sang Long procession moves around the temple’s pagoda.
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.
novices on the shoulders before the procession moves on.
Yai clothes on sale at the temple grounds during the ceremonial Poi Sang
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.