Vol. VII No. 17 - Tuesday
April 22 - April 28, 2008

Business & Travel
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Updated every Tuesday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Pee Mai Muang 2008 to everyone!


Pee Mai Muang 2008 to everyone!

The opening ceremony of Songkran 2008 at Thapae Gate at 08:09 Sunday morning.

The annual Songkran New Year celebrations in Chiang Mai coincided with the hottest days so far this season, giving even more reasons than usual to be generous with the amount of water thrown! Local people either working or living in distant provinces returned to their home town and their families from all over the Kingdom, and the city was crowded with visitors and tourists all eager to experience the very special flavour of a Lanna Chiang Mai Songkran.

Honorary (PhD ) Dr Mom Chao Duangduen na Chiengmai, the President of Chiang Mai Provincial Culture Council.
The official celebrations began on April 13, although various events had been taking place during the previous week, much enjoyed by residents and early arrivals. Restaurants and hotels were busy, particularly in the areas around Loy Kroh, Rachadamnoen and Thapae roads, areas popular with foreign tourists. Operators had prepared the areas in advance, with hosepipes and water tanks placed at intervals making it easy to indulge in the favourite Songkran activity - throwing water at all and sundry! The Provincial Waterworks Authority also installed 17 coin operated water dispensers where, for the sum of 1 baht, water could be thrown everywhere! Parades and events of every kind were organized every day, and took place almost everywhere.
From the top hotels to the local family restaurants, everyone took pains to make this year’s celebrations a success. Traditional music and dance, drum competitions, a “Miss Songkran” beauty contest, displays of traditional local arts and handicrafts, and processions of revered and ancient Buddha images from the many temples - truly something for everyone to enjoy, whatever their tastes.
In a contrasting new addition to previous years’ festivities, the city’s mayor, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai, had arranged for 20 “polite” areas around the moat, staffed with both Thai and foreign volunteers, to be set up in order that people might experience a more traditional and quieter version of the celebrations. In talks given to various organizations, both Thai and farang, before the festivities began, the mayor had stressed that she would like to see Chiang Mai’s Songkran festivities return to the older and more traditionally spiritual format of merit making and respect to ancestors, elders in the family, monks, and persons of authority. This, she felt, would help to discourage the drunkenness, accidents and violence which had marred the festivities in the past, and help people to understand and appreciate the true meaning of the festival.
The massive celebrations were enjoyed by people from all walks of society, from the Governor of Chiang Mai, the Mayor, and the administration to the “man on the street”. Everyone, including the huge number of visitors and tourists, had worked hard throughout the previous year, and were happy to have the chance to welcome the New Year in Chiang Mai with ceremonies, festivities, making merit and showing respect, visits to their temples, and, of course, throwing a great deal of water!


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