Daily Archives: February 6, 2005

FlowerFest in Chiang Mai

Things are happening in the city known as the Rose of the North. Around this time every year a spectacular celebration is held, which is known as the Flower Festival.

The place for the exhibition and for the parade was around the southwestern corner of the Old City, on the inner side of the city moat. That place is actually quite close to where I live at, easily accessible by rollerblades. I went there on the 2nd, to watch as people set up the stalls and prepared the exhibition. Some of these elaborate stages were quite labor intensive, and required fountains, sand, gravel etc. to be carried to the place.

On the beginning day, I went there with my friends in the afternoon. It was nothing short of spectacular. There were literally thousands of plants, accessories and, of course, all kinds of food.

There were many different species of orchids, a large variety of cactus plants jasmine and a whole lots of other colorful flowers.

My favorite part of was the bonsai exhibition. I just love those miniature trees that are turned into wonderful art composition under the skillful hands of a bonsai master. And these trees were some of the nicest I’ve ever seen. I went around and took pictures of just about every bonsai there was.

There was a bonsai competition; first, second and third place awarded in many categories (on the pictures you can see them in Thai numerals.) Sometimes I didn’t agree with the decision of the judges, but I guess that’s natural.

I also have a small Bonsai tree that I take care of every day. I got it as a parting gift from my sister before I left Samut Prakan. Seeing these wonderful works of art on the festival gave me new inspiration. I got some more supplies for my own tree. It looks much nicer now, but not nearly as spectcular as the ones on the exhibition.

The second day of the festival was dominated by the parade. Beautiful floats made of millions of small flowers, equally beautiful queens sitting on top of each float; marching bands, dancers, musicisans competed this spectacular parade. I took lots of pictures of this too.

There was plenty of food for the masses to eat: not only from the multitude of stalls that were set up from end-to end, but also from the nearby park, where people rented mats to eat their meals on the ground, the traditional way. The park was also the scene for traditional Thai music and dances throughout the day.

Speaking of food, I spotted an unusually large kind of fried insect called áÁ§´Ò (meng-daa). This large, cockroach-like insect is notorious for its stink. Incidentally, pimps are also referred to by this name. 🙂

Like I said, I have tons of pictures, and I wish I could share them with you all. I plan a website to store and display my pictures and other files. It should have been completed by now, but my laptop is broken. I will have to start from scratch. Until then, I keep a few pics in Yahoo.


Early next week I will leave again to do yet another one of those wonderful visa runs. I hope to see you again maybe around this weekend. 🙂

Watching TV in Thailand

In Thailand, we have the choice between six free television channels. Namely Channels 3, 5, 7, ModerNine TV and ITV. Channel 3 is the only one privately owned. Channel 5 is owned and run by the army. Channel 7 is also owned by the army but it uses independent production companies. Channel 9 (now renamed as ModerNine TV) is a national company and Channel 11 is run by the Ministry of Education. when I ask my students which channels they watch the most, they usually say either Channel 3 or Channel 7. To me, Thai TV seems to show much of the same with the over-the-top soap operas and game shows. But, a good way to practise your listening skills.

For expats living in Thailand, there is presently only one (legal) cable operator. That is UBC Television. It is possible to buy yourself a satellite and receive some international programs. However, only the UBC gives you a large number of English language channels. This, of course, comes at a price.

Last week, UBC re-organized their channels and are now offering three packages. These are called Silver, Gold and Platinum. Up to now we have been receiving 32 channels on the Gold Package. This costs us a princely sum of 1,412.97 baht per month (plus a 282.48 baht equipment rental). They have now added 10 new channels which will only be available to Platinum subscribers for an additional 500 baht per month! So, I have to make a decision soon as to whether it is worth spending 2000 baht per month on cable t.v. (actually we have a small satellite dish).

In order to promote the new channels, UBC are letting everyone watch these new channels for free. Clever, get you hooked first and then start charging extra. Of the new channels I am interested in are BBC Prime (classic and contemporary programs from the UK), TCM and MGM (two movie channels of classic movies) and maybe some programs on Star World (a collection of soaps and comedies mainly from the US). To be honest, it has been great catching up on some of the classic comedies from the UK that I haven’t seen for years (i.e. Blackadder and Fawlty Tower). However, they do seem to repeat them often.

So, what can we watch in Thailand for 2000 baht subscription per month? Here are some of the main ones:

* Six sports channels including ESPN and Star Sports
* Seven movie channels including HBO, Star Movies, Cinemax, Hallmark, UBC Film Asia, TCM and MGM
* Five news channels including CNN, BBC World, CNBC, Bloomberg and UBC News
* Four documentary channels including History Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic and Animal Planet
* Four music channels including Channel V (Thailand), MTV, VH1 and STC
* Three cartoon channels including UBC Spark, Cartoon Network and Animax
* Eight entertainment channels including UBC Inside, UBC X-Zyte, AXN, Chic, UBC Series, E!, Star World an A1
* Distance Learning TV – one channel for each grade from Primary to High School. Great for learning Thai though presentation very much on the dull side. But, you can now learn Thai, Social Studies and other subjects along with fellow Primary 1 students!

There are also 30 digital radio stations and in the near future they are talking about pay-per-view t.v. where you can choose what movies you want to watch and when. Not bad, but at 2,000 baht per month, or 64 baht per day, you really need to decide whether it is worth it. Don’t forget, teachers at our school only get 6,000-8,000 baht per month. Only rich Thais and some expats can afford this kind of luxury.

I’ll let you know my decision at the end of the month when they scramble the new 10 channels. Will I go for it?

Just an ordinary Saturday

Today is Saturday, back in Thailand all my friends are supposed to be going out and having a good time. Here, it has been quite the opposite. It is another quiet Saturday where I did absolutely nothing other than going out to visit my cousin for 2 hours! However, I do think that having this Saturday break is quite nice as I can spend time alone and do my studying and organise other stuff.

I woke up at around six o’clock this morning to chat with my mother back in Thailand on MSN. It was already noon there. However, I was not expecting to only talk with my mum as I was expecting a lot of friends in Australia to be online. Oh, I forgot to mention, I used to study in Australia for 3 years (1 1/2 in Brisbane and 1 1/2 in Melbourne). Australia is where I got my high school certificate and is the country I really love. Most of my friends are in Melbourne. I don’t really have that many friends in Thailand.

To exagerate, I have friends from Indonesia to Japan, altogether about 10 countries across Asia. Nice, eh? As Australia is not so popular for Westerners to settle down, most of the people who settle there are Australian, British and Asians. Now, in England it is a completely different story. Most of my friends here are English and European people. I only have about 5 Asian friends out of 300 people in my course and half of them 5 were born here. So, it’s a major oppotunity for me to study the real western culture. Before this, I used to live at Uni’s accommodation and it rocks! Everynight we would have parties where most people will drink and have a good time. In the opposite hand, if I’m at a dorm in Thailand, I would be studying most of the time and probably party sometimes. The worst part is, in Thailand you cannot buy alcohol until you’re 20. Not good, eh? hahahhaa…….

So, I got to chat with my friends in Australia and told them I hope to go there in the summer, if I don’t fail any subjects and have to take summer courses hahaha….. It’s unlikely to happen but you cannot predict the future, can you? I found out yesterday that my most compulsary module (Accounting), only 29% of the students made it through the first marking (as another word, 29% passed!). I hope I’m in that 29% lol….

Today, I also went to see my cousin who has been here 10 years. She is Thai and married to a Lao-Belgian. Both of them are extremely nice to me. Her husband is a chef so, they’ll often invite me to have Thai food with them. Really nice, eh???? On my way there, I took a picture of my neighbourhood incase anyone wants to look at…..

Southside Shopping Center

That’ll be the end of it for today, I hope everyone is happy as Manchester United beat Birmingham 2-0….. Good job lads….