Daily Archives: July 21, 2005

Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival

All over the country today, Thai Buddhists have been going to their local temples to make merit, chant, listen to sermons and to take part in a procession around the main temple building. For tourists, there were two events in particular today which were of interest. These were the Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani and the Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival at Wat Phra Phutthabat Ratchaworamaha Wihan in Saraburi Province. I want to share with you today the pictures I took at the temple in Saraburi.

This temple in Saraburi Province is famous for the Buddha’s footprint which I will talk about another time. In the hills surrounding this temple there is a flower called hong hern which only flowers at this time of year. People believe that if they go and pick this flower themselves and then present it to the monks they will then make great merit.

In my pictures you can see just a small proportion of over one hundred monks that walked down both sides of the road to the foot of the steps leading up to the temple. Along the way people were lined up to give the monks flowers. The monks ascended the steps to the top where they paid homage to the Buddha’s footprint.

The monks then descended the hill on the other side where more laypeople were waiting to wash their feet as an act of cleansing of the mind and soul.

About an elephant

It was just a matter of time before I’d find myself blogging about my favorite animal, the ‘elephant’ more specifically, the Asian (Thai) elephant. There is no doubt that elephants play an important role in Thai history and culture. Known to be nobly and faithfully, they served both kings and commoners in war and in commerce, therefore, they became symbols of both “power and peace”. I know Richard blogged about National Thai Elephant Day in March which I enjoyed reading.

However, it ‘seems’ that elephants have slowly been losing their stature over the years. Today, I want to share the story of ‘Pang Boonlong’ that was in the headlines at dailynews the other day.

(Pang Boonlong – AP dailynews.co.th)

Pang Boonlong (‘Pang’ because elephants are regarded highly), a female elephant of 3-4 years, still a baby at that, was being used by her mahout to beg for money from tourists and locals in Chiang Mai. She had been so tired and people kept telling them not to bother. Pang Boonlong became very tired, having eaten little, the mahout seemingly wanted to satisfy his own drinking habits. He had been riding her, possessing a steel bar and when he realised the police were after him, he started hitting poor Pang Boonlong over the head many times in order to get her moving. The baby elephant was in shock after he did this to her and starting rummaging around, crashing into two cars before shaking him off of her. 30 police had arrived but none were able to catch one drunken man as he got away while everyone was still shocked over a loose elephant. When the vet had gotten closer, they realised what a huge gash she had on her head, blood trickling down on her which made her cry. Yes, cry. Elephants cry. Pang Boonlong was in much pain. I think the police must still be searching for her tormentor.

When my mother had read and told me about this, I felt so sad and teary-eyed asking “Why? Why would someone be that cruel?” I’ve read many other stories about abuse in regards to elephants [and other creatures] which is very saddening. There were opinions on Pang Boonlong’s story and one man had commented that there are some mahouts that take their elephants into the city to sell sugar canes for the elephants to eat. People that buy the sugar canes will see that the mahout gives the cane to the elephant to eat but as soon as they turn their back, the mahout would hit the elephant on the head so it would spit the cane back out and re-sell it. He said to let more people know about this kind of cruelty and that if people were to give money, to tell the mahout directly that this money is FOR the elephant only.

Although, I can neither confirm nor deny this story, I wouldn’t doubt it. It is something to be aware of. Another question, why do I feel so passionate about elephants?

Well, the first time I came in contact with an elephant was when my parents took us to a zoo somewhere in Bangkok when I was 4 years old. A green blanket was placed on the back of a large tusked male elephant as my 3-year-old brother and I we were lifted onto him. In fact, I could still vividly recall what that was like. I was very excited but scared too. What if the elephant threw us off with its big tusks? I really held onto my brother who seemed just as excited. Eventually, the mahouts (elephant carers) would give us bananas to feed our large friend. My brother did most of the feeding as the large trunk reached over its head to grab the treats. For me, I could only sit and watch in awe as he did this.

My brother and I as kids on a Thai elephant

Ever since then, the elephant had always left a special impression on me. I didn’t know why, after all, all I did was sit on its back. Maybe, looking at the picture, it was its eyes or how calm it was? Still, whenever someone asked ‘what is your favorite animal’, I’d have to say ‘elephants’. There’s a supersition I once heard that said, touching an elephant is good luck. It is a heartbreaking shame (to me at least), that they are greatly mistreated. Hopefully, the next time I’m in Thailand, I can contribute something to elephant welfare programs or charities, and best of all, get back on a cute loveable chaang again.

PS: I’ve gotten questions from some which I’ve noted down and will address in future blog entries so if you have any, let me know and I will get to them na kha.

My first time ABROAD!

“We wish you a merry christmas..we wish you a merry christmas and a happy newy..”

“Shhh, teacher’s walking here!! (Also it’s not even christmas, it’s June!)”

“Are you all ok? I’ve heard your sweet voice from my room over there for almost 20 minutes already,” said teacher and she laughed.

“Anyway, do you know anyone from Art-Japanese program who is good at English?”
“Yeah, why?” I asked.
“Well, there’s an exchange student’s program to go to Singapore. So you know any?” replied the teacher.
Before I could say I knew a few friends from that program my friend pinched me and answered “Yes, we know. We’ll let them know and meet you asap”

When the teacher was gone, my friend turned to me and “Isn’t it you who has always wanted to go abroad?! Although you’re not studying Art-Jap but who knows, you can beat them!”

I went for an interview that evening and it was me selected! 🙂 Mum was amazingly excited coz it was going to be her very own daughter’s first time abraod!!!

Then the day came, I flew abroad. I was so impressed with everything on the plane; the seats, the food (although lots of people have complained about it:p), air hostesses and stewards (so good looking!) and everything..it was so HISO up there and I was all eyes and all ears all the time!

When we (me and some more friends from other schools) arrived, we were welcomed by Greenview Secondary School’s students and teachers ~ warmly 🙂 And there I met my buddy, cute Alyssa who gave me my colorful name on little paper as the first gift:)

Then we all went to the camp. After some rest then we had to play some games al-together at night. It was so fun so we, Thai people ;p, kept laughing then we were told to be quiet :p because in Singapore, people need to rest and at night people have to be quiet.. if no, we could be reported to the police. I didn’t mind that, so we kept playing in silence then :p

The next day, we went trekking.. jest kept walking and walking..for miles. I was sweating like a pig ~ ran out of water and we could rest for a few minutes only! But at last the present for our patience was yummy roti! I ate happily and learned one more thing; when doing something, do it the best you can, never give up easily because at last there’ll be something greatly rewarding your effort 🙂

After a few days, it was time to go to stay with our own buddies at their houses. I came into the city then and saw so many tall buildings ~ I knew abruptly that I would be lost if I was dumped alone there :p then I learned that Singapore is a little country so people live in condotel instead of big houses because having not many spaces 🙂 But as soon as I stepped into Aly’s place ~ “OH MY BUDDHA!!!” so big and classy in there! I even had my own room there!! That was great. I quickly walked into my room to unpack my things acting like I was the place’s owner :p then my hostmum came in and gave me a little bag as a gift with some more friendly welcoming words.. I was so touched. She even told Aly to bring me out to somewhere coz it’s boring at home. She wanted me to have the most fun. And that’s how I could spend my time out so late for the first time of my life!! :p We played games, did some fake hands (hehe), ate and bought some things ~ was so much fun!

And I got a chance to visit Greenview Secondary School. The first thing I noticed there was the school was like a fun park. All the buildings are colorful, I mean. Students there did give us, visitors, nice welcome. They came to greet and talked 🙂 Then I attended the class. I learned one more thing; they study only half an hour for one period!!! Here’s 50 minute up to an hour!!! So envy hehe! The students are superb, too. They kept answering and responding in class (although, the little boy behind me kept pulling my hair but jest one in the whole class!) unlike here in Thailand that students love being quiet including me hehe.

Soon, it was a night to exchange the cultures. We had some performance and I had to wear a Thai costume which has something heavy all over lol. When I came home and tried to undress myself. Something from my costume cut my finger. The mum came in right away and put a bandage on me..softly. She also told me to be careful next time. That almost make me shed a tear because my real mum never did that to me before.

As I was having fun, it’s time to leave.. I tried to keep all the tears inside. I didn’t wanna let anybody staying there sad when seeing my tears but it was my own buddy, Aly who cried loads! I cried, too .. My friend, Pee, kept crying till arriving Thailand – -” I so miss it there.. I still remember the first time I arrived and saw Al’s smile and the last time I saw Singaporean’s friends waving.. the last moment I saw their hands as little dots..

Although it was only 7 days for me being abroad but it was the best week ever that I’ll keep all the memories inside..here in my heart and my mind. We’re friends forever and soon, I’ll step back there once again, I promise.

P.S. I found no dog’s poo over there, too!!! So clean everywhere!
P.S.S. Thanks my friends who kept singing Christmas song for no reasons, my teachers who gave me chances, my mum who gave me “me”, everyone in Singapore and everybody who’s made me be able to grab this great opportunity! Cheers*

Win the Thailand Fever Book

Over the last week, I have given you a couple of extracts from this book. Now we are giving you a chance to win yourself a copy in this easy to enter competition. All you have to do is answer this question:

Q. What does “nam jai” mean?

You will find the answer in one of my recent blogs. Send your answer to my e-mail address above before Saturday 23rd July.

You can buy this book at www.buythaibooks.com.

And the table keeps turning

Another spin-off from SteveSuphan and SiamJai about Thais going to Farang Land, here’s a link the archive my West of Campus articles about adapting to life in Farang Land, more specifically the US of A.

I know, it’s not entirely true to a Thai-Blogs entry, but as a cultural study, you can probably learn something about the essence of Thai people from reading my advice to Thai students.

And yes, this is my random entry from work. (Kids, don’t try this at home.) Slightly out of guilt after reading the comments on Thai-Blogs hightlights. 😉 Besides, I’m an equal opportunity slacker. If I’m taking my time to blog about the death of James “Scotty” Doohan of Star Trek, I should take the same time doing something on Thai-Blogs as well! Haha!