Daily Archives: December 26, 2005

Company’s New Year Party – Thai Country Style

December is a month for memorial of Tsunami and time for celebration. Most of companies often held the New Year Party within this month. Some companies may have big budget for celebration but some do not have that much budget to spend for their staffs. Everything depends on companies’ profits.

Each year, New Year party will be different styles, which depend on the organizer of the party. For this year, the company where I am working had set the theme for the New Year party as “Thai Country Style: Sense the ground and grass”. People may wonder what Thai Country Style is. The definition of Thai Country Style is wearing colorful dress and floral printed dress. The best example for Thai Country Style Dress is watching “Yham” movie. For male dress should be colorful floral printed tiny shirt with jeans or Thai fishery pants and the most important accessory, that is Thai loincloth. While female dress is colorful dress, top and pants/skirt should be in contrastive color. Wearing contrasting color and mismatch dress seem to be one of principle rule of Thai Country dressing.

Not only the dress that create the Thai Country Environment but also the surrounding. The organizer had set the rental area to be a kind of mini Fun Fair; in Thai we call “Ngan Wat”. It may assume that the name of “Ngan Wat” is related to the place where the fun fair takes place is temple and decorated with various color of neon fluorescent lamps. At “Ngan Wat”, people can find many booths for playing game and selling food and drinks. For example, “shooting booth” for shooting cans or dolls, when your shoot and hit the target you will get the award (doll); “Sao Noi Tok Nam” is the booth provide a tank and girls sit on the wooden beam, girls will sit next to the target for shooting a ball, when the ball hit the target, a girl will fall from the beam and get wet; ballroom for dancing with female dancer; and Ferris Wheel, which seems to be a symbol of “Ngan Wat”.
fun fair

It is difficult to find “Ngan Wat” in Bangkok or in the big cities. Assumed that people who live in the big cities prefer to go to the shopping mall rather than going to “Ngan Wat”.

As I ever visited the Hamburg Fun Fair last year, I think “Ngan Wat” and Fun Fair of Farang tend to be similarity only different people and location. At Hamburg, there were candy shops, French fries shop (Denmark flavor), Ghost House, Ferris Wheel and so on. Almost every food shops provide draft beer because German is a land of beer. While “Ngan Wat”, people can find “Ya Dong” or homemade alcohol/liquid with herbs contain in vessel/jar.

Ya Dong

However, I found the fascinating of Hamburg Fun Fair, which is the theme of the fair, it creates each theme for each year. Last year theme was “Love’ and it provides some bulletin boards for people to post their personal advertisements such as looking for male/female and etc. Also you can find your (soul) mates at the ballroom where the meeting place is. It sounds fun for single people to have a blind date at the fun fair.

Let’s get back to our Fun Fair, our department were bound to wear the colorful dress in team in order to present our harmony. Our marketing staff and myself went to find the mismatching dress at Pratunaam (Water Gate), where provides the cheapest clothes especially for wholesales (minimum 3 pieces). We got what we desired, floral printed shirts for male staffs and colorful sleeveless blouses with floral printed pants for female staffs. It costs around 150 baht for each person with the Thai Country Look! It rewinds the time back to 70’s!

thai country dress

Party started with music, appetizers, food & drinks and performance of in-house staff and hiring outsource. I have to salute for in-house staff performance because they are not the professional but they can express their hidden talents when they perform on the stage. Such a brave staffs!

Have you ever seen cabaret show? In Thailand, there is one significant cabaret show that different from normal cabaret show that look elegant and magnificent, while “Pak Bung Cabaret Show” collect all weird shemales and form as a funny cabaret. This cabaret focuses on entertaining the audience with the ugly/disgusting faces and funny look. They can make us laugh our ass out!

Pak bung cabaret

Finally, the highlight of the New Year party seems to be lucky draws for the lucky staffs with several of award such as money (5,000 -60,000 baht), TV, digital camera, microwave, fan, and golden necklace. Feel glad with the lucky man who gets the biggest prize, which is 60,000 baht.

The party ended with marathon dancing. I have never stayed until the party ended. My husband came to the party and had some drinks and then we went back home.

The farce of Dec 25th

Today’s blog is about the annual farce that turns a sacred feeling into an extravagant promotion of commercial interests, trampling on human emotions. No, I’m not talking about Christmas. Big money killed the real spirit of Christmas, but that’s old news. I’m talking about the tsunami memorial held today in Thailand’s south.

What’s your idea of commemorating a tragedy of thousands of people perishing in a natural disaster? What is appropriate? Silent mourning; meaningful, emotional rituals and respectful rememberance of the deceased and missing – this should be enough, if the event truly had the affected in focus.

However, the motives become questionable when fireworks festivals, beach volleyball tournament, a seafood fair and Thai film awards are held under the guise of “Tsunami victim remembrance”. If you had loved ones lost in the tragedy, would you appreciate half-naked babes throwing beach balls, as a way of remembering?

It is obvious that the business and tourism sector hijacked the event to promote themselves, trampling on the memory of the thousands of dead, and their grieving relatives. Whose idea was this? I think it comes as not much of a surprise to expect something like this from Thailand’s leading CEO:

The idea for the event was first broached by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in September during a cabinet meeting in the tsunami-hit Phang Nga province.

“We want to promote tourism in the three provinces,” he told reporters. “On December 26, we will have memorial services and stone-laying ceremonies for a monument. Then from December 27, there will only be fun, entertainment and music.” (Bangkok Post, Boonsong Kositchotethana).

After this, it’s hardly surprising tht on New Years Eve, Thaksin will attend “Andaman New Year Countdown” to be televised live from Phuket’s Patong Beach. What a convenient coincidence!

However, the origins of these plans go back much earlier. The TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) already planned to profit from the memorial, only three months after the disaster struck! In a March 5 briefing, TAT governor Juthamas Siriwan listed the “Tsunami Memorial Day” as a “Mega Tourism Event” (www.tatnews.org).

The media is not any better. Thai TV-viewers these days are flooded with propaganda messages enticing them to come down and spend their money in the tsunami-hit south. Oh, there is also a memorial going on? I guess they mention that too, a few seconds before commercial break. The response? Anger and sadness from the affected locals, who are protesting against the idea of turning their grief into a jolly celebration party.

If the commercialisation of Christmas didn’t make you sick enough, this insensitivity surely will. Apparently, thousands of the affected foreigners also found this repulsive enough to refuse the government’s invitation to the ceremonies, which included free tickets and accomodation. Out of the 10,000 or so, from 40 countries, only 1200 accepted the invitation. The majority apparently refuse to be puppets in the hands of Thailand’s tourism business tycoons.

I wish the government just let the affected deal with the anniversary on their own ways. Let them remember if they wish; let them try to forget, if that’s how they’d like to cope with it. Taxpayer money spent on singers, movie stars and a grand Hollywood-style extravaganza on the beach could have been used to rebuild the now-neglected small communities.

No money could bring back the lost lives, but improving the lives left behind would have been the most meaningful way to commemorate the event.

Remembering the Tsunami

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Tsunami which killed so many people across Asia. In Thailand alone, 5,395 people are listed as dead. Half of these were foreigners who were on Christmas holidays at the time. As many as 2000 more are listed as missing. This is a time of quiet contemplation. Of the many natural disasters that hit around the world, this one, more than others, has affected many of us directly. Many readers here at Thai-Blogs and the forums have been on holiday to the affected areas. They could have easily been in those hotel rooms or beaches when the Tsunami struck. Indeed, there are some among us who were there one year ago. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who lost family or friends during the Tsunami.

A Thai woman prays after placing a portrait of a deceased relative among others during a Buddhist ceremony in Ban Muang temple to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand’s Phang Nga Province, nearly 120 km (75 miles) north of the resort island of Phuket on December 25, 2005. Thousands of foreigners and locals gathered in southern Thailand to mark the anniversary where 5,395 people perished nearly a year ago. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

Sculptures are displayed on Patong beach during a ceremony to mark the one year anniversary of the tsunami in Phuket southern of Thailand. (AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

Sea gypsies release boats during the one year tsunami ceremony at Moken Community in Phang Nga southern Thailand.  (AFP)