The Wan Lai Bangsaen Festival is taking place this weekend, 16th-17th April 2011, on Bangsaen Beach in Chonburi. This is the annual water flowing festival that takes place a few days after Songkran. People in this area of Chonburi Province are descendants of the Mon and they celebrate Songkran later than the rest of the country. I went down there today to take some pictures, but the main day is tomorrow on Sunday.
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The highlight for the Bangsaen festival is the sand pagodas that are built on the beach on the first day of the festival. It is traditional in temples all around the country to make merit by building sand pagodas. In Bangsaen the local people build both gigantic and beautiful sand pagodas. Tonight the judges will chose the best looking pagoda.
Usually I drive down to Bangsaen on the second day to see the completed sand pagodas. However, this year I am not free as I am taking pictures at my local temple tomorrow. Instead of going down early in the morning, I decided to go after lunch with the hope that some of the pagodas would be finished. I wasn’t disappointed as you can see from this picture.
For most people, the weekend means another excuse to have water fights. This resulted in Beach Road being one long traffic jam of pick-up trucks with people on the back throwing water at each other. However, unlike in Bangkok, it doesn’t really matter if you get wet and dirty here as you can always just run down to the beach and jump into the sea!
Also along the waterfront there were a couple of venues where they were putting on free concerts. Free, that is, if you don’t mind getting a bit wet. For people who want something more traditional, there is a Buddhist ceremony on Sunday morning at 7 a.m. with chanting and offering alms to monks. This is followed by pouring scented water over the hands of elders and on a Buddha image.
Tomorrow there also some traditional games played by the local people which include saba and relay races. One of the most fun competitions to watch is “sea boxing”. They had the qualifying rounds today. Two competitors face each other astride a pole. The winner of each round is the one who manges to stay on the pole. It is not easy to box and keep your balance on the pole. If you slip off you fall into the water.
Bangsaen is only an hour or so away from Bangkok and is the capitals nearest beach. This is a great place to come and relax and eat in the shade on deckchairs. Information about this festival was posted in advance on two of our blogs www.ThaiTravelBlogs.com and www.ThaiFestivalBlogs.com. Make sure that you bookmark these two sites if you want to experience some festivals that many foreign tourists don’t get to see.
Map showing location of Bangsaen Beach in Chonburi:
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