By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
With January almost done and dusted and time passing by at an alarming pace, it’s time to look to the months ahead and start planning a vacation.
Ideas and inspiration for that dream trip are going for free at the Thailand Tourism Festival 2019, which gets underway tomorrow at Bangkok’s Lumpini Park.
Thai Clay Art
Hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the festival is designed to encourage tourism in the country throughout the year and motivate Thais to discover more about the land of their birth.
“This festival has played a long and important role in encouraging domestic tourism since its days at Suan Amporn and now at Lumpini Park,” says TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
“We hold it at the beginning of the year so that people can start planning their trips early. This year’s event will, as usual, feature a variety of foods, products and performances from all regions of the country in order to promote, inspire and help motivate everyone to travel. More than 600,000 local and foreign visitors visited last year’s event, which generated Bt390 million of income.”
“This year, we have chosen to highlight the charms of Thailand by dividing the festival into nine zones,” adds Noppadon Pakprot, deputy governor for TAT’s domestic marketing.
A mascot of a "Reduce-Reuse-Recycle" waste initiative that encourages visitors to use cloth totes rather than plastic bags.
“From the entrance in front of King Rama VI Monument, you will see landmarks of five regions featuring a woven Thai carp, a Bo Sang umbrella, tungs (northern flags) with a spider web, basketry and dyed papyrus, and a bird cage. The second zone is home to booths offering tour packages and special promotions. The third zone covers all five regions with five themes: the gastronomy of the Northeast (Isaan), the fabrics of the North and the legacy of the Central region with an emphasis on Thainess and workshops on Thai sweets. The East is represented by fun things to do in Chanthaburi, Rayong and Trat, while the South is showcased with the sea of mist in Betong, the southernmost district of Yala. Ninety travel routes are also presented.
“At the “Loke Suay Duay Song Mue’ (“beautiful world with two hands”) zone, visitors will find ideas for green travel that we hope will motivate them to take care of natural resources. This includes a ‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle’ waste initiative that encourages visitors to use cloth totes rather than plastic bags. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration zone, meanwhile, offers food from Bangkok’s 50 districts and highlights seven areas that shouldn’t be missed such as Bang Lamphu, Yaowarat and Talad Noi.”
The official opening takes place at 5.30 on Thursday with a performance of royal khon, an all-male Lakhon Nok play, a “Manorah Ruang Saeng” dance, a modern take on the Phi Ta Khon festival and mini concerts by Neung Jakkrawal, Palmy, Yinglee, Jay Jetrin, Bao Wee, Non Thanon, Stamp Apiwat, Getsunova, Potato, Scrubb and Twopee.
The recent press conference provided a taste of what visitors can expect from the festival with plates of fruits and desserts and a selection of products from the five regions.
Mae Khai Thoon Klao in Chon Buri
Among those offering their wares was Sirikanya “Khai” Ngamchantathip, owner of Mae Khai Thoon Klao, a khao lam (glutinous rice roasted in bamboo joints) shop at Talad Nong Mon in Chon Buri.
“My khao lam is sweet, nutty and mild with good ingredients. It comes in a shorter bamboo tube, so that it’s easier to eat with a bamboo spoon and is topped with ginkgo, taro and beans. It can be a snack while taking a break from meetings,” she told The Nation.
Raet Mango in Chachoengsao
Also on offer was raet mango from Chachoengsao’s Bang Khla District.
“The raet mango in Bang Khla District is sweet-and-sour and also mellow, different from other mangoes, and wonderfully fragrant. The soil in Bang Khla is full of minerals and irrigated by the Bang Pakong River with a mixture of freshwater and brackish water. This gives our mangoes an amazing taste. Bang Khla is full of fruit orchards. Unripe Chokanan Mango isn’t popular because of its hard texture, so it is preserved in syrup as mamuang chae im. It’s only made in Bang Khla and guaranteed as one tambon one product,” says Khwanruan.
Lookchin Jae Nok Kog in Buriram
Ratchanok Maneewan was on hand to feed the media with her delicious grilled meatball skewers. Her stall, Lookchin Jae Nok Kog at Buriram Railway Station, is one of 12 selling the meaty snack for people to eat while standing
“The phenomenon of eating grilled sweet-and-sour meatball skewers while standing started more than 30 years when a vendor called Jae Nok made it popular. These days, a lot more people have got into the business. I can earn Bt7,000 to Bt8,000 on weekdays and Bt10,000 on the weekends. The meatballs are similar but the spicy sauce is different. My sauce is sweet and sour and a little spicy suitable for customers from all walks of life,” Ratchanok says.
Bhutesavara in Samut Songkram
Bhutesavara from Samut Songkhram, meanwhile, presented its khon masks made the traditional way.
“We aim to preserve and promote traditional Thai art by sticking to the original way and technique of making khon masks and the materials used. Modern masks are made of resin but we still use paper. Again, these days, the decoration is done on a mould but we do ours on paper on each individual mask. And while more than 100 resin khon masks can be moulded every day, we can manage only seven pieces, as the work is hand done meticulous. In the past, the mask was made of straw paper, but these days we use mulberry paper, which has a finer texture,” says Suchart Moradok.
Baan Khok Phayom in Narathiwat
Baan Khok Phayom, one of six basketry krajood groups in Narathiwat, is all ready to show its delicate crafts at the festival.
“The craft of basket-making has been passed down through the generations. I’ve been making basketry products since the early 2000s. The differences between each of the villages can be found in the colours and patterns. Customers are interested in baskets and bags. We also make them to order,” says Jesoh Wae-U.
Yano in Chiang Mai
Yano from Chiang Mai is displaying its handmade textile products made with sustainable materials.
“Yano’s slogan is ‘addicted to happiness’ and inspires people in these communities to focus on happiness. Most of them are unemployed so it offers an opportunity to generate some income. Our project started with 10 people in Tha Kwang sub-district of Saraphi district before expanding to several other communities. I thought hard about how happiness and management could be sustainable. I studied sustainability from international sources and our late King’s sufficiency economy philosophy. Our product is environmentally friendly and most of our products such as clothes and souvenirs are made of cotton. We have developed our designs and marketing over the last 14 years with happiness as our central focal point,” says Nakarin Yano.
Ice Cream Arom Dee in Kalasin
Hungry for heritage
- The Thailand Tourism Festival 2019 runs from tomorrow through Sunday at Lumpini Park.
- Find out more by calling the TAT Contact Centre at 1672 or visit www.TourismThailand.org.