By Vipasai Niyamabha
Could you recommend the best way to get there, and where to stay? Any information about the festival would be appreciated too. Thanks, Brooke
Surin is in northeastern Thailand and has long been linked with elephants and indeed is often called the “Province of Elephants”. Today, the pachyderms make their home in a remote village called Ban Ta Klang, 58 kilometres away from Surin town. The locals are Kui, an ethnic people with a long tradition of elephant training. Many people like to visit the Elephant Study Centre and some offer to work for a while as volunteers there. The centre aims to provide sustainable income to Kui mahouts and their elephants. You can visit the elephants at any time of the year and stay with local villagers at Ban Ta Klang to observe life of the people and learn more about elephants. Go to www.SurinProject.org for details.
The Elephant Round Up Festival is usually held at Si Narong Stadium near Surin town. To get there from Bangkok, you can travel by car, bus or train. If you want to rent a car, you’ll travel along highway 1 on Phaholyothin Road, turn into highway 2 on Mitraparb Road then take highway 226 to Surin. The total distance is about 435 km.
Travelling by bus is also easy with many buses leaving Bangkok’s Northeastern Bus Terminal every day. Trains to Ubon Ratchathani stop at Surin Railway Station.
The Surin Elephant Round Up Festival takes place the third weekend of November. You will find more than 100 elephants taking part in this festival. In addition to showing their working skills, there are plenty of fun activities including elephant dining, an elephant welcome float, elephant football and an elephant war show. The festival finishes with a tug of war competition between elephant and man. The Surin Provincial Office has already announced this year’s festival for November 14-25. The parade and performance are set for November 17-18, which sees the elephants take part in a procession along with local dignitaries and people in traditional dress. The parade ends with an “Elephant Breakfast”, where the pachyderms feast on fruit.
Surin boasts the Surin Majestic, Thong Tarin and Phetkasem Grand hotels as well as many small guesthouses. However, the elephant festival is the busiest time for this quiet province and you should book accommodation well in advance.
Hi there, I am travelling to Thailand for a month in August and would like to know the cheapest and best way to call home in London. I do not really want to find an Internet cafe to use skype, but would prefer to use a sim card or calling card with my mobile phone. Should I get a roaming sim from home or buy local sim card? Thank you Anne-Maree
As you already know, Internet calls are the cheapest but if you prefer the convenience of being able to call from your own phone, then it’s cheaper and more convenient to get a local sim card. However, you have to make sure that your phone is unlocked. Buying a local sim card is very easy, and very cheap and handy, allowing you to call hotels or any local numbers while on the road. To use a local sim card to call home in London at a reasonable rate, you need to buy a calling card. There are many of them available at shops like 7-Eleven convenience stores, so you can compare the UK rates among them, and get one that offers the best deal. You can also ask for a local sim card that’s for international calls only. The price starts from as little as Bt49.
When you call a mobile number in the UK, the rates will vary depending on the network used by your friends and family. Today, you may call a mobile number for a minimum of Bt6 per minute and land line for Bt0.95 a minute!