A week of Thai Culture- weddings, Loi Kratong festivities and the King's birthday (Thai Father's Day
Khao Din, Thailand
I have been neglecting my blogs for a while now, but so much has happened in the last week or so that I am making myself sit down to write one. I have time today because it is the King's birthday, or Thai Father's Day, meaning a day off school for us. As we are very lucky to have a TV in our house, we are being good farang teachers by having the Bangkok ceremony on in the background. More on this later.
Last week started with our first Thai wedding experience. We were told we would be leaving straight after school to go to the wedding party, which is really early compared to wedding's at home. So we got changed in school and left for the party...which was held in another school just up the road from our own school. We were greeted by the bride and groom and stood for photos. There were hundreds of people there. We found teachers from our school and took our seats ready to attempt the seven course meal that would follow. Starters, pork, more pork, fish, rice...so much food for so many guests was slightly unbelievable. So after people watching for a while and listening to some (terrible) kareoke, we left about two hours after arriving. A fly-in appearance seems to be fine here, eat all the food and go.
The next day we went on our bike to one of our teacher's houses to visit her and her little girl (she is adorable, considering how I can get her to come home with me when I eventually leave!). As it was the day before Loi Kratong, (the water festival in which Thai people thank the rivers, etc and pray for good luck for the following year by placing floats called 'kratong' on the water and lighting Chinese lanterns), we went to Khoa Phanom to the market and mini celebrations before the actual festival the next day.
For the actual festival we were driven to Ao Nang, Krabi (one of our favourite spots for weekends). We were left to explore for a few hours. After being there the weekend before I couldn't believe how much busier Ao Nang was, it was full of tourists you could hardly move. Luckily we knew our way around and headed for the beach where we saw the celebrations. There were lots of Chinese lanterns in the sky and kratong in the water, it was really pretty. But then you see farang trying to light a lantern upside down and it slightly ruins things...I wish we could have stayed longer but school the next morning meant that after a few hours we were back in the car to our house in the middle of nowhere.
A week after Loi Kratong it was the King's Birthday, also known as Father's Day in Thailand. We were glad to learn that we would have the day off school but weren't sure what we were going to do. We watched the televised ceremony while frantically google-ing every member of the royal family! Later that day we were taken to Chaiburi (the town where our school is about 20/30mins away) where there was a ceremony. One of the teachers in our school, Link, was presenting the event. She was in full Thai dress and make up, she looked absolutely stunning!
So we waited around for a bit (typical Thailand) before the ceremony began. By this time we had been spotted by pretty much all of our students. There was a long presentation by lots of different people to the King on stage. Then the King's song/national anthem played and everyone lit a camera for him. It was quite an emotional moment, everyone wearing yellow (the King's colour as he was born on a Monday) and singing their hearts out! Everyone then placed their candle infront of the stage and there were amazing fireworks. Later there was a performance by the students in our school who sang two Thai songs (infront of the stage as the stage almost collapsed when a hundred of them tried to all stand on it-scary moment!) and a few Thai dancers performed of different ages. It was a very good evening and I felt like I experienced it as close to the real Thai way as possible. Unfortunately everything went back to normal the next day as we returned to school after our mini holiday. More public holidays please Thailand!