Nakhon Sawan Thailand And Chinese New Year

An Introduction To Nakhon Sawan

Nakhon Sawan is the gateway to the north and is situated about 240 kilometres north of Bangkok. Nakhon Sawan is also known by the name of ”Paknam Pho” ( name origin from a big Pho tree at the mouth of the river) and it is where the rivers of the Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan merge to form the great Chao Phraya river.

Nakhon meaning ”City ” and Sawan meaning Heaven combines to give the heavenly city, although people still prefer to call it Paknam Pho. The name Nakhon Sawan is used more for prosperity as according to the Buddhists it is believed that heaven is a place where the deities live and only people who make  a lot of merit will be born and live in Vimarn. Vimarn is a mythological castle located in heaven.

A lot of other provinces are in easy reach from Nakhon Sawan for a visit and the area is very rich in history. Places well worth a visit whilst in the area are Phichit, Kampang phet , Chai nat, Sing Buri, Lop Buri , Phetchaburi and Uthai Thani.

Chinese New Year In Nakhon Sawan

If you are able to visit Nakhon Sawan during the month of February then make sure your timing is right to attend the ” Chao Pho-Chao Mae Pak Nam Pho procession festival. This is the festival of the Thai  Chinese who live in Nakhon Sawan. There are a large population of Chinese people living in Nakhon Sawan and the festival  takes place during Chinese new year. The festival has been going on since as far back as ancient times and the reason is to bring good luck.

Jennifer, Isobel, Leah and Katrina, let the celebrations begin.

The actual time scale of the event seems to run over 3-4 days and nights with fairs, markets, open-air concerts, la -khon, Chinese puppetry and because you are in Thailand lots and lots of food. The procession is reserved for the final evening when you get to see the lion parade, dragon parade, Angel and Goddess procession (my favourite) and many others.

It is wise to get to the event early if you can in order to find a space to see it from as people are on house roofs, up trees, in the back of pick up trucks on petrol fore courts (oddly enough my spot) and generally anywhere they might be able to get a viewing from.

Packed In To The Rafters

Although I love the heat and abhor the cold I am somewhat unaccustomed to watching carnivals in the heat, but vendors were actually walking around so that you could buy drinks from them and that was a  real godsend. You are there about 3-4 hours, it is warm and crowded so refreshments are a welcomed necessity.

My carnival attending is fairly non-existent apart from taking the children to the once a year wet event  in England during late September early October. I named it the wet event, because for as long as I can remember it has absolutely tipped down on the evening and you end up going home like a drowned rat. Luckily now and call me ” Victor Meldrew as in a miserable grumpy so and so if you will” but now the children are all grown up and I don’t have to attend anymore, so rain on.

However no such worries in Nakhon Sawan as the expected amount of rainy days in Nakhon Sawan for February is forecasted at one and it’s not today.

It’s The Lion

Our relatives were most insistent on us seeing every bit of the procession , even the parts we had already seen and rushed us down the bottom end of town for a second viewing. The only problem here is, you have masses of people congregating in one area equalling sardine time (as in squashed like them) and it was certainly my least favourite time of the event.There was just one small turnstile for people to get in and away from that area and only one person could go through at a time. With an absolute mass of people in the area and no quick way out, it seemed rather precarious.

Culture Shock

Having visited Thailand on many occasions for both short and long stays I don’t really find that I suffer from too much culture shock at all , but I must admit I am still always confused by the lack of ” I will let you in now” offers. I will explain what I mean. In the UK although these days at times struggling desperately on manners and etiquette, people will still let you join a moving queue if coming from a side road, or if not enough room for you both to pass, then give way and let you through (the majority that is). This is both as a pedestrian and in a vehicle. 

However in Nakhon Sawan that evening I think I stood at the entrance to that turn-style for about 10 minutes. The people who had seen enough and that were making their way out of the area just kept coming through, whilst we were trying to get in to the area. One after another they came out with no gaps at all. My internal dialogue was ”oh better not go yet its children and I don’t want to squash them” or ”better not go yet as I don’t want to appear a rude Farang” etc. My politeness earned me a lengthy stay by the turn-style as the people just kept coming through. Finally I could take no more and went over the line like a professional Rugby player going over the line for a try. It appeared the only way unfortunately, but I was not comfortable in doing this.

It’s The Dragon

On another instance I actually saw the funny side of this,  a friend who was on a trip with us at the time had the same problem.

We were  attending a big market in Bangkok with wives and under protest I might add at being at a large market (well I was). When  I observed  good friend John move out of the flow of the crowd and stand in one of the few gaps available in between two market stalls.

John is a tall chap with a nature as soft and polite as you like, he actually typifies what once was known as an English gentleman. I watched him mop his brow in the stifling heat, with a face as red as a beetroot. The red face was from both the heat and the excess baggage his Thai wife had weighed him down with.

 Tasks completed he picked up the bags of market goodies and tried to re-join the moving queue. Goodness knows how long he was there, but each time he would say in  English (not that anyone understood) ” after you” after you” being mr polite as he normally was. I was in crouching position by now from laughing so much as I knew how this worked and knew the polite nature of the man.

Dragons and Lions are all very well, but thank goodness for the goddesses

As my laughter grew (always funnier when it’s happening to someone else) his frustration grew also and the putting down of the shopping bags, mopping of the brow and picking  up of the shopping bags increased at regular intervals. Finally he gave out an almighty loud scream of frustration which frightened the living daylights out of the people around him. Hence they  stopped to observe the mad westerner and to keep their distance and he  promptly joined the queue which was leading out of the market.

 In typical polite John fashion he spent the next 20 – 30 seconds thanking people, but he created some nice gaps between himself and others that I have rarely seen at busy markets. I had never even seen him raise his voice before, but loaded with shopping, the stifling heat and not being able to get out caused him to crack.

John also had to feel the wrath of his North Eastern Thai wife who complained bitterly that he had made her look stupid in public and had acted like a child having a tantrum. The issue was a loss of face which is in fact is such a massive issue in Thailand, well in fact throughout Asia. His wife was as hard as he was soft and took no prisoners when a point of view needed putting over. John as normal agreed with her and apologised. I personally thought if there was a loss of face that it was very minimal as even connecting John with her was very difficult. They were actually not stood together. Anyway who on earth in a big Bangkok market knew them.

I would have understood if there had been people there that she knew, but there lies the cultural gap . Actually what I do know is that a starting point is  the culture, but then in the mix is the character, personality and beliefs of  an individual . However Mrs John was not impressed.

 Being typically English John absolutely loves his cup of tea and was promptly taken for a brew and a nice piece of cake that he picked out.  John soon returned to the normal polite and lovely gentleman he is. I have since told him of our recent travels to watch the Chinese new year celebrations in Nakhon Sawan, but with so many people attending I fear that perhaps he would not have enjoyed it. It can actually still turn his face red at the mere mention of a busy Bangkok market.

Katrina displays that after all, there is only so much celebrating one can do.

Health And Wellness In Nakhon Sawan

If you are in Nakhon Sawan for a few days or even longer then make sure you get down to visit the Uthayan Sawan public park. The park is quite frankly one of the best I have ever been to.

It was originally a large swamp land consisting of an area around 500,000 square metres, but has since been transformed in to a beautiful park absolutely full of entertainment.

The park has a delightful island in the middle which contains both fresh water fish and paddle boats. It is ideal to laze away a period of the beautiful sunny day in the boat , whilst feeding the fish.

Whenever I am in Nakhon Sawan a certain part of everyday is spent in this delightful park. My reasons are usually twofold for health and wellbeing and to take in its natural beauty.

Energetic, romantic, tired, spiritual, hungry or wanting to be in touch with nature, there is something here for everyone. On the energetic side of things you can do Aerobic dance, Jogging, Football, Basket ball, volly ball and the Thai game Ta- kraew. Ta-kraew is a clever game where Thais play keepy up with a ratten woven ball over a net. This is actually very skillful and I love watching it.

You can combine the romantic with the nature and wander round the rose garden, waterfall, fountain, lawns, gardens  ambling along at your own pace. When feeling tired stretch out (in a polite way of course) and take a nap on the bank in the shade….. Ahhhh the simple pleasures of life and far from worries.

For mind-body and soul there is Tai Chi for health benefits and finally if you are hungry take a stroll around the snack places in the park or the vendors sat just outside the entrance points to the park.

Gym In Nakhon Sawan

There is also a cracking little Gym opposite the park that charges just 4o Baht for entrance and you don’t have to be a member, but it has adequate facilities and I have used it over many visits to Nakhon Sawan. It is marked up outside as Fitness and is set in between a couple of restaurants and a karaoke place. You will not feel completely alienated as I have seen a few westerners in there on many occasions. A good little gym, great price, cold drinks and not bad facilities at all and the staff are pleasant. Right opposite the park.

Great Hotel In Nakhon Sawan

There are a number of hotels in Nakhon Sawan and we have used  The Pimarn and  Beverley Hills ,both of which are good. However my personal  favourite is the Mai Hom Resort centrally located in Nakhon Sawan and a stone throw away from the Uthayan Sawan Park.

We have stayed at the Mai Hom resort now on 3 or 4 occasions and on each occasion have found the hotel and service excellent and not to mention superb value for money. The rooms range from 450 – 650 baht per night that is roughly between £9-00 – 13-00 Great Britain Pounds. The rooms are very clean and tidy with all the facilities you could wish for including the television and fridge.  Allow about 50 – 75  Baht for breakfast in the morning approximately £1-00 – £1-50 Great Britain Pounds and it’s a real bargain.

Mai Hom Resort: Nakhon Sawan

Incidentally my claim to fame is that  the menu used to be completely in Thai writing, but my wife got me the job of translating it for them and you now have one side in Thai writing and the other side in the English translation.  I normally refuse any jobs that my wife gets me as they invariably involve no money, but I like this hotel anyway and was pleased to help out.  I recommend the two fried eggs on a bed of boiled rice with a bit of chilli sets the morning up well.

From the Mai Hom Resort just turn right on your way out of the hotel entrance and keep walking on that road and you are no more than 10 minutes on foot from the shopping centre and morning and night local markets, less than 5 minutes if you jump on one of the roam around taxis. To go to the Uthayan Sawan park, come out of the hotel entrance by turning right walk about 2 minutes and not too far after a 7-11 convenience store, then turn right again and the park is at the bottom of that road.

Unfortunately unless you read perfect Thai script there is not much English based information about this hotel, but here is the address in English and Thai. I give the information also in Thai so that you can show any taxi driver. If you are thinking of going in the month of February for the Chinese new year celebrations, make sure you book early as the hotel (as do all the hotels) get booked up quickly.

Mai Hom Resort: Daowadueng Road, Amphoe Muang, Nakhon Sawan

Tel Numbers: 056- 220-648-9, 056-372-244-5

For The Taxi Driver: ไม้หอมรีสอร์ท 112/373 ถนนดาวดึงส์อใมอง จในครสวรรค

At Mai Hom they are most insistent that you have a Thai Massage” so get inside”

Romance Through Thai Proverbs

I absolutely love proverbs and have found that in Thailand they do as well. So here are 5 proverbs which could explain why perhaps gentlemen your romantic pursuits have not been going as well as you had hoped for recently.

1) Every day on your way to work in the capital city of Bangkok you see this very attractive Thai lady. She looks so classy, fashionable, beautiful, dresses like a princes and you are smitten with her. Even through your best endeavours to speak to her or be noticed by her, she barely gives you a glance.

The Thai would say:  (กระต่ายหมายจันทร์)  You are like a rabbit wishing to have the moon.

In English we would say: You are wishing for the impossible 

2) Perhaps you are a bit of a lad and have two lady friends you are dating at the moment. Perhaps calling it keeping your options open and is all well and good until one finds out about the other. Then perhaps you are dating neither through their choice.

The Thai would say: (จับปลาสองมือ)  Catch two fish in two hands

In England we would say: Run after two hares, catch neither or to fall in between two stools

3) Perhaps you are not sure if she really is the girl for you and a final decision should be made after you have met her Mother. However don’t forget if you are off to meet the parents I would suggest in traditional Thai culture things are already moving along swiftly.

The Thai would say: (ดูช้างให้ดูหาง ดูนางให้ดูแม่)  To check an elephant, look at his tail – To check a woman, look at her Mother.

4) Your partner always nagged you and seemed constantly moody towards you. Eventually you tired of this and ran off with another woman who seemed so exciting at first, but after a while she became the devil in disguise. Life is now so much worse than before. So with cap in hand you return to former partner (if she will have you back of course).

The Thai would say: (รักพี่เสียดายน้อง)  Love the older sister, but yearn for the younger sister.

In England we say: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

5) Perhaps you are someone who is just attracted to the bad girl. You seem to go from one bad girl to the next.

The Thai would say: (หนีเสือปะจระเข้)  Run away from a Tiger and face a crocodile

In England we would say:  Out of the frying pan into the fire

For great information on love and romance in Thai Culture visit the website of Kaewmala at http://thaisextalk.com/  Kaewmala has written a superb book called Sex Talk ”In search of love and romance” and this has some fantastic proverbs and sayings in it. You can buy this book from here http://www.engagingthailand.com/booksaboutthailand2.html

For information about Thai food, travel, health and wellness please visit the work in progress that is www.engagingthailand.com

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