Festivals in The Top North for Ok Phansa.October 2012.

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    There was a master plan to hit southern Laos for Boun Ok Phansa to hopefully pick on the boat racing, Loy Krathong plus maybe the Mekong Naga Fireballs, but it somehow never eventuated. The main problem being the need for a "non-stop" 2 day ride from Cnx - Pakxe / Champasak to be there in time for the full moon. Arh I don't really need that I thought, so decided to head off to Chiang Khong for a night & then meander down o Nan for a few days & back home to Chiang Mai. At least that was master plan # 2.

    I was not in a rush & picked off another couple of temples in Chiang Khong for the GTR website.

    Wat Phra Kaew

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    Wat Sop Som

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    Wat Thung Duk

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    In the late afternoon Naka's Kiosen upstream from CK is well worth a drink & photo stop (or two.)

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    & this guy gets to hang out there everyday.

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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Whilst chilling at Naka's Kiosken, Jurgen contacted me & reminded me to check out the Tai Lue folk museum down town.
    The location was a bit vague, plus it was not always open; however after speaking to Nom at Naka's a phone call was made & Ajarn Suriya, owner of the house / folk museum, agreed to stay open if I headed off straight into town.
    15 minutes later I was there.

    Lua Lai Kam is an old old house with a collection of Tai Lue textiles & costume & artifacts.

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    if you're interested in Tai Lue culture & costumes, then check out Ajarn Suriya;s Lue Lai Kam folk museum.
    Downton Ck on the way to Had Khrai.
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The original masterplan was for A night in Ck then mosey on over to Nan for a few nights; however whilst in CK I was asked if I was going to Houei Xai for the boat racing on the next day. Well no that was not my intention because I was not aware of it. But now that I know, YES Houai Xai it is for the boat racing. AND .....the next night again is Loy Krathong in HX too, ok ........so count me in for that one too. It was a tough call you might say....

    THE BOAT RACING
    Started from near the Houei Xai immigration landing & finished downstream before the Tavandang Pub & Restaurant.

    A few pix

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    It was hot out in the sun on the paved embankment

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    plus there was a lot of litter around.

    The winning boat crew walking up the bank.

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    security was tight around the official tent.

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    I entered with who I thought were local journos trying to take some photos of the presentation, but was promptly escorted out. Ho Hum.

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    The winning boat crew, cheer themselves.

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    More to come..
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The boat racing must be one of Houei Xai's biggest party days of the year.
    Down stream from town the main street along the river is closed off for one big party

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    and from then on it is wall to wall food stalls / beer / music / speaker stacks.

    Lao people know how to party....

    FOOD

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    PARTY

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    it was food 'n beer tent after tent, big business on the day.

    So many drunk happy people & not a fight or a sign of any aggro in sight!

    Every food 'n beer tent had music - a live band or karaoke.

    The noise & competition was tremendous, & all good fun!

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    Each food tent had a bank of speakers stacked up.

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    how anyone heard anything to order food & drink, I don't know.
    But who cared. Eat drink & be merry...go with the flow.

    But these musos were the smart guys.

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    placed the speakers in front & they sang / played from behind through a hole in the speaker wall.

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    pretty trick I thought.

    A bit more food

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    and a hot little vendor.

    More party time

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    Yes sir ...Houei Xai rocks at boat racing time.
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The next day was a much slower day, (the boat racing parties went on into the night.)

    Night two in Houei Xai was Loy Krathong & it should be noted for Loy Krathong fans, that Loy Krathong in Laos is usually a month before Thailand & normally coincides with (Boun) Ok Phansa.
    Some of the Loy Krathong festivals in Thailand are massive & in my opinion have just become mass media events. Most of their original charm & tradition has gone.
    So Loy Krathong in Houei Xai was for me more like Chiang Mai 25 years ago. Lots of charm & friendly community spirit with NO fireworks as in Cnx.

    Some piccies

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    No big organised parade with crowds lining the street.
    Just a busy pedestrian thoroughfare, & groups of villagers came with their floats as they pleased.

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    One float had some sponsorship with some Lao beauties.

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    but it seemed a bit out of place in such a folksy village like atmosphere.

    The old lady owner of BAP Ghouse & one of Houei Xai's characters, lighting up the front of BAP Ghouse.

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    Kom Loy time

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    25,000 kip a small krathong

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    It was a beautiful relaxing mellow night.
    If you want to check it out next time. it should be full moon either 19th September or 18th October 2013.:thumbup:
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    So back to Chiang Khong it was, still with a loose plan to move onto Nan for a few days.

    BUT

    then I was asked if I was staying for the Tod Kathin ceremony at Wat Si Lom Yen, the next night.

    "You should stay, it's a big event with movie stars /singers coming to the temple to see the famous 5-star monk."

    I was sold....it sounded too good to be true again, a "ha-dao" abbot-monk with a legion of big wigs / stars fans coming from all over the country for a robe changing ceremony at his temple?........that should be worth seeing.

    & the temple Wat Si Lom Yen, on R1174 south of Chiang Khong, supposedly 10kms+ out in Ban Sri Lanna & it starts "late tomorrow / early evening sometime."

    more coming..
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Not sure of the exact location of Wat Si Lom Yen, a recce was required.
    Time to slip out for a look along R1174.

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    We found 2 wrong temples first, before locating Wat Si Lom Yen further out.

    Wat Ban Khia has a huge reclining Buddha

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    plus Wat Mai Chedi with a huge sparkling green Buddha

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    & there was a full on village tamboon fund raising fair & party going on

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    & we were lucky to escape the festivities

    Wat Mai Chedi has some interesting animal sculptures

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    & a large standing Buddha

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    and a line up of numerous other Buddha statues

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    Riding buddy for the day Neil Grimes

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  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    With the morning recce out of the way, it was time for the show starting late arvo.
    Entering the temple grounds you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a resort

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    there were scores of people sitting down eating & waiting

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    there was mountains of food & it was all free.

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    There was a music garden

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    the mature female singer had an amazing voice - singing Thai & English - & once upon a time must have been quite famous.
    From memory she is now retired & has a resort behind Wat Rong Khun in CEI on the Den Ha road. Kiang Dao Resort??? Worth checking out sometime as Id certainly love to listen to her sing again.

    In another part of the temple grounds a stage was set up

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    a well known movie star

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    With some of the show organisers & the fabulous singer

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    another event organizer

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    Ms Kukkai

    There was a group of Hmong hill tribe kids from Muang Khan school showing talents with some beautiful drawings

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    the Hmong kids with the ha-dao monk & Ajarn Suriya + Phanom.

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    The big guns at the event

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    Wat Si Lom Yen is very popular with police & military. There were 17 provincial heads of police / army present. (there's a good story there somewhere explaining the connection?)

    Preparing the the official show & ceremonial cotton picking to provide the cotton to weave for the new robes.

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    An area is fenced off

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    The show gets under way

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    There's a swarm of people with cameras / phones/ tablets trying to push forward & take photos - almost a frenzy to get in, watch & maybe participate / get blessed if you are lucky enough to be in the front row.

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    Some cotton is ceremonially picked by the abbot & then the official guests are allowed in to pick some

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    Cotton beauties

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    a little bit later the crowd pushing & shoving to get at the cotton was a bit over the top.
    I packed up & left.
    But during the night they spin, & weave the cotton into new robes for the monk, ready for presentation the next morning.
    To be continued.
     
  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    aha, he's back & still catching up.....

    The next day there's a parade to present the robes that have been woven overnight. (& Photos the all night weaving are still coming. ha ha.)

    The parade....

    Belles of the parade

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    The guys

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    the ceremonial new robes to be presented

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    the parade gets under way

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    Fund raising: the money trees

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    and it was impressive to see all the folks out there carrying on the tradition - serious believers all of them. Well done!

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    & that was it for Wat Si Lom Yen / Chiang Khong this time time round.
    Midnight weaving beckoned in Mae Sai, & then dawn dying of the robes in Nan.....who said this was not a work in progress.
     
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    But what's all this about .....midnight weaving of robes for monks?
    How did it come about....

    Some history that I've been able to dig out.
    AND
     
  12. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Great thread; wonderful event....its been well worth the wait!
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Aha a long work in progress......still got sore ribs & shoulder from the spill 18 days ago, no bike yet & time to wrap it up at last.
    I packed up in Chiang Khong after the parade at Wat Sri Lom Yen & moved onto Mae Sai for the night to witness the "midnight weaving frenzy" at Wat Doi Wao, the next step in the ok Phansa Thod Kathin ceremony.

    It was a surreal colourful scene at the Wat

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    money is the name of the game & i was amazed at the huge donations being given - hundreds of thousands of baht - & called out
    There are some serious believers &/or merit seekers out there.
    Donors come from all over the country, far & wide. Their names, home towns & huge amounts donated, read out to start off the night's ceremony.

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    more coming....I'm back on track. :cool:
     
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A "fleet" of elderly spinners ready to "rock 'n roll" all night.

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    on the move, all systems go

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    Some info
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Not quite understanding how all this traditional weaving of the robes worked I tried to dig out a bit more info, so I / you knew what I was looking at

    After the cotton has been collected there's four steps in making the new robes
    1. Ginning cotton.
    2. Carding the cotton.
    3. Spinning the cotton.
    4. Weaving the cotton to make the robes

    and there's a fifth - dying the robes to be presented. (The fifth part dyeing the robes I caught up to in Nan a bit later on.)

    GINNING
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    CARDING
    The cleaned cotton fibers, or laps, are inserted into a carding machine, which separates the cotton fibers. These fibers are arranged parallel to each other so that the cotton is ready for the spinning process.

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    Not sure what this process it

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    WEAVING

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    a very happy weaver

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  16. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Next stop Nan, & the festival was held outside the Nan Museum.
    The festival events in Chiang Khong & Mae Sai were organised by a Tai Lue group from Chiang Khong. The same group also organised one in Phayao at Wat Analayo, that I was unable to take in.
    In Nan the event was organised by people from Nan.
    There was obviously a bigger budget available for the Chiang Khong organisers with more participants & lavishness.

    In Nan the masterplan then was to actually catch the last bit of action.....dyeing the robes.

    For the start of the day's event an important Buddha image is taken down to the Nan river to be bathed & then returned.
    I got the wrong info about the starting time & just managed to catch the Buddha image being paraded back to the museum grounds.

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    The Buddha image is placed in a temporary sala overlooking the grounds.
    In this day & age it never ceases to amaze me how strong these traditions & rituals still are in the community. 3 Cheers for Nan & the people there.

    The fair ground was set up for the nights show

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    that's a big Khantoke ground.

    Thamboon donations

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    money

    Ceremonial cotton trees for picking

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    The show gets under way with a traditional Shan goat dance

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    the elderly fans go wild

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    & compete to feed - give money - to the performing goat's mouth.
    All firm believers in what they are doing.

    Maidens performing a dance

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    time for some cotton picking

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    then the crowd is let loose to snatch a few cottton buds

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    and yet another batch of all night spining gets underway

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    a royal dignitary gets an escorted tour of the show

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    more spinners in action

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    and weavers

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    The spinners & weavers go all night

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    Late at night, well after midnight..

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    ....still going. Now note on the right, a glimpse of a monk weaving!! Tut Tut, all a bit naughty I thought & tried to get a full photo, but was firmly told NO photos please.

    My Nan research assistant

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    learning something knew.

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    who, despite being a local, knew less about the event than I did. Ho Hum. What's wrong with today's youth..
    We fled the scene at 2AM & left the weavers to it.

    I returned at first light (sans assistant)

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    some were still going!

    But eventually a piece of cloth was ready for dyeing.

    Preparing the dye

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    chillies & _________?

    Preparing the robes for a dunking

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    The dunking

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    all done by the revered monk.

    I wasn't alone, watching the ritual

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    but I was the only farang.

    Eventually the robe is done

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    and we're all hung out to dry

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    :wave: A bit long winded for many of you I suspect, :think: but there is so much going on with this festival I wanted to make an effort to capture & try to understand each individual part of the process.
    It is certainly a beautiful & fascinating event.

    :idea: Now what I'm missing is the actual robe presentation........roll on October-November 2013. :p
     
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Just a bump & reminder that October Full Moon & Ok Phansa is next week: Wednesday the 8th OCtober 2014.
    So that means there should be a few of these festivals on in & around the North.
    Check 'em out if you can.
     

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