Poi Sang Long - 2011

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by Rod Page, Apr 9, 2011.

  1. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    WHERE: Thoed Thai
    WHEN: 6-8 April, 2011

    Poi Sang Long is a rite of passage ceremony for the Shan people living in Burma & northern Thailand. Boys aged between 7 & 14 are ordained in a unique & elaborate ceremony that extends over 3 days. It is held that the boys & their parents gain great merit from their sons taking such vows.

    DAY 1
    On the first day the boys, accompanied by enthusiatic music from drums & cymbals, are taken to the temple to have their heads & eyebrows shaved & to be ritually cleansed & anointed.

    The boys are seated on chairs surrounding the pagoda:

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    A tuft of hair is then cut from their heads by a senior monk or village headsman:

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    The boys come in all shapes & sizes - from props to halfbacks:

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    Heads are shaved usually by the boys father:

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    Then eyebrows:

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    Before any remaining lose hair is removed:

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    And ALL the time the music plays!

    The boys move to the temple where their mothers wait, ready to transform them into veritable princes in the image of Buddha who was himself a prince before entering religious life. Their faces are powdered, rouge & lipstick applied & ornate designs painted on their faces. They are then dressed in the most ornate of costumes & adorned with jewelry of every possible colour & lais of flowers:

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    (To be continued.............................)
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Bring it on. It was a fantastic 3 nights 4 days in TT if it ever was.
     
  4. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    (Day 1 continued............)

    The 'princes', 71 of them on this occassion, are now assembled before the Abbott for an address & prayers:

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    before leaving the wat on the start of what will be 3 full days of merrymaking with much feasting, gift giving & parades through Thoed Thai. The boys are carried shoulder high from the wat & are so carried henceforth at all times so as to avoid becoming sullied through contact with the ground:

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    The boys are once more addressed by the Abbot:

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    before respectfully circling the pagoda 3 times in a rhtymic dance to the constant beat of drums & cymbals:

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    Its magical!

    Recognise someone in the background of the last photo!!!

    (To be continued...........)
     
  5. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    (Day 1 continued.............)

    The 'princes' leave the wat carried shoulder high by male relatives or in the back of pick-ups:

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    An absolutely magnificent & stunning cortege parades through town, the boys returning to the homes where they've arranged to 'sleep-over' for the event - refreshments are required not only for the boys but for carriers & supporters alike. And yes, the band plays on!

    A sumptuous feast follows but its not long before all & sundry are back out in the streets celebrating - the princes 'dancing' shoulder high, drums & cymbals blazing:

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    As you may have gleaned feasting (& drinking!) are central to the festivities. The hospitality & generosity of those involved in organising the festivities is almost overwhelming. We were invited from house to house over the 3 days for breakfast, lunch & dinner - a tremendous spread on each & every occassion; beer & Hong Thong flowing non-stop, 24 hours!

    The whole community moves from house to house making offerings to the boys to be ordained as novices, feasting & drinking (did I say drinking).

    We were at dinner on the first night, enjoying the company & the entertainment when the storm that hit most of northern Thailand blew through. It blew several of the mounted tarpolans clear off:

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    closing the karioke & forcing some of us to reassemble at the rear of the designated area:

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    The kitchen, however, didn't miss a beat & continued to supply us with every possible Shan delicacy:

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    And the band played on knee deep in the mud:

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    Fabulous day!!!!

    (To be continued.........)
     
  6. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Continued from the above......

    Day 2:

    On Day 2, some with little or no sleep & many with hangovers head off for breakfast, lunch & dinner around town to the various homes where the boys are staying. They come to offer gifts to those to be ordained as novices & to seek blessing & merit. Everyone is welcome. The second day sees a continuation of the feasting, music, dancing & much merriment. Its food, food & more food; booze, booze & more booze; music, music, music!

    A warm welcome for breakfast at the first home:

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    Starting with an offering of gifts & merit making:

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    And some 'porters':

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    On to the second home for lunch:

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    Gift offering & merit making:

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    (More follows...........)
     
  7. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Day 2 continued:

    We were by now 'feeling the pace' & it was lucky that the next home was within walking distance! Access, however, was a little tricky:

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    A charming lady greeted us, before we headed straight to offer gifts/make merit:

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    From there we headed back to near where we were staying; a wise decision to park our bikes! A couple of shots from the associated ceremony:

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    Continued.............
     
  8. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Day 2 continued.......

    The young boys being ordained as novices will stay in the monastery for at least a week. Some will stay longer & some will continue on until they are 20 years of age seeking to be ordained as full monks. Undertaking religious life is not something to be taken lightly & the tempo of the entertainment lifts to assist those concerned in making an informed decision:

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    Some were seeking merit in other places:

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    Some future novices seem to have already made up their minds:

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    Others, apparently, yet to be convinced:

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    To be continued....................
     
  9. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Looks like a terrific few days and sorry to have missed it. Its in the calender for next year. Thanks for the post Rod.
     
  10. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Day 2 continued.............

    Yep, the beers were slipping down nicely & the entertainment was looking better & better........A late afternoon visit of respect to the temple was scheduled to offer gifts to Buddha & to resident monks & when evening prayers would be offered for intending novices seeking guidance & the blessing of the 'spirits'. Of course Davidfl & I had no hesitation in leaving the entertainment to attend, of course!!!

    The gathering assembled on the sportsfield below the wat. Carriers charged by constant 'refueling' & accompanied by pumping music & song put on their best dancing shoes:

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    They moved along up the access road to the wat:

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    where the sister of one participant proudly waited:

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    Three tours of respect around the chedi before entering the wat to pray:

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    (To be continued...........
     
  11. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Day 2 continued........

    Visits of respect (& some supporters at the first wat) were subsequently paid to 2 other wats in Thoed Thai in varying stages of construction:

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    The last photo depicts the 'wat' currently occupying what is a a spectacularly scenic setting awaiting construction of a new wat.

    The music, song & dancing continued well into the night seeing all participants finally subcome to the relentless pace of the preceeding 2 days with a late start on Day 3.

    The third day is the day of ordination. The boys still dressed as princes are carried to the temple accompanied by proud parents, excited well-wishers & most enthusiastic musicians.

    Here some boys amuse themselves in anticipation whilst one reason why one boy will not continue to full monkhood looks on:

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    A 'team shot' before the big one:

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    Inside the temple the boys will take their vows then divest themselves of their elaborate garb to take on the humble robes of a monk. The novices will remain in the monastry for a period on average between a week & a month learning the tenets of Buddhist teaching & the self-discipline required of a monk to prepare them for their future lives. The ceremony previewed for 10am was put back to 2pm & we had previous committments regretably making it impossible to stay.

    Songkran was well under-way as we rode back to Chiang Mai. Although a sideline to this report I include a photo of the river at Tha Ton being readied for what looks like will be a massive Songkran. Also, sadly, a photo taken just north of the Chiang Dao Elephant Camp - the rider skidded on gravel & under the pick-up. I have no information as to the numbers involved or their safety.

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    Safe riding!
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Rod
    What a fantastic 3 nights & 4 days in Thoed Thai eh - "How good does it get?"
    As much food & drink as you could handle, wonderful people & absolutely superb hospitality.

    Some happy snaps from me....

    Patiently & proudly waiting with the family for a shave

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    down to business

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    There were a variety of shavers & standards

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    The finished product

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    Then it was time for the make-up room. Last year 2010, this was done in the individual group houses, but in 2001 it was all done in the temple Wat Kha Kham. And with 71 novices it was a a bit of a frenzy = loads of fun & absolutely crowded.

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    The pressure was on

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    Finished & ready for the show

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    One of the monks at Wat Kha Kham is a really super cool guy

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    Parade photos, & there were several over the three days.

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    More coming....
     
  13. Fishenough

    Fishenough Ol'Timer

    Great report, I agree this is a must visit next year.

    My kid and fellow campers were returning from the Maekok river village, and were the first arrivals on the accident. The motorcyclist was moving and slightly aware with a great deal of visible injuries; blood from his head (no helmet), noticeable chest indent though the victim was breathing on his own, and a noticeable broken leg with several large bleeders from the same leg. The body truck arrived within 10 mins and the driver of the Vigo quickly asked the farangs to leave, so there would be no misunderstanding. :shifty:

    The motorcyclist may suvive but he will take a long time to heal with such extensive injuries.
     
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Continued.

    FOOD & DRINK was free in every household where boys were being ordained.
    And it was as much as you could eat or drink.

    Dinner the first night

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    Breakfast day 2

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    lunch day 2

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    by day 3 we were somewhat satiated, & I weakened at breakfast 10.30AM & cracked a beer that was forced on me. We had several & it became a rather long day, eating, drinking & taking photos. But it was all part of the fun & hospitality.

    On the first night the rain storm hit & ripped off one of the tarpaulins.

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    but the show went on.

    There was a problem with the power supply (not enough amps) & they ran a line over from the property next door to be able to power the sound system.

    John & Nuan, owners of the Rim Taan guesthouse carried the show with a few duets.

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    more coming.
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The music goes on for the 3 days & the villagers take it in turns drumming up a storm.
    There are some incredible characters beating the rhythm & for some they are well and truly inebriated after several days drinking.

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    Parading around a new wat.

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    Resting to take it all in

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    Miss Gook Gik studiously recorded the 3 day event for her mother & father's Thoed Thai cable TV company.

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    Anna was a sweet Shan lass down from Chiang Tung in northern Burma to celebrate Poi Sang Long with her relatives.

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    she spoke perfect English & was as polite a person as I have ever met.

    Myriama rapping with the young novices

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    one spoke good enough English to say "I love you."

    Another house, another crew

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    Another crew, staff at a newly opened pub in TT

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    were playing Songkran already. However they respected the parade participants and no one got doused......until after the event.

    RP on the prowl downtown Thoed Thai

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  16. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Carrying the novices around on your shoulders for a few kms is no mean feat. Each boy had a team of male family members to share the load, & I did actually see one woman carrying a boy, but was unable to snap off a photo or find her again the crowd.

    The road up the hill to the temple Wat Kha Kham is a steep one.

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    On the last day the participants got to drive up after parading town for over an hour.

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    Some however still unbelievably walked up the steps!

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    A few more parade shots

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    Blessings for donations

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    The grand finale at Wat Kha Kham

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    Thank you Ron & Myriama for the company
    Thank you Thoed Thai once more. You're in my heart. :thumbup:

    Go here for Thoed Thai info.

    See also this report on Poi Sang Long 2010 in Thoed Thai.
     
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    An alarming footnote for Rod Page & other Thoed Thai fans

    The coal mine just across the border in Myanmar looks like it is going ahead despite the protests of the local villagers on the Thai side NOT WANTING to the coal trucked out through their communities.
    Rod, Myriama & I, plus John the owner of Rim Taan Gh discussed this in TT at Poi Sang Long.

     
  18. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    It would be tragic if this were to eventuate.

    The area concerned is possibly the most ethnically diversified in Thailand. Hua Mae Kham is the largest multi hill-tribe village in Thailand. The cultural centre of the Akha in Thailand is situated not far from the proposed route.

    The area is rich in recent history with its association with the wars against Mao in China & against the communists in Thailand. More recently as the home of Khun Sa representing a significant tourist opportunity for Thailand.

    The area is possessed of great natural beauty as witnessed by so many off-road articles appearing on this web-site; the Queen Mother herself following her education in Switzerland chose to build & live in a chalet in the area.

    The area supports a rich & enriching cultural heritage - you need only look at recent reports on this site - the Hill-tribe Flower Festival at Hua Mae Kham, Lahu New Year 2011, Poi Sang Long 2011...............

    I suspect that there is significant political pressure behind the decision - the Burmese Army has devised a means to have constructed a route which will supply them with access straight into the Shan State Army stronghold along the border in this area. The route will be constructed by Thailand - any trouble from the SSA could see them being attacked from both sides of the border; ideal for the Burmese. An ideal configuration for an army set on destroying the SSA.

    Anyone who knows the topography surrounding Mong Khao Lang would understand the engineering stupidity of constructing a path through this terrain; there's clearly a second agenda (& what a wonderful stretch of road to ruin).

    One can only hope that the ploy will fail.
     
  19. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  20. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Poi Sang Long must be coming up soon in Thoed Thai, arguably the best place in all Thailand to witness the ceremony. Given there were so many who wished to attend this year following reports from last year I trust ample advice can be given. Stay several days with John at Rim Taan & join in the non-stop festivities literally at home with the locals.

    The ride out to Hua Mae Kham is a beauty for those who dont yet know the area.

    Tie the ride up &/or down with those covered in

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/34817-ON-THE-TRAIL-OF-A-quot-MULE-quot-A-Drug-Run-Through-The-Golden-Triangle

    or

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/34565-Caution-Very-Steep-Dangerous-Road-Collapse-Restricted-Area-Dangerous-Road

    amongst so many other great posts on the forum.
     
  21. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    They don't have a date yet, but I'm in touch with John regularly.
     
  22. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The 2012 Poi Sang Long in Thoed Thai is on 27-28-29 March 2012.
    Who's going?
     
  23. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

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