Dad'n Dave Go To Dan Sai - Phi Ta Khon 2009

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Kiwi Cruiser, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Phi Ta Khon 2008 - Dan Sai - Loei Province
    Day 1: Thurs 25th June: Chiang Mai to Dan Sai - SH11, 1246, 1143, 2013
    Day 2: Fri 26th June: Dan Sai
    Day 3: Sat 27th June: Dan Sai - Loei - 2013
    Day 4: Sun 28th June: Loei - Chiang Mai

    The Riders:
    David Unkovic - Africa Twin 750
    Ben Kemp - HiLux Tiger D4D 4WD - yeah, I KNOW its got 4 wheels!

    The Annual Phi Ta Khon Festival in Dan Sai is a clarion call to those who like big events in small places. I had so much fun last year, I've been dying to get back and renew old acquaintances - and to make some more! This simply must be one of the most colourful, photogenic events in the country, and these guys (below) agree with me...


    - if it's not, can someone please tell me what beats it?

    I'm an early riser and had planned an 8am departure, well ahead of David on the AT which is more than bit faster than the Hilux. However, I'm rather later getting up than anticipated due to a minor indiscretion. Meeting FL for breakfast at the Kafe is therefore a feasible option. We eat - I leave while he goes home to finish some work. I've got to stop and buy some crockery at the ceramics market 20kms before Lampang.

    I get to have a leisurely cruise on the first 200km section and eventually, we meet up at Den Chai for a coffee, and set off down SH11 for the 1246 turn off to Chat Trakan and Nakhon Thai. I get a little head start and hammer the Hilux and beat him on the 35 km run from Uttaradit to the turnoff - I got green lights, he got red lights - what a difference that makes!

    We had a dry run all the way to Dan Sai, not a drop of rain all the way. Thats a stark contrast to last year when it bucketed down for 200 of the 400 kms! No complaints though! We arrived in Dan Sai at 5pm and found a quick snack down near the food court by the Seven 11. Got accommodation sorted, showered up and then headed back to the food court with a thirst... There's a bit of an opening ceremony, complete with fireworks etc.
    Friday is an early start for me - hunting for sustenance at 8am I head for raan ahaan Soso. She said she had coffee - our definitions obviously differ markedly and I could not face a 2nd one - and I'm a tough cookie when it comes to drinking coffee, life's always been too tough without it! What surprised me most was that my teeth did not dissolve...

    The pork and egg on rice with pickled cabbage was bloody good though!

    Being there a day ahead of the main event is good - things are building up, there's an air of excitement, but its not yet overcrowded. A ceremony at the temple mid-town is good - lots of old folks out and about and the various ethnic origins and diversity is always fascinating. Not only that, but its possible to get some unobstructed photos!


    One of the interesting aspects of Dan Sai is the large number of people who make it home for this special weekend. Everyone is friendly, and having a good time, and you get to meet lots of locals... well, if you make an effort to respond to shy smiles and say hello, you do!

    The food court is awesome - caters for a hell of a lot of people and was pretty much packed on both Thurs and Friday night. The Chiang Mai Stars were a new item on the agenda too!

    A significant departure from past year is the MC giving summarised English versions of the opening speeches, and the English language event programme. There's also a lot more multi-media happening with a big screen projection system etc.(lower left, next image)


    The other difference is the lack of overt beer bar sales in the main street this year! There is a preliminary parade on Friday, a little dress rehearsal that allows some decent photos to be taken.


    All in all, a big day out, and a good nights sleep required. Saturday we are up early - because parking the Hilux is a pain in the proverbial, I go hide it down back of the hotel car park on the corner of main street - 40 baht fee. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to clear the room and throw all my kit in the back before leaving our accommodations.

    We meet up at the coffee shop in mid-town, I was lucky enough to get the pole position on the best two seats! Breakfast on the menu was listed as "Breakfast" and on that basis, one assumes its probably the psuedo-American breakfast... It was an interesting variation on the theme - cold pre-cooked sausages and ham, but at least the eggs were hot... no butter for the toast... and I'm not a strawberry jam guy but I manfully consumed it all. The cappucino was ordered, but they use the term rather loosely in Dan Sai... however, it was possible to drink more than one cup...

    The programme said the main Parade was due to start at 10am... hence our 8:30am departure from the room to get a good vantage point... the start time was little more flexible than the programme indicated, and it was well into lunch time before anything much happened. There were a series of false starts that raised expectations... unicycles being another new item!

    The crowd was significantly bigger than last year - almost impossible to move in some parts of the street. Some people had imprisoned themselves for the day but at least they could see...

    The leading edge of the main parade - the village elders and dignitaries precede the floats...

    Also very difficult to get any parade photos - a moving mass of people in front of, beside and behind every section! And it was hot on the street, no wind at all!
    The phallic symbolism is far from subtle...

    Eventually, we gave it up and made our way out of the mayhem. My accidental clearing of the room proved a bonus because I exited the hotel carpark into a traffic gridlock that completely precluded a right turn! Getting out of town on 203 took ages, traffic was jammed up for almost 2kms in both directions!

    Luckily the 2pm exit from town put me on the leading edge of the exodus and after working through some heavy scooter traffic, I finally got a clear road. Although we left almost simultaneously, David had an extra kilometre of town traffic to fight his way through, and I arrived in Loei almost 10 minutes ahead of him.

    I liked Loei the last couple of times I've been there, staying at the King Hotel is good - friendly service, great rooms. Lower ground floor rooms at 450 baht are exceptional value. There's an excellent coffee shop with superb food in the hotel. They also have a Thai massage facility, to the right of the reception area.

    The town has some nice pubs and restaurants, and Robots disco is certainly the best I've ever been to anywhere in Thailand. The acoustics are excellent but not overpowering and you can still have a conversation. They also have nice dance shows and good live bands.

    We briefly met up with some other gentlemen from Chiang Mai in the coffee shop, and then adjourned to a nearby pub / restaurant to watch the MotoGP. At the conclusion of the bike racing on tv at 9pm, there was an exodus along the river to a steak house, and on to a biker bar or party, not sure where the guys ended up. Last years experience of a similar program raised no interest in a repeat for me. Standing around looking at motorbikes and drinking beer is not my scene at all. I decided I might be best to go off alone and explore town without impediment, let or hindrance.
  2. Decent post there Ben.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Photos from the GT Rider's 2009 Phi Ta Khon trip....

    The SEO Guy & I met up at the Shell gas station on R11 after the R101 turn off. This is about 145 kms out of Chiang Mai.

    The weather was a bit better this year 2009

    The weather in 2008 (not quite as good as 2009)

    The crowd in 2009 was incredibly bigger than in 2008 with thousands more people & bikes. The show also seemed a little more cultural & I thought the evening entertainment downtown at the "beer garden" market was great. Really good; plus with lots of English spoken to explain what was going on - congratulations Dan Sai / Loei.

    But before the show started, Ben & I needed to support the local economy & buy some hooch for the night. The choice was bewildering & seemed to fit the nature of the festival.

    The Dan Sai market beer garden,
    scene of the nights fun 'n food drinks & activities.

    The stage & show




    It really was an excellent show



    and all Thai cultural shows have to include ladyboys, no matter how beautiful they are

    There's a big emphasis on food & the som tam competition is a ripper & lots of fun.




    And it's not just for the older gals, but young babes as well

    Hot air Khom Fais are also a goer + beautiful

    Through one of my local contacts we secured accommodation in the heart of town. I managed to get the Tweet Heart Suite

    Water was also free with ice & save service

    One of the absolute joys of the festival is the total involvement of the local community - both OLD & Young. It's not a festival staged for tourists, but a very traditiional local festival that they all believe in & love to participate in. I particulary enjoyed watching the the older folks this year..

    The respected village elders walking around the temple three times to kick the show off.

    588697819_NbYzM-S. 588697771_iHrGN-S.


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    Not quite a rock band with coyote dancers..
    588697938_QRKi2-S. 588698002_vtKsF-S.

    But there's no age limit or shyness to join in
    588697560_ZKTrc-S. 588697510_6Xh6V-S.

    and old

    Let the good times roll


    and women


    He plays a mean harp

    This lady really swings

    But this grand old lady was the star for me

    A mere 84 years of age
    she had a great time dancing her heart out on the day.
    Asked how many kids she had, she said she could not remember!

    Younger backup

    Awestruck by it all

    Budding dancers

    Break time

    A couple of older guys again


    The weather was superb this year & it was fine in Dan Sai in 2009.


    Overlooking Dan Sai from the viewpoint I met Alvin & his lovely wife.
    Serious riders & what a great friendly couple they are!

    Kids on unicycles cleared the way for the parade to start

    The parade got underway



    Beauty & the beast
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    The respected village elders lead the way

    The crowd closes in & photos become difficult

    The Phi Ta Khon bikes are interesting


    Indeed Phi Ta Khon has become as much a small bike festival as a Phi Ta Khon festival & I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the hundreds of small bikes & admiring the hundreds of kids who came from far & wide to ride & enjoy the festival & bikes. It is truly amazing.





    And you did not have to come on a motorbike
    a tractor would do.

    Congratulations Dan Sai & Loei, plus the various bike club organsiers. Phi Ta Khon 2009 was a huge sucess & I'll be back in 2010!

  4. Great Post missed a lot that you got. I was nailed by the stomache on Friday very unusual for me. Darn guess I will just have to back again and give her another try. It's hard being me :lol: :lol: :lol:

    I think everyone that went had fun if they didn't it there fault cause it was everywhere.

    I really enjoyed staying in town this time, much better I will watch for next year and get the same hotel I like it, really nice people.
  5. The 2010 Phi Ta Khon festival is on in Dan Sai 12-13 June 2010.

    I will be in Dan Sai 11-12 June, & Loei 13-14 June.

    See you all there.

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