Thailand Festival in London – June 2008
I've been an avid reader of Stickman for a few years now but I haven't really had the urge to write a submission until now. So now's my chance to give a little back.
I thought you readers out there might be interested in the Thailand festival which took place in London on 14th June 2008. (Yes, I know this was a couple of months ago but better late then never eh!).
I hadn't actually planned to go to the festival at all as I had no idea it was on, but luckily happened to be in town that day when an old mate rang me up to tell me about it, so I hot-footed it down to Trafalgar Square to see what all the fuss was about.
A little bit about me first – I am mid 30s guy from the UK and have been to Thailand a total of 4 times over the past 5 years, had a lot of fun and wild adventures there. So the chance of experiencing a bit of Thai sanuk in London was not to be missed!
I've got to say I was fairly impressed with the setup. They took over the whole square. At the National Gallery end, they put up a row of marquees, each one sponsored by a different Thai organisation. The best one was a tent where they had some very beautiful women demonstrating their exquisite fruit carving skills. On the east side, more tents with other sponsors, plus Thai groceries and crafts, and on the west side a long row of tents serving hot and tasty Thai food and of course the obligatory Singha beer tent.
At the south side, they set up a stage plus giant screens so everyone could see the onstage action. The atmosphere was great and (at least for the first while) the sun was shining.
Of course I made a beeline straight for the Singha stand. Price for a 330ml can of beer? UKP 2.50 which is about 150 baht – ouch. Having said that, the pair of Thai lovelies serving up the brews had me swooning in short order (see pic)!
Shortly after I arrived, the parade kicked off. What a fabulous vision – a cavalcade of Thai beauties draped in gold and silk finery paraded through the crowd up and down the square. The highlight was an angelic specimen, borne aloft on a golden
palanquin, surrounded by peacock feather standards. A real delight!
The atmosphere in the square was simply magical, like a little piece of Thailand teleported into the grey centre of London. I'd take a wild guess and say a fair chunk of the Thai ex-pat population of London were there. Notable also were the number of Thai-Farang couples present, many with their luk-kreung youngsters in tow. At certain points during the concert, the MC urged those from different regions in Thailand to call out and cheer when their region was named. Needless to say, the loudest sustained cheer rang out when Isaan was mentioned.
They were quite a few Thai dignitaries present, including the Thai ambassador to the UK, who gave a pretty good speech about the Thai-UK relationship and how significant the UK was to Thailand's economy in terms of tourism and trade.
They laid on a packed programme of events running from 1pm to 8pm. The fiery Lanna drums were superb. Next up were some beautiful folk dancers dressed in gold and silken finery.
The next act was a Hoon Krabok puppet show. This is the one where each puppet is controlled by 3 people, each manipulating a different part of the puppet's anatomy. They dress up in black suits against a dark background and dash around the stage like wild dervishes. Apparently this is a rare skill these days and these guys are some of the best in the world. All in all, highly impressive.
Now came the turn of the Muay Thai boxers – unfortunately they weren't able to demonstrate their full skills as the stage had a hard floor, but they still managed to put on a superb display. The female champion took on the male champion – I wouldn't like to be the one to cross that girl – she kicked ass big time!
The hunger pangs kicked in, so I wandered over to the food stands. These were sponsored by the Thai Square Group, which operates a large number of Thai restaurants in and around London. All the usual Thai favourites were available. Again, this being London,
they were charging UKP 5.00 (B300) for a small tray of food, but that's to be expected. The green chicken curry I had was fresh and very tasty, followed up by mango with sticky rice.
Overall, it was a great day out. For a few hours I could pretend I was back in Thailand, and needless to say it was a sheer joy to check out all the beautiful girls hanging out there.
My main regret was that I only had my pocket camera on me – if I'd known about it in advance I would've brought my digital SLR. Still I reckon I got a few decent shots – I hope you like them!
It sounds like a nice day out. A few years back I made it to the Songkran festival back in my corner of Farangland which frankly was something of a disappointment. Many of the vendors selling Thai food were in fact Chinese – I did not realise until I ordered in Thai and they didn't understand. And as I said to the Mrs., it was like one big bargirl convention with the vast majority of Thai females there surely once seen in Pattaya…