“Walking with elephants” | My elephant diary by Mikki
‘Walking with elephants’
Surin Thailand 2015
Michaela “Mikki” Connolly | Elephant Volunteer Thailand 2015
Firstly before I begin talking about my elephant adventure, my Bamboo guides Arm & May, BRILLIANT! Both quick witted with a great sense of humour, full of useful info and answer every question I’ve had. Having them with me allows me to build bridges between Thai people and volunteers. Showing them not all tourists are here to rock up, take pictures and leave, we are here to get stuck in and live the life they love along side them! Arm may be new to Bamboo but what a credit ! He has been in constant contact even when he is not with us, and does everything with a smile on his face ! May, such a beautiful soul, speaks just as quick in English as she does in Thai, with the same smile on her face and such an important part of our home-stay, building the relationship between myself and the home-stay momma! Another huge credit to team Bamboo!
SO…a quick low down of my first week, hopefully I will not miss anything out, i’ve done and seen so much! We arrive In surin, lovely central hotel, brill breakfast and helpful staff and amazing showers which was needed after seven hours on a train! Arriving at our home-stay to meet the lovely family that we will be sharing our time with, on the way we experienced beautiful sights of the true Thailand! Then we finally arrive at our elephant village.
Thanks Mikki for your insight into life with the elephants. If you, your friends or anyone you know would like to join us in our village check this out!
Sihanoukville Best Bars Cambodia | Bamboo Guide 2015
Is Snooky worth a looky?
Arron “Azza” Barrett | Fella who runs Cambo
The beach Mecca of Cambodia that is Sihanoukville or what team Bamboo like to call ‘Snooky’. So what’s all the fuss about?
Before my first visit I did my research like any seasoned traveller does. I searched YouTube clips, I scanned 101 Google images for ‘Sihanoukville party’ and to be honest I wasn’t initially blown away. However, Once I had arrived and checked into my hotel, set about finding my bearings and getting a lay of the land what I discovered surprised me.
The bar scene
Let’s be realistic, it’s not going to have the class of Ibiza or drawn in the crowds like Koh Phangan (not for a while anyway) BUT what it does have is a charm and a coolness about it that makes you question “am I really in Cambodia right now?”
Bars such as ‘Monkey Republic’ & ‘The Big Easy’ have brought a western influence and they give travellers that home away from home experience. Cambodia is a beautiful country and of course people come to experience the REAL Cambodia, but sometimes you crave a ‘Jägerbomb’ over a local draft, do you know what I mean?
Away from the big 2, you’re spoiled for choice with bars along the main road to the beach. All offer their own hour specials so if you plan your bar crawls with military precision you can get ‘tipsy’ for next to nothing! If you don’t fancy heading down to the beach there’s a couple of night clubs dotted around which go on until the early hours also.
Snooky boasts a modest beach party scene. By day the main beach strip is home to 50+ bars/restaurants all fighting for your attention which is great. But by night the numbers drop to 10-15 which is still bug enough to have a great night, but not as in your over populated like some other destinations in SEA.
The 2 hotspots on the beach from my experience were ‘Dolphin Bar’ and ‘JJ’s Playground’ each of them hosted beach parties until the late am 7 nights a week. If it’s late nights and morning hangovers you’re looking for, you won’t have to search too far! Live DJ’s, ‘Beer Pong’ tables a free shots are just a few of the attractions.
The beach scene
This is where it gets interesting. To the hermit backpacker who stays in the same spot would have probably only experienced Ocheteaul Beach & Serendipity beach which are beautiful respectfully. But if you adventurous and venture 10-15 minutes on a tuk tuk you can find beauties such as Otres beach (1 & 2) which is on another level. It’s cool, it’s happening and it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist central. I’ve been to Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Tao to name a few and this place ranks up there with them.
If you want to get further away, then you can hop on a boat and visit the stunning island of Koh Rong. Many backpackers head to this island for a few nights to get away from it all, with miles of golden sands and accommodation limited, you can the real ‘castaway’ experience. You can’t ‘Koh Rong’ in my opinion!
Other islands include Koh Russey & Koh Preus which are also only a short hop away from the mainland. They’re stunning and it’s cheap as chips to do a day tour which usually includes a couple of snorkelling spots, lunch and potentially some rock jumping (if you’re brave enough)
Whether you thinking of heading down to Snooky for a couple of days or for a couple of weeks, you’ll certainly find a haven away from the busy cites of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Partying hard or chillaxing on the beach it’s got it all. This place is certainly on the way up; and I would recommend a visit it to anyone of my friends or fellow travellers.
Check out our Cambodia projects which you can mix with a bit of beach madness:
Siem Reap Top 5 Nights Out
Azza’s Siem Reap bar report 2015
Arron Barrett | Knows his Angkor from his Anchor
I won’t claim to be an expert on the bars in an around Siem Reap as of yet (I’m working on it) but what I can do is tell you about the bars that have made an impression on me since I touched down almost 2 weeks ago.
It’s not always about price, neither is it about location, it’s about those places that have given you a great night that you didn’t always expect. So here it is, in no particular order.
This place is the most famous in the ‘reap’; it’s the loud, obnoxious place that stays open until late. Backpackers alike come to party hard here. With a mixture of classic dance tracks and R&B anthems it’s one the best places to go later on in the evening if you want to get your groove it. Located slap bang in the middle of Pub Street it’s not too hard to find either. We all need one of these places whether we admit it or not! A little known secret is that above the pandemonium of above your can sit, chill an watch the street go by. Just don’t tell everyone or they will all wanna join…
We found this place with a chance meeting with the owner (Sky and his lovely missus Sarah) during the day. A guy told us he had a bar, we should pop down, and we did! The rest is history. It’s a little out of the action but once you arrive we were welcomed warmly by a great vibe, chilled house tunes and a free shot which bears no resemblance or taste to petrol (honest). It had a great atmosphere about the place, more of a chilled vibe where you could talk to friends without the thud of bass. Cheap drinks and the option to select your own music… what more do you want?!
This little cutie is again located just off Pub Street. It’s a mixture between a classy bar, and classic pub. You have a (great) pool table, dart board and some comfy seats, yet the music was more ‘deep house’ than classic pop. The ambiance of this hidden gem is one that will be tough to match. There were some top notch bar snacks available when you get a little peckish also.
The clientele was a mixture of ex-pats, backpackers and locals, all with a friendly welcome.
This place is not one to be missed.
This is potentially my favourite. I found this place whilst looking for cool bars on Google. It didn’t disappoint. Everything about this place was cool. Aestheti`cally it’s a giant tee-pee with a bar in it. But inside it has a soul. The Staff are friendly, the drinks are very reasonable, and when it’s happy hour it’s $0.50 a beer! You can find a comfy corner to get relax or just proper yourself up against the bar like we did. If you have a group there is even an upstairs area which would be perfect. I don’t want to spoil it too much but I love this place and you should certainly check it out.Read more
Bamboo News Flash!! December update…
To some of our avid followers out there, things may have seemed a little quieter than usual over the past few weeks at Bamboo.
Oh no, far from it boys and girls! It’s been all systems go!
Lucy the manager and project coordinator in Koh Samui, had embarked in gaining her TEFL qualification with one of our Samui partners ‘TELF Samui’ which meant that she would have to take a back seat and study hard for the next 3 weeks to get through the exams.
With this, up stepped Arron, our rookie English teacher and project coordinator for Cambodia to temporarily take the reigns and make sure things ran smoothly on Samui.
December saw us wish farewell to 5 heroes we like to call our volunteers.
Susanne and Peter some of our longest serving volunteers headed home to Sweden after 4 fantastic weeks of building, teaching, and beaching.
Malorie and Jeff our #TeamUSA newlyweds headed back to Austin Texas, after giving us a marriage made in heaven, and Ellen the kite surfing genius from England, who went down a storm in the classroom!
From goodbyes to hellos, the arrival of 2 newbie’s and one returning volunteer were upon us. From the newbie’s first to arrive first was Dr Steven Lynch, one of Canada’s leading experts in Hospitality, Food, and Tourism Management.
Steve (as he liked to be called) was a well travelled man, who was embarking on gap year and had signed up for 3 weeks on our teaching project; not one to take things slowly, Steve brought some MASSIVE ideas to teaching techniques to Ban Laem Hoy School.
Steve’s first week, brought a new, fresh way of teaching, he had the ability to engage with the children, bringing games and problem solving ideas to the classroom. It wasn’t long before the students were out of their chairs and enjoying all of the time they had with this teaching legend.
Week 2 saw the arrival of Yuval Berger a young budding traveller from Israel, who arrived with an eagerness to get stuck in with the building projects at Bamboo. It was his first experience at volunteering but that did not scare this guy off.
We also welcomed back Amy Peleg, a previous Bamboo volunteer also from Israel, who was previously pretty handy in the classroom, but this time around fancied getting her hands dirty with the building projects.
Unbeknown to us all, an unforeseen school closure created a small hitch for everyone, but with a little planning; Amy and Yuval were kept busy with the building work as planned, which included building and cementing a retaining wall and also painting parts of the exterior walls at the school.
Steve and Arron out of action in the classroom, put their heads together and decided to begin work on creating a sustainable garden at the rear of the school that could be used to educate the students on the importance of sustainability, and also take their learning outside the classroom and get hands on with nature!
Both teams worked together in some pretty warm temperatures, but they got their jobs done respectively, and they all deserve a pat on the back. It just goes to show that you really don’t require any special skills or expertise in building/construction to make a massive difference.
At the end of week 2, the Bamboo team headed into Cheweng for a couple of well earned drinks and to show off their suspect dance moves. When the sun came came up over Samui, It was the end of Amy’s second spell with the family but Amy’s lasting legacy a ‘Bambassador’ was to create a Bamboo Israel Facebook page and Instagram account to invite her friends and family to see what the Bamboo Project is all about.
Yuval our Israeli building machine enjoyed his time so much, that he also decided he wanted to extend a week and come along with Steve and try his hand at teaching now that the school was reopened.
The pupils of course welcomed Yuval with open arms, and it wasn’t long before he was confident enough to put his teaching techniques to the test. Yuval by his own testament had zero teaching experience but that’s the great thing about the variety of people that come to Bamboo, anything anyone can bring to the table is appreciated so much.
With Steve’s expertise and Yuvals enthusiasm it turned out to be a great week for the pupils at Ban Laem Hoy.
After a final drink at the infamous 4 Monkeys coffee shop, The Bamboo-mobile was loaded up and it was another farewell from Steve at Samui airport. Steve was certainly one of our most experienced volunteers and he left a big impression on the school. His sustainable garden idea will be in full swing in the near future so keep your eyes peeled!
The following morning, Yuval said his goodbyes and too left the Bamboo-Project. His next adventure awaited him in Vietnam.
Now it’s time for #TeamBamboo to enjoy their New Year celebrations, Thank you to all our recent volunteers, every single person brought something new and unique to the projects, and you all made a massive difference, from everyone at Bamboo Project, we hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and grab 2015 with both hands!Read more
Feedback on our Elephant Village Experience
We’re so lucky here at Bamboo to have the GREATEST volunteers and travellers. It really means a lot to hear what they have to say. Here one of our Elephant Volunteers talks about her experiences with some wonderful photos to accompany.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Mark, Steve and May for giving me a memorable experience in Thailand. They were very professional and informative in all aspects of my journey. I felt very safe and comfortable with the material I received from my guide – “May” was tremendously helpful, caring, educational and simply aMAYzing!
I participated in the Elephant volunteer program in Surin, home to one of the largest elephant villages in the world! I stayed with with Pimahn and her two daughters, their humble home was simple and very different to a westernised household, its not every day that you see large pet elephant chilling out in a Sydney backyard.
What was a typical day? I would collect the elephants feces along with taking it (the elephant) for rides, planting sugar cane and harvest plants for the elephants feed. I paid a visit to the local elephant school where I taught basic English and rewarded the children with Australian souvenirs, book donations from Russel Lea Public School and exquisite oils from Subtle Energies.
Bamboo project is by far the most professional organisation I’ve dealt with, Thank you to the Bamboo team and looking forward to booking another volunteer program soon!
Photos from Auzita ©Read more
Koh Samui Diaries | Lucy’s Beach Blog
October 2014 “Food, Fishing & Friends!”
Lucy Field | She runs everything on the islands!
So this has been my first week back in the Land of Smiles since my two week holiday in the UK. It was lovely being home and seeing family and friends but now it’s time to get back to my home in Koh Samui, Thailand where our island Teaching, Building, Cat & Dog Rescue and TEFL training projects were gearing up for some new volunteer arrivals.
Tee (Bamboo staff and also my lovely BF) was holding the fort in Koh Samui while I was away and as a present from my parents he was given a new 12ft fishing rod! Tee loves to fish but as he is originally from the jungle he is use to Fresh water not sea fishing. This new rod is one used for offshore fishing so it can cast much further out to sea, so hopefully it will make it easier for him. The shock and excitement on his face was just amazing!
Cambodia project co-ordinator, Arron, came to visit us in Samui. I originally met Arron back In Nov 2010 it was both of our first times travelling Thailand. Arron has been part of the Bamboo Family since day one helping out with sales In the UK. But now he is finally over here with us!! He will be helping me out over the next few busy months in Thailand and then he will be heading over to Cambodia to take care of our Bamboo projects there, I can’t wait to go visit him and see Angkor Wat!
When Arron and Tee went fishing in Nathon Tee caught a puffer fish and Arron caught 3 smaller fish. All the fish were thrown back as they were too small to be eaten or POISONOUS lol. They had a wicked time though and were fishing with some of the local island kids. What island life is all about!
We took Arron out to a Thai bar/restaurant to experience some island seafood dishes. This restaurant is one of my favourites on Samui and you know the food is good as all the locals go. They also have a live band that plays mainstream Thai music. We had a feast of food: Boo Paht Pong Karee (Yellow curry crab) Pla Pao (Thai Grilled Fish), Khao Pad Kung (Prawn fried rice) and Gai Pad Med Mamuang (Chicken and Cashew nuts). The boys were laughing at me as they know how excited I get about food and I love to eat.
Tee and I decided to take Arron out for a night on Samui to experience the beach party scene in Chaweng. The boys got ready for the night out dancing around to ‘gangnam style’ with a silly mask on lol. We also brought along our beautiful Bamboo lady Niki and some of our island friends. It was a fun night of dancing, loud music and buckets!! Chaweng is the party area of Samui with lots of travelers out to have a good time. It’s fun if you want to let your hair down for a night and get a bit tipsy.
After a hard night of partying I took Arron down to our local beach, only 10 min walk from ‘Baan Bamboo’. We watched the sunset and drank lemon juice, plus there was a gorgeous little 3 month old puppy that we got to play with. The thing I love about this beach is that not only is it stunning, its quiet. If you want to go down and sunbath you have the choice of the whole beach!
Now it’s just time for us to get ready for our new volunteers & adventure tourers making sure everything is prepared for their arrival. It’s always exciting welcoming new folks to the Bamboo family.Read more
WARNING! This blog will make you #welljel
A TruThai Experience
Arron Barrett | He makes your tour rock!
The past 8 days I have had the incredible pleasure of being a ‘test pilot’ for an awesome new trip put together in partnership with our great mates at www.TruTravels.com. In accordance with our best practice policy it’s imperative that we test drive each and every step of our trips to ensure that they deliver on everything they say they do and to make sure they tickle the parts other tours wish they had!
The aim of this little introduction to Thailand is to cram as much fun, laughs, activities and memories in to this little 8 day trip. You can see more about this trip by checking out the TruThai Intro on our website.
It begins in Asia spiritual home of the backpacker, the Khao San Road. Anybody who’s been through Thailand on a shoestring budget knows this place as the hot spot to meet travellers from around the world. It’s cool, it’s hip and it’s the place to be. On arrival at our first guesthouse where we spend the first two nights I was met by the ‘Two TruGurus’, Ryan and Jack. These guys are #Lads! It was clear from the start that these guys knew their stuff, and instantly made everyone relaxed. That evening pretty much consisted of laid-back group bonding over a few light refreshments and a short introduction into what the tour was all about.
Incredibly the first day was hangover-free! Welcome to Bangkok! After breakfast, the group were given a private river boat tour of the ‘Venice of Asia’ the sites were postcard worthy, and the temples were equally breathtaking. Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) and Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha) were the highlights. 101 photos and a fair few GoPro videos later, the group were whisked around in the classic Thai style, by tuk tuk, before heading back to the guesthouse located just 150 meters from the Khao San Road.
A free afternoon followed the crazy morning and a chance to catch our breath. I had a couple of little jobs that needed to be completed to I headed out for a little bit of exploring. The sights and sounds of the Khao San Road never fail to open the eyes!
After a freshen-up and a light group evening meal, it was time for a round of rooftop bars, buckets and banter at the local bars – and there are a few hundred of them to choose from! The rest is history (which loosely translates to “I can’t remember.”)
The next morning and following a couple of large coffees, the group were treated to either a traditional Thai or Oil massage, from one of the best around. This was fantastic! It was exactly what was needed after the previous nights shenanigans. Late in the afternoon and once we all checked out, it was onto Bangkok train station for the next leg of the journey, the extremely comfortable night train to Koh Sok National Park.
We arrived at Surat Thani at around 7:30am the following morning and were taken to the National Park entrance where we transferred on to a long boat and whisked across this immense lake to the epic accommodation. This place is like nothing you will have ever seen before. Imagine a Jurassic Park scene minus the dinosaurs, on a lake, in the middle of nowhere. Unless you’re a dinosaur, you can’t imagine just how breathtaking this place is.
Once we were all checked-in, the kayaks were out, the splashing commenced and one or two cans of beer were sipped. I can honestly say even after visiting Thailand 6 times, this is in my top 3 things to have experienced. I won’t spoil it too much but the pictures can only give a snapshot of the beauty!
The next morning, breakfast done, it was on to Thailand’s island party capital of Koh Phangan. Before we hit the main town area of Haad Rin we were treated to a hidden gem. A little known paradise called ‘Bottle Beach’ located in the north of island, away from the bars, beach parties and carnage. This place was off the grid and because of this has maintained its quaintness and charm. The resort itself was romantic, and what could be more perfect than your own private hut on the beach. Many A-list celebs have been known to visit this area in the past, and if it’s good enough for Leonardo Dicaprio then this good enough for me! After some volleyball, and a freshen-up, a few well selected tracks were lined up on the Ipod, a mini bonfire was lit and some fire dancing set the scene for an unforgettable evening!
The following afternoon, after a sleepy morning, it was a short hop across the island, and it was time to cross off another entry on the bucket list, a mini elephant trek! #CanThisGetAnyBetter? #YesItCan!
From the elephants in the jungle it was back to civilisation and to lush accommodation. A double bed, WiFi and a swimming pool – oh yeah – and located smack in the middle of Haad Rin town, home to the infamous full moon party!
Once we were all checked-in we headed to a little bar in the middle of nowhere where awaiting us was a live band and some nice vibes. Quite the location, and without the local knowledge there’s no way we would have experienced this.
Onto our final day, and I for one was wondering how the trip could be topped off. Well I wasn’t to be let down by a cruise on the open ocean! Simply put, it was heaven! Golden sands, kayaking, snorkeling, and an oil massage were just a few highlights. The photos say it all, it’s the sort of place that cameras were invented for #MakeYourMatesWelJel
The final evening, the group was treated to a feast on behalf of the TruTravels team, a really nice gesture, and the food was divine! On to the beach for some fire rope skipping, dancing on tables and sharing some buckets with friends. It was the perfect end to a perfect trip!
TruTravels delivered everything they promised. They certainly proved themselves worthy partners of The Bamboo Project and we are all so excited about bringing this trip to you. We can guarantee that you won’t be let down in any way by joining this. The guys at TruTravels definitely share our enthusiasm and passion for all things Thailand. Joining these guys on this trip was an absolute pleasure and one that I cannot wait to experience again, and again, and again!
You can sign up for this 8 day intro to Thailand by clicking here – TruThai Intro for only £425/$713. OR, if you really want to experience Thailand in all of its incredible awesomeness, add this trip to the end of our 21 day Thailand Rediscovered tour to create the 27 day Thailand Tour from Heaven for only £1,095/$1,807!
Tongue Thai’d. Learn Thai Lesson 1.
By Arron Barrett, UK Bambassador
If I’m being honest, learning a new language at school was never the easiest things for me to grasp.
I mean listening to an audio tape of ‘Juan Claude’ telling his doctor “J’ai mal à la tête” or as you would put it “I have a head ache” was never going to get me excited about French. Let’s be realistic, if ‘Juan Claude did have a headache, then why did he go to his doctor about it, surely he was wasting his doctors time? ‘Juan’ needs to man up, take a couple of paracetamol, and have an early night, surely? But that’s another story…
The point I am trying to make is, I had no need to learn French, and because I had no immediate plans to visit France, aged 14, it just didn’t seem logical. BUT if on the other hand I had just booked myself onto a ‘Bamboo-Project’ 2 weeks adventure holiday to Thailand, and I thought I might need to know how to ask a pharmacy for something to ease my sunburn “dad-pao” then I would want to cram as much potentially useful information into my head as I could!
Luckily for you guys and girls, there is not an audio tape in sight. I’ve done the hard work for you and I have compiled a few key words, and phrases that could come in handy, when you embark on your trip of a lifetime.
Beware though, once you start learning the lingo and surprise a few people with your Thai knowledge, this could cause you to look smarter than your average tourist, more polite than person behind you in the queue at 7/11, and who knows, it could even cause the odd Thai local to get ‘Tongue Thai’d’! You have been warned…
Before you start memorising anything, it’s important to remember that the male and female version of many common phrases is different, so I have coloured the boys in blue, and the girls in pink.
Learning the basics greetings, these will come in handy all the time, so it’s worth learning these.
Hello/Hi (Sa-wad-dee-krap) / (Saw-wad-dee-ka)
How are you? (Khun-sa-bai-dee-mai-krap)/ (Khun-sa-bai-dee-mai-ka)
I’m fine(Pom-sa-bai-dee-krap)/ (Chan-sa-bai-dee-ka)
Nice to meet you (Yin dee-tee-dai-roo-jak-krap) / (Yin dee-tee-dai-roo-jak-ka)
Goodbye (Sa-wad-dee-krap) / (Sa-wad-dee-ka)
Goodnight (Fun-dee-na-krap) / (Fun-dee-na-ka)
Good luck! (Chok-dee-krap)/ (Chok-dee-ka)
My name is… (Pom-Chuer (insert your name here) krap) / (Chan-Chue……..(insert your name here)ka)
Once you have mastered the greetings, and want learn some basic phrases, here are a few that will go a long way.
Yes(Chai krap) / (Chai-ka)
No (Mai krap) / (Mai-ka)
Thank you! (Kob-khun-krap) / (Kob-khun-ka)
I apologise (Pom-kor-toard krap) / (Chan-kor-toard ka)
I don’t understand (Pom-mai-khao-jai-krap) / (Chan-mai-khao-jai-ka)
Help me please (Chuay-duay-krap) / (Chuay-duay-ka)
I like… (Pom-chob….krap) / (Chan-chob…..ka)
I love it here (Pom-rak-tee-nee krab) / (Chan-rak-tee-nee ka)
How much? (Taow-rai-krap) / (Taow-rai-ka)
Can I have the bill please? (Kor-check-bin-noy-krap) / (Kor-heck-bin-noy-ka)
Are you sure? (Sure-mai-krap) / (Sure mai-ka)
As for the numbers you’ll be happy to know that the male and female terms for these are the same.
One – (Neung)
Two – (Song)
Three – (Sam)
Four – (See)
Five – (Hah)
Six – (Hok)
Seven – (Jed)
Eight – (Baad)
Nine – (Gow)
Ten – (Sip)
Counting and numbers are actually pretty easy to learn. All you need to know are 17 words and you can then count to over a million! Why you would want to count to over a million however is beyond me!
It’s from my personal experiences that I know if you can learn these few, every day phrases along with the numbers, then you will admired a lot more than your average backpacker. Yes, many Thai people speak English pretty well, and the majority of the time, you won’t need to talk-the-talk, but believe me; it’s worth learning as much as you can!
Finally, I did promise that you may learn something that could get your average Thai local to get ‘Tongue Thai’d’
A big giant chasing a small giant
Pork squid shrimp
Eat stir fried squash in the morning, Eat squash stir fried in the evening
These will take a bit of practice, and I can’t guarantee that you will use these phrases very often, but if you can throw these into a conversation, it may well turn heads and you will look very smug… So good luck, or should I say ‘Chok-dee krap’!Read more
Thai-Fest! The festivals of Thailand
Festivals of Thailand
Arron Barrett | UK Bambassador
We all love a good party don’t we? The people of Thailand are no different. The Thai calendar is inundated with festivals, which are the perfect opportunity for people of all ages to come together and celebrate with family, friends, and sometimes even animals!
Due the sheer number of festivals in the Thai social calendar, many of the events can go unnoticed in a backpackers lonely planet. Others you are sure to find an open invitation to, in every guide book along Khaosan Road.
A good festival will give you a deeper understanding of Thailand, along with their people, culture, and enthusiasm for the sometimes weird as well as wonderful!
Here is a short and sweet top 5 Festivals that you should experience if you get the chance!
Songkran- April 13th (Lasting around 3-5 days)
Simply put, this is Thai New Year. It is by far the most well know of all Thai festivals. Having fun is a big part of Thai culture, and having fun amidst scorching heat is no exception. The hottest month of the year is April, which sees the entire country go wild in friendly water fights that last for days. Who needs fireworks when the clock strikes midnight hey?! An important religious ritual on Songkran is bathing the Buddha image, in which devout Buddhists pour fragrant water over Buddha statues both at the temple and at home. Water is a symbol of cleansing, and I can think of no better way to start the New Year with a cleansed soul. Supersoakers ready? Then let the games begin!
Phi Ta Khon (Ghost Festival) End of June – Start of July (4 days)
Phi Ta Khon, also known as the ghost festival, is held in Dan Sai, a north central region of Thailand bordering on Laos, it’s a little out of the way but it’s well worth the visit if you get the chance.
The festival reflects the regions beliefs of ghosts and spirits in the town. It’s sort of a mix between Halloween and a carnival. The locals call on the spirits (the protectors of the village) and ask for plentiful rain for the coming farming season. Men dress up as spirits in bright colourful costumes and masks; they parade through the town with loud music, plenty of dancing and an all-round great vibe.
This festival is arguably Thailand’s most colourful and if you want a real carnival experience without heading to the Copacabana, then look no further!
Loi Krathong (A selected night during full moon of the 12th lunar month)
Loi Krathong is one of the many traditional festivals of Thailand. It is an evening when the Thai people pay respect to the goddess of the waters by floating candlelit offerings on any and all waterways around the kingdom. Although Loi Krathong is not officially a public holiday, tens of thousands of people still take the time to send their offerings wherever they can. To you and I it is an amazing spectacle, but deeper than that it represents a close bond between Thai culture and water.
Yi Peng (Lantern Festival) 6th November
Yi Peng is celebrated around the same time as Loi Krathong and again it is a festival of light.
For most people, it represents an image which is infamous with Thailand, on the given evening of the festival; the sky is filled with thousands of candle lit sky lanterns which resemble bright stars in the sky. Often messages, prayers, and wishes for good luck are written on the lanterns before they are launched skyward.
There are few words which can describe the emotions of absolute awe one experiences during Yi Peng. It is a tradition that I recommend any visitor to Thailand to experience first hand.
The Monkey Banquet – Last Sunday In November
The town of Lopburi, about two hours north of Bangkok is famous for its ancient palace, and of course it’s monkeys.
Locals believe that once a year providing food for the monkeys (Lopburi’s most famous residents) brings good fortune and prosperity to the town and all that visit it. The feast is also a sort of thank you for the animals whose antics have brought thousands of tourists to the town over the years.
Of course, being monkeys, you can guess at the kind of chaos that reigns. I know some of you at home may be a little skeptical, but when I say banquet I mean a banquet. It has been know that, a selection of the finest chefs across Thailand, prepare 5 star dishes for these little fellas.
One year an estimated 500,000 Bhat (around £9000) was paid on top notch food, now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be the one that has to clear up the mess!Read more
Cambodia Calling? Photos courtesy from Bamboo rockstar Auzita Pourshasb
Let’s just say the pictures she took are simply stunning! Enjoy everyone and thank-you Auzita for your beautiful eye!
If you are anyone you know is interested in joining our unique project/tour spanning across Thailand & Cambodia please check out our Thai Cambo trip for more juicy details! Auzita is also available to chat for any hints, tips and advice on how to fully prepare for the best time of your life! Let us know and we will put her in contact with you.
Photos © Auzita Pourshasb & The Bamboo Project™Read more