Pattaya celebrates a wet,
wild and peaceful Songkran
People across the eastern seaboard pray for harmony in the land
Young people are taught to carry on the gentle Thai traditions of doing
good and making merit.
Staff of Apakorn Kiatwong Hospital in Sattahip, pour sacred water and get
blessings from their elders.
It’s celebrated everywhere from China to Vietnam – but
nobody does Songkran quite like Pattaya!
After more than a week of water warfare, Pattaya
officials and business leaders called this year’s Thai New Year celebration
a success with hotel occupancy rates of 80 percent and healthy takings at
the register. Outside of chronic traffic problems and frayed nerves,
problems were minimal.
While Thailand’s annual festival is supposed to begin
April 13, Pattaya, as usual, got underway earlier, with beer bars jumping
the gun by offering customers tanks of water starting on April 12. With
police reluctant to keep foreign water slingers out of traffic lanes, Beach
and Second roads were brought to a crawl throughout the week.
The festival progressed with non-stop water fights along
Beach and Second roads and Soi Buakhao through to April 19. Despite promises
to crack down on the use of high-pressure PVC water guns and water play
after dark, Pattaya officials seemed to do nothing on either front, leading
to numerous fights, motorbike accidents and online reports of well-dressed
tourists getting drenched long after the traditional 6pm. cutoff time.
On the whole, however, serious problems were few,
according to Chonburi Provincial Police Maj. Gen. Suwira Songmetta. Police
set up stations around the city to provide water, coffee, cold towels, foot
massages and practical assistance to Songkran revelers in need.
City-sponsored efforts to reflect the more-civilized
Songkran tradition played out in Naklua on April 18-19 with blessing
ceremonies and parades.
The Kredkaew Sub-district Municipality in Bang Saray held a sand stupa
At Lan Pho Park, offerings were made at 7am to 99
Buddhist monks, a gentle sprinkling of water onto the Buddha’s image and a
blessing for the elderly. At noon a Buddha’s image procession moved to
Naklua Market, allowing people to sprinkle water before a full day of water
throwing, pouring and shooting madness began.
In Pattaya, locals didn’t wait until the official start
of the April 19 ‘wan lai’ celebration, taking to the streets before
midnight the night before, even dousing well-groomed tourists on Walking
Street with unwelcome buckets of water well into the wee hours.
Revelers use skin whitener to help lighten the highway
police volunteer’s skin.
The city’s events began at 7.30am at Chaimongkol Temple
in South Pattaya with the sprinkling of water on Buddhist monks and his
image. Elderly people were sprinkled at 8.30am with people asking for
blessings and a Buddha’s image and flower parade from the temple along Beach
Road to the Dolphin Roundabout followed. Beach Road was closed until 8pm
with all streets in the western part of the city gridlocked by holiday
City officials participated in reverent ceremonies at
places like the Diana Garden Resort where Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome, Tourism
Authority of Thailand Pattaya Director Niti Kongkrut, police and
businesspeople joined to bless the elderly and pray for good fortune.
A demonstration of love and frolic on Sukhumvit Road.
Kongkrut said that Songkran had been a welcome boost for
Pattaya, with hotel occupancy running at 80 percent thanks in part to
Bangkok residents fleeing political protests.
The Sattahip area paid more heed to the gentle tradition
of Songkran with the Royal Thai Navy taking the lead in honoring its
The Naval Recruit Training Center provided lunch to
Buddhist monks and sprinkled water on them while the Marine Corps opened up
three decommissioned fighter planes to tourists.
Meanwhile, at the Commissioners Club, Vice Adm. Theerawat
Srisathaporn, commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, led officers and their
families in paying homage to Navy dead as well as making merit with monks.
Tourist attractions also got into the spirit, with
elephants at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden spraying water on tourists and the
park’s director submitting himself to a dousing.
In the Kred Kaew Sub-district, villagers joined to
restore a temple with new sand and create artwork to help with meditation.
Students got the day off to get wet.
Thousands of revelers pass the Hard Rock Hotel
on Beach getting a good
dousing from the mayor.
Rather than being dispersed people welcomed
off by the city water truck.
Songkran Pattaya style.
Beach Road became a battle ground but all in good fun.
Naklua residents had their own version of Songkran on
Sacred Relics of Lord Buddha on display at Khao Kheow
Thousands of devout Buddhists attend colourful ceremonies
The relics are ceremoniously placed in their place of
Visitors to Sriracha’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo had a chance
to pay homage to Lord Buddha’s relics on the occasion of the traditional
Songkran celebrations to welcome the Thai new year.
Suriya Sangpong receives the holy relics from a revered Sri Lankan monk.
The lavish and colourful ceremony was held on April 10,
when the management led by Suriya Sangpong performed ceremonies of placing
the scared relics on the altar for the devout to pay their respects. The
relics were on display until April 17.
The belief throughout the history of Buddhism is in the
benefits for the reappearances of these Buddha relics. Before he passed on,
the Buddha once said that by seeing His relics, it is like seeing the Buddha
Himself. Thus, the Buddha relics are the symbols of qualities of the
Buddhahood and the characteristics of enlightened body, so therefore it also
represents that the Buddha is always turning the Wheel of Dharma
The ceremony included a group of religious dancers from
Sri Lanka called the “Pe-Ra-He-Ra” who danced and sang ahead of the
The “Pe-Ra-He-Ra” is a religious parade commonly held
when relics are presented for display anywhere in the world. It is an
ancient ritual from the time of King Sirimekawan of Anuratpura from C.E.
301-331, who obtained the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha from India.
Relics ensure that the presence of the Buddha is
perpetuated after the passing of the Buddha. They are generally fragments of
cremated bones. However, some relics can even appear pearl-like, translucent
Before the first century, relics were a key instrument in
the spread of Buddhism in helping to establish new centres of religious
significance. The practice of venerating relics and images has played a
central role even in Buddhist traditions that strongly emphasize that
Sakyamuni Buddha was a human being who died and is no longer able to aid his
followers. Buddhists have always held in high regard the relics of
enlightened beings. The relics embody those beings, and are also a powerful
means by which their wondrous qualities may be recalled. As such, relics
inspire great faith and devotion.
The “Pe-Ra-He-Ra” ritual performers dance and sing around
First Pattaya Fashion Week sets Guinness Book world record
Jeannette Rodrigues wife of the Philippines
receives a bouquet on behalf of all the ambassadors’ wives.
Models and community leaders strutted down a 1.5 km
catwalk to help set a new world record as part of the first Pattaya Fashion
Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Polabut led the
procession on April 9 down the catwalk from Central Festival Pattaya Beach
to Walking Street. He was followed by Patchima Tanasanti, director-general
of the Department of Intellectual Property, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and
Y.W.C.A. Bangkok-Pattaya Center Chairwoman Nittaya Patimasongkroh and of
course, a string of stunning models. In doing so, they set a new Guinness
Book world record for the longest-ever catwalk.
The event, which saw Beach Road closed to traffic on
Friday night, created near gridlock on adjacent streets and was part of the
four-day fashion “week.” Other events included shows from top Thai designers
and wives of 14 foreign ambassadors wearing Thai silk gowns.
Ambassadors’ wives from Bulgaria, Hungary, Kenya,
Luxemburg, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia,
South Africa, South Korea, Spain, and Ukraine all donned gowns from
designers including Praepetch, Viengthaisilk, Polini, Niramon, All Lit Up,
Puvasa, Asada, B-Bee Za, Tiara, and Happy Heart.
Some of the Pattaya dignitaries who were part of the
People line the 1.6 kilometer cat-walk along Beach road
stunning models as they walked by.
Songkran festival explained
and performed for city expats
MC Les Edmonds, 2nd
left, introduces the Nai Amphur of Banglamung,
seated far left, who graciously accepted the PCEC’s invitation to celebrate
a traditional Songkran ceremony with some of the PCECs ‘senior’ members,
Richard, Cliff, John and Michel.
This week’s meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC)
on Sunday, April 11 was at the temporary location in the Rim Suan Room of
the Amari’s Garden Wing. The Club has been meeting there while the regular
meeting place Henry J. Bean’s Restaurant is being renovated. Since the
meeting fell just before the start of this year’s Songkran celebrations, the
PCEC continued its tradition of having a Songkran celebration to show some
of the traditional aspects of this often misunderstood Thai festival.
Before the Songkran talk and ceremony began, ‘Sig’
Sigworth advised club members to use and care and diligence when using ATM
machines in Pattaya and beyond, in order to avoid being scammed by
Members and guests were greeted with a flower garland and
invited to pour lustral (scented) water over the Buddha image placed at the
entrance to the meeting room. Master of Ceremonies, Les Edmonds, welcomed
everyone to this annual event and advised that the usual meeting format
would be deviated from by having the opening announcements, upcoming events,
and Open Forum with Harry “Sig” Sigworth completed prior to starting the
Upon completion of the regular Club business, Master of
Ceremonies Les welcomed the Club’s honoured guest, Khun Mongol, the Nai
Amphur (Chief) for the Banglamung District and thanked him for again
participating with the Club in this celebration. He then mentioned that Khun
Sermsakdi, an honorary member of the Club for many years, had again made all
the arrangements for decorations and the wearing of traditional costumes for
the event. Khun Sermsakdi then gave a brief introduction to the Songkran
Noi Nongkoonoi, manager of the Sanctuary of Truth here in
Pattaya, describes the origin of the celebration of Songkran and also
explains the purpose of the Sanctuary of Truth, which is not a temple, but a
haven of peace, philosophy and understanding.
Songkran is considered the Thai New Year and is a time
for families to be together. Khun Sermsakdi explained that the younger
generations give blessings to their elders for a healthy life by pouring
lustral water over their hands and receive a blessing from their elders in
return. He said that similar ceremonies are often held in the workplace at
this time of year.
Then, Khun Mongol and four of our Club members were
invited to sit at five decorated tables on the stage. These members were the
Club’s Chairman Michel de Goumois, Board member and former Chairman Richard
Smith, and members Cliff Hagarman and John Hall. Once situated, members of
the audience approached their tables and poured scented water over their
hands in a show of respect, receiving their blessing in return.
After the ceremony, our other honoured guest, Khun Noi
Nongkoonoi was introduced. She is the manager of the Sanctuary of Truth here
in Pattaya. Khun Noi briefly mentioned that the three days of Songkran are
celebrated in Thailand based on the local customs of the area and may differ
somewhat from place to place. She said the first day is New Years day and is
celebrated by the family. The second day often involves going to the
Buddhist temple to honour the Buddha and monks. The third day is more for
the water festival that most of us are familiar with – the throwing of water
on all and sundry, which is greeted as great fun by the Thais.
Khun Noi then mentioned that the building of the
Sanctuary of Truth was started in 1981 by Kuhn Lek; a very successful
businessman with manufacturing and insurance interests. She explained that
the structure was not a temple but a sanctuary of peace, philosophy and
understanding. The major world religions are equally depicted in parts of
the Sanctuary. She invited everyone to visit the Sanctuary to see the
building and other sights that are there as well as participate in some of
the activities that are available. She pointed out that the admission price
of 500 baht is the same for everyone, Thai and foreigner alike.
Rotary leaders from 3 districts in Thailand meet in Pattaya
Presidents Elect receive intensive leadership training
By Staff Reporters
Rotarians in Pattaya and the eastern region played host
to more than three hundred Presidents elect and Assistant Governors elect
and from 3 Rotary districts in Thailand at a training seminar held at the
Pinnacle Grand Jomtien Resort & Spa on March 26-28. This seminar is held
every year to train the incoming leaders of Rotary clubs held in their
respective districts and countries all over the world.
Past Rotary International President Bhichai Rattakul, spoke on the
principles and significance of the Four Avenues of Service.
Learned facilitators from the various clubs in district
3340 shared their knowledge and experiences to the incoming leaders who will
be taking up their role and responsibilities as of July 1, 2010 for a term
of one year.
The Multi District Presidents Elect Training Seminar
(PETS) was organized and chaired by Past District Governor Premprecha
Dibbayawan on behalf of the 3 incoming district governors, namely DGE Dr.
Pornchai Boonsaeng of District 3330, covering the south of Thailand, DGE
Thongchai Lortrakanon of District 3340, covering the east and north east of
Thailand and DGE Dr. Virachai Jamroendararasame of District 3360 covering
the north of Thailand.
District Governor elect of district 3340, Thongchai
Lortrakanon introduces the Rotary theme for 2010-11.
DGE Thongchai took to the stage and introduced the new
Rotary International President for 2010-11, Ray Klinginsmith, who announced
his theme to more than 500 district governors elect from around the world at
the International Assembly held in San Diego, USA last January.
“Klinginsmith said he arrived at the theme after
reviewing RI themes of years past. He noticed that only a few spoke to
“As a result, I decided to search for a briefly stated
theme that would fulfill two objectives: the first to explain Rotary to
non-Rotarians, and the second to validate our work for Rotarians,” he said.
“The words I have selected to describe Rotary’s current mission and to
highlight our achievements are what we do best: Building Communities —
The theme was received with enthusiasm by the incoming
presidents and they pledged to uphold the principles and values of Rotary
which is to server mankind.
District Governor Elect Thongchai Lortrakanon thanks
Pattaya Mayor Itthipol Khunplome for his staunch support for Rotary
activities and for hosting the dinner function that evening.
Past Rotary International President Bhichai Rattakul,
spoke on the principles and significance of the Four Avenues of Service,
which are Rotary’s philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which
club activity is based. Khun Bhichai gave an outline of the 4 avenues of
services which are: 1. Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and
ensuring the effective functioning of the club. 2. Vocational Service
encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice
high ethical standards. 3. Community Service covers the projects and
activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community, 4.
International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary’s
humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and
peace. Of the four, PRIP Bhichai asked Rotarians to stress on giving
Vocational Service their special attention.
The purpose of the presidents-elect training seminar
(PETS) is to prepare incoming club presidents for their year as president,
to give district governors-elect and incoming assistant governors the
opportunity to motivate incoming presidents and build their working
Incoming presidents were trained to understand their
roles and responsibilities, club administration effective service projects,
supporting The Rotary Foundation which contributes large sums of the money
to implement humanitarian projects. Effective public relations was also
impressed upon the future club leaders. Each district fielded District
Trainers led by DGE Somphop Thirasan (3330), PDG Pratheep S. Malhotra (3340)
and PDG Anuwat Puvaseth (3360) and their team of expert trainers.
After a hard day in the meeting rooms guests were treated
to a grand buffet dinner held on the lush lawns of the Pinnacle right on the
Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Khunplome was on hand to welcome
the visitors from all over Thailand where he was thanked for his generosity
in sponsoring the dinner event.
To show appreciation and gratitude on behalf of Rotarians
in Rotary district 3340, PDG Peter Malhotra presented Past President Ingo
Raeuber with a Paul Harris Fellow Award. Ingo who is the general manager of
the Pinnacle Hotels, Resorts & Spa, received this most distinguished Rotary
award in recognition of his commitment to high ethical standards in his
business and profession.
He was also commended for his work and support for
humanitarian projects especially for underprivileged children. Ingo has
organized many Youth Leadership Camps, the objectives being to help develop
leadership skills amongst youngsters, particularly relating to the
hospitality industry, and to show them practical aspects of the sufficiency
economy whose concept was developed by His Majesty the King.
Ingo and his team at the Pinnacle Grand Jomtien Resort and Spa were also
thanked for their superb service and support for the Rotarians during the
PDG Peter Malhotra presents the Paul Harris Fellow Award
to Ingo Raeuber
and explains its significance to the audience.
Nurses from the Bangkok Hospital Pattaya were on standby in case first
aid was needed.
Past assistant Governor Onanong Siripornmanut leads the training sessions
for incoming presidents of Rotary Clubs in the 3 districts.
Entertainment was provided by the Pinnacle Dancers and an exquisite
‘Khon’performance featuring episodes from the Ramayana.
District Governor Elect Thirayud Watanathirawoot (2011-12)
from Khon Kaen (center) enjoying the evening with fellow Rotarians.
The 4 incoming Rotary District Governors in Thailand who
will ‘Build Communities and Bridge Continents’. (l-r) Dr. Virachai
Jamroendararasame (3360) with spouse Dr. Busapong, Suchada Ithijarukul
(3350), Thongchai Lortrakanon (3340) with spouse Wipapan and Dr. Pornchai
Boonsaeng (3330) with spouse Waraporn.