Monday, August 24, 2009

Touring Around Pak

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Here we want to present you a tour started from our guest house, Pak Chiang Mai. This is a walking trip to see famous temples and landmark inside the moat area of Chiang Mai. You'll get to see 11 temples and one historical landmark so you might have to planned on what temple you'd like to stop by because if you want to visit them all, it might take more time than you expected.

Just by walking along on this path we created might take about an hour to finish. We have create a must list for you to make sure you won't miss the most spectacular building around this path.

Start from Pak Chiang Mai, the nearest stop that you could take is just like 20 metres far. Phor liang Meun Pottery is the first place you could visit. This place holds a lot of Buddha statues and Chiang Mai traditional style pottery.

Now the next important stop would be Wat Chedi Luang, a giant pagoda with it's top collapsed by the force of earthquake during 1545AC. There are 3 temples on the road before you'd hit Wat Chedi Luang, which are Wat Fon Soi, Wat Ched Lin, and Wat Chang Taem. Drop by on whichever you feels like.

The next stop will be an area around the Three Kings Monument. You can find something to eat around here as well as something to take a photo with as well. Wat Inthakin, Wat Duang Dee, and Wat Phan Tao are your choices to visit.

As you go along the road to Wat Pra Singha, which is the next big stop, you can visit Wat Pha Bong, which located right at the intersection. Note that Wat Pra Singha is as big as Wat Chedi Luang and could take some of your time on photographing.

And Now you may finally head back to Pak Chiang Mai. There are 2 temples left for you to visit if you'd like to, which are Wat Pra Chao Meng Rai and Wat Phan Waen. There is also a good restaurant located at the trisection before Wat Pra Chao Meng Rai called Huen Phen Restaurant if you'd like to try out their food.

So decide your own stop! The length of this tour mainly based on how many temples you visited and how long you'd spend time with.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Songkran, and merry makers are out on the streets!

"Farangs" are their favorite targets. So if you're one, prepare to get WET!

This water-throwing custom have come from the belief that the sea serpents or Nagas make rains by spouting water from the ocean.

Songkran, which is also the traditional Thai New Year, and for that matter the time for renewals, throwing water is like a ceremony assuring that there is ample water for the next year's crops.

Songkran is celebrated nationwide from April 13-15. And although the festival is a time to reflect on life's blessings and to pay respect to elders, in Thailand it is more associated with water throwing.

During this time of the year, families gather in their hometowns and make merit together. By doing so, they mark the end of the old year and welcome the incoming one. The word Songkran actually means "to move" or "change places". The three official days of the festival represent the last day of the old year, the transition day and the first day of the New Year.

On the first day, people "send off" the past year by holding several activities. Houses are cleaned thoroughly, while Buddha images and statues are bathed in scented water. Parades are staged in every town and Buddha images are carried to temples.

The second day sees families making merit with monks in the morning and ushering the arrival of the new year in the evening by splashing scented water on each other. It is believed the water will help remove bad luck. But today, this practice has evolved into a spirited competition of throwing huge amount of water at one another.

On the last day, people pay homage to ancestors, seek forgiveness and blessings from elders by sprinkling water on them.

Tourists should expect to be targeted by children and teens on the sidewalks, all of whom are armed with water guns and drums of water. Others hide in trucks and pick ups and are waiting to dump buckets of water to unsuspecting. Take everything in stride and try to participate in the water throwing itself. Best of all, have fun.

Like in other areas of Thailand, pickup trucks loaded with young people and a barrel or two of clean water drive around the city. Armed with water guns, buckets, or any vessel that can hold water, these people go hunting down willing victims to soak.

In another scene: Groups of people (all wet) stand in front of open shops, or just beside the road, armed with water pistols and large barrels of water wait for passersby. Of course, some people will try to avoid a likely ambush, but as quickly as they move out, a pickup truck-riding gang will drive by out of nowhere, and douse them with cool water.

Anywhere, the objective is to get as many people possible to drench. It's chaos, but absolutely an extreme fun that lasts three days - or even longer in other parts of Thailand.

The cultural values of Songkran are expressed through the various ceremonies and rituals. And the meaningful aspects of Songkran are varied and rich in tradition.

The first is Thanksgiving, a demonstration of gratitude to individuals who have done good, or have shown goodwill and are worthy of respect and recognition. Thanksgiving is demonstrated in the bathing of Buddha statues with lustral water and the pouring of lustral water over the hands of elders and respected individuals, as well as other outward demonstration of respect.

The second cultural value is loyalty to ancestors, which is achieved through merit-making.

The third focuses on the individual's sense of awareness of his/her responsibilities towards the family and home. It is demonstrated through the traditional ceremony of spring cleaning.

The fourth value addresses the importance of religion and highlights the well-defined roles and responsibilities of the temples and monasteries on the one hand and the community served by the religious institution on the other.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A festival of floating candles and flying lanterns

Chiang Mai is well-known for its two important festivals: Songkran, Thailand traditional New Year and the annual winter fair called Yi Peng, better knows as Loi Krathong, celebrated on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, which usually falls in November.

In the North, when the cool winds blow through the hills and forests, and the fields of rice - heavy with grain - catch the golden rays of the evening sun, it's time for the eagerly awaited harvest. Yi Peng, the annual winter fair, celebrates this harvest and all the good things associated with it. Yi in the northern dialect means "two" while peng is equivalent to "phen" or "full moon" in the central Thai dialect. Thus "Yi Peng" means "Full moon night of the 12th lunar month".

On Yi Peng night, the full moon send cool rich light across the night skies. Romance and magic fills the air, highlighted by the lanterns and krathong (traditional banana leaf float) floated on the sacred Ping River by the locals. The Yi Peng Festival of Chiang Mai is said to have come from the Brahmin belief of floating away evil, or in worship of the god Shiva who is said to reside in the middle of the ocean.

There are also others who believe that the festival was held to commemorate the belief that Lord Buddha left his footprints on the banks of the Nammatha River on the night of the full moon in the 12th month. Thus, lanterns were floated in the waters in worship of the Buddha's footprints.

Villagers of rural Thailand also maintain that the festival is held to show penitence to the river goddess. The lives of the villagers are dependent on the river, they use the water for drinking, washing, making a living, and for disposing of refuse. Therefore, they make an annual show of respect and gratitude to the river by floating a krathong holding lit candles, incense. The people of Chiang Mai also float lanterns into the sky during the festival, believed to have been derived from Burma when Chiang Mai was still a vassal state of that kingdom. The "sky lanterns" have become a specialized art, unique to the north.

The lanterns are made of "saa" paper or colorful cellophane, glued onto a bamboo frame in a shape the maker desires, usually rectangle or cylinder. Hot air or gas is let in at the bottom to lift the lantern into the air. Firecrackers are sometimes attached to the lantern, giving off a battery of cracking explosion when the intern is floating.

"Saa" lanterns contain a small fire lit inside, and these are breathtaking as they float off into the dark sky in numbers. Another kind of lantern is the smaller version made of cellophane on a bamboo frame with lit candles inside. These are hung around temples and houses. Some gates are decorated with twigs, leaves, or coconut branches, on which such lanterns are hung. This tradition is called making a "Jungle Gate". As you look over the Ping River on Yi Peng night, you'll see three distinct types of floats - "krathong sai", "krathong lek", and "krathong yai" or "krathong luang".

"Krathong sai" the simplest version, is made of sliced trunks of banana tree decorated with candles stringed together, numbering the same as your age or more. Floating away this krathong is equivalent to floating away your bad luck. "Krathong lek" is made of banana leaves decorated with flowers, looking similar to a lotus blossom. Couples often float each of their krathong lek together, a gesture seen by the local folk as very romantic.

"Krathong yai" is made by the Chiang Mai municipal office as part of the Nang Noppamas procession. On the eve of Yi Peng, the procession goes through the main thoroughfares of the city, and eventually ends at the Ping River where crowds of people are waiting to watch the spectacle. Seated within the krathong is Nang Noppamas who has been selected from the numerous northern beauties. A contest is also held to pick the most beautiful krathong.

Loi Krathong will be celebrated throughout the city especially at the Tha Phae Gate from 6p.m. to 10p.m. Yi Peng will be held on November 8 and can be observed behind Maejo University at San Sai District, about 12 kilometers from the city proper. An estimated 1,000 lanterns are expected to be released.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Guests' blog about Pak

There were some guests that spent some times with us and they sent me a link to their blog. They was writting about us! so... here's the link.

- Credit goes to Martin Haslebacher.

And another one that was written in chinese...

- Many thanks to Daisy Su.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Yea, It's just started.

OK, this is a message from admin of this blog.

This blog is still under construction. Don't expect too much of it just yet. If you need more details about Pak Chiang Mai, visit our website at

We offer you more than just a place to stay.

- Admin