Tag - puppets

Ratchaburi, Thailand

Ratchaburi, Thailand
Ratchaburi, Thailand
Ratchaburi, Thailand
Ratchaburi, Thailand

Ratchaburi, is located on the banks of the mighty Mae Klong River, just 80 kilometres west of Bangkok. The province is full of areas of natural beauty and historical sites. Surrounded by stunning scenery such as the smoky Tanao Si Mountains, paddy fields and waterways, a great way to see the area is to hire a bicycle and explore.

One of the main attractions in this area is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Visitors flock to this market to discover Thailand’s unique traditional way of trading. Although today the market is dominated by souvenir stands, you can still take a boat trip through the market and barter for exotic fruit.

Ratchaburi Province contains some stunning natural caves for you to explore. Just 8 kilometres from the town you will find the famous Tham Ruesi Khao Ngu, whilst Tham Khao Bin is said to be the most beautiful. 30 kilometres west of the town you will find Tham Chomphon, whilst the mountain top of Khao Chong Phran offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

There are many interesting temples in the area such as Wat Muang, Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Wat Khongkharam and Wat Khanon, which contains an interesting collection of more than 300 traditional Nang Yai puppets.

The area is well known for its abundant history, and a good place to discover more about it is at the Ratchaburi National Museum, whilst the Bo Khlueng Hot Spring is a great place to soak away your aches and pains after a busy day of exploring.

History enthusiasts would do well to visit the Ban Khu Bua Ancient City, which displays many of the archaeological discoveries of the area. The Siam Cultural Park is also interesting as it contains fibre glass wax images of important people such as Mother Teresa, President Deng Xiaoping and Chairman Mao Tse-tung. This display has to be seen to be believed as it is certainly unique.

The province hosts some interesting fairs and festivals and it is worth trying to time your trip to coincide with one of them.

The Ratchaburi Tourism Fair is held annually during February-March in the grounds of the City Hall. Featured activities include demonstrations of famous handicrafts, such as jar making and “Sin Tin Chok” cloth weaving, folk art and cultural performances by local tribal groups.

The Sweet Grape and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Week Fair happens around March-April each year to introduce agricultural produce to the market. This is a good opportunity for visitors to buy agricultural produce such as coconuts, pomelos grapes and lichis at discounted prices.

The Khao Ho or ‘Ang Mi Thong’ Festival is a Su Khwan blessing ceremony for happiness and longevity in life, held around the ninth lunar month. Karen people believe that the ninth lunar month is a bad time of the year, when ghosts and evil spirits hunt and eat the “Khwan” ‘spirit’ of people. During the festivals many traditional methods are practiced to ward off the evil spirits. The elders of each family tie red threads on the children’s wrists and give a blessing for good luck.

Patravadi Theatre – Play Acting

Patravadi Theatre
Patravadi Theatre
Patravadi Theatre

No matter how long I spend in Bangkok, I am constantly confronted by new experiences and unknown treasures. One such gem is the Patravadi Theatre. Located on the far banks of the Chao Phraya River, the theatre is a training ground for Thai artists and it also showcases classical and contemporary work. I first discovered the theatre by accident after getting off the ferry at Wang Lung pier and visiting Siriraj hospital. Afterward, I decided to explore the colourful narrow alleys full of food stalls and small shops, which run alongside the river. At the end of one alley I came across a sign announcing the entrance to the Patravadi Theatre Company and was compelled to investigate.

Choosing the right hand path, I found I found myself in a beautifully ornate Thai-style garden. From June to February, the garden doubles as an open-air theatre, where up to 450 people can enjoy weekend performances. This is Bangkok’s only open-air playhouse and offers a unique experience for those in need of cultural entertainment.

In one corner of the garden, a photography gallery displays images of the performers and stills of the performances. Across the garden is a large restaurant, which offers picturesque views across the river. Known as Studio 9, this Dining Theatre by the River offers entertainment as well as tasty, affordable Thai food.

The theatre was founded in 1992 by Patravadi Mejudhon, who also serves as the theatre’s artistic director. The main goal of the theatre is to provide training and experience for Thai artists. The theatre provides workshops to both professionals and students of the Mahidol Universities. In addition, the theatre’s exchange programme brings directors and choreographers from all over the world to train in Thai classical folk dancing. The site of the Patravadi Theatre was originally home to a school, built by Khunying Supatra Singholaka, Patravadi’s mother. The aim of the school was to serve the community and to this day part of the site has been reserved and maintained for this purpose. The Patravadi Theatre has developed widely since its creation. Its blend of traditional Thai decoration and culture with the addition of contemporary styles makes it a unique experience. Now, with an extra five art centres around Thailand, the Patravadi Theatre continues to grow, occasionally playing host to choreographers, directors and designers from around the world.

Not only bound to Bangkok, the Patravadi Theatre has performed on behalf of the Thai Government in cities such as London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur. The Patravadi Theatre provides both short and long term visitors as well as residents of Bangkok with a much needed dose of culture. Visit www.patravaditheatre.com to find out about current and upcoming events. Special performances can be arranged upon request. For details, contact Khun Arunrak on (66) 018431598 or email anurak@patravaditheatre.com

If you are interested in taking part, contact Khun Pang (66) 01855165541 or email school@patravaditheatre.com

No visit to the Patravadi Theatre would be complete without sampling the refreshments at the Patravadi Restaurant. Open daily from 11 am-9 pm, the restaurant offers relaxing herbal teas and juices, Thai, vegetarian and Italian food and delicious homemade deserts.

About the author:

Kirsty Turner (Kay) is currently living in Bangkok where she teaches English at Rajabhat Suan Dusit. Kay has kindly agreed to write for KhaoSanRoad.com and share her love of all things Thai and, especially, all things Khao San Road!