Friday, July 25, 2014

Getting into the spirit of Thailand

Back in Bangkok, a thousand travel writers and promoters from 34 countries were brought together for the Thailand Happiness festival, starting with some agreeably short speeches from the DG of Thai Tourism and the Commander-in-Chief himself. It's all about reassuring potential tourists that Thailand is safe and welcoming, and eager to greet them. "We are willing to service you forever," in fact, according to the headphone translation. The finale of the ceremony was the popping-up from the audience, 'Love Actually' style, of singers who came together on stage to sing a catchy number.

It did of course help that before all this, there had been a cocktail reception with liberal offerings of alcohol, most notably a drink based on Mekhong, a mysterious spirit which general opinion declared to be rum, but which was light and fruity and eminently drinkable. So after the speeches we were well primed to troop down and out into the street for the start of the party. There were balloons, there was a rain of sparkly confetti, there was a poor excitable drone that collided with the roof over the stage, and there was a parade.

It wasn't a parade in the OTT Malaysian sense, but what it lacked in numbers it made up for in enthusiasm: chefs, dancers, musicians, Miss Thailand... All very jolly and well received by the public standing grinning in the 28-degree darkness. Dispersing afterwards and wandering along the street, the smiles continued, from people manning food stalls, selling clothing, personalising handbags, driving tuk tuks, or just out like me enjoying the vibe.

Moving pictures here.

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