Respect ...

Phanom (to press the hands together at the chest or forehead in sign of respect/ thanks)
the oldest lady at Thom's Elephant Camp at 58 years, slipped and broke her leg.
She had to be put down and it broke my heart to watch her being buried today.
Phanom grew up with Thom and they used to play together as children.
Sadly, I don't have a better picture of her. I wanted to photograph all of Thom's elephants for our
activities page and was waiting for better weather.
Phanom was an extremely intelligent, and pampered old lady, she enjoyed massages and getting fed only the greenest of greens! She didn't appreciate being fed any food that had been sitting around for very long!
She will be greatly missed.


Cats ...

Or rather, kittens.
We caught two of the cats, its been raining and decided to keep them. They'll be good for keeping the mice at bay …

Actually no. When unwanted animals are born in Thailand, there are two options. They are either killed, or dumped at the nearest Wat.
I visited Wat Nam Hoo recently and saw the tiniest kitten ever — about eight weeks old but minute.
I was touring with a guest at the time, but a week later I returned and looked for the kitten.
One of the monks we asked, said they have many kittens, we can take them all, if we wished!
We resisted and took two. Alexander & Alexander — Alex and Sandy.
Sandy is already making himself useful and caught his first mouse. Alex? Well, he might just still be a little to small. wake-up


wet, wet, wet ...

raining cats and dogs1
It's been raining cats and dogs since a fortnight. Can somebody ask it to stop, I need to cut the lawns ...


Wondering why the shops are shut?

As a country steeped in Buddhism and as a people who revere their kings, Thailand and Thais instituted holidays that revolve around religious festivals and the monarchy. A visit to the country during these holidays affords a glimpse into the psyche of the Thais and their devotion to Buddha and his teachings.
Below is Thailand public holiday schedule 2013–2014. Should the holiday fall on a weekend, it is compensated on the workday immediately following the holiday. Note that on major Buddhist holidays, bars are closed and serving of alcohol is prohibited. A good time to visit Amy's — we are not a bar and we don't serve alcohol, you have to fetch it from the fridge yourself!

Asalha Puja 2013 – Monday, 22 July 2013 Asalha Puja is a Buddhist festival takes place on the full moon of the eighth lunar month. It commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon.

Beginning of Vassa 2013 – Tuesday, 23 July 2013 This day marks the beginning of the Buddhist ‘lent’ period. Buddhist Lent is a time devoted to study and meditation.

The Queen’s Birthday 2013 – Monday, 12 August 2013 The Queen’s Birthday commemorates the birthday of Queen Sirikit in 1932; also observed as National Mother’s Day.

Chulalongkorn Day 2013 – Wednesday, 23 October 2013 Chulalongkorn Day commemorates the passing of King Chulalongkorn in 1910.

The King’s Birthday 2013 – Thursday, 5 December 2013 The King’s Birthday commemorates the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1927; also observed as National Day and National Father’s Day.

Constitution Day 2013 – Tuesday, 10 December 2013 Constitution Day commemorates the promulgation of the first permanent constitution in 1932.

New Year’s Eve 2013 – Tuesday, 31 December 2013 Final day of the Gregorian year. The day before the Western New Year day is always marked a national holiday.

The holidays for 2014:

New Year’s Day – Wednesday, 01 January 2014 Although Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country and uses a luni-solar calendar in observance of its major religious holidays, it considers the first day of the Gregorian calendar as a public holiday. [Making the best of both worlds]

Makha Bucha – Friday, 14 February 2014 The third lunar month in Thai is referred to as “Makha” and “Bucha” means to venerate. So on the full moon of the third lunar month, Buddhists venerate through meditative introspection the three fundamental teachings of Buddha (Ovada Patimokkha) which are to do good, refrain from doing evil, and purify the mind.

Chakri Memorial Day – Sunday, 06 April/Monday, 07 April 2014 King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the 9th king of the Chakri lineage. This day was established to remember the founding of the Chakri Dynasty by King Rama I. He assumed the throne on April 6, 1782. This is a busy day for the Thai monarchy, the government and the people as they pay respects to the previous monarchs by holding religious ceremonies in the royal chapel and laying down wreaths in front of the Royal Pantheon and at the statue of King Rama 1.

Songkran – Sunday to Tuesday/Wednesday, 16 April 2014, 13-15 April 2014 The Thai version of India’s Holi, Songkran is a Sanskrit derivative of “sankranti”, meaning “pass” or “move into.” This is in reference to the passing of the sun to the constellation Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. Songkran, since it was based on astrological calculations, is Thailand’s traditional New Year (it was replaced by April 1 in 1888 and April 1 was replaced by January 1 in 1940). This day is celebrated with sprinkling Buddha images and each other with water (or more like splashing each other with water), offering food to the monks, and going back to hometowns to pay respects to the elders.

Labor Day – Thursday, 01 May 2014 This day celebrates the socio-economic achievements of laborers in Thailand and all over the world.

Coronation Day – Monday, 05 May 2014 King Bhumibol Adulyadej was crowned as Rama IX on this day in 1950. This day is actually a three-day celebration (starts on May 3) that culminates on the 5th of May. On the anniversary of the coronation itself, the King opens several quarters of the Grand Palace that are often off-limits to the public and changes the robe of the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew (the Buddhist temple inside the palace complex).

Vesak – Tuesday, 13 May 2014 Christians celebrate the birth and death of their savior as separate occasions, but Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha as one. Visakah Puja, as Vesak is called in Thailand, is celebrated with giving alms to the monks, giving bath to Buddha images, making merits at the temples (flowers and incense), and chanting sacred hymns.

Asalha Puja – Friday, 11 July 2014 Buddha’s first sermon, which laid down the foundation of Buddhism, is celebrated on this day. Buddhists make merits, perform the “wien thien” or a candlelit procession around the temples and shrines done three times, and hold reunions with the family.

Beginning of Vassa – Saturday, 12 July 2014 Monks roam around Thailand during the dry season to share the teachings of Buddha. But during the start of the rainy season – the beginning of Vassa (rains retreat) – they remain indoors in temple grounds to engage in intensive meditation. On this day, the lay refrain from eating meat, smoking and drinking alcohol.

The Queen’s Birthday – Tuesday, 12 August 2014 On this day in 1932, Queen Sirikit, King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s consort, was born. Because she is regarded as the mother of all Thais, this day is also observed as the National Mother’s Day. On this day, the royal emblems fly and buntings of yellow cloth adorned with the Queen’s portraits are hung outside.

Chulalongkorn Day – Thursday, 23 October 2014 Rama V, more popularly known as King Chulalongkorn, was the monarch who fought off European colonization, making Thailand the only non-colonized Southeast Asian country. King Chulalongkorn was also instrumental in the abolition of slavery, the installation of post and telegraph services, the construction of railways, and the creation of a ministerial system. Thais mourned his death on this day in 1910, and continue to revere the King on the anniversary of his passing.

The King’s Birthday – Friday, 05 December 2014 Rama IX or King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-serving monarch, was born on this day in 1927. On his birthday, Thais display the national flag and put up buntings of yellow cloth adorned with the King’s portraits. The Grand Palace is lavishly adorned on this day, and roads nearby are closed to traffic in preparation for the evening celebrations that attract thousands of loyal Thais.

Constitution Day Wednesday, 10 December 2014 Siam, as Thailand was then known, was once under absolute monarchy (where all the power rests on the king alone). But in June of 1932, the Thai monarchy was upset by a bloodless coup that allowed for the transition towards constitutional monarchy. This means that the ultimate power belonged to the Thai people, and the King’s veto can be overruled.

New Year’s Eve – Wednesday, 31 December 2014 In observance of the Gregorian calendar, Thais also celebrate the final day of the year along with the rest of the western world.


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