Visitors wowed by 'Thainess'

Visitors wowed by 'Thainess'

Parade dazzles with dance and costumes, writes Ariane Kupferman-Sutthavong

A "Discover Thainess" parade designed to educate foreign visitors about the kingdom's cultural heritage drew large crowds Wednesday evening, dazzling tourists and expats with elaborate costumes and decorated floats. 

The 3.5-kilometre of spectacular parade to celebrate the grand opening of Thailand Tourism Festival 2015 with the "Discover Thainess" campaign is held in the streets of central Bangkok from Jan 14 to 18, 2014. — Post photographers

Locals also joined the hordes of tourists and expats who came to see the eye-catching troupe as they marched down Rama I Road.

Despite a long wait for the parade to begin, the cultural event was a success with visitors.

"I appreciate how much effort has been put into this," said Joe Wastie, an environmental educator from Britain, who has been working in Thailand for five months.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the opening of the event Wednesday, and was briefed by Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul.

Mr Wastie said he was particularly impressed by the traditional costumes and praised the Tourism Authority of Thailand for hosting the event.

"It's nice to be able to see traditional clothing and masks, which I've seen in museums before, right here in the middle of Bangkok," Mr Wastie said.

Matt Malyk, a Canadian tourist, nearly missed out on the performance. "I'm happy to have the opportunity to see this," he said on his last day in the city.

He said he had stopped to watch performers as they rehearsed their show for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and VIP guests earlier Wednesday afternoon. He then decided to change his plans for the day and stay on for the evening parade.

Mr Malyk was particularly eager to see the cultural aspects of Thailand's different regions represented, each with their traditional styles of dance and clothing.

The parade showcased culture from all four Thai regions, said Thanyalak Chaipala, a traditional Thai dancer. Ms Thanyalak was part of the group of performers representing the northern region.

"My performance must convey the softness and beauty of Thai women," she joked, as she tried to put her hair into a high bun. "What I would like most is for tourists to discover a little about Thai culture through this parade, then return to Thailand a second time to learn some more."

Gen Prayut, who presided over the Discover Thainess parade, said the government wants to draw more tourists to the country.

"We want to tell them that Thailand has cultural diversity and a wide range of tourist attractions from mountains and forests to the sea. More importantly, Thais are very friendly and smile at other people easily," Gen Prayut said.

The video below, uploaded to YouTube video-sharing website by Note Zaa on Wednesday, shows the atmospher of the "Discover Thainess" event.

Photos below by Patipat Janthong capture some of the atmosphere of Discover Thailand.

Performers put together a naga show, which drew a large crowd of spectators.

A show depicting a scene from the epic Ramakien (the Thai version of the Ramayana) parades through the Pathumwan intersection and heads towards Lumpini Park during the Thailand Tourism Festival 2015.

A girl takes a photo with one of the masked actors in the Ramakien performance.

A carnival atmosphere : A float depicting the ornate Suphannahong royal barge is pulled through the streets of central Bangkok as part of the "Discover Thainess" parade on Wednesday. The event is being held every day until Sunday to promote tourism. (Photo by Seksan Rojjanametakun)

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