Sunday, 17 August 2014

Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show, Chiang Mai

"Khantoke" is a Thai Lanna tradition, it means  the act of serving small dishes in a tray to be sampled by diners seated on the floor at dinner time. Traditional Lanna Khantoke dinner is the combination of classical Thai dance and excellent food. For just around 500 baht you will enjoy a night of good Thai food and great entertainment!

At present as you will see from the picture above, the guests are given a choice to be seated Lanna style (traditional floor seating) or be seated in a western style in regular chairs at a table as they dine.

The Khantoke is the red circular wooden tray set on pedestal that serves as a table. 
Even at present day, Khantoke is still being served to guests at various ceremonies like celebrations (birthdays, wedding, housewarming, etc) or even funerals. 

Lower right side is my designated place and Khantoke! right in front of the stage.. yebahh!! 

During my one week business trip to Chiang Mai, though alone, I made sure to book one night for this cultural dinner and show to make my stay memorable. The rate was inclusive of round trip transportation service from the hotel to Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center. When you arrive at the venue, you will have to remove your shoes. The decorations and the hostesses in their traditional attire are already a feast for the eye! You will have your designated place, for me since I was alone, I was seated in the very front.. hehe

During the meal you’ll get a chance to sample several typical Northern Thai dishes, Chiang Mai Style : Banana Fritter, Clear Vegetable Soup, Sticky Rice or Steamed rice, Deep Fried Chicken, Fresh Fruit in Season, Crispy Pork Skin, Stir – Fried Mixed Vegetables, Crispy Rice Noodle, Pork Curry with Ginger and Tamarind Chiang Mai Style, Grilled Young Chili Paste with Steamed vegetables - Minced pork and Tomato Sauce and a choice of Coffee or Tea. 

As you enjoy your meal, you will be entertained by a selection of northern cultural performances including the charming Fon Lep (Thai Finger Dance), Ram Dab (Thai Sword Dance), Fon Thiean (Thai Candle Dance), and Ram Wong (Group Dance). 

Let me share some of my shots of the dancers:

Fon Lep (Thai Finger Dance)

Ram Dab (Thai Sword Dance)

To end the evening everyone will transfer to a different venue for a special hilltribe show performed by various members of Yao, Lahu, Meo, Lisu, and Karen hilltribe.

The show and the dinner lasted for about 2 hours. A definitely must do in Chiang Mai!

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Monday, 11 August 2014

Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai

Wat Chedi Luang (Temple of the Big Stupa) is Tripadvisor 2014 Travelers’ Choice as the #1 attraction in Chiang Mai. It is a Buddhist temple located within the city walls, in the historic centre of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I know you are curious about the meaning of "Chedi" and "Stupa" as me, well according to wikepedia, "it is a mound-like or semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation"

The main historical significance of this temple is that it housed the Emerald Buddha for a period before the relocation to Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew due to an earthquake which damaged the temple and the Chedi.

The construction of the temple started in the 14th century during the reign of King Saen Muang Ma, 8th ruler of the Mengral dynasty. It was initially planned to house the ashes of his father, Ku Na. The construction and expansion of the temple was continued by later kings, reaching its final form in 1475 during the reign of King Tilokaraj. The King made it the home of the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred religious treasure of Thailand. Unfortunately, due to a severe earthquake in 1545 during the reign of Queen Mahadevi the temple and the chedi was heavily damaged. 

the damaged chedi at its present state, the stone nagas (water serpents) and statues of elephants standing on guard
At its prime, the chedi measured 82 metres tall and 54 meters wide which is the largest temple during that time. After the earthquake the chedi was reduced to nearly half. In 1992, the chedi was reconstructed, financed by UNESCO and the Japanese government. The naga (water serpents) staircase on each of its faces and statues of elephants were brought back. The restoration of the chedi was however never completed, leaving it at its present state but despite its ruined state, the chedi still has several Buddha shrines and remains an active place of worship.

At present as you can see in the pictures, the Wat Chedi Luang now rises to about 60m in height and 44m wide. It has four sides, each with a monumental stairway guarded by stone nagas (mythical snakes) and Elephants  standing on guard.

the stone nagas (mythical snakes) standing on guard
the assembly hall (large viharn)
Here is the impressive large viharn (assembly hall) next to the ruined chedi. This structure was built in 1928.

entrance of the large viharn (assembly hall)

interior of the assembly hall
Impressive interior right? It has round columns supporting a high red ceiling.

The hall contains a standing Buddha known as the Phra Chao Attarot which is made of brass alloy and mortar.  The Buddha dates from the time of the temple's founder which is King Saen Muang Ma during the late 14th century.

Wat Phan Tao
Sharing the grounds of Wat Chedi Luang is another temple, Wat Phan Tao. Beautiful wooden carvings! This wooden viharn aside from the impressive wooden carvings also contains a large reclining Buddha.

Reclining Buddha

One thing I failed to take a picture of is a great Dipterocarp tree located next to the entrance. Legend has it that if this tree will fall, a great catastrophe will follow.  Well, I hope this tree will live forever!

  •    Sacred Destinations
  •    Wikipedia   
  •    Asian Historical Architecture
  •   Tourism Thailand

All photos used in this post are owned by the author.

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