The Wan Lai Bangsaen Festival took place on 16th-17th April 2009 on Bangsaen Beach. This is the annual water flowing festival that takes place a few days after Songkran. People in this area of Chonburi Province are descendent of Mon and they celebrate Songkran later than the rest of the country. The highlight for the Bangsaen festival is the sand pagodas that are built on the beach on the first day of the festival. It is traditional in temples all around the country to make merit by building sand pagodas. In Bangsaen the local people build both gigantic and beautiful sand pagodas. This morning the judges chose the best looking pagoda.
The ceremony this morning started shortly after 7 a.m. with chanting and offering alms to the monks. This was followed by pouring scented water over the hands of elders and on a Buddha image.
Later the local people took part in fun and games on the beach. This included relay races (see above) and tug-of-war.
One of the most fun competitions to watch is “sea boxing”. Two competitors face each other astride a pole. The winner of each round is the one who manges to stay on the pole. It is not easy to box and keep your balance on the pole. If you slip off you fall into the water.
There were also some more traditional games played by the local people which included this running game and saba where they have to flip a small wooden disc to knock over the disc belonging to a competitor.
In addition to all of this the rest of the people were busy on Beach Road throwing buckets of water at each other. I suppose if you are going to play Songkran then the best place to do this is on the beach. If you get all wet and dirty with white powder, you can always go and jump in the sea! Bangsaen is only an hour or so away from Bangkok and is the capitals nearest beach. This is a great place to come and relax and eat in the shade on deckchairs.
I will post more pictures on our ThailandQA.com Forums. Information about this festival was posted in advance on our forums and over at our website www.ThaiFestivalBlogs.com. Make sure you bookmark these two sites if you want to experience some festivals that many foreign tourists don’t get to see.