Bang Fai Rocket Festival Day


They say a dog is often the mirror of its owner. Yeah, I can agree with that. That’s me pictured on the right. I’m starting to think cameras are the same too. Is it possible that my camera is drinking bucketfuls of beer each day and smoking 40 Wonder Red cigarettes as well, because each time it reaches the climax of its performance the battery goes flat. Yeah, that’s me.

Yesterday (Sunday), Wonderful Wi’s village staged its annual Bang Fai Rocket Festival and within 30 minutes of being there my Samsung camera battery once again gave up the ghost. I failed to capture any of the many rockets in full flight.

Bang Fai Rocket Festival

My day started with me rummaging through my suitcase for something I knew I’d packed before leaving England. Eventually I found her, blew her up and then listened to what Sticky Wiki had to say about the Bang Fai Rocket Festival.

“A Rocket Festival (Thai: ประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟ Prapheni Bun Bang Fai , Lao: ບຸນບັ້ງໄຟ Bun Bang Fai’) is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by Ethnic Lao people throughout much of northeast Thailand and Laos, by numerous villages and municipalities near the beginning of the rainy season. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets. Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia.”

We had travelled to Nong Khai earlier in the day (hence my low battery level), returning to Wi’s village mid afternoon at a time when the village festival was warming up and its revellers were starting to get into the spirit of things.

Here’s a few photographs I did take with minimal commentary attached which show what a great place Thai villages are especially when it’s party time.

Wilai’s village sits next to the Wang Chang River and it is a wonderful picturesque setting for the many festivals held in the village each year.

Entertainment was Isaan music provided by a male singer and a troupe of sexy girl dancers. 

Here’s one very sexy lady who caught my camera’s eye. Micro skirts or shorts and knee high boots seem to be the standard wear for Isaan festival stage dancers.

It doesn’t take much to get Thai villagers on the dance floor, Isaan music and lao khao are the perfect mix to make sure the dance floor gets full.

There was plenty of stalls about selling food and drinks and this one sold miniature rockets for your own Bang Fai celebration. They sold beer too, and Wilai is pictured buying a drink for one very thirsty cameraman.

Now is traditionally the start of Thailand’s rainy season and Bang Fai rockets are fired into the sky as an offering to rain gods who in return will give much-needed water for the farmers rice crops.

Last night in Wilai’s village thunder roared and lightening lit the night sky. The heavens opened and it rained like crazy.

© 2011, Martyn. All rights reserved.

22 thoughts on “Bang Fai Rocket Festival Day

  1. Thanks Mike. It’s just a shame my battery packed up.

    Some of the Thai dancing ladies look real fit in their gear and it was hot enough anyhow as it was. Must have been high thirties.

    I’m doing my posts (and comments here and there) at the moment on my laptop and I’m struggling with its sluggish speed. I keep getting ahead of myself and miss out words.

  2. Talen they sure put a few western women to shame in the fitness stakes.

    You know yourself, when there’s a chance to party the rural people aren’t the sort to miss out.

    I hope you’re now feeling better.

  3. I’ve no idea what you were writing about, Martyn, but you sure got the right pix to go with the story 😉

    Will have to put Nong Khai on my To Do List . . . heheheheh. When’s the next Rocket Festival?

    And don’t whine about the temps. High 30s look good to me from where I’m sitting, the second sunny day in Canada in 21 days!
    SiamRick recently posted..Chilly Canadian spring a shock to my Bangkok bloodMy Profile

  4. Rick – Bun Bang Fai is a big event in isaan and the rockets and partying make it a very enjoyable festival. You must see it one day.

  5. It’s a few years since I was in Isan at rocket festival time, and you have reminded me that I should stay a bit longer next year. Shame about the battery, I was just getting interested in those dancers. I hope Wi repeated that refreshment buying a good few times, the drink is such an important part of this festival. Don’t suppose the phallic element was lost on you, btw. It is all about fertility, after all.
    Lawrence recently posted..Cashew Nuts the last wordMy Profile

  6. Lawrence – I think the dancers are a perfect sign of fertility and encouragement not to have one drink too many. I really do like the Bang Fai Festival, it’s a fun few days. You must stay for it next year.

  7. Paul – There were a few drinking like a fish, including a couple of farang who were there.

    For once I’m quite pleased with my pictures, a few beers must really steady my hand.

    Keep up your guard and keep bobbing and weaving.

  8. Catherine – You’re quite right, in fact where I’m sat in our living room I can see two phom poi ladies talking to Wilai right now.

    I’ve no doubt you are still one fit lass and a lack of sleep also helps keep the calories at bay.

  9. Martyn, when I went to experience the Jumbo Queen Contest that never was, I came face to face with a town full of Jumbo Ladies. To imagine what I was seeing, take a 5′ something body and whack 140 kilos (around 300 pounds) on the bones. I don’t know what they are feeding those ladies in Nakhon Pathom but whatever it is, it’s mighty hefty.

    Sadly, if you don’t keep an eye on it, insomnia can be a weight gainer (your body turns on you) but with perseverance and a lot of Durian sniffing, it can be overcome.
    Catherine recently posted..Thai Language Thai Culture- Spicing Up Your LifeMy Profile

  10. Catherine – Sorry for my very late reply but Wilai and myself are ccurrently enjoying a four day break in Chiang Mai and with so much to see and do I haven’t really been on the net.

    There’s a few calorised girls up here, both Thai and farang.

    I’ve just been outside the hotel (6am) and taken some photos of the monks on their alms rounds. Wonderful sight.

    Off to see the hill tribes today.

  11. Catherine a big hi from Chiang Mai and I hope you’ve had more luck with the hill tribes than I have.

    They looked very Thai-like to me. A big pick up truck and a satellite dish outside. The tour brochure said long necked and big eared, they must have been on about me. Nevertheless I’ve seen some great sights and I’m warming to the city quickly.

    Are there more temples, hotels or massage parlours in Chiang Mai?…I’d say massage parlours would win by a mile.

  12. Good morning Catherine, I’ve just had two coffees for 80 pence plus a tip making it one pound. I love this kind of life.

    Yesterday we went to see (among other sights) the Great Holy Relics Pagoda of Nabhamethanidol-Nabhapolbhumsiri. It was fantastic.

    Have a good day.

  13. Good grief – Nabhamethanidol-Nabhapolbhumsiri is a mouthful! It’s too early for me to get my tongue around (I’m not a morning person). I’ve had two coffees and a Pepsi Max and I’m still not awake. That doesn’t happen until around… ten… noonish… to never.

    Today is my Hill Tribe day so when I drag back in I’ll let you know if it’s successful or not. I requested a ‘real’ experience so the guide just might be giggling away at the thought.
    Catherine recently posted..HouseTalk- Miscommunicating with Your Thai HousekeeperMy Profile

  14. Catherine it is one helluva mouthful and one which I’m not even going to attempt to say. Check it out on the net because it is a smashing place to visit.

    It’s 11-30 morning time and I’m considering having my first beer of the day.

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