Saturday, 6 February 2010

Things to do in February

This is a month of red things, with long shining dragons below skytrain stations, Chinese lanterns, love-hearts and strawberries. When I was waiting for a bus to work the other day, the air around the street-market smelled of the usual early-morning grilling chicken and charcoal smoke mingled with velvety perfume from the stalls selling rose bouquets. It's a fun month, with lots going on, but as ever the things that get the big publicity are sales in the giant malls or hotel promotions or big nightclub parties. How to find the cheaper and more interesting diversions? Word of mouth, scouring the internet and boring small-print bits in the Outlook section of the Bangkok Post, or just happening to catch sight of something in the street. I've done a bit of research on likely-looking February happenings, and here present them, in case anyone needs ideas...

Celebrate Chinese New Year

This falls on the 14th of February (a Sunday) this year, and there's bound to be something happening at China Gate in Chinatown on the night. There have been puppet shows and lion dances in past years, and the area is lovely to wander through at dusk, with the lanterns glowing and stalls selling festival treats all along Yaowarat road. Look out for packets of mixed seed and nut brittle and pink and white sugared roasted peanuts.
Getting there: take the metro to Hua Lampong; China Gate is a short walk across the canal and down Thanon Mitaphap Thai-China. This is the symbolic beginning of Chinatown, and the bottom of Yaowarat road.

There are also Chinese cultural shows at Central World on the 6th and 7th (this weekend), from 6 to 8 p.m., showcasing various Chinese performing arts. Nearby is Central Chidlom, which I think has already had its New Year celebrations, but there was a giant lion head sitting in the car park when I went by last night, with red curtains drawn across its maw, which is quite intriguing.
Getting there: both Centrals World and Childom can be reached easily from the Chidlom skytrain station.

Also, Valentine's Day

This year, Chinese New Year is also Valentine's Day. There are all sorts of dinner and hotel promotions all over town, if that's your kind of thing. A lot of nightclubs are also doing Valentine's parties. An alternative is the final night of this year's Concert in the Park series at Lumpini park. These are free open-air concerts by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, usually featuring a mix of classical pieces and showtunes, which run from December to February. It's a nice atmosphere with good music, and you can take a mat to sit on and a picnic (no alcohol in the park, though, unless you're very sneaky). Starts at 5:30.
Getting there: take the skytrain to Sala Daeng or the metro to Lumpini or Silom. I live nearby and so often take the 62 or 67 bus or the 1240 songtaew.

There's also a fun-fair being set up near Central Chidlom. I glimpsed a romantic-looking ferris wheel from the skytrain and tried to find out about it online, but to no avail, so I wandered down there last night and found a sign saying OPEN TO THE PUBLIC 10 FEBRUARY! I'm guessing it's linked to Chinese New Year or Valentine's or both. Looks like fun.

Eat strawberries!

The strawberry season has started. They're grown in Chiang Mai and brought down to Bangkok and we all go mad for them. Expect strawberry-themed specials in restaurants and cafes, and strawberry-sellers in street markets, especially in Old Bangkok and Chinatown.

An assortment of other things worth checking out...

An art exhibition that caught my eye - a photographic interpretation of Thai folktale Khun Chang Khun Phaen by New York artist Bruce Gundersen at the wonderful Patravadi Theatre's gallery. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Follow the link; Patravadi always has lots of interesting stuff going on.
Getting there: From their website:
From Taksin BTS Station, exit at Exit 1 gate
Take Chao Praya Express boat from Taksin pier to Wanglang (Siriraj) Pier
From Wanglang Pier, turn left on Soi Wanglang (the Family Mart is at the corner of Soi Wanglang)
Walk about 600 metres, you will arrive at Patravadi Theatre.

And another - Urban Lines by Mark Schultz, also photography, at Face restaurant. This features retrospective pictures of Bangkok's development. Open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., through March 10.
Getting there: 29 Sukhumvit soi 38, near Thonglor skytrain station.

A book fair at the Siam Society with 'books and journals and postcards and t-shirts and more', TODAY (February 6) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I'm not sure if this is mostly books to do with Thai culture and history or a general book sale, but in any case I will probably be there later, feeding my insatiable book habit.
Getting there: 313 Asoke Montri road (Sukhumvit 21), close to Sukhumvit metro station and Asoke skytrain station.

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