The World Sand Sculpture Festival, the largest indoor exhibition of its kind, is being held in Thailand for the first time. It opened in late November in a field on New Srisothon Road (next to Carrefour; about 800m from Wat Sothon) in Muang district, Chachoengsao Province amd is scheduled to run until March 28.
Covering an area of 12 rai, the festival features 80 works of art created by 70-plus sculptors from the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the US, Thailand and other nations.
In all, more than 40,000 tonnes of sand were used to create these ephemeral masterpieces, all of which are protected under canvas in carefully controlled and ventilated conditions designed to prevent them from being damaged by the elements. The display is divided into three sections.
- Royal Projects Zone: Exhibits depict themes related to development projects initiated by HM the King and various achievements of the latter during his 60 years on the throne.
Here you will find sand sculptures depicting, among other things: the award-winning Chai Pattana aerator, used to treat polluted water, which was invented by His Majesty; Bhumibol Dam; royal rain-making schemes; His Majesty's Micro Moth sailing boat; a jazz band; plus Mae Fah Luang Gardens and Doi Tung Royal Villa, residence of HRH the late Princess Mother.
- Thai History and Literature Zone: Housed in a darkened marquee, this collection of 11 sculptures, highlighted using light and sound effects, draws its inspiration from our collective past and characters depicted in classical Thai literature. Exhibits include depictions of the yak, the giant mythological demons that stand guard in front of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha; Chachoengsao's most sacred landmark, Wat Sothon Vararam Voraviharn; and King Naresuan the Great in the field of battle.
- International Sand Sculpture Zone: The final section is home to sculptures from the 13 countries participating in the festival. They capture a selection of famous landmarks and scenes from around the world including the Eiffel Tower; the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace and Big Ben - both in London; the Statue of Liberty against a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline; Japan's Mount Fuji and geishas; plus the Great Wall of China embellished with a dragon.
Younger visitors can try their hand at making a sand sculpture and there will also be games and stage performances to entertain visitors. Admission costs 80 baht for adults and 40 baht for children and the festival is open on weekdays from 10am to 7pm, on weekends from 9am to 8pm and on public holidays from 8am to 10pm.
For more details, phone the TAT Region 8 HQ on 037-312-282 or 037-312-284.
Celebrating the arts in Sydney
Opening this Saturday, the Sydney Festival harnesses all of this city's energy, scale and splendour into a celebration of dance, theatre, visual arts, opera and music. Incorporating more than 100 events and 780 artists from around the world as well as a much-heralded outdoor programme - including the Domain concerts - the festival presents the very best of international and national performing and visual arts. With many free events alongside premier ticketed cultural events, the event offers something for everyone. The proceedings are due to wind up on January 26.
For more details, see http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au.
Abseiling in Khao Yai
Here's one for thrill-seekers: A tour company based in Nakhon Nayok called Sarika Adventure is organising an excursion to Khao Yai National Park where participants will rappel down a series of sheer cliff faces and waterfalls using safety ropes and protective gear.
The one-day trip costs 1,900 baht per person (the cost is based on a group of eight people). For those who want to see a little more of nature, a one-night, two-day package is priced at 2,900 baht.
For more details or reservations, call 037-328-432 or 081-251-8317.