Phangan Film Festival – Koh Phangan, Thailand
(Sponsored by S.E.A Backpacker Magazine, February 2011)
- Watching great films under a tropical sky whilst backpacking. It doesn’t get much better than that! Started by world travelers with a love of independent film making and cross cultural learning, the Phangan Film Festival offers travellers and locals the unique chance to see a variety of high quality independent films produced all over the globe. Taking place over three days, tickets are 300 per night or 700 baht for a festival pass. Screenings take place in the open air.
Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony – Trang, Thailand
- Met the love of your life whilst backpacking? Why hesitate a moment longer? Spontaneity is the way to go. Give your folks at home a heart attack and tie the knot in a truly unique way at the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony. Held over Valentine’s Day, couples dressed in traditional wedding dress and suits, plunge 12 metres beneath the water to perform this innovative marital ceremony and (somehow) exchange bubbly vows.
Chinese New Year (In Chinese communities all over South East Asia) 3rd February
- The Chinese New Year marks the first day of the new moon and is a massive event that is celebrated by Chinese communities all over the world. Lasting for 15 days with unique celebrations and rituals taking place on each day, traditionally, it’s a time for families to get together, exchange gifts and eat lots of delicious food! Homes are cleaned for the welcoming of spring, floral decorations and red paper lanterns are raised. Children are given gifts of money in ‘lucky’ red envelopes and adults see it as a time to settle old debts and start afresh. Today, in cities, towns and villages all over South East Asia, a festive atmosphere fills the air. Colourful dragon and lion parades take to the streets, dancing to the rhythm of beating drums and cymbals which are said to drive away any evil spirits. Fireworks and firecrackers can be heard for weeks in celebration of this significant time. Chinese temples are blanketed by clouds of incense smoke as people pray for god fortune in the New Year. Bangkok, Penang and Kuala Lumpur are all great places to witness the festivities, take in cultural performances and gorge on the huge variety of food and drink stalls that line the streets.
Tet Nguyen Dan (Tet) – Vietnam
- In Vietnam, there’s a three day public holiday to celebrate the New Year, ‘Tet Nguyen Dan,’ literally meaning ‘The Feast of the First Morning.’ Derived from the Chinese New Year and celebrated at the same time, the celebration also marks the beginning of spring. The rituals and festivities are very similar to the Chinese New Year in terms of their focus on family reunions and the concept of starting afresh and. In Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and other cities, you’ll find street parties and parades; market stalls bustling with people buying decorations, food, clothes and stocking up on goods for the New Year. All night drumming and fireworks also make this an extremely noisy festival and a lively and highly spirited event to experience.
Marha Puha – Laos
- Taking place on the night of the Full Moon in February, Marha Puha is a festival which commemorates an inspirational speech given by the Buddha, in which he dictated the first monastic rules to a group of over one thousand enlightened monks. In the talk, he also prophesised his own death. Grand parades and the circling of Wats (Temples) with candles take place in many towns across the country, particularly in Laos’ capital Vientiane and in the Khmer ruins of Wat Phu, near Champasak. Religious music and chanting can be heard from worshippers during this sacred Buddhist festival.