Dec 02 2011
Music. Tents. Omelettes. Massages. If you want a true “Thai” experience, head to Thailand’s biggest music festival, the third annual Big Mountain Music Festival (BMMF3) on December 10-11, 2011 in Bonanza Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima. Most tourists travelling through Thailand don’t get to experience Thai music, besides the occasional Thai hit blasting on your taxi’s radio, so this festival is a perfect way to fully immerse yourself in young Thai culture.
Khao Yai, in the Isaan region, is the oldest and most frequented national park in Thailand, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is rich with vegetation and wildlife, and a perfect area to go hiking or swimming in the waterfalls before or after the festival.
With 65,000 attendees and more than 400 artists last year, BMMF3 is coming back for its third year, this time boasting a new line-up and look. The event will feature popular Thai bands with major record labels like Crescendo and Lipta, old-time classics like Boy Peacemaker, and some lesser-known budding artists.
Then there’s the brand new ‘Club Cake’, a space for dancing and loud beats. The name is an ode to the many newlyweds who met and fell in love at the first two BMMFs. ‘Mun-Nai (Mak)’, which translates to ‘Fun-Inside (Very)’, should be very fun inside, with an ‘islander’ vibe and chilled out tunes. ‘District 9’s’ description is good enough to quote verbatim: “led by aliens from the mothership and its spacecrafts, with numbers of rockers tagging along to fill up the stage”. Where aliens come in, I do not know, but the design team, Supermachine Studio, has been working months upon months on this otherworldly stage.
‘Cow Stage’, an ode to the event’s mascot, Mr Steak (a cow), will host a montage of genres, from pop to Ska. The ‘Ferris Wheel Stage’, formally known as the ‘Main Stage’, is an architectural feat, with main indie headliners scheduled like Slot Machine and Palmy (if Vanessa Carlton and Shakira had a love child, circa 2002). The ‘A-Ko-Jorn (Wicked) Pub’ is a nightclub under a carnival tent, with a self-purported dark and ominous ambiance.
Most of the music, of course, will be in Thai, or an interesting hybrid Thai-English mix, but that’s all the fun, right?
If more than 400 artists and six stages isn’t enough for you, the two-day event also offers a flagship store with souvenirs, where you can get a T-shirt with a cow on it and explain to your lame friends at home you went to a Thai music festival. If you want to break away from the blasting sounds, there’s also the ‘Lai-Plah-Muek (Squid’s Shoulder) Theatre’ with contemporary, and probably strange, artwork.
Take a nap or get a back massage at the ‘Refreshing Unit’, with hammocks swinging from bamboo poles, or enter the ‘Kao-Kai-Jiew‘ (stir-fried egg with rice) contest to vote on your favourite vendor. Of course, any Thai event wouldn’t be complete without a shopping centre; the ‘Sam-Yan Street Market’ is set to offers handicrafts, fresh food, drinks, and even hairstyling. If you’re still bored, there’s always the bumper cars.
To sleep, you can stay at one of the many guesthouses in Khao Yai (though, be warned, the traffic getting to and from the festival will be painful), or reserve campground. For those without tents, you can pay 800 baht for a plot of camping ground and a tent, which you get to take home. Just don’t forget to bring your own sleeping bag! For 350 baht, you can reserve the camping ground alone. There are two camping zones, and plots are available at a first-come, first-serve basis, so come early.
Tent and campground reservations, along with tickets, can be made by calling Thai Ticket Major (TTM) (T: 262 3456, 9 for English) and paying at a 7-eleven. Tickets are 1,800 baht.
To get to Khao Yi, take a mini-bus at Victory Monument or from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) for around 250 baht, depending on the bus company. Travel time is approximately 2 to 3.5 hours. Expect delays upon entry to the park.
Festival attendees can also hitch a ride to the festival for 550 baht, with buses leaving from Mo Chit at the North Exit fence area at 08:30 on Saturday, December 10 and returning to Bangkok at 09:00 from the TTM ticketing point on Monday, December 12.
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