Asia 23 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (3) Lopburi Banquet Where? Lopburi, Thailand When? Late November How long? 1 day Bad table manners? Not to worry. At the Lopburi Banquet (also known as Lopburi Monkey Banquet) in Thailand, you’ll fit right in. This strange feast is laid on in the jungle town of Lopburi, 160km north of Bangkok, to thank the primates ... Read More »

Asia 22 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (2) Dussehra Where? India When? October How long? 10 days A classic good-versus-evii spectacle, this Hindu festival celebrates Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana, as described in the Ramayana. Effigies of Ravana and his family are filled with firecrackers and attacked by people dressed up as Rama, whereby the whole lot goes off in a ... Read More »

Asia 21 – The best of the rest

The best of the rest (1) Chinese New Year Where? Hong Kong When? Late January/ Early February How long? 3 days The best place to welcome in the Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is, of course, the traditional citadel of good times, Hong Kong. Celebrations last for three days, and feature parades and lion dances accompanied by booming ... Read More »

Asia 20 – Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair (2) The camel fair Once you’ve dumped your luggage at whichever tent camp or guesthouse you’ve managed to find a space in, follow the tide of humanity down through the Main Bazaar, and past the northern edge of the lake to the main mela ground. You’ll smell it long before see it. For most of the past ... Read More »

Asia 19 – Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar Camel Fair (1) Where? Pushkar, Rajasthan, India When? Over the full moon of the Indian Kartika month, usually mid-November How long? 3 days For anyone who has ever wondered what a football crowd-sized quantity of farting camels smells like, the Pushkar Camel Fair, on the fringes of India’s Thar Desert in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, is the place ... Read More »

Asia 18 – Phalgun Festivals

Phalgun  Festivals (2) Losar Don’t expect anything austerely enlightened during Losar the three final days of the old Tibetan year: this is Tantric country. Tibetans and Sherpas have a simple formula of massive boozing and feasting, with fireworks (to chase off the old year’s devils) and ritual throwing of tsampa barley flour (it’s a bread fight – who needs a ... Read More »

Asia 17 – Phalgun Festivals

Phalgun  Festivals (1) Where? Kathmandu Valley, Nepal When? Losar Late January or early February Shivaratri The fourteenth day of the “dark fortnight” (the full moon) of the month of Phalgun Holi Begins a fortnight after Shivaratri, culminating on the day of Phalgun’s full moon How long? Losar 3 days Shivaratri 1 day Holi 8 days Kathmandu is blessed with not just ... Read More »

Aisa 16 – Naadam

Naadam (3) Wrestling The wrestling tournament starts after the opening ceremony. More than five hundred of the country’s top wrestlers compete, and the draw is seeded so that, theoretically, the best wrestlers face each other in the later rounds. Matches are notoriously long in the countryside, often taking hours to complete, but new rules in the Ulaanbaatar finals keep the ... Read More »

Asia 15 – Naadam

Naadam (2) Held every July on Mongolia’s vast grassy steppes, Naadam brings the country to a standstill. The grandest event is staged in Ulaanbaatar on July 11-13, a commercial affair nowadays, with plenty of modem touches and side attractions, and all the hustle and bustle you’d expect from Mongolia’s lone metropolis. It’s still a traditional occasion though, with a strong ... Read More »

Asia 14 – Naadam

Naadam (1) Where? Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia When? The national Naadam is held in Ulaanbaatar on July 11-13. Regional naadams are held across the countryside throughout July How long? 3 days Mongolia’s Enin Gurvan Naadam – Naadam, for short (literally, “Manly Games”) – is one of the world’s oldest and most spectacular annual events. After seeing it, you will understand how the ... Read More »