When Thai-Flemish cultural organization Thaivlac offered to spend a day on the road with their Ram Thai dance group, I grasped the opportunity with both hands. Belgium has a thriving Thai scene and a weekend rarely goes by without some kind of a public event. While these parties, festivals and cultural initiatives primarily used to cater to a niche (ie. Thai) audience, these are increasingly popular and growing out to be wholesome and colorful family outings. They usually include music, dance and Thai food. Thaivlac is one of the organizations that function as pillars of the Thai society: they teach Dutch-Thai and Thai-Dutch languages courses, operate the Thai Belles dance group and distribute a monthly newsletter that lists the upcoming events. Do check their website for both the newsletters and bookings for the Belles. More information on related initiatives and other dance groups coming up. Picture report of my day as a roadie is available here. A few smartphone videos if you continue reading. Thanks for a lovely day!
In my quest for a decent traditional Thai massage in Belgium, I came across Baan Prathumwan in Antwerp. The inside looks like a proper above-average massage parlor like you find them in Siam. Sadly, they could not schedule me in. Next time, I will make a reservation and do a proper review.
The Thai Market in Bredene (Belgium) has been one of the most popular events in the local Thai community for a while. With 3 stages, 4 sitting areas, plenty of authentic food stalls, several booths selling authentic food, the largest Thai event in the Benelux area significantly grew with this year’s edition. Not just in square footage, in visitors as well: the family-friendly event seems to have made its way into the calendar of a wide range of people. Below is my pictorial report, with a personal touch, but still true to the event. As an Easter Egg, Thai popstar Kratae Rsiam does a cameo. Can you find her?
Tjoung Tjoung in Antwerp is one of those rare restaurants that serves authentic Thai food in Belgium. It is situated slightly out of the way at Breydelstraat 16, close to the central train station and mere minutes by foot from the De Keyserlei. Coming from the train station, just take a right at the Australian Ice Cream parlor and keep walking until it appears on your left. With the popular Isaan Café and a Thai massage parlor in the direct vicinity, there seems to be a cluster of Thai businesses in the making.
Looks like there’s a new Thai eatery serving street food in the Van Wesenbekestraat in Antwerp, right in the middle of the Asian neighborhood. Siam Senses‘ interior seems contemporary and even stylish, albeit small. Will definitely swing by for a review, asap.
When Thai Food Café Yam Thai opened in 2013, it immediately received a lot of media coverage due to its owners: Flemish actors Nathalie Meskens and Jeroen Van Dyck. Even though they repeatedly claimed that they are not earning any income from the food bar (*rolls eyes*) reservations need to be booked three months in advance and a second location has been opened. With a Thai partner and a partial residency in the land of smiles, yours truly is always interested in all things Thai in Belgium.
It’s amazing how these your girls can assume complicated poses and make almost unnatural gestures, with ease and effortless concentration. The second video features male-female couple dancing.
From November 11 until November 15, the town of Phimai, in the Nakhon Ratchasima province of Thailand, hosts the famous Phimai Festival. With a daily performance of the traditional musical in the Phimai Historical Park (report will follow later) and a market, a carnival, food stalls and performances throughout the city center, the usually quiet town comes alive with thousands upon thousands of (primarily Thai) visitors. Really worth the visit, especially for the stunning musical. There is also word of a boat race, which I am still looking into.