Bangkok Readies for Christmas
Bangkok is surprisingly Christmasy considering we are in a Buddhist country. The downtown shopping district is decked out in wonderfully flashy Christmas kitsch. Every evening, we stroll along the elevated walkway between the two super malls Siam Paragon and Central World Plaza to check out the decorations. As Christmas approaches, the holiday displays seem to be expanding exponentially.
While the plaza between Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery is always very colorful, it looks like Liberace’s toy box exploded at this time of year. Blinking, multi-colored arches lead up from the street level to the plaza where two over-sized rabbits in polka dot vests guard the elaborately decorated entrance to the luxury mall. Clearly, the borders between Easter and Christmas are slightly blurred here – but what the heck, it works.
The biggest surprise of this season is probably the amazing decoration at Central World Plaza. During the political unrest in April, part of this mall burnt down and it is now being reconstructed. But even with that, young families with strollers and Thai teenagers with spiky hair visit Central World’s “Fun Park,” a Christmas wonderland with a touch of Oktoberfest. From gargantuan, clear-plastic snow globes to Chang beer bars to Santa sleds covered in fake snow, it looks like Central World has got its Christmas groove back.
But the ultimate Christmas display must be the one at Peninsula Plaza on Ratchadamri Road. Enthusiastic families and couples flock to this mall for a once-a-year photo-op in front of multi-colored lights, gigantic Christmas trees, reindeers and fantasy figures. Afterwards, they stroll to the nearby Buddhist Erawan shrine, a place for silent prayers. Yes, Christmas in Thailand is not necessarily about the birth of Jesus Christ, but more about pure festivity. And what better way to celebrate the holidays than in a sea of happy Thais and twinkly lights.