Hi from Thailand!
On this website you will see reviews of many of the various trade shows and fairs, as well as other events, in Thailand. Though the shows and fairs may already be over, these articles could still be useful reference because many of these events are held one or more times every year under the same name.
The three most important trade show venues in the Bangkok Metropolitan Area are:
Impact: Impact Exhibition & Convention Center, located in Muang Thong Thani, just north of Bangkok Impact Calendar of Events
QSNCC: Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, centrally located in Bangkok QSNCC Calendar of Events
Bitec: Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Center, located in Bangna, to the southeast of Bangkok Bitec Calendar of Events
Also, for your reference, Thailand's Department of International Trade Promotion, in Bangkok: www.thaitradefair.com
and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, in Bangkok: http://www.tourismthailand.org/index.php
We hope that you will enjoy reading these reviews and will find them useful.
Bob Latini, David Hober
Here is our "Top Recommended Thailand Trade Show" of all those we have covered so far:
OTOP City Fair, Dec 18-26, 2010, at Impact
On Dec 20 and Dec 23, 2010, I went to the OTOP City Fair trade show, which is being held at the Impact Center.
First, a little background on OTOP, which is the acronym for “One Tambon, One Product.” A tambon is an administrative subdistrict of a province. OTOP is a local entrepreneurship stimulus program through which village communities are encouraged to develop quality products to be marketed both domestically and internationally.
I arrived at the OTOP Fair on Monday December 20 at 2:30 p.m., but I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, so I went to the food area at the south end of the exhibition center. There were four aisles of food vendors, and after checking out their wares I decided on the Northern Thai dish called Nam Ngiew, sold at a booth run by residents of the northern province of Phrae.
Nam Ngiew is a somewhat spicy pork sauce with a uniquely tasty flavor. It is made with a red chili paste consisting of dried chili, garlic, shallots and shrimp paste, served like a soup in a bowl with Khanom Jeen rice noodles. The pieces of pork that it contained were good. There were also several cubes of congealed pork blood, which I don’t find particularly tasty but were okay.
The food booth that was doing the best business was selling roti, a type of sweet crepe snack. The sellers were from the southern Thai province of Pattani.
After eating, I started walking around. Next to the prepared food section were several aisles containing various types of food products. A high percentage of this food was dried fruit and dried meat products, as well as salted eggs, spicy sauces, “nam phrik” spicy seasonings, specialized types of rice, crispy snacks, fruit drinks, and much more.
It was nice to see that many exhibitors were offering a sample portion of their products. I had a piece of preserved egg, crispy rice snack, Chinese-style slightly sweet sausage “kun chiang,” steamed black rice, crispy “pla salit” (pilot fish) slices, crispy “mee grob” noodles, dried squid, and tastes of many other food products.
Best of all, there were quite a few wineries exhibiting their products and offering tastes of their wines, though in very small plastic cups. I (graciously) accepted every offer of a wine sample and found many of them quite good, especially the dry ones. As Thailand produces a wide variety of fruit, there was likewise a nice range of tastes. One popular fruit that I had never heard of was called “ma-mao” and was used by a lot of the northeastern Thai vintners, described by one as being somewhat like a prune.
The exhibits seemed to be basically organized in either of two ways: by type of product or province of origin. Additionally, there were miscellaneous booths scattered throughout. I would estimate that there were over 3,000 booths at the OTOP City Fair.
Not surprisingly, silk producers were probably the best represented. By far, most of the silk vendors were from Northeast Thailand (known as the Isan region), with smaller numbers from the North and Central regions. Many of these producers had been recipients of the OTOP 5-Star Award for Excellence, and the silk on display certainly appeared to be of very high quality.
I was quite surprised by the number of producers of batik, which I generally think of as an Indonesian textile. However, there were many booths displaying nice-looking batik, especially from Thailand’s Central Region.
After food products and silk, the next biggest product field was herbal products, I believe. This mainly included cosmetics and therapeutic products, as well as toiletries such as soaps and creams.
Another major product was wickerware, including bags, hats, baskets, furniture, and other wicker products, mainly from the Central Region.
A high percentage of the jewelry on display was beaded jewelry, most of it from the northeastern province of Surin. In fact, I would say that Surin probably had the highest number of booths at the show, as their silk booths outnumbered the other provinces as well. (Surin is perhaps best known to foreigners as the venue of the annual “Elephant Roundup.”)
I’ll mention a few of the minor products that I found interesting:
There were a couple booths selling hard-carved replicas of ancient sailing vessels of Thailand and other Asian countries, made of teak wood. These vessels included Chinese junks, 1,000-year-old Thai fishing boats and transport ships, and Ayuthaya-era (1600-1700s) warships.
There were several exhibitors selling traditional Thai instruments and DVDs of Thai dancing and music using those instruments. At one booth, Ajarn (teacher) Loy was playing along with the video on his instrument, the Pin (a three-stringed instrument sometimes referred to as a Northeastern Thai lute). String No. 1 is A, String 2 is D, and String 3 is a lower A. Ajarn Loy showed me a basic pattern and asked me if I wanted to try it. Sure! It wasn’t easy, as it was somewhat different than a guitar, but it would be fun to learn.
At another booth, the seller was playing the Khaen, a Northeastern wind instrument made of thin tubes of bamboo, which sounds both happy and slightly mournful at the same time. He showed me how to play a couple of notes.
The next music booth featured the Pong-lang, a xylophone-like instrument of the Northeast. After a brief demonstration by the seller, I was again offered the chance to play. Using two curved sticks, I played along a little and found the Pong-lang a bit easier than the Pin and the Khaen. In each case the backing music track was a single chord (A minor, I was told) played by guitar and bass, with the distinctive and important rhythm played on drums and other Thai percussion instruments.
I bought two DVDs featuring music played on those three instruments and others, for 80 baht (US$2.67) each.
There were several booths selling straw mats and other straw products. Some other booths were selling cushions, mainly the triangular bolster cushions which are very popular here.
One man was selling jewelry of a strange metallic green color. It turned out to be made of the wings of an elongated beetle called “malang tup.” He had several bags of these beetles (dead, wisely) which he said he raised in order to make the distinctive jewelry from their wings.
Continuing on with the insect theme, one vendor had made sculptures of ants standing erect (and playing guitar!) out of the pits of some kind of fruit, connected by wire. They were about seven inches tall, and some of them were cute, while others were fairly weird-looking.
There was a lot of cotton clothing on display. One vendor’s wares were entirely in light-brown or khaki colors and looked most suitable for desert warfare. Another vendor’s textiles were made of fibers from the banana tree and had a rough, interesting texture. There was quite a bit of nice indigo-dyed clothing from Sakhon Nakorn province.
Several vendors from Nong Bua Lamphu were selling a product which their literature referred to as a “natural sponge.” It was made from a gourd that was dried out until only the inner fiber remained. In addition to sponges, it was used for other bathing accessories, most notably as a back scrubber with the fiber mounted on a wooden handle.
I found a lot of wooden products that were very well made and utilitarian, such as axe handles, spatulas, spoons, slingshots, and an unidentifiable device that looked like a metal hook with wooden tips. As the vendor was very busy with other customers at the time, I failed to learn the purpose of that particular gizmo.
Oh, at another booth there were also a bunch of cylindrical wooden objects which looked exactly like baseball bats, only shorter. Knowing that baseball is not at all popular in Thailand, I asked the vendor their purpose, and wielding one in the air, she told me that it could be kept in one's car for use as a defensive weapon.
I was pleased to find the booths of 32 Centers for the Disabled at the fair. These centers included facilities for the blind, autistic, crippled, mentally disabled, and various other disabilities, all from the Central Region of Thailand. I am a volunteer each week at a center for the disabled in Nonthaburi province, so I was interested in talking with the staff of other centers. The residents of these centers had made various handicraft items for sale at the show. I purchased some jewelry, decorative items, and other crafts.
The most impressive item was the line of greeting cards designed and painted by the residents of the Thai Disability Independent Living Foundation, in Nakorn Pathom province, http://www.tddf.or.th. On the front of the card was a picture, often of a nature scene, and on the back of the card was a small photo of the resident, giving his/her name and type of disability.
I bought a colorful card of a bird in a tree, designed and painted by Ms. Jintana Tongdonmuen, whose disability is quadriplegia (partial or total loss of use of all limbs and torso). The photograph shows Ms. Jintana in her wheelchair in front of the easel, painting by holding the brush with her teeth, with the end of the brush inside her mouth and the bristle part extending straight out from her mouth. The design is called “Nok Noi” (Little Bird) and is Code Number 0075 in their line of cards.
The OTOP City Fair covered eight exhibition halls, and there was so much to see at this trade show that I had to return on December 23 in order to catch it all. I have covered that information above, but I’d still like to mention the food I had on my second day there.
On that day I arrived at 1:00 p.m. ready for lunch. I went immediately to a booth selling food of the southern province of Phattalung, which I had seen and considered on the first day. I had a spicy pork curry dish, served on rice, called Moo Phad Phrik Kaeng. Moo is the Thai word for pork, and Phad Phrik Kaeng means that it was stir-fried in curry powder.
By 6:00 p.m., I had finished visiting the exhibitions, so I thought I’d eat there again before I left. Conveniently, there was a prepared food section at each end of the fair, so the food stalls were right there where I finished. I decided on a stewed beef soup, Thai Islam style, sold by a family from Pathum Thani, a province just north of Bangkok. It was well seasoned and very tasty, so I got directions to their regular shop, called Aree Khao Mok Kai, which is near the rear of the Thammasart University branch on Vipawadi Rangsit Road. I also bought a glass of fresh cold coconut milk from another booth.
To get to the trade show, I took the BTS Skytrain from Ekamai Station to Victory Monument Station. Under the expressway near the monument is a terminal for passenger vans going to various parts of Metropolitan Bangkok. From there I took a van to Impact Center for 25 baht ($.83). The OTOP City Fair runs from December 18-26 and is really worth a visit.
Next is an article on the most recent trade show that we have covered, followed by our archives: