Now I am in Brussels and yesterday, Sunday September 12, I took the opportunity to attend the fifth 'Essence of Thailand' festival which has become an annual event here in the capital of Europe. The Thai community of Belgium was out in force along with a swirling mass of Belgians and expats. The festival takes place on a town square in a leafy suburb of eastern Brussels. Such is the popularity of this day I feel sure it will be forced to move to a larger venue at some point. The main square itself is quite large and houses the main stage, numerous stalls representing the major Thai restaurants in Belgium and tables and chairs for the consumption of the Thai food and the ubiquitous Singha beer. A narrower side street off the main square houses a much smaller stage and many arts and crafts and massage stalls. By midday this street is more crowded than Chinatown in Bangkok. If you do not mind being gawked at by hundreds of passers-by, you can get a head, foot, or limited body massage here. I prefer to wait till I am back in Thailand! The two stages were the setting for the usual Thai classical dancing, folk dances, nail dance and Thai boxing demonstrations. This year participants from the crowd were encouraged to join the dancers on stage! Errrrmm........I may be demonstrating a lack of sanuk here, and I sincerely hope all said participants enjoyed themselves, but middle aged Belgians attempting to mimic the graceful Thai dancers was, well, let's just say a bit painful to watch :-)
As usual it was a great day. To smell the aromas of Thai cooking from the 30+ Thai food stalls, to taste the spicy Thai food, to hear the Thai music and the excited chatter of the numerous Thais gathered together in this foreign land, and to see the elegant Thai dancers, singers and artists was indeed a feast for the senses.