Thai­land’s Cul­ture Min­istry takes a knock­out road­show to Turkey. Thais brace for coun­ter­punch soon.



SHAR­ING the same sport­ing spirit and fas­ci­na­tion with mar­tial arts, Thai­land and Turkey have de­cided to kick 60 years of ties up a notch.

Mark­ing the long friendship, the two coun­tries launched stamps fea­tur­ing their na­tional sports – muay thai and Turk­ish wrestling – in May.

Thai kick­box­ing is pop­u­lar among Turks, with the Muay Thai Fed­er­a­tion of Turkey boast­ing more than 100,000 mem­bers.

So it was no sur­prise when muay thai topped the bill in the road­shows the Thai Cul­ture Min­is­ter towed through Turkey last week. Turks were also treated to pup­pet per­for­mances, Khon (masked dance), modern Thai dance, fash­ion shows, a Thai tex­tile ex­hi­bi­tion and a film fes­ti­val. The tour spanned the cap­i­tal Ankara, Izmir and Is­tan­bul from Septem­ber 27 to Oc­to­ber 6, in cel­e­bra­tion of ThaiTurk­ish Cul­tural Year 2018.

“Thai­land and Turkey es­tab­lished diplo­matic ties in

1958 and both coun­tries’ re­la­tions have been close and cor­dial,” noted Cul­ture Min­is­ter Vira Ro­jpo­jcha­narat, speaking along­side his op­po­site num­ber Mehmet Nuri Er­soy at the open­ing cer­e­mony in­side Ankara’s famed Ana­to­lian Civil­i­sa­tions Mu­seum.

“Bi­lat­eral ties have been up­graded to the level of strate­gic part­ner­ship since 2015.

“Be­sides vi­brant re­la­tions, Thai­land and Turkey also co­op­er­ate in a num­ber of mul­ti­lat­eral plat­forms.”

The min­is­ters un­veiled an ex­hi­bi­tion by Thai and Turk­ish pho­tog­ra­phers, cap­tur­ing the cul­tural and nat­u­ral beauty of their re­spec­tive lands. “In ex­change, Turkey will bring cul­tural shows to Thai­land in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber,” said Er­soy.

Be­fore that, packed Turk­ish au­di­ences were spell­bound by muay thai per­for­mances, Hun Lakhon Lek pup­pet shows, Khon and avant­garde fash­ion by de­sign­ers Pra­pakas Ang­sus­ingha and Ek Thong­prasert, as the Thai road­show rolled into the Cuneyt Gokcer Theatre.

“I re­ally en­joyed the Thai box­ing and fash­ion shows. The pup­pet show was fas­ci­nat­ing too,” said one Turk­ish spec­ta­tor, who de­clined to give her name.

Muay thai also starred in an an­i­ma­tion screened for Thai Film Week at the Grand Pera Cinema in Is­tan­bul.

Pro­duced by the Cul­ture Min­istry, the new film “The Le­gend of Muay Thai: 9 Sa­tra” with Turk­ish sub­ti­tles kicked off the Septem­ber 28-Oc­to­ber 2 fes­ti­val. Turk­ish cin­ema­go­ers were also treated to six other films, fea­tur­ing both con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional Thai cul­ture.

The pro­gramme of award-win­ning films ranged from the re­mas­tered clas­sic “Santi-Vina” to con­tem­po­rary block­busters “The Le­gend of Muay Thai: 9 Sa­tra” and “Bad Ge­nius”, giv­ing Turk­ish cin­ema­go­ers a taste of drama span­ning tra­di­tional to con­tem­po­rary Thai­land.

“Thai­land has al­ways been an ex­otic lo­ca­tion for for­eign films, ow­ing much to her pop­u­lar­ity as a world-renowned tourist des­ti­na­tion,” said Thai am­bas­sador to Turkey Phan­tipha Iam­sudha Ekaro­hit, un­veil­ing the film week.

“There are the crys­tal-clear seas in the South, seen in fa­mous movies like ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’, or the white-pow­der sandy beaches seen in the movie ‘The Beach’. Or the lush forests in the North, and the cos­mopoli­tan set­ting of Bangkok.

“The Thai movie in­dus­try is also very ac­tive and lively,” noted Phan­tipha. “In 2017, there were 52 Thai pro­duc­tions shown in lo­cal cinemas, high­lighted by top earner and in­ter­na­tional hit ‘Bad Ge­nius’.

“Thai peo­ple, like the Turks, love watch­ing movies, and go­ing to the cinema is an ex­pe­ri­ence that whole fam­i­lies share and cher­ish to­gether. Movies of­fer not only en­ter­tain­ment but can also be a win­dow into an­other cul­ture, where we can learn about other ways of life, lan­guages, think­ing and en­vi­ron­ments from the com­fort of our seats.

“And as we learn and un­der­stand each other bet­ter, we can fos­ter and build con­struc­tive and long-last­ing ties of friendship.”

Vira added nearly 31,000 Thais vis­ited Turkey in 2017, while up to 75,000 Turk­ish tourists ar­rived in Thai­land dur­ing the same pe­riod.

“There should be a big in­crease of tourists from both sides af­ter the Thai-Turk­ish Cul­tural Year 2018. With this ‘soft power’, we aim to forge a more cre­ative econ­omy by pro­mot­ing food, fash­ion, fes­ti­val, fight and film. We hope to ex­tend our in­vest­ment [in Turkey] too,” said Vira.

“In 2017, the bi­lat­eral trade vol­ume was around US$1.517 bil­lion. Cur­rently Thai­land and Turkey are in the process of ne­go­ti­at­ing a Free Trade Agree­ment that will pro­mote and in­crease trade and in­vest­ment be­tween two coun­tries sig­nif­i­cantly,” Phan­tipha said.

“We are ex­cited about Turk­ish per­form­ers com­ing to share their arts and cul­ture with peo­ple in Thai­land” in Novem­ber, Vira con­cluded.

Khon dancers put on a show for the packed Turk­ish au­di­ence.

Muay thai per­for­mances high­lighted the Thai cul­tural road­shows in Turkey.

Cul­ture Min­is­ter Vira Ro­jpo­jcha­narat, with his Turk­ish coun­ter­part Mehmet Nuri Er­soy, en­joy the Thai-Turkey pho­tog­ra­phy ex­hi­bi­tion in Ankara.

Avant-garde fash­ion by de­sign­ers Pra­pakas Ang­sus­ingha and Ek Thong­prasert.

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