Sunday, September 1, 2013

Thai Birthday Party

My son was invited to his first birthday party in Thailand this weekend. The party was for a classmate who is Thai, so we knew we were in for a treat. While it seemed like a typical party for a six-year-old, it also felt distinctively Thai.

A map to the birthday party on the invitation. Luckily, we didn't have to use it because another parent saw us on the street and picked us up in her luxury SUV on her way to the party. Beats an old taxi any day!
The parents, who are both doctors (doctors are revered as much as teachers in Thailand, after the king and monks), live in this fancy development very similar to the one we live in, about twenty minutes away. Even the houses look the same as the ones in our neighborhood. They have a big, gorgeous koi pond in their yard with a bridge going over it. A "team" of three people was there to entertain the party guests -- all seven of them. There was a huge spread of food -- dim sum, rice, duck, fried pork, crudite, drinks, fruits -- for the parents. We are more used to just snack foods and pizza! They also had a large, keg-like container filled to the brim with ice cream for the kids and parents.

When I asked the birthday boy's mom if she needed any help, she said, "It's okay, I have my maid." She gestured toward a woman refilling a table with drinks on it. I saw her throughout the party running around refilling plates and glasses, and making sure that no one had to go without anything for even a second. She also put together all the food for the party. No one, especially the kids, bothered to pick up after themselves. After all, that's what the maid is for, right?

The entertainment part of the party was most interesting. The kids were divided into two teams, and they remained in their respective teams throughout the entire party. They played games and points were tallied for each team. Whichever team "won" by the end of the party got to pick out prizes first (the equivalent of goodie bags in the U.S.).

Some of the games they played were fairly common, like tug-of-war and a relay game involving water. But some of them made it seem like a variety show! It was hilarious. For example, in one game, each team had to eat a small piece of sponge cake. Once that was finished, one person from each team moved on to the next "station" to drink a cup of milk. Then each team moved on to the third round, where the kids had to try to blow up a balloon. None of the kids could blow up their team's balloon, except my son, who blew up his team's balloon and helped his team win that game.

Another amusing aspect about the party was that this was the first party that we attended where we rarely knew what was going on. Most of the parents spoke Thai and the entertainers all spoke in Thai. Luckily, some of the moms I've befriended speak English pretty well and they would translate for us. The kids also were very thoughtful and translated for my son during the games.

At one point, it got too hot to play outside, so the party was moved indoors for a while. The kids immediately got into this closet that was FILLED with toys from top to bottom. It was crazy how much stuff there was.

I also found it interesting that all the parents at the party acted like the paparazzi, taking pictures non-stop. Usually, in the U.S., only parents of the birthday child would be taking pictures or videos throughout the party. Here, all the parents were constantly asking the kids to pose and then everyone would take pictures en masse. My husband and I appeared downright apathetic and negligent as we stood to the side watching the circus. I hadn't bothered to bring my camera since it was not my kid's birthday party! At one point, I swear the parents spent at least 20 minutes asking all the kids to pose, individually and in groups, and taking pictures.

The party lasted 3.5 hours, three hours of which were filled with entertainment. By hour two, which is usually how long the parties we've attended in the past 6+ years have lasted, I was ready to get out of Dodge, but we had to stay for the cake and singing in the last half hour. The cake was a gorgeous chocolate cake that was handmade by the birthday boy's neighbor. It was delicious!

All in all, it was an interesting and entertaining way to spend our Sunday afternoon. And I got to meet more parents from our class in a more casual setting, which is always nice since I don't usually get to talk to any of the parents at school because they just stick with those they already know and those who can speak Thai.

The prizes my son "won". Yes, that's another pig -- his favorite animal -- on the left.

A candle my son made during the party.

1 comment:

  1. he heh . . . on the papparazi behavior, and the horrid length of it all
    but, did your son have a good time :)
    phyls in dc