The Songkran celebration, also fondly known as ‘Thailand’s Water Festival’, is an annual celebration that marks the beginning of the Thai’s traditional New Year. This celebration falls on April 13 and will last 3 days until April 15 each year.
What Happens During Songkran?
The Songkran festival is all about cleansing, purification and having a fresh beginning to a new year. In fact, the name Songkran itself comes from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘approaching’. Hence, during the 3 days celebration, Thais will have their houses cleaned and organize processions with Buddha statues carried through the streets for people to wash it with scented water. Also, temples will showcase bathing rituals where devotees will pour water on senior Buddhist monks as a form of blessing to them.
Of course, what is Songkran without a huge water fight? Expect large-scale water fights on the streets of major cities in Thailand where people arm themselves with water guns and pails to splash water on anyone around them. Not only is this an amusing way to celebrate the New Year, but the water soaking signifies washing away bad thoughts and to bring about good luck and great blessings to the person being splashed. A fun way to bless someone indeed!
Where Is It Celebrated?
All throughout Thailand! But the massive water fights will usually happen in major cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In rural areas, it is celebrated in a more traditional manner with activities that are focused more on the religious aspects of the festival.
Songkran is also celebrated in other parts of Southeast Asia, especially in Cambodia, Burma and Laos.
Is Songkran Only For Thai People?
While originally a religious event for Thai people, Songkran has evolved into a fun-filled celebration that welcomes anyone with a penchant for fun and revelry. So, Songkran is for everyone! As long as they observe the basic etiquettes and common respect of the Thai people and their culture, travellers and foreigners are welcomed to join in the fun…
We hereby wish everyone Happy Songkran 2019! May you be blessed with good fortune all through the year. And… prepare to get soaked!!
It’s that time of the year again where we celebrate love and affection with our significant others. This year, how about doing something different with your partner aside from the ‘traditional’ candlelight dinner and a movie date? Here are some refreshing ideas for a different Valentine’s date this coming 14th February…
Giving Love Back To Society
Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating the love between couples. How about making it more than that and spread love to others? You can plan some charitable activities with your partner at a local animal shelter, an orphanage or the old folk’s home. Not only will you be able to bond better with each other over some good work, you will also be touching the hearts of others you’d helped. Now, that’s celebrating love all right!
Love Over A Campfire
Give yourself, and your partner, a breath of fresh air and set off into the great outdoors! Plan for a one-day camping trip at a local national park or campsite. Revel in the beauty of nature and experience the ‘Day Of Love’ from a whole different perspective. Come nighttime, set up a tent by a cosy campfire and stargaze with your partner while roasting some marshmallows and drinking some hot chocolate. Inexpensive, yet beautiful and memorable…
Cooking Up A Delicious Storm
Skip the expensive restaurants. Cook up an elaborate feast in the comfort of your home instead. Team up with your partner and gather some recipes, do some grocery runs and prepare to be master chefs at home! Even better, have a friendly competition and see who has the best creation. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your bonding over the cooking. The end results will taste sweeter than any dish you get elsewhere.
A Pampering Day Out
Your body needs some love too! So, how about arranging for a ‘spa day out’ with your significant other and enjoy a rejuvenating and refreshing therapy for your mind and body. Thai Odyssey offers couple massage rooms where you can enjoy massage therapies such as our popular Traditional Thai Massage or Thai Aromatherapy Massage together. Or indulge yourselves in an elaborate spa experience with our Ultimate Thai Odyssey service, available at our selected outlets. No matter which service you choose, you will go home feeling energized and ready to take on the day.
With 2019 just around the corner, everyone is scrambling to make plans on how to welcome the New Year. If you are clueless on what to do on the Eve, here are a few ideas to help you usher in 2019…
For The Revellers – Visit A Local Fireworks Event
Nothing beats ushering in the New Year with loud, bright and colourful fireworks! Check out your local fireworks events and arrive early with family and friends for a ‘display of colours in the sky’. For KL folks, you can always visit the Suria KLCC while for Petaling Jaya friends, Sunway Pyramid and The Curve will be hosting their own shows. Those in Shah Alam can join in the fun at Setia Eco Park’s own countdown party.
For Homebodies – Host A Potluck Party At Home With Family Or Friends
If huge crowds and loud music isn’t your cup of tea, then host a potluck party in the comfort of your own home! This way, you can ‘control’ the level of noise you want your party to be at and invite family or close friends with whom you are comfortable with. Plus, a potluck party means lots of yummy chow to last you through the New Year.
For Couples – Have A Relaxing, Low-Key Date Night
Arrange a date night for just the two of you. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Something as simple as a romantic dinner at a quaint restaurant followed by a movie will ensure a night that you will cherish for the rest of the year. Here’s a tip: Make an advanced reservation at Thai Odyssey and surprise your significant other with a soothing massage treat to end the year on a relaxing note. We are open during the holidays, but do book early to avoid disappointments!
For Nature Lovers – Go Back To Nature
Forget the fireworks, the people and the city! Plan an excursion into the wilds and usher in the New Year among nature. Be it a cabin retreat in the suburbs, a camping hike into the wilds or a drive to the beach to take in the sound of waves, you are in for a different kind of New Year countdown. After all, the sky is always filled with its own light shows in the form of twinkling stars.
Thai Odyssey hereby wishes all our friends a Happy New Year 2019! May you have a wonderful and bountiful year ahead!
Hefei is Anhui Province’s capital and also its largest city. This metropolitan is also the province’s main economic and cultural centre. As such, there are quite a number of attractions that will make you fall in love with the place at first sight. Here are some places you should visit whenever you are in Hefei, China.
Located right in the middle of the city, this lake is like a sanctuary for people to escape the noises and busyness of city life. The lake is surrounded by lush greeneries and trees, providing shades on a hot day. There is also a walkway and bike paths surrounding the lake making it perfect for a refreshing stroll. Lining the landscape are a collection of impressive and artsy high-rise buildings. Given the right weather conditions, these buildings will be reflected on the pristine waters of Swan Lake, providing a picturesque scene worthy for your cameras. And if you are lucky, you might also spot a swan or two!
The Memorial Temple of Lord Bao
Lord Bao was an extremely renowned officer during the Northern Song Dynasty, famed for handing out fair and sound judgments as a judge with an outstanding personality to boot. This temple is built to commemorate him and is among the most famous in China. The temple features statues, pavilions and stone inscriptions all related to the life and stories of Lord Bao. There is also a Waxwork Museum, a Cultural Gallery and the Main Palace Hall for you to explore and delve into the interesting legend of this great Judge.
Sanhe Ancient Town
The Sanhe Ancient Town is a water town with a storied history 2,500 years in the making. The name Sanhe, which means three rivers, is derived from its location, having the Fengle, HangFu and Xiaonan rivers flowing right through the town. Most of the buildings here still retain its original architecture dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasty. Among the attractions inside the town is the Wangyue Pagoda, an ancient 7-storey pagoda housing treasures and artefacts of ancient dynasties, and the Crane Cottage, the former residence of the famous Qing Dynasty General, Liu Bangzhang, which has been wonderfully preserved until today.
HuaiHe Lu BuXingJie
Loud, lively and colourful, HuaiHe Lu BuXingJie is a must-visit if you love shopping for knick-knacks and tasting Hefei street food at its best. This pedestrian-only street is packed full with department stores, food kiosks and souvenir booths on both sides. When the sun sets, out comes the night market with its own unique offerings. There are a lot of hidden gems and tasty treats along this street. Take enough time exploring it and you will have the most memorable street shopping experience.
Port Dickson isn’t just about the sea and its beaches. This seaside town also hosts a collection of great eats that will delight your taste buds to no end. If you happen to be in town, do visit these 4 places for a taste of what Port Dickson has to offer.
Lucky King Bun at Taman Aman
An enormous fluffy bun filled with thick and savoury curry sauce with selections of pork or chicken and potatoes. What’s not to love! Each of Lucky King Bun’s signature ‘curry buns’ easily feeds 4 people and is extremely popular with the locals and tourists alike. If you are in the mood for something spicy and unique, this is the place to visit.
King’s Char Kuey Teow (Halal) at Jalan Pantai
Craving for some char kuey teow? Then give King’s Char Kuey Teow a try! They serve some unique variations of the popular dish. It is not just cockles we are talking about here. Their char kuey teow comes with choices of lamb, grilled chicken, squids and even crabs! Come here if you want some adventures with your plate of fried flat noodles.
Gim Men Teppanyaki at Kg Arab
What is a seaside town without its share of fresh seafood? This place has it aplenty and tastes great at the same time. Dig in with some stuffed crabs topped with sambal and mayonnaise, or bite into juicy huge prawns along with sides of freshwater oysters. If you fancy your food grilled, they do serve fishes and squids grilled to smoky perfection.
Pisang Addict Port Dickson (Halal) at Jalan Pantai
This place serves everyone’s favourite ‘pisang goreng’ in the most creative way possible. Want to have your ‘pisang goreng’ with some gooey cheese? They have it! Or how about with some cheese and Milo powder? They have it too. And did we mention chocolate sauce, salted caramel, blueberry jam and green tea powder? Visit them to enjoy ‘pisang goreng’ in ways you don’t even know exist.
And while you are at Port Dickson, why not come visit us at our newly opened Thai Odyssey outlet inside Tasik Villa International Resort. We provide a range of rejuvenating massage services to help unwind and relax your body after all your culinary and seaside adventures. Contact us at +606 – 644 8866 for reservation inquiries.
Suzhou, a city situated in southern Jiangsu Province in the middle of Yangtze Delta in China, is popular for its landscaped gardens and immaculately arranged waterways. In fact, with around 42% of its area covered by water, it has been dubbed as the ‘Venice of the Orient’. Should you decide to visit wonderful Suzhou, here are 6 places you should consider slotting into your itinerary to fully appreciate the gems this city has to offer.
Commune with Nature at the Humble Administrator’s Garden
What Suzhou is famous for is its vast collection of beautiful landscaped gardens. Among the largest, and most well-known, is the Humble Administrator’s Garden. This 52, 000 square meters garden is dotted with elegant pavilions seated on top of flowing rivers, bridges that overlook creeks full of colourful fishes and beds upon beds of vibrant flowers that will dazzle you with delight. Besides manmade structures, the garden also houses natural landscapes like small hills, pockets of forests and mesmerizing natural rock formations. It is the perfect place to attune oneself with nature and appreciate the beauty we often forget about in our concrete cities.
Peek Into the Past at Tongli Ancient Town
Being so near to the Yangtze Delta, Suzhou is inevitably full of water towns; settlements that have waterways as ‘roads’ and boats as transports. Tongli Ancient Town is one of these and as the name implies, is one of the oldest. The beauty of Tongli is that it is mostly untouched by modern commercialization. All the bridges, buildings and temples here are well preserved, so they look as they are since ancient times. The oldest structures go all the way back to the Song Dynasty. This is why the town has been known as a ‘Museum of Ancient Architecture’. For a peek into the lives of ancient people in water towns, this will be the best place to visit.
Be In Awe at Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill is a 14,000 square meters hillock, rich with historical sites and scenic views that will make you open-mouthed with amazement. With just a short hike, you will be able to feast your eyes on precious relics, tombs of bygone kings, pagodas and temples set against a beautiful landscape. Among the spots not to be missed here are the Tiger Hill Pagoda (the oldest pagoda in Suzhou), the Tomb of King He Lu and Wanjing Villa, which houses a vast collection of miniature gardens and bonsai-styled shrubberies.
Witness Silkworms at Work at Suzhou Silk Museum
Suzhou has been known as the Silk Capital in China since Tang Dynasty for its role in producing high quality silks for ancient nobles and royal families. The Suzhou Silk Museum is a centre dedicated to this ancient art form and showcases everything one needs to know about silk production. Through its 8 sections, visitors will be taken through a journey of silk production, from its history, the weaving process and silk exhibits, right down to the little silkworms in their silk cocoons. You can even purchase exquisite silk products here as keepsake. Do not miss this place. The sight of the silkworms alone is already worth the visit.
Feast on Authentic Suzhou Cuisine At Guanqian Street
Guanqian Street has been around for more than 150 years and is known as one of the ‘four famous shopping streets’ in China. This street houses a colourful blend of old and new attractions, each selling knick-knacks and most importantly, authentic Suzhou cuisine. Whether you are looking for a complete dinner experience or a street food outing, you are in for a treat here. This is a great place to bring your taste buds on an amazing adventure of senses.
Shop and Relax at Suzhou Star Hub Mall
After an entire excursion into the history of Suzhou, it is only fitting that you bring yourself back to modern settings. Star Hub mall presents the best of modern Suzhou lifestyle in swanky style. Featuring modern architectural designs, this shopping mall is full with shops carrying international brands showcasing the latest fads in fashion and lifestyle. And after all the sightseeing and shopping trips, you can drop by our Thai Odyssey outlet inside the mall to treat yourself to a rejuvenating experience. Our luxurious spa sanctuary offers a range of authentic Thai massage services, from our signature Traditional Thai Massage to the ever invigorating Traditional Foot Massage. Let our highly skilled therapists bring your body into a deep state of relaxation and recharge it for another round of adventure in Suzhou. For reservation inquiries, you can always contact our friendly front desk staff at +0512 67633626 / 67633628 from 10am to 12am.
There are so much more to see and do in Suzhou than this list can do justice to. Use these 6 places as a start to your exploration and discover the abundant gems that this wonderful city has to offer.
Continued from Part 3 – What are the systems that Thai Odyssey implemented that successfully helped to steer the business to the right path?
At Thai Odyssey, every customer gets their feet washed before going on to their massage. This is a very traditional Thai practice that customers love. “I have some customers say to me, they pay a little more here, but get someone to wash their feet,” quips Chuah.
To explain why they are serious in training their masseuses to set a standardized code of service, Chuah continues, “We ensure only good therapists come our way. Our requirements are that our masseuses come from well-known massage schools in Thailand and have four to six years of experience. After they have been recruited, they will go through another month of intensive training to learn Thai Odyssey’s Integrated Spa & Customers Service System (TOISCSS) before they begin work as a masseuse.”
They also train their front desk personnel to have impeccable customer service skills. Their masseuses do not speak much English, only their native languages. They do not make an effort to teach them English because it is part of the authentic Thai experience for customers as it comes as a whole Thai experience package.
Business wasn’t always smooth sailing though. After two years of operating, Chuah received a cruel shock when local authorities barged in to eight of his outlets on the same day, closed them down and locked up all his people. Chuah was accused of not having the right permits for his workers. At that time, each of his masseuse was carrying a working pass as issued by the immigration office. Chuah was informed that the working pass was only meant for a foreign professional. Chuah’s argument that it was issued to him by the immigration office fell on deaf ears. He was promptly locked up for five days.
“I didn’t sleep at all in those five days,” laughs Chuah. “I was even told that I would possibly be caned for my crime. Can you imagine what went through my mind? Thankfully I had good people who came to bail me out. After that, all my 50 workers were also released.”
Immediately upon his release, Chuah made his way to the immigration office to speak with the local authorities. Even though he faced lots of rejection, he did not give up. He continued to pursue the matter in order to get the authorities to create a column for him to fill in the names of his employees as spa therapists. Today, laws have been made to accommodate foreign workers and the immigration office issues working pass specifically for spa therapists. “Before that, there was no such form for this type of application. In a way, we initiated this,” smiles Chuah.
This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.
Continued from Part 2 – What are the things customers like about Thai Odyssey and get them to come back for more?
People love the polite and humble ways of the Thai culture everyone in Thai Odyssey practices. This is also duly imparted by Chuah who always emphasises the importance of providing good service and making customers happy. “We know that in any business, making money is important, but it has never been our main focus in our business development. Our vision is to create an environment for everyone to have a memorable experience, therefore, our concentration is on customers’ satisfactionand happiness. We find all ways to ensure that customers are happy when they are in our outlets and it has become the key to our continuous growth.” It was this loving culture that compelled customers to keep coming back. Business was brisk.
Chuah went on to open in Tropicana Golf and Country Club and then in Mid Valley and One Utama. Today, there are a total of 38 outlets all over Malaysia, one in Thailand and four in China. They are currently the largest Thai spa operator in Malaysia as certified by the Malaysia Book of Records. Other notable achievements are being awarded Best Family Spa and Best Consumer Choice at the Malaysia Spa & Wellness Awards, Women’s Weekly Quality Results & Services for Thai Foot Massage and being recognised as Excellent Customer Service Retailer by MRCA. They have received a total of 18 local and international awards.
While Thai Odyssey offers a full menu of services, their most popular massage remains the Thai Traditional massage, followed by the Thai Aromatherapy massage. “I am confident that our body massages are one of the best in town. We continuously find ways to make our massages more enjoyable for our customers.”
While Thai Odyssey is not expensive, there is a perception that they are. “Yes, I have customers who tell me this, but usually these are comments before they tried our massage services. After their first visits, many are impressed with the quality of servicesand the value they received that they keep coming back for more. We hold a certain standard. You won’t find a smelly pillow here, a lack of hygiene or an overly casual masseuse chatting away while working. We offer a truly relaxing experience and a dose of luxury and pampering for our customers.”
This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.
Continued from Part 1 – What did Chuah do even after he received all the brickbats from family and friends after he told them about his idea of going into some massage business?
Using his close connections with shopping malls, Chuah then sent proposals to shopping malls on starting up Thai Odyssey. Unfortunately even his connections were unable to broker a leasing contract. All his proposals were rejected.“It was simply unheard off at that time for a massage center to be located in a shopping mall,”says Chuah.
Unfazed, Chuah turned back to his outlet in Centrepoint. He decided to give it a bigger presence and moved the outlet to the second floor next to his office where there was bigger space. The first few months proved to be slow however as many people were not aware of the outlet.
“I noticed that 95% of customers were guys and all of them paid cash. Some of them didn’t even want a receipt, almost as if going for a massage was a dirty little secret. I had to do something about this perception. It seemed that people still viewed going for a massage as something seedy.”
Chuah then ran a very attractive promotion for couples. The promotion proved to be a success and female customers started coming. In six months, the male and female ratio began to even out. Chuah’s clever strategy was working. After one year, the Centrepoint outlet was fully packed.
The event management business wasn’t doing very well that time and Chuah decided to focus on growing Thai Odyssey. It was time to really get his business going big now. “I liked this business as it is a business with human touch, literally.”
Back Chuah went to the shopping mall. This time, he invited the shopping mall management to come over to his outlet in Centrepoint to experience the massage. As he had something more tangible, the resistance lessened.
Jusco (now known as AEON) agreed to lease him a space in their Seremban 2 mall. The only vacant lot available was hidden space of 600 sq ft beside a public toilet. It was far from ideal and a tough decision to make. Still Chuah forged ahead and said yes to the space. His decision proved to be an excellent choice for business turned out fantastic. Surprisingly the hidden space did wonders for his business. “There were only two toilets in the mall and the toilet next to our outlet was the most used. Every shopper had to walk past our outlet and we did so well,” laughs Chuah. “This gave me more confidence that I had something very good to offer.”
Perhaps, what won the customers over were the good nature and sincerity of the therapists and everyone in the outlet including the front desk personnel, even the tea lady and the janitors. “Yes, there are many massage centres around, but in our business, everyone does it from the heart,” says Thai Odyssey executive director Anthony Thuan who is also Chuah’s business partner. “Our customers can sense that.”
This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.
KNOTTED muscles, tight backs and stressful headaches. Modern lifestyles have brought us much ease of life with technology, but it has also added to our aches and pains. It is precisely this need that has fuelled the success for Thai Odyssey. What started 10 years ago in a 100 sq ft make-shift kiosk at the walkway of Centrepoint, Bandar Utama, with only four massage chairs, has since grown to be the biggest family massage centre in Malaysia. The Thai Massage, a skill focusing on loosening collected tension and re-angling the body of fatigue is therapeutic and almost remedial for city slickers who are constantly in stress and worry.
The story of Thai Odyssey starts out some 12 years ago when its founder and managing director Leon Chuah decided to holiday in Thailand as well as look around for business opportunities. “Over there, me and my friends experienced Thai massage for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it.” However, Chuah’s first brush with the rejuvenating therapy amounted to nothing. He was focused on running his event management business at that time and wasn’t sure about its’ true potential. He came back to Malaysia without any plans, albeit a lot happier and refreshed.
Shortly after that, Chuah was involved in organizing a Selangor state event called the Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Growth Triangle (IMTGT). “I brought in traders from Thailand and one of the Thai traders brought with him a team of six therapists to promote the Thai massage business. They set up a booth in the IMTGT event and I was blown away by the fantastic response they received. During the one-month event, people were queuing up to try the massage.”
Customers aside, the six therapists also enjoyed their stint in KL and didn’t want to leave when it was time for them to go back. They asked Chuah if they could stay for some work. Seeing the good business opportunity, Chuah immediately set to get them a space for a small business. He spoke to the Centrepoint management (where his office was located) and wrangled a small space at a corridor and started offering foot massage services. The demand was there and Chuah himself, who began going regularly saw a difference in his body. His back pain, an affliction that never left him since his younger days gradually went away. It was then that the idea of a real business began to solidify.
Of course family and friends were against his idea, chuckles Chuah as he recollects. “Well, it was common for people to associate massage with sex and unwholesome activities and my family felt the same way. But I was determined to do something different. I wanted to differentiate from what was offered in the market at that time.”