When we received the press release of Wonderfruit in 2014, the first word that struck us was ‘barefoot luxury’. An oxymoron we looked upon with curiosity. Skeptical as we were, we didn’t discount the possibilities and took a chance with the festival, held in Pattaya’s rice fields this year.
They say the best kind of experiences are those which you enter with no expectations at all. Of course, we couldn’t help but notice how eclectic and bohemian the crowd in the 2014 pictures were. Beyond that, we could not imagine what the actual atmosphere of the festival would be, since being dubbed the ‘Burning Man of Asia’ is indeed a tall order.
Glad that we took the chance with it. It was certainly worth hopping on a 2 hour flight to Thailand on Scoot, which was recently crowned the best low cost airline in Asia, deservedly so as we don’t think we know of any Asian low cost carrier that offers WiFi services from approximately SGD15.
From the spacious yet accessible layout, the avant-garde stage set ups, well-curated food vendors that priced food affordably (e.g. pad thai at 150BHT, wagyu steak at 200BHT, malted barley alcholic beverage at 90BHT), art talks, and a hive of activities in the day from dream-catcher making, mask making. There was certainly no lack of activity to keep everyone from all walks of life occupied.
Wonderfruit exceeded our expectations, and opened our eyes to alternative ways of living. We learnt about Dudeism (no, this has nothing to do with the bro code), sustainable farming, and savoured a sunset yoga practice that came alive with bass beats.
There was something intriguing happening at every corner. Be it barber services, juggling classes and even a station where you could affix plants to your hair for that ‘festival feel’. Special mention goes out to ‘Dtao Tong’ (ladybug in Thai เต่าทอง), a bulldog who stole the hearts of many, including street style photographer Yvan Rodic/Facehunter.
Any young festival is not without slight imperfections. One thing that could be worked on though was the music lineup which was good, but not great; and organizers might want to consider publishing the final confirmed timings and lineup online instead of just making it available via paper pamphlets distributed on the festival grounds.
Certainly we embraced the lesser known acts, and in fact, were already a fan of many of them, such as Com Truise, Zig Zach and more. And sure, popular tropical house guru Goldroom’s set at dawn solidified all the good vibes, as people danced from the wee hours, undaunted by the chilly winds at 4am, and boogied till the sun creeped up slowly into the horizon. But that aside, there were no international headliners to have pulled even more people from around the globe. Mos Def had probably the most mainstream following, and it was a pity that he had to pull out of the festival at the last minute due to flight complications.
Nonetheless, the sights and sounds were truly otherworldly. As we ventured to the Quarry Stage, which was slightly off the main area where the other stages were located, we were treated to a visual spectacle of rice fields lit up by a warm string of lights and 3 quirky teepees that broke the monotony of the flat landscape. Venture in, and be treated to an assortment of beautiful lights which you can admire as you sit around.
What is a culture festival without the support people who feel passionately about it. We met a Thai artist, Normal, who shared his passion about bringing art to the masses and was committed to sharing his love for craft to anyone who popped by his animal mask making station. Internationally acclaimed make-up artist, Pearypie was among the many local Thai celebrities in attendance. She was easygoing and affable: “Normally people in Thailand are rather conservative. Wonderfruit is amazing, as it a good place for people to express themselves in a creative way.”
When night fell, more revellers came out to play. Various tents featured a spectrum of music to fit each individual’s taste. From swing, indie to jazz, house and hip-hop. Clearly, variety wasn’t a problem here. Words can’t begin to describe what an amazing cultural trip it was, and we eagerly anticipate what more the 2016 edition of the festival would bring.
Images credited to Siyi, more photos here.
Official flight sponsor: Scoot
Scoot™, the low-cost, medium-haul arm of the Singapore Airlines Group, has carried almost six million guests since taking to the skies in June 2012. The world’s first all 787 Dreamliner fleet operates between Singapore and Sydney, Gold Coast, Bangkok, Taipei, Tokyo, Tianjin, Shenyang, Nanjing, Qingdao, Seoul, Hong Kong, Perth, Osaka, Kaohsiung, Hangzhou and Melbourne. Offering amenities including on-board Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and in-seat power and the ability to redeem and accrue Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, Scoot was voted 2015-16 Best Low Cost Airline (Asia/Pacific) by AirlineRatings.com and ranked in the Top 10 of the World’s Best Low-Cost Airlines in 2015 by Skytrax. Scoot is passionate about changing the way people travel long distance. Find out more on FlyScoot.com.