Although it's predominantly a Buddhist country, Thailand is celebrating Christmas this year in a big way -- at least in Bangkok's main shopping centres.
GV Bangkok with temples
SV Buddhist Monk with collecting bowl
SV People shopping
CU Bells, Father Christmas and decorations in shop windows (5 shots)
GV Students outside Thai Daimaru store
CU PAN Demonstrator speaking through loud hailer to customers
CU Girl demonstrator with banner listens as man with loud hailer continues (2 shots)
SV & CU INTERIOR People shopping in store for Christmas cards and gifts (8 shots)
CU Little girl with toy rifle
SV EXTERIOR of shop window "Merry Christmas"
CU Christmas decorated window
SV Shoppers laden with goods
CU PAN Sign over shop "Happy New Year"
Initials AE/16.29 AE/16.52
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Background: Although it's predominantly a Buddhist country, Thailand is celebrating Christmas this year in a big way -- at least in Bangkok's main shopping centres.
Only about 180,000 of the country's 35,000,000 people are Christians; most are Buddhist, and with about 400 temples, Bangkok is often called Temple City.
Most of the Christmas feeling has been channelled into boosting store sales -- shopping centres are gaily decorated with tinsel, bells, Santa Claus figures and even artificial snow in the tropical heat. Christmas carols are being played through public address systems; decorations, toys and Christmas cars are selling well.
Most of Bangkok's luxury-goods shops are promoting Christmas in the hope of attracting more tourist customers, but they could be disappointed. Estimates of enz-million foreign visitors to the country this year may be upset by widespread strikes and the oil crisis.
On Saturday (15 December), students of Bangkok's Ramakanghaeng University tried to reverse the trend towards heavy Christmas spending by staging a protest rally outside the big "Daimaru" Japanese department store. The students called for a ban on the sale of luxury goods to save foreign exchange and provide more funds for the national economy. There was little response on the first day, but student leaders said the campaign might be taken to other shopping centres in the weeks ahead.
The manager of the Japanese department store, Mr. Hironichi Honda, said there was no significance in the rally being held outside his store; but observers point out that Thai students placed a boycott on Japanese goods last year, and that the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Tanaka, is due to visit Bangkok early in January.