La Ong Fong: Thai Pop Band

La Ong Fong (ละอองฟอง) is a Thai band formed in 1996. Their musical genre is very much influenced by modern vintage, pop and Swedish pop. The name of the band was originally derived from the French word ‘enfant’ meaning ‘children’. This was transliterared to a more Thai sounding word namely ‘ong-fong’ (อองฟอง). In Thai, the words have a meaning of their own since ‘la-ong’ (ละออง) means ‘drizzle’ and ‘fong’ (ฟอง) is ‘bubble’.

 La Ong Fong

Present members of the band: Ae, On & Man*

Present members of the band: Ae, On & Man*

La Ong Fong’s music is predominantly feel-good pop music. Their songs are vibrant, cheerful combining pop, jazz and also rock. The lead singer’s vioce is bright and clear.

Today, the band is a trio. The lead singer is ‘On’ Kornkamol Chaiwatanametin. The other two members are ‘Ae’ Pongchuk Pissathanporn (Bass & Vocal) and ‘Man’ Tanupop Notayanont (Guitar & Vocal). They are the present members of La Ong Fong.

La Ong Fong, Thai band*

La Ong Fong, Thai band*

Actually, the band was launched after Ae and Chompoo met in the Coke Duet Singing Contest back in 1988. ‘Chompoo’ Visa Attaseri was the fist lead singer of the band. She became an artist at GMM Grammy and thus invited Ae to join her.

Ae, on the other hand, asked ‘Fluke’ Danop Srikao whom he knew from scholl to be the drummer. Furthermore, Ae also invited his collegue ‘Nhong’ Witchaya Watthanasup (keyboards) and ‘Man’ Tanupop Notayanont (guitar) to complete the band. Thus, La Ong Fong was born! However, in this constellation the band only produced one album ‘Volume1’. Even though this album was successful, the band was dispersed.

La Ong Fong had a comeback in 2004 when they released the EP Album ‘Volume 2’. Now the band had only three members. Since this EP Album was well-received by the audience, the band deceided to release a full album called Cozy Collection in 2005. Here is ‘Tang Jai Deaw’ (Each heart), a very popular song from the Cozy Collection.

A few recordings at Spicy Disc followed until in 2011 the band came up with a fresh look releasing the album called ‘Wind-up City’. In particular the sound of the song ‘Ab Chob’ (แอบชอบ, like) became iconic.

In 2014, La Ong Fong also ‘turned’ Japanese releasing a five-track EP called ‘Feel Romance Nagasaki’. What is more, the band’s members have also been ambassadors for Nagasaki in Japan. Thus, they also recorded some of their popular hits in Japanese.

La-Ong-Fong ambassadors for Nagasaki in Japan*

La-Ong-Fong ambassadors for Nagasaki in Japan*

Finally, we may say that La Ong Fong is a Thai band making beautiful and versatile music that is gaining popularity even beyond Thailand. Enjoy their amazing sound!

Yours, Sirinya

(*all photos in this post, credit: La Ong Fong, FB page)




Kosa Pan – A Siamese Diplomat in France

Among the first Siamese visitors to Europe was an embassy of three ambassadors sent by pro-foreign King Narai (r. 1656-88) to the court of Louis XIV. Among them was the diplomat Kosa Pan who was also a minister and the great grandfather of the first King of the present ruling dynasty of Thailand, Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke. Formally, Pan was called by the noble title Chao Phraya Kosathibodi (เจ้าพระยาโกษาธิบดี; “Lord Minister of World Affairs”). In addition, his former title was Ok Phra Wisut Sunthon (“Count of Pure Amity”) which was the title for a skilled diplomat.

Kosa Pan

Thai ambassador to France Kosa Pan, 1686 French print, (wikimedia.org)

Thai ambassador to France Kosa Pan, 1686 French print, (wikimedia.org)

Arriving in Brest in June 1686, the ambassadors’ task was to study the language and customs of the French. During their three-week sojourn at the Brittany port, the diplomats took copious notes. Hence, the first ambassador Kosa Pan collected data with relish. He documented every detail he encountered, from the dimensions of navy vessels, flags, lances and crossbeams to those of his bedroom mirror. The main purpose of the Siamese to travel overseas was to record detailed information from the foreign encounter which in turn could be used to the greater good of Siam.

Siamese Embassy To Louis XIV, in 1686, Nicolas Larmessin, personal photograph at the Musee Cognacq, Ile de Re, France

Siamese Embassy To Louis XIV, in 1686, Nicolas Larmessin, personal photograph at the Musee Cognacq, Ile de Re, France (photo credit: wikimedia.org)

Therefore, the emphasis of Pan’s account was on monitoring objective truths rather than on conveying subjective impressions. Hence, he also took notes on his visit to Paris and Versailles which are broadly complementary. However, he also mentioned the filthiness of the streets and of French people in general. Thus he pointed out a difference to the Siamese.

Kosa Pan presents King Narai's letter to King Louis. From Smithies, Siam and the Vatican in the Seventeenth Century. Original credited to National Archives of Thailand, wikimedia.org

Kosa Pan presents King Narai’s letter to King Louis. From Smithies, Siam and the Vatican in the Seventeenth Century. Original credited to National Archives of Thailand, wikimedia.org

The ambassador’s observations on the poor standards of 17th century French hygiene further forged a national stereotype which has persisted for centuries and which is still present in contemporary Thai popular imagination. This is for instance exemplified by the common epithet given by Thai football commentators to the French national team, as the ‘thim nam-horm’. This is because the French come from a country renowned for its production of perfume which is called ‘nam-horm’ in Thai. In the past, to the Siamese it seemed that the French were always in need for perfume because they were unwilling to take regular baths 😉

The Siamese ambassador Pan, 1686 French print. Reproduction in Three military accounts of the 1688 revolution in Siam, wikimedia.org

The Siamese ambassador Pan, 1686 French print. Reproduction in Three military accounts of the 1688 revolution in Siam, wikimedia.org

What is more, in his accounts the Siamese diplomat inverts the modern stereotype of French femininity as the embodiment of farang elegance and beauty. In fact, according to Pan, French women are very unattractive and ugly both in behaviour and in appearance. He seems to be appalled by their large noses, pale skin and wanton behaviour. Similarly, Western travellers to Siam also described local women with equal distaste. In terms of cultural studies this can be interpreted as the foreign visitor shoring up a firm sense of his own identity by an acknowledgement of the difference of the ‘Other’.

Kosa Pan with Louis XIV, 1687 French almanach. Reproduction, wikimedia.org

Kosa Pan with Louis XIV, 1687 French almanach. Reproduction, wikimedia.org

Nonetheless, Pan’s embassy was generally met with a rapturous reception and caused a great sensation in the courts and society of Europe. In particular, the French were so enthralled with the amazing textiles worn by the Thai diplomats that they began to imitate the rich silk brocades calling them “Siamoise”. By the way, there is also a Jim Thompson print named in honour of the ambassador, showing a procession of Siamese nobles elegantly dressed in brocades and silk.

Kosa Pan fabric (photo credit: jimthompsonfabrics.com)

Kosa Pan fabric (photo credit: jimthompsonfabrics.com)

However, after returning to Siam, Pan became a strong advocate of Phetracha who was the ruler overthrowing King Narai and eliminating the French influence. This was the time of the Siamese revolution (1688) which led to Siam severing all ties with the West until they were renewed in the 19th century.

French depiction of King Narai, 18th century print. Reproduction in Les Missions Etrangeres Perrin, wikimedia.org

French depiction of King Narai, 18th century print. Reproduction in Les Missions Etrangeres Perrin, wikimedia.org

Under Phetracha’s rule, former diplomat Pan became Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. However, about a decade later in 1700 Pan was disgraced. It is said that King Phetracha cut off Pan’s nose so that the former diplomat committed suicide.

Summing up, we may say that Kosa Pan was a kind of pioneer being one of the first Siamese to visit Europe. Additionally, he was also the direct ancestor of King Rama I who founded the Chakri Dynasty.

Yours, Sirinya

(Reference: Rachel V. Harrison & Peter Jackson eds. The Ambiguous Allure of the West. Traces of the Colonial in Thailand, 2010)