Day 7 of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival was another early morning for me as I really wanted to experience as much of the procession for Bang Neow Shrine as I could. This is one of the two biggest every year, starting at 6am and heading first to Suphan Hin (a sort of peninsula in the southern reaches of Phuket Town. It then heads back north and snakes all over the Old Town area. Alas, I hit my alarm a few times before hauling myself out of bed so I met up with the parade as it approached the market area of Ranong Road about 7:30.
I managed to take a large number of photos that I’m quite proud of, despite the odds. For one thing, I was constantly battling light. The sun always seemed to be in the wrong spot for the photos I wanted. Thus, I was constantly moving and followed the procession westward through the market until it jogged north to Krabi Road and then north again to Debuk Road. On these north-south streets, the shop houses tended to create too much shade so it became rather dark! I think most of the photos I’m happiest with occurred when the procession headed south on Thepkassatri Road and as I made my way to the intersections with Thalang Road and then Phang Nga Road.
This morning, I went mainly for photos of the mahsong (spirit mediums) as well as the fireworks exploding all around the shrines carried by devotees. I did get a few burns and a piece of shrapnel created a small hole on the front of my camera!
I am amazed that I was able to get any decent photos (it was a bright, sunny day) as the crowds and traffic were extremely chaotic. I mentioned during my write-up of Wednesday’s Sam Kong procession that nobody makes much of an effort to prevent the numerous cars and motorbikes from entering the parade. Yes, today they were zig-zagging through spectators and participants alike but with seemingly more recklessness. If you had any sense about you, you needed to look many different directions at one – taking care not to get hit by a vehicle, not to get hit by various people (most of whom move rather rapidly and will mow you down if you don’t jump out of the way), not to get hit by fireworks exploding all around you, etc. Plus, the guys and gals in the parade tend to walk fast (my camera has a hard time focusing). But I’ve become rather good at all of this dodging about and rarely get too bumped about. The only time I became really frustrated today was when several farang photographers (all very tall as well) kept jumping in front of everybody else for their shots. Everybody else I saw taking pictures were generally very careful not to ruin the photos of others.
The procession was largely finished in the Old Town area by 9:00 or so (they had TWO big dragons and several small ones). There were a few stragglers and I watched the ladies with the straw brooms sweeping some of the mounds of spent firework paper. Before heading home, I took a short stroll to the small shrine nestled between Phang Nga and Thalang roads. I hadn’t been there since it’s renovation a couple of years ago and was extremely impressed at how beautiful the building that forms the western part of the courtyard is now. I particularly like the blue window shutters and multicolored accents. The last time I saw it, that building was rather decrepit.
Well, I hope you enjoy today’s Photo Gallery. There are a A LOT of photos (more than 400) but there are some real gems in there. I’m having a difficult time to decide which one or two that I want to post to Instagram…