Happy Loy Krathong

Today is the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar.  As such, the evening is being celebrated as Loy Krathong here in Thailand. Held throughout Thailand and Laos as well as a couple of small areas in Myanmar, Malaysia, and the extreme southern portion of Yunnan in China Loy Krathong is perhaps my favorite one-day holiday. It is at the … Continue reading Happy Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong 2014

DSC02530The full moon of 6th November 2014 marks this year’s celebration of Loy Krathong, for my money Thailand’s most colorful holiday.  This is when you float your troubles away on a small boat (krathong) made out of the trunk of a banana tree and decorated with banana leafs and bright flowers.  Large krathongs are also made for competition and the two or three days surrounding the full-moon night are marked with beauty contests and local fairs.  Since Phuket is an island, there are many nice places to launch your boat – they are sold at roadside stands or you can make your own – but any bit of water will do, even an inflatable swimming pool!

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New Year #2: Chinese New Year & Phuket Old Town Festival 2014

SAM_1716In late January and early February, those of us in Phuket look forward to the year’s second big New Year’s blow-out.  There is a huge Chinese population centered on Phuket Town.  Many of the older families began during the tin-mining boom starting in the mid-nineteenth century and their clan shrines still dot the small lanes of the community.  The Old Town Phuket Festival, celebrating the area’s rich history and unique culture, is usually held a few days following the start of Chinese New Year.  It is my favorite of the local festivals, even more so than September/October’s Vegetarian Festival.

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New Year #1: Phuket Countdown 2014

SAM_1542One of the best things about living in Thailand are the myriad of festivals and other celebrations throughout the year.  We actually have three different annual New Year’s – the Western New Year on 31 December, Chinese New Year in late January or early February, and Songkran (Thai New Year) centered on 13 April. 

Now that I live in Phuket Town, I usually celebrate Western New Year by walking over to Sanam Chai.  This is a park in the northeast portion of Phuket’s administrative district, across the street from Provincial Hall to the east and City Hall to the north.  Each year, Phuket’s Provincial Administration Organization (PPAO, known in Thai as OrBorJor) sponsors a three-day celebration in the park called Phuket Colorful Countdown and it just keeps getting bigger and better.

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Happy Loy Krathong

imageToday is Loy Krathong, perhaps the most coqlorful of all the traditional Thai festivals. I have always enjoyed making the krathong (literally, “floating decorations”) with my students and then setting them adrift in the evening.  It really is beautiful to see all of the floating banana-tree rounds decorated with banana leaves, flowers and lit candles reflected in the water.  Equally lovely are the Thai traditional clothing worn by participants — colorful for the women, blue farmer shirts for the men but usually with a colorful sash tied around the waist. But my favorite part are the skies full of blazing paper lanterns.  It really is breathtaking.

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VegFest 2013: The Grand Finale

SAM_0239The 2013 Phuket Vegetarian Festival ended with a bang (many, many, many bangs) this past Sunday night.  Well, I should say, it lasted until the wee hours of Monday morning.  I’d met up with friends Jade and Lily, plus their Thai boyfriends, around 7pm at Surin Circle.  It was their first time to experience the madness of the finale when all of the Chinese shrines have processions in order to send the Emperor Gods back to heaven.  Basically, it’s hours and hours of spectators throwing fireworks at each other and any passing traffic before the actual mahsong ever appear.  And when they do, all hell breaks loose and you feel like you’re pinned down during a Syrian battle and spend most of your time dodging “in-coming” while attempting to take non-blurry photos.  My friends left after the first real onslaught (around 11:30) but the best was yet to come…

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VegFest 2013: Bang Neow Procession

20131010-084831Day 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.

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VegFest 2013: Sam Kong Procession

SAM_9495It is now Day 5 of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival and again the rain has been pouring down much of the day.  I have eaten nothing but “Jae” food since the festival began Friday evening (well, I suppose cookies qualify…) and finally attended my first street procession of the year this morning.  It was Sam Kong Shrine’s turn today and I figured the best vantage point would be at the “District Office Intersection” of Yaoworat and Mae Luan roads.  Timing is everything and as I walked  past the Phuket Merlin Hotel a police officer on a motorbike roared by on his way to block off the traffic.

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Mooncake Festival in Phuket

SAM_9302Last weekend, I stumbled across Phuket Municipality’s celebration marking the Mid-Autumn Festival (in Thai, Wan Wai Phra Jan — เทศกาลไหว้พระจันทร์).  Also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival), it falls on the fifteenth day of the eighth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. This is the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox when the moon is said to be at its fullest and roundest – the so-called harvest moon. In traditional Chinese agrarian societies it marks the end of the harvest period when family and friends gather to celebrate a time of plenty.

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