Last 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.
The 2013 Por Tor Festival will end tomorrow, 4th September, with celebrations centered around Phuket Town’s main fresh market on Ranong Road and the Por Tor Kong Shrine near the intersection of Kra and Phuket Roads.
This past Friday, I once again joined a parade – marching in the procession that started from the Queen Sirikit Park and ended in the lane leading to Bangniaw School and abutting the Por Tor Kong Shrine. At the end of the route, participants were given a plate of fried ang ku (the small red turtle cakes) and the crowds made food offerings of all sorts while listening to the mayor make a speech. Indeed, I almost knocked over when the rain started and I tried to avoid the mass of people running to take cover!
Today is the first day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar. It is the beginning of the annual fifteen-day period that Thai-Chinese people believe the spirits of their ancestors are released from heaven to visit their relatives. In Thailand, it is popularly known as Ngan Por Tor or the “Hungry Ghost Festival” in English.
Yesterday was a rather rainy holiday in Phuket – the 64th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. A mid-afternoon break in the rain gave me the chance to take a short walk up the tree-lined Narisorn Road in northeastern Phuket Town. This is where most of the province’s government buildings are located and so is relatively free of development.
The most notable of these buildings is Sala Klang Changwat Phuket, or Phuket Provincial Hall in English. Construction on this beautiful building, the first in Thailand to be made of reinforced concrete, was finished one hundred years ago during the Governorship of Phraya Rasadanupradit Mahitsaraphakdi (Kaw Simbi na Ranong).
I recently rejoined Postcrossing, a project which allows users to request addresses in order to exchange postcards with other members. Upon registering, you can request up to five addresses which are assigned randomly. You write a unique identifying number on the postcards that you sent and when a user receives one of those cards, he/she registers that number on Postcrossing as “received”. You do the same with any postcards that you receive. Each time one of your cards is received, you can request an additional address and you can increase the amount traveling as more of your cards are registered.
The Thailand 2013 World Stamp Exhibition opened at Bangkok’s Siam Paragon this past Friday. In part, it marks the 130th anniversary of the Kingdom of Siam’s first official postage stamps. The 4th August 1883 release of those first five adhesives came some 43 years following the issuance of the world’s first prepaid stamps, Great Britain’s famed Penny Black.
However, there had been mail conveyance within the current boundaries of Thailand for even longer. In fact, the earliest recorded mail from Bangkok was a stampless letter sent by an American missionary to his father back in 1836.
As a teacher in the Thai government school system, I don’t have much of a salary during the long between-term breaks (March-May is summer vacation). Thus, I have to plan any travel very carefully and take the cheaper option whenever possible.
There are easier ways to get to Cambodia from Phuket (there may even be a direct flight soon). But if money is tight, my method is definitely the least expensive.