Finally, we seem to be past the huge number of holidays and other activities that served as disruptions in the school schedule, starting in early December with Thai National Day and Constitution Day, continuing through Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, Mid-Term exams, and culminating with Thai Children’s Day and National Teacher’s Day nearly two weeks ago. I believe last week was the first in more than a month and a half where I worked a full week. My students were quite attentive and productive during most of the week so I rewarded both high school classes with a rare “Games Day” on Friday which was as much fun for their teacher as for them. It was a very long week, indeed.
My favorite local celebration is the Phuket Old Town Festival, now in it’s 16th year. Held annually immediately following Chinese New Year, it’s three days of blocked-off streets, massive crowds, all manner of performances – cultural and musical – booths selling many different souvenirs and articles of clothing, and an endless variety of delicious food. There is so much to see and do that I never fail to attend all three nights. This year was a bit odd as the festivities began (with a massive parade) on a Thursday so as not to disturb the popular Sunday-evening Walking Street.
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.
It’s been a while since I’ve walked through Phuket’s Old Town area during the daytime while having my camera along. It’s even rarer for me to go into “tourist mode” and shoot photos of things I see almost every day. But I was in the mood to do so this morning while on my way to catch a bus in the fresh market area on Ranong Road.
I’ve taken so many photos along Thalang Road over the years that it can be a challenge to find something “new”. My biggest problem, I think, is that I am rather shy and very conscious of blocking traffic or other pedestrians while I try to focus a shot. That’s why so many of my pictures tend to look like snapshots rather than carefully-composed works of art. I often don’t get close enough to the subjects and many turn out blurry. As a result, I’m usually not satisfied with the majority of my photos. I have so much to work on!
I just found out that one of the postcards in my first batch of Postcrossing cards has arrived safely in Russia. It only took fifteen days to travel the 6,602 kilometers (4,102 miles) to Nalchik, the capital city of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic. No, I’d never heard of this place before…
The card I sent Victoria features the iconic intersection of Phang Nga and Phuket Roads showing the Standard Chartered Bank (built as Thailand’s first foreign-owned bank in 1910) and the old police station with the clock tower (built to protect the bank). Interestingly, the clock wasn’t installed for over fifty years as the first one sank on the ship en route from Penang. I just love the Sino-Portuguese architecture of Phuket’s Old Town.
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).