A Travellerspoint blog

Phi Ta Khon Festival - ผีตาโขน

A fascinating Festival

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The Phi Ta Khon Festival (ผีตาโขน) is an old festival and is called the 'The Ghost Festival' that takes place in the Northwestern Province of Loei and the community of Dansai - about 450 Kilometres from Bangkok - we travelled there by Nok Air.

This festival is part of a larger festival called the Bu Luang festival - including the Bu Phra Wet (Festival of the 4th Lunar month) and Bun Bang Fai (Festival of the 6th Lunar month) but more commonly known as the Bamboo Rocket Festival. BUT I was not there for this one.

The first day consisted of a procession from the Phon Chai Temple to the river where there is a procession and sacrificial rite is performed? and then the procession returns with a symbol of Phra Up Ka Khut. Who is a monk with supernatural powers who has chosen to become a white marble and live a peaceful but solitary existence.

But there is also the story of the Prince Wetsanthon (Vessantara in Pali), the Buddha’s penultimate reincarnation.
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It is on the second day that the local people dress themselves as Phi Ta Khon Figures and perform masked dances around the village.

The groups simply take turns to dance and show off their decorative costumes to the people lining the street.

I chose to visit Wat Pon Chai where there is also the museum of Phi Ta Khon - wonderful and interesting.
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These groups dance and shake phallic symbols at you and take even greater delight in pointing them at giggling young women - not sure why but it was fun! The phallic symbols represent the fertility of the lands and of the coming time of rains...

Many of the groups have cow bells ('mak-ka-lang') attached to their waists and take more delight in shaking their bottoms at each other.

As the day grew on many of the younger groups of children sat on the benches set aside and watched the procession of the older people - who seemed to be enjoying it more and more.
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On the next day there were a far greater number of people watching the procession.

Lots of wonderful masks.

These people covered in mud actually resemble the mud fertility of the growing rice in the paddy fields around the town.

Then there were these larger creatures with very large phallic symbols resemble - Giant Phi Ta Kohn. I chose not to take a photograph of the float of a bull and the cow copulating though.

Then there were the two strange creatures carrying larger tins behind them resemble?
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Lots of fun was had by everyone.

Posted by timinphuket 03:56 Archived in Thailand Tagged #festival #phitakhon Comments (0)

Baan Chinpracha

A Sino-Portuguese House in Phuket Town

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Chinpracha House is also known as Baan Chinpracha and can be found in Phuket Old Town on Krabi Road leading to Central Festival.

Please do not be put off by the winding dirt road that leads to Chinpracha House. Mr Tan Ma Siang, who was locally known as Praptik Chinprach, built Baan Chinpracha in 1903. The home was built in the “Angmor Lounge” style – it was the first house in Phuket that was built in this style.

There are a plethora of interesting things to see - take your time. The owner's family and friends purchased many of the pieces in his home in Europe, for example the ceramic floor tiles were imported from Italy and the fences were imported from Holland. This is similar to some of the items and ceramic tiles at Panwa House in the South of Phuket.

The property is still in the family and the current owners are sixth-generation Thai descendants of the original builder. In fact the current family live upstairs still.

The property was used in the Oliver Stone movie ‘Heaven and Earth’, there is a signed thank you note on the wall in one of the rooms.

The property has a lot of charm and is wonderful to walk around – this is a special place to visit. For only 130 Baht it is a treasure not to be missed.

I understand that Phuket Heritage Trail will take you there if you choose to take a guided tour of Phuket Old Town with them...

Posted by timinphuket 03:52 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Tha Rua Chinese Shrine

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The site of this Shrine is actually not the original site - I was not aware of this until I started to write this post. Apparently the original site is close to this one but I have not seen it. This is the same with the Heroine Monument and the Shrine of the Serene.

The Shrine is actually the 4th oldest shrine in Phuket but this Shrine is much bigger than the original. This is also a very expensive reconstruction - 40 million Baht so far - and they tell me that more is planned.

The biggest thing that I noticed here was the abundance of dragons that are scattered throughout the temple, the dragon is an important symbol in Chinese Culture as well. Maybe because it is relatively new that it looks so good - but make sure that your camera is charged and there is space on your memory card (if you have a digital camera of course).

The article that I also found interesting was the huge brass incense cauldron which stands in the front - it has been imported from China and that there is a story attached to it but I cannot find anything more about this, but I will find out why it is so special. It is, of course, covered with dragon motifs.

Inside there are a plethora of the traditional Taoist Deities and inside one of the hall is the Traditional Kwan Yin statues (the Goddess of Mercy).

This is a Chinese Shrine which we normally drive past as we make our way to the airport but it is not a Chinese Shrine which is easy to access at all - it is easiest to access it from driving South from the Heroine's Monument.

Posted by timinphuket 03:41 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Phuket Provincial Offices

on the outskirts of Phuket Town

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I cannot add a lot to this post but the fact that I rushed home to watch The Killing Fields after I read about this.

There was a part in the movie where the characters had to move into the French Embassy in Cambodia for security and safety. I remember that this is where they tried to make a French passport but they failed and...

The architecture is quite distinctive and there are more than 99 doors (apparently) but I have never attempted to count them but read it somewhere.

There is not really a lot to see here because the building now houses Government Offices but there is a statue out front but i have no idea who it is of.

View tim in Phuket in a larger map

Posted by timinphuket 21:44 Archived in Thailand Tagged town building old phuket Comments (0)

Tiger Kingdom

- should you go?

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So much has been written about Tiger Kingdom I no longer know what to believe BUT this was a treat for my daughter Jemma and we chose to visit it.

It is new so obviously it looked clean and well managed. It was on a smaller site than I had anticipated.

This does raise the next point - are they docile because they are hand reared to be so?

The pamphlet raises the question:

Are any of the tigers here drugged?
And in the following statement it does not say NO - bad English, bad marketing or this was not read as a naturally English speaking person?

There seems to be so many 'packages' for sale - all size tigers / with a photographer / only one size that it all became quite bewildering

There were a number of smaller cages within the enclosure and these held some large tigers in a very sterile environment.

Other large tigers were playing in the grassed areas or in the water - the staff were playing with with the tigers - with what looked like a bamboo stick with rags on the end BUT the tigers were jumping about and following it. There were large tigers on the grass being embraced by the human visitors and the tigers seemed to be quite docile.

The smaller enclosure for the smaller tigers was also quite sterile but none of the smaller tigers were enclosed on their own cage.

On entering the 'pen' with three 'small tigers' I noticed that this was an experience that my daughter was totally enthralled. She listened carefully to the guides and did exactly what she was asked (maybe I should carry a small bamboo stick - JOKE!)

The staff were extraordinarily attentive and encouraged Jemma to carefully stroke the tiger.

Then Jemma lay on the tiger - beautiful and then Jemma wanted to do this with each of the three tigers in the pen

I understand that looking at the paperwork you will be given 10 minutes in the pen with the tiger and I am happy that Jemma received more - it was not busy and only one couple came into the pen whilst we were there.

What is it like when it is busy?

After the three small tigers Jemma was excited and wanted to meet a big tiger and I was happy to read that she is not old enough to enter a cage with a large tiger.

Would I approach and stroke a big tiger? - NO.
Do I think that this is the best conditions to keep the animals? - NO.
Do I think that we could use it as a source of education - YES.

BUT this approach to mix the education of the environment is not done very well here in Thailand - the company that excels would be John Gray Sea Canoe - learning and protecting the environment at the same time.

Posted by timinphuket 27.01.2014 21:24 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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