A Travellerspoint blog

The ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’ or the ‘Por Tor Festival’

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It is believed by some of the Phuket Community that the spirits of our dead ancestors will visit them once a year on Earth.

This mean that tables are set with food in homes and candles and joss sticks are lit and doors of the homes are left open. This is an invitation to the spirits to come into the home and the spirits will have left when the candles and joss sticks have burnt out.

There is a more public display and this is the baking of cakes that are shaped as turtles and then covered with ‘red icing sugar’.

The turtles are covered in red icing and are made locally – much like the ‘Mooncakes’. The turtles are bright red because in this tradition this is the colour of ‘good luck’. The shape of the cake is a turtle because this symbolises ‘long life’.

These turtles are carried in a parade through Phuket along with a number of people in their local dress. The red turtles will be enormous and carried on a vehicle or will be carried by hand.

The parade will finish in Phuket Town, usually at the large Chinese Shrine called Jui Tui.

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The Red Turtles however will be taken into the Car Park above the enclosed Local Market. Here the Car Park will be full of tables with food prepared for the spirits – whole roasted pig, deep fried duck, red Fanta drinks, carved fruits and more red turtle cakes!

In the middle of this there is a Shrine and carpet built for this occasion. Here the local dignitaries will give their blessing to the gods and ask for luck for the future.

Posted by timinphuket 28.08.2014 22:10 Archived in Thailand Tagged #culture #festival #phuketoldtown Comments (0)

Wat Koh Sirey

A special place for people who make the effort.

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Koh Sirey is to the East of Phuket Town - it is not actually an Island but there is a very big bridge that you can cross to visit the Island. I visited Koh Sirey previously to feed the monkeys at Monkey Seeing, we visited here again to visit the Wat on the top of the hill.

After feeding the monkeys we continued further into the island to look for the road to the hill. After several mistakes and feeling that we were lost we found a road which took us to Wat Koh Sirey...

The 'first' Wat was at the bottom of the hill and we were unable to enter, because the fence around the outside were locked. However the monks pointed us in the correct direction - up a steep hill which we had to walk.
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There was a peaceful pool at the bottom and then the road was rather steep...

Halfway up there were some Buddhist statues and rooms set back from the road - I investigated and there were some deserted rooms, I think that they may have been previously for monks.

As we came to the top Wat Koh Sirey peered through the trees, we found a geo-cache and progressed up the steep stairs - the stairs were very steep and we stopped halfway to bang on a hanging drum. We then progressed further and came upon a large temple perched on the top of the hill.

In the temple was something that we did not expect - the enormous reclining Golden Buddha - peaceful was something that I felt.
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After kneeling at the Buddha we walked outside and saw the statuettes surrounding the Wat. We found that we a were able to walk completely around the Wat - the views were beautiful and breath taking. We walked down but as we walked down we found that there were more Buddha images circling the Wat.

Definitely worth a trip.

Posted by timinphuket 21:20 Archived in Thailand Tagged #culture #phuketoldtown #buddha Comments (0)

The Thavorn Hotel

The first hotel in Phuket Town - popular with the Tin Merchants from China, very busy during Chinese Cultural Celebrations

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Thavorn Hotel was the first hotel in Phuket AND with the first elevator – they have a new elevator now.
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I visited the Thavorn Hotel because I had just had a cup of coffee at the Gallery Café along the road from here. Walking into the hotel is like normal but then there are hotel items scattered around the lobby – a safe, a luggage rack and old photographs…
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Paying 30 baht to the receptionist and they will open the ‘museum’ for you to peruse through. The museum is a small room opposite the reception and is full of items which have a story to them:

Posted by timinphuket 19:31 Archived in Thailand Tagged #phuketoldtown Comments (0)

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)

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