Phuket Vegetarian Festival Photos 2006

Note - this is an old post from 2006. For more information on the festival - see Phuket Vegetarian Festival Introduction.


Photos from the street procession on Sunday 29th October 2006 from Kathu Shrine to Phuket Town. These street processions took place all week from the 24th to 30th October. This was the only one I saw - too busy at work, though we did visit Sam Kong shrine a couple of times and we ate the Jae food all week. I was in Kathu village at 6:30am as the participants came from Kathu Shrine along the road through the village heading for Phuket town about 5km away. The early morning light and thousands of firecrackers made a great scene as the gods were carried on their way. Among the statues were the holy people and those with knives, swords, spikes and more through their cheeks, many women seemingly in trances, men with whips and cloths, and many helpers. Here's some photos from the village:

Cutting himself with a sword

Multi piercings

(above) Purification by pain? Kathu village, 30th October

(below) Procession of gods departs from Kathu, early morning

Carrying a statue past the Kathu village offices

Carrying the god statues through the smoke and firecrackers

Carying the images of the gods in Kathu village

Heading out of the village

I then headed via another road to catch the procession in Phuket Town. While they walked about 7km I waited with many people in the center of town near the market. There were a few other foreigners around including 2 photographers dressed as if for battle with several thousand dollars worth of gear. I felt a bit lacking with my little digital. In the camera world, size matters.

A long wait, as the procession joined with people from another shrine at the stadium on the edge of town. By the time they reached us, some of the participants were looking rather hot and bothered. Cups of water were made available by the side of the road, as it was hot even at 9am.

I tried to capture some photos of the devotees with pierced faces:

Vegetarian festival - he's going to need that skin clinic

Vegetarian festival

Vegetarian festival

Vegetarian festival - this guy is into acupuncture in a big way

Vegetarian festival

Next year I want to do more, see more. I did eat the food for a week, though did not stick 100% to ALL the rules, but then again I did not stick spikes in my face either. If you were in Phuket and missed it..why? If you're planning a trip to Phuket next year, try to be here for the vegetarian festival..The dates are based on the lunar calendar, starting on the new moon. Hope to see you here in Phuket!

Need a place to stay in Phuket for the festival? A few links...

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
A walk around Old Phuket Town

Vegetarian Festival Blog

The last few days of the vegetarian festival include street processions in Phuket Town, fire walking and plenty more vegetarian food. It's actually good tucker, and I've had a week of eating this food. It's amazing what they can do with bean cakes and tofu! I've had great massaman curry, tom yum, spring rolls, priow wan (sweet and sour) and more. Outside of the festival it's harder to find this food, but right now around any of the main Chinese shrines, it's everywhere. There are even some stalls in Patong up Sai Nam Yen road near the junction with Nanai Road (the back road).

I think it shows that the people here take the festival seriously, as last night we ate at Chen Long Gung Kata, which on previous occasions has been completely full, but last night there must have been only a dozen tables occupied - I still managed to eat veggie there.

Here's a few photos of Sam Kong shrine on the north side of Phuket Town:

Prayers inside Sam Kong Shrine

Inside Sam Kong shrine

Prayers at Sam Kong Shrine

Outside Sam Kong Shrine

You may notice from the photos there are numbers around the shrine. If you want to pray properly you must pray at each number in the correct order.

And here's some food photos from around the Sam Kong area. The stalls are all along the road which is quite busy, being on the edge of Phuket Town and being close to the bypass road and the hospitals, so if you walk along here, watch for traffic. All the food is vegetarian, which in the Thai sense means pretty much vegan - no dairy, no eggs. Some of it looks meaty and even tastes meaty, but I assure you there is no flesh!

Yes, it's all Vegetarian Food - and that's my Massaman curry being scooped into a bag

Food stall near Sam Kong shrine, Phuket Town

Fried Vegetarian Delights

Note - this is an old post from 2006. For more information on the festival - see Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

More Vegetarian Festival

The festival is well and truly under way now and I have not eaten any meat for 4 days, though I will admit to a few "vegetarian" beer Changs. Well, I aim not for perfection, but for happiness. My family munched away on fish and chicken last night but I insisted on driving into Kathu village to buy some Ahan Jae. They do some very good "soft spring rolls" in the village that I have not seen for sale in Phuket Town. The first street procession in the town was yesterday morning. If you want to see something real, something different, something cultural, something you won't see anywhere else, then go to Phuket town at 7am any day from now until Sunday. I want to go on Sunday, which is when Kathu shrine does their procession.

Meanwhile I want to get more pictures today from Kathu and Sam Kong shrines. Here's a few of Kathu taken on Sunday:

Kathu shrine
Kathu street and shrine
Adding fire to the firecrackers at Kathu shrine

Note - this is an old post from 2006. For more information on the festival - see Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

Thalang National Museum

The Thalang National Museum is another place we have meant to visit for a long time, having driven past many times. It's located near the Heroine's Monument, just off the main airport road, south of Thalang town in central Phuket.

Entrance to the Thalang National Museum

Now, it's not a huge museum, but the entry is only 100 Baht, so I reckon it's worth a look. The first thing we saw outside was a pile of wreckage recovered from the tsunami, and there's a whole room full of stuff pulled from the sea in a room inside. When you see it all piled up - bags, phones, signs, cups, TV's..it does rather hit home.

Outisde there is also a kind of tsunami memorial - a sculpture (already falling apart) showing a spirit leaving a body. (See photo below)

Tsunami sculpture outside the museum

Inside you start with general Thai history, there are some old artifacts, a history of the people of Thailand - good background information. Then you move onto Phuket history with sections about the different people - Chinese, Muslim, Indigenous (sea gypsies) etc..with mock ups of homes showing "the way people lived". There's also a big section devoted to the Heroines of Thalang who rallied the people of Phuket to defeat the Burmese in 1785. These 2 ladies are famous all over Thailand, but especially here in Phuket and more especially in Thalang where roads, temples and schools are named after them. There's also an annual Heroine's Festival in the Thalang area.

How we used to live..  My son watches the people of Phuket getting ready to fight the Burmese

Diorama of sea gypsy boat floating ceremony

I'd say the museum makes an ideal stop off while touring this area of Phuket. We went from here about 15 minutes up the road to Bang Pae Seafood, and you'll also find Bang Pae waterfall and the Gibbon Rehab Project along the same road. The Ton Sai waterfall is also not far away. Nearby in Thalang town are several important temples (Wat Phra Tong, Wat Sri Sunthon and Wat Phra Nang Sang), and just south you have the Boat Lagoon, which is worth a stop if you like boats and want a nice coffee in a western style marina.

Phuket Museums - Location Map


View Phuket Museums in a larger map

Nai Yang Beach Resort

Way up in the North West of the island of Phuket, some 40km from the hustle of Patong, and just south of the airport, you find Nai Yang Beach. One of my favourite parts of Phuket, part of the beach is part of a national park, and is about as untouched as you can get in this part of the world. The South end of the beach has a few resorts such as the unique and luxurious Indigo Pearl resort, and the more reasonably priced Nai Yang Beach Resort. Prices in low season are pretty low for a cottage right by the beach. There are several room types from more basic rooms to bungalows with living room.

But, as with many hotels I like, it's all about location! Nai Yang beach is lovely. Always quiet, very natural, away from the crowds. An example of a place in Phuket where you can just sit and relax and listen to the sea. If you want to get from there to the main beaches or the town for a day, it's about 45 minutes by car.

More about Nai Yang Beach on Jamie's Phuket

Nai Yang Beach Resort - Booking and Reviews

Nai Yang Beach Resort Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
Nai Yang Beach Resort Reviews


Nai Yang Beach Resort Photos

Nai Yang Beach Resort  Nai Yang Beach Resort

Jamie and Daughter on Nai Yang Beach (photo taken in 2004)

Phuket Hotels - More Info & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2016
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Kathu Village Shrine

I went for a quick look at Kathu Shrine last night. The shrine is in Kathu village, which is an old, rather traditional Chinese area of Phuket. When you are in the village you see many old folks sitting outside their houses, lots of small local shops..seemingly half a world away from Patong beach which is only 15 minutes from here. Sure there are some new buildings around such as the "Lakeside" appartments, but over all the village is very quiet and oldy worldy. There's a Wat just outside the village and a Chinese shrine on the edge. It's one of the main Chinese shrines used for the Vegetarian Festival celebrations which take place sometime in September/October depending on the moon phases.

As you enter the village from "my end" you pass through a grand entrance built for the vegetarian festival (see photo below). There are lanterns and lights hung over the road all the way through the village, all ready for next week when there will be daily prayers at the shrine, vegetarian food stalls all over the place and people wearing white (although there has been a call for people to wear yellow this year as a sign of respect to King Bhumibol).

Entrance to Kathu Village

In the temple there were quite a few people busy at work painting, fixing and getting things ready. The shrine's devotees will have "their" street procession in Phuket Town on October 29th at 7am - starting from the shrine, then heading to Surakul stadium on the west side of town near Central Festival and on through the town. A day for getting up early if you want to see something special. Before this there will be daily events at the shrine, as there will be at the many other chinese shrines in Phuket.

Some photos below taken at the shrine last night.

Kathu Shrine

Inside Kathu Shrine (yes that's me behind the door) - photo taken by my 5 year old daughter

Inside Kathu Shrine - photo taken by my daughter

Bicycle and Door - Kathu Shrine

Kathu Shrine

There are a lot more Kathu shrine photos on this blog taken over the years since this post was published in 2006. For example ... Phuket Vegetarian Festival Opening Ceremonies at Kathu Shrine 2011 and Kathu Shrine 2011 - Piercings and Firecrackers.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Note this is an outdated post from 2006. The 2015 Vegetarian Festival will be 12 - 22 October. More information : Phuket Veg Festival - Phuket Vege Festival Schedule 2015.

For loads more information : Phuket Vegetarian Festival

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2006 post

Coming soon! The annual Phuket Vegetarian festival runs this year from 22 - 30 October, and is one of Phuket's best known and most colourful festivals. The focus of the festival is in the neighbourhood of many Chinese shrines in Phuket, mostly in and around Phuket Town. Another of the main shrines (Kathu) is just down the road from my house, and this year I want to make an effort to see some of the parades and events and take a whole load of photos. This is slightly hampered by the fact that I'll be in the Similan Islands from the 21st - 26th on a dive boat, but nevertheless will be here for the last few days of the festival when things like fire walking take place.

The main parades are a bizarre spectacle as devotees pierce their bodies with all manner of items, their pain being a purification. During the week, there are many parades for the people from the various shrines.

Vegetarian Festival Street Parade Schedule

Tuesday, October 24
7:30 am: Sapam Shrine (start at Queen Sirikit Park)

Wednesday, October 25
7:19 am: Samkong Shrine

Thursday, October 26
6:30 am: Jang Ong (Yaowarat Rd, opposite Vachira Phuket Hospital)
7:30 am: Tah Reua Shrine (near the Heroines’ Monument in Thalang)

Friday, October 27
6 am: Bang Neow Shrine (on Phuket Rd, in Phuket City. The procession will pass Surin Circle and then Suriyadej Circle before heading to Saphan Hin.)

Saturday, October 28
8 am: Jui Tui Shrine (Ranong Rd, Phuket City)

Sunday, October 29
7:30 am: Kathu Shrine and Yokkekeng Shrine (start at Surakul Stadium)
7:30 am: Soi Panieng Shrine (in Samkong)

Monday, October 30
7 am: Sui Boon Tong Shrine (on Wichit Songkram Rd, Phuket City)


A special celebration to commemorate the 60th anniversary of His Majesty The King’s accession to the throne will be held on October 23rd. The festivities will begin at Queen Sirikit Park, on Thalang Rd, with a free vegetarian buffet at 1 pm.

At 3 pm, 7,000 free yellow T-shirts will be given away, although people are requested to wear their own if possible. At 4 pm, the procession will make its way from the park to Sapan Hin, where there will be a group prayer for HM The King to have a long and prosperous reign. The evening will conclude with a fireworks display, beginning about 7 pm.

During the festival, vegetarian food stalls are all over the place, look for the yellow signs.

I'll get some more photos of the Kathu shrine tomorrow, showing the preparations for the festival - I drive past almost every day.

Restaurant Tips: BBQ Hut, Patong Beach

BBQ Hut in Patong certainly gets a fair number of regulars who know that this is the place for Tex Mex, this is the place for a great burger, this is the place for tacos, burritos and nachos. They apparently do good Margaritas too (only 99 Baht), though I prefer a cold beer myself. I've been half a dozen times for lunch, always had great food and enjoy trying the different burgers they have - the Mexican Cowboy Burger, Jalapeno Burger, Chili Cheese Burger, Monster Burger and many more. There are also all day breakfasts, Hot Dogs (I recommend a Chili Cheese Dog), ribs, steaks.. you may get the impression this is not a place for vegetarians! I do eat Thai food 90% of the time, but now and then my western stomach cries out and BBQ Hut is one of the cures.

BBQ Hut sign

BBQ Hut Tables

Location - it moved again in 2013, now to be found on the road between Patong and Karon next to an elephant trekking place. I have not been for ages. The prices used to be quite reasonable for this kind of food, around 150 - 180 Baht for the burgers served with chips and salad or 130 Baht for "The Hungry Man" breakfast.

Bacon Burger at BBQ Hut

Updated June 2010 - BBQ Hut was first on the blog nearly 4 years ago - I realised I had no photos so went for lunch today. Great burger, cold beer, make that 2. Viva Mexico! Viva Zapata! Looks like the prices are about the same as 4 years ago. Good. Photos on this page from June 2010.

Tequila!

Wouldn't be Mexico without Tequila. I have spent about 5 months in Mexico in my younger days, and did used to like tequila. These days my stomach is happy with a beer. But this line up of bottles reminds me of Mexican bars.

Mexican Heroes

There are pictures around the restaurant - above you have Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa who were revolutionary heroes in the early 20th century. Mexico has a rich history and loves it's heroes. There is also a big movie poster of the Three Amigos - not sure Chevy Chase is a Mexican hero though.... :)

More of our favourite Phuket restaurants
Hotels in Patong Beach

Hotel Recommendations: Sarojin (Khao Lak)

What do you mean, recommended hotel in Khao Lak? I thought this was a Phuket Blog? Well, yes, but Khao Lak is only 100km from here, and in fact the distance from Phuket International Airport to Khao Lak is not a lot further than down to the main beaches in Phuket, since the airport is in the north of the island.

I've never really spent any time in Khao Lak, even though it's only a 2 hour drive. No reason to go there to see hotels, restaurants etc...Last time I drove through was in April and I could see things were looking much better after the tsunami. Khao Lak was hit way worse than Phuket. Much worse. It's a bit of a struggle for those with businesses there to encourage visitors back. I think everyone knows that Phuket is all back to normal, and has been for a while now, but Khao Lak? Well, let me tell you - beaches are lovely and quieter than the main beaches of Phuket. There's no road right by the beach, no tuk tuks, it's a real get away. Only thing is, there's not much to do, especially if it's raining. It's the beach or nothing!

So, why talk about a hotel in Khao Lak? Well, I was watching the BBC last night, a travel program called Fast Track, and they talked to the owner of The Sarojin, which is a boutique hotel right on the beach and looks gorgeous. The owner explained how they were due to open on December 24th 2004. Things were not quite ready, so they postponed until January 10th. Then, things were taken out of their hands by the tsunami. They decided to rebuild and finally opened in October 2005. I liked the fact that they kept all their staff during this 10 month period, despite having no guests to look after. It seems the owners and staff all pitched in to help the rebuilding and I got the impression it was a labour of love. So that's why the Sarojin is on this blog!

The Sarojin - Booking and Reviews

The Sarojin Rates and Reservations at Agoda.com
The Sarojin - Guest Reviews
Khao Lak Hotels at Agoda.com


The Sarojin - Photos

Sarojin Beach Sarojin Pool

Sarojin Room Sarojin Front View

Phuket Hotels - More Information & Online Booking

Jamie's Phuket Hotel Recommendations
Top 10 Phuket Hotels 2015
Book Phuket Hotels at Agoda.com

Wat Phra Nang Sang

Wat Phra Nang Sang is the oldest temple in Phuket, dating back maybe more than 500 years. If I read what I can find on the internet, it seems the exact age is unsure and for sure the temple has been renovated and rebuilt over that time. It might be accurate to say a temple has been on the site for 500 years. One story says a powerful southern Thai ruler had the temple built for his wife. Another story says that the temple was built in honour of a princess who was due to be executed, although she had been framed and was innocent. When she was executed she bled white bood, thus showing her purity. The temple is also called Wat Luad Khao (White Blood Temple). In 1785, the Burmese invaded Phuket and were fought off by the people of Phuket led by 2 sisters. The Phuket people gathered at this temple before the battle which was fought nearby. At that time, Thalang was the main town in Phuket.

The battle is commemorated every year in March at the Phuket Heroines Festival in Thalang. A statue of Thao Thep Kassatri and Thao Sri Sunthon (known as Chan and Mook before King Rama I gave them these names for their valiant defense of Phuket) lies in the temple grounds - a larger one can be seen at the Heroines Monument - a traffic circle on the main road between the airport and Phuket City.

I first stopped at Wat Phra Nang Sang in 2006 and have meant to visit again for ages. Parts of the temple were still being built and indeed now in 2015 there are still parts being built, and a whole new temple complex has been built behind the old temple! It's never ending! The grounds are quite large, it's worth taking your time.

Buddha and disciples

Photography Boy

(above) I visited with my boy in May 2015. There's a lot to be seen here.

Wat Phra Nang Sang

(above) The white and gold temple was not there in 2006!

Yak with Gun

(above) The "Yak" is a guardian which you'll find at the entrance and surrounding many Buddhist temples. They are normally scary, big toothed ogre type creatures. This was the first I have seen with boobs and an assault rifle!

Inside Wat Phra Nang Sang

(above) Inside one of the temple buldings at Wat Phra Nang Sang. The walls are covered with stories from the life of Buddha.

There's a lot of history here. My daughter was amazed to see a mummified Abbot who died about 50 years ago I think. Not sure she could believe she was seeing an actual dead Monk. There is another building featuring 3 large Buddha images. These were built before the Burmese invasion. The temple was home to 3 sacred Buddha images made of tin, which would have been taken by the invaders had they not been beaten back. The tin Buddha images were hidden inside the 3 images that you can see, which were made of concrete. The tin images were apparently forgotten about and only uncovered as recently as 1973. Phuket was, until the mid 20th century, a major tin mining center and this helped to make Phuket quite wealthy.

Wat Phra Nang Sang

Nearby in the Thalang area you can also find Wat Phra Tong (which lies a bit further north) and Wat Sri Sunthon (a little way south of Thalang). There's also a memorial on the old battlefield which I need to find someday and I believe somewhere are the ruins of the old governors house from the early 19th century.

Update 2016 - Wat Phra Nang Sang was one of 3 temples my son and I visited in one afternoon - see here : Thalang Area Phuket Temples


Wat Phra Nang Sang - Location Map


View Wat Phra Nang Sang in a larger map

Military Coup in Bangkok? All Quiet in Phuket.

Update 25th May 2014 - please note - this is an old blog post relating to the coup of September 19th 2006. Nothing happened in Phuket then and since the coup in 2014, nothing is happening in Phuket again. Yeh, there was a curfew for a while but you won't see troops or any trouble in Phuket. For updates, suggest you follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/jamiemonk. I notice that quite a few people have been looking at this old page, so I just want to say .. everything in Phuket is fine. See you on Twitter and see you here!

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20 September 2006 : Well, I have just come to the office and can see nothing abnormal here in Phuket. No military, no increased police presence, no worried faces. Thailand is very relaxed. Hard to work out last night what was going on. All the Thai TV channels went off the air and started playing music and showing pictures of the King. We got pictures from the BBC News (www.bbcworld.com or www.bbc.co.uk) showing soliders and military vehicles in the streets of Bangkok, but otherwise everything going on as normal. Called my wifes sister who works for a bank in Bangkok and she said she could see nothing at all.

So let's wait and see. Looks like Thaksin may be out of a job. The statement issued on Thai TV said the military were acting on behalf of the King, or at least with his approval, which makes all the difference here in Thailand.

As I say, no reason to worry, and nothing going on here in Phuket except schools and banks will be closed today. (Today is the last day of the school term anyway).

(Later) - Thai TV is back on, and there was a statement issued by the leaders of the military and police saying they are only trying to help and do not intend holding power any longer than necessary.

News Sources

• The Phuket Gazette
• The Phuket News
• www.bangkokpost.com
• www.nationmultimedia.com


Also a lot of comments (many to be taken with a pinch of salt) on the Lonely Planet Thailand Forum:

• http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/categories.cfm?catid=51

Car being searched at Phuket International Airport, 20th September

(Update on Thursday 21st)

Nothing happening in Phuket, everything is 100% normal. Sun is shining. The news says that the King supports the leaders of the coup, which means (since everyone is loyal to the king) that there will be no trouble.

BBC News says "During the day, coup supporters brought flowers, pizzas and donuts to the soldiers and took turns taking family pictures in front of the armoured vehicles which have cordoned off the government district.

Many of the tanks that have been deployed in Bangkok have yellow ribbons tied around their barrels to signify loyalty to the king."

Have a good day!
Jamie