Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule 2009

Looking for the 2015 Vegetarian festival schedule? Look here:

2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule October 12 - 22


2009 Festival - some of the best photos here:

Vegetarian festival 2009 - Street Procession Photos

It's nearly here! My favourite festival in Phuket - the amazing vegetarian festival. If you are in Phuket between the 17th and 26th of this month, you'll have a chance to see something special. BUT here's a hint.. you will not find anything much going on near the main tourist beaches. No, this is a local event with a rich history going back almost 200 years, this is not a tourist show. Want to see something? You need to make a bit of effort. The festival is centered around Phuket Town and the many Chinese Shrines in Phuket that reflect the Chinese ancestry of many of the people here. Most of the shrines are in or near the town, with a few around other parts of the island. The main processions take place early morning around the town - if you want to catch one, best to stay in town, or you'll be needing an early morning ride from the beaches, as processions start around 7am.

It all kicks off on Saturday 17th in the late afternoon when the "lantern pole" is raised at each temple down which the gods are said to descend. I'll be having a look at my nearest shrine in Kathu village a few km outside town. The street processions take place every morning from the 20th to 26th. There are events in the afternoons and evenings too and in town and areas around the shrines, food stalls galore selling the special food that is eaten during the festival. There are some stalls and restaurants doing this food at the beaches but not many. If you head into Phuket Town around the market area near the Jui Tui shrine, that would be a good place to sample the food.

This blog has featured the Phuket vegetarian festival a lot in past years, and there are many pages devoted to the processions, lots of photos, information about the shrines, the food... you can find a lot more information and links here:

The Amazing Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Not too much happens for the first couple of days after the raising of the lantern poles, but any evening is a good time to visit one of the shrines. Things really kick off on the 20th with the first street procession. Here's a listing of the main events during the festival:

Saturday October 17th

All shrines, starting around 5pm - raising of the lantern pole. Events at the shrines will go on all evening. The lanterns are hung from the pole at midnight, signifying the start of the festival. There will be plenty of firecrackers and fireworks too. Well worth a visit on Saturday evening. Not sure if I will be awake at midnight, but I will be at Kathu shrine for the pole raising ceremony.

Kathu Shrine

18th - 19th October - no big events, but you can visit any shrine at any time, and now the food is available too. I will again try to stick to the special diet for the duration of the festival.

Tuesday October 20th

Street procession starting 7am for Sapam Shrine - this shrine is a few km north of Phuket Town. Photographers and TV news always cover the first procession, as everyone wants to get the first photos for the paper, and local TV always covers the festival.

Wednesday October 21st

Street procession for Sam Kong Shrine - it's not far from my house - see more here: Sam Kong Shrine. They will walk from the shrine in the north of town down through the old town. I might try to catch the start of this procession, but note that the street around Sam Kong shrine is very crowded and if you go with your own transport you may need to park some way from the shrine.

Thursday October 22nd

Street procession for Ban Tha Rue shrine which is in the Thalang area of Phuket in the center of the island - this used to be the main town in Phuket a few hundred years ago and there are several historic temples in the area as well as a museum of Phuket history.

In the evening the schedule shows "Oil bathing and bladed-ladder climbing" starting 7pm at Kathu shrine. Now, last year we went to see these events but they were not being held.. and a brochure I have from the Kathu municipality does not show these events in the schedule.

Friday October 23rd

A big day! Street procession in Phuket Town for the Bang Neow Shrine, which is in the south of the town on Phuket Road, one of the biggest shrines participating in the festival. There is also a procession for Cherng Talay Shrine in Thalang district.

Later in the day the schedule has Fire Walking at several locations including Sapam Shrine, Sapan Hin (for Jui Tui shrine) and Sui Boon Tong shrine (couple of blocks to the west of the market in Phuket Town)

Saturday October 24th

Street procession for Jui Tui shrine, which is the biggest one of all, found just west of the market in Phuket Town. Since Saturday is normally my day off I do believe I will be in town for this one!

Later there are lots of events at various shrines including bladed ladder climbing at Sam Kong and Bang Neow shrines and something called "nail bridge crossing" at Sapam Shrine.

Sunday October 25th

Street procession from Kathu shrine to Phuket Town. It's a fair walk this one, about 5km from Kathu Shrine all the way to town, around the old town and ending at Sapan Hin. Kathu is my "local" shrine, I will aim to be at the shrine before 6am to witness the piercing rituals as I did last year. The procession then heads out of Kathu village around 6:30am.

Later in the evening - fire walking at Bang Neow and Sam Kong shrines.

Monday October 26th

The last day of the festival. A final morning procession for Sui Boon Tong shrine, then events such as firewalking at Kathu shrine at 3pm. Then, in the evening/night a big procession around Phuket Town, carrying statues of the gods to Sapan Hin. Lots of firecrackers and fireworks. Ends at midnight with the "farewell" to the gods. I do hope to summon up energy enough to be in Phuket Town in the night for this event - I have seen it on TV, looks mad!

Tuesday October 27th

Around 5pm the lantern poles are lowered at the shrines marking the very end of the festival.

Now, I would happily go to see all processions and events every night at various shrines, but of course have to work and have a family too.. If you are lucky enough to be in Phuket during the vegetarian festival, DO make an effort to see something. This is a special time of year. And don't be afraid of the food! I am (almost) looking forward to a week of tofu and beansprouts :)

Vegan Mofo: Isa's Helping Hand

Before going vegan in '04, I subsisted mostly on packaged, processed crap. I was vegetarian, but that didn't stop me from buying boxes and boxes of macaroni and cheese, packaged rice mixes, and even Hamburger Helper. I'd add ground veggie burger in place of the ground beef for a quick (and cheap) week night meal. Even though I'm sure it was loaded with hydrogenated oils (I didn't even know what that was back then), white flour pasta, and tons of ingredients I can't even pronounce, I remember it tasting pretty damn good.

So when I saw Isa's Tempeh Helper on the Show Us Your Mitts PPK blog, I knew I HAD to make it:

Isa subs crumbled tempeh for the ground burger, quinoa pasta for the seminola-laden stuff, and even tops the dish with a noochy sauce. Remember how some of the Hamburger Helper flavors came with a package of cheese topping powder? The cheeze sauce — which was just your basic nooch, flour, garlic powder, water deal — really made me feel like I was eating the boxed stuff I used to love.

And much like Hamburger Helper, Isa's version (recipe is here) came together in less than 30 minutes. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal.

Vegan Mofo: Big Breakfast!

This morning's breakfast kept me satisfied well past noon. In fact, I wasn't even really hungry when I ate my leftover beans and cornbread for lunch at 1:30. I'm usually famished by 11 a.m. What kept me full for hours? A hearty slice of my Breakfast Casserole:

This is another cookbook recipe. I've actually blogged the recipe before (last October, to be exact ... the recipe is here). It's based on my Granny's breakfast casserole that she makes every year for our family's Christmas breakfast. Hers contains meat and eggs. But mine is made with layers of bread, scrambled tofu, vegan sausage, and a cheezy nooch-based sauce.

As I've mentioned before, I've been counting calories on my Lose It iPhone app ... just for fun and because I'm slightly obsessive. Turns out this hearty breakfast didn't contain any more calories than a bowl of doctored-up oats or a cup of yogurt with granola. And the only added fat is about a tablespoon of soy margarine in the cheeze sauce. Filling, healthy, low fat-ish, and not too calorie dense (one-sixth of the casserole had 327 calories, in case you were wondering).

Vegan Mofo: Autumn Picnic

Saturday night was way too cold for a picnic. It was freakin' 46 degrees, unseasonably cool for an October night in Tennessee. But my boyfriend Paul and I are troopers. We packed a picnic bag and headed to Jazz on the Lawn, our favorite bi-monthly outdoor wine tasting/picnic party at the Beachaven Winery in Clarksville, Tennessee. As you can see, we had to bundle up in scarves and winter coats:

We bought a bottle of Beachaven's Seyval Blanc, a semi-dry white wine with crisp apple notes — perfect for fall:

And then we found an open picnic table close to the stage, where The Next Level played jazz and R&B standards (and a few Michael Jackson songs!). I'm not really a fan of cover bands, but these guys were alright:

I snacked on some fresh foccacia bread from Silke's Old World Breads, a local Clarksville bakery run by adorable German ladies:

Yes, I know it's evil white bread. I only eat white when I'm dining out or for special events like this. Besides, I've never seen whole wheat foccacia. Paul snacked on some cheesy foccacia baked with slices of bell pepper and onion (also from Silke's).

We both topped our bread with this tasty Roasted Garlic Bruschetta spread that I found on sale at Big Lots:

I also nibbled on these Yves Meatless Pepperoni slices, while Paul opted for habanero cheese (yes, he's a dairy eater, but I'm workin' on him):

And for dessert, we got our fill on white seedless grapes:

Unfortunately, it was too chilly for us to stay for the band's entire performance, but we managed to polish off our wine and most of the food before ditching the cold.

Hey, in case you missed it, the awesome Gena of Choosing Raw let me do a guest post on her blog on Saturday. Check it out here.

Vegan Mofo: I Love Jessy & Dan!

I'm sure I've blogged before about how much I love Jessy over at happyveganface. She's always comin' up with delicious vegan yummies, especially her mouthwatering burger recipes (she really outta write a book ... who's with me? Right?). But now I also love her man, Dan. He's responsible for developing these delectable Tempeh Tater Cakes:

Imagine a latke or potato pancake with flecks of savory-spiced tempeh, green onion, and bell pepper and fried to crispy goodness. That's what Dan's tempeh tater cakes are all about (the recipe is here). So delicious, and the recipe makes a ton. I topped mine with a little organic ketchup because potatoes LOVE ketchup!

On the side, I developed a Smoky Stewed Okra & Tomatoes recipe for the cookbook:

Down South, stewed okra and 'maters is a big deal. But most folks season it with real bacon. Pig bacon = grossout, so mine's cruelty-free. I'm certain it'd rival Paula Deen's version anyway. Bring it on, Paula!

Testers...there are two new recipes posted to the top-secret tester site! :-)

Vegan Mofo: Skittles! And Other News!

So I'm probably the last one to know, but apparently Skittles have gone vegan! My friend Greg showed up at my house on Saturday, armed with multiple bright red bags of Skittles bearing the phrase "gelatin-free, gluten-free."

Skittles were my favorite candy in my pre-gan days, and even though I try to avoid stuff with hydrogenated oils or corn syrup, I couldn't help but indulge in a big handful. Of course, Mars makes Skittles ... and Mars still tests on animals. So I guess they're not really vegan. So I doubt I'll be giving my money to Skittles anytime soon. But Greg left several bags at my house. I'll eat those and get my fill.

I don't have any food pics tonight, but since it's Mofo, I knew I had to post something. So I'll talk a little about my birthday presents. My birthday isn't actually until October 16th, but my best friend Sheridan (who lives in Little Rock) can't be here for my birthday party. So she came last weekend. We went out for BBQ Tofu Nachos at R.P. Tracks and then to the gay club for dancin'.

But first, she gave me some awesome gifts, like this cupcake hoodie:

She found it at a garage sale! She also found a copy of Soy, Not Oi at a thrift store. I've been wanting this cookzine for awhile.

And she gave me something I've been needing for a long, long time — a cupcake caddy:

I've always carried my cupcakes in multiple Tupperware bowls, so this is perfect. Now I need an excuse to take cupcakes somewhere...

Hey testers! I finally posted more recipes to the crunk tester site ... sorry for the long wait.

Vegan Mofo: Raw Food Tuesday

Once again, it's time for my monthly edition of Raw Food Tuesday — an all-day, all-raw "cleanse" intended to expand my knowledge of raw-cipes and give my body a power boost of healthy foods. No coffee, no cupcakes, no processed vegan cheeze — just pure veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and plant oils. As usual with my raw days lately, I started my day with a liquid meal — Tropical Fruit Smoothie:

This little guy contained one banana, a fourth cup of frozen blueberries, a handful of strawberries, mango, and pineapple, a couple tablespoons of dried coconut, and a dose of ground flax seed. It sustained me from 7:30 a.m. to about 10 a.m., and then I had to down this Green Juice for energy:

Isn't that green color lovely? I combined two cups raw spinach, one large tomato, a couple celery stalks, two carrots, half a yellow bell pepper, and a small chili pepper in my Jack Lalanne juicer. I also snacked on a local pear before lunch.

Lunch was a delicious bowl of Gena's Raw Tortilla Soup with avocado from Choosing Raw:

As usual, raw food goddess Gena did not disappoint with this spicy Mexican-inspired soup. The base is made from tomato and red pepper, and it contains lots of spices like cumin, cayenne, and chili powder. Next time, I'll add a jalepeno for an even spicier kick. On the side, I downed this green salad with pomegranate seeds, shitake mushrooms, and a basic oil & vinegar dressing:

The soup kept me full for hours! In fact, I ate way more of it than I should have and I had a bit of a bellyache for an hour or so. Raw food fills you up faster than cooked food, and my hungry brain has a problem understanding that sometimes.

I snacked on some raw veggies — cherry tomatoes, raw okra, bell pepper, and cucumber — around 3:30 p.m. After work, I came home to one of the two greatest meals of my day. Last night, while purchasing veggies at Whole Foods, I discovered this pre-made Raw Vegan Carrot Cake from Intentional Food (by Journey to Bliss):

The lady who makes the Journey to Bliss raw goods lives in Smyrna, Tennessee, a tiny town outside of Nashville. I'd tried her raw cheeze at a vegan potluck in Nashville, but had no idea her products were also available in Memphis!

So I shelled out the $7.99 for this package of cheezecake, despite my lack of funds. I just couldn't resist since I rarely make whole raw cakes and pies for little ole me to eat alone. This was the perfect size — enough for two decent portions (I'm saving half for tomorrow!). Made from cashews, pecans, walnuts, carrots, dates, and raisins, this cake tasted so much like cooked carrot cake — but way healthier! The frosting was the best part (of course!), and it tasted JUST LIKE cream cheeze. Swear to god.

After savoring dessert and hitting the gym, I experienced another glorious raw meal — Gena's Zucchini Alfredo from Choosing Raw:

Sorry for the flash photo, but it was dark outside. I've tried several of Gena's recipes, and trust me, every single one has been a winner. But this really takes the raw cake! The sauce is made from cashews and it's so very, very creamy. I served it over zucchini and carrot noodles (made with a vegetable peeler) and cherry tomatoes from the farmer's market.

Restaurant Tip: The Coffee Pot

UPDATE - Sorry to say that the Coffee Pot no longer exists. Sadly, Tony the owner passed away in 2011. RIP.

I don't know about you, but .. as a long term resident here in Thailand I am still learning to appreciate different Thai foods. When I first came here, I think I ate fried rice or green curry about 50% of the time and was a bit scared to try new things especially anything too spicy. These days I love spicier foods and can eat just about any Thai dish. Nevertheless, sometimes my English stomach says "hold on, enough chili, enough rice, enough weird spices... I want proper food". No offence meant, but now and then I get that need for something from the old country, something simple, meat and veg, potatoes or a big English breakfast. I have touched on this before, and during the high season, the Pineapple Guesthouse near our diveshop does some good English food.

The Coffee Pot has been around for years, owned by an Aussie guy called Tony who can sometimes be seen outside fixing up big bikes. Somehow I had never been in there until a few weeks ago. Many people had told me that the Coffee Pot was good for big breakfasts, for steaks and for coffee of course. The restaurant is on Patak Road (the back road in Kata and Karon) just north of the PTT gasoline station on the same side of the road, just opposite the turning into Thaina road.

Coffee Pot Entrance

Inside there is a lot of space, room for at least 50 people. I have been a few times at lunchtime, but it's low season and there were never more than a few people seated. Tony says in high season, especially in the evenings, it can be pretty full, as his BBQ is famous throughout the land!

Coffee Pot Interior

The decor includes photos of John Lennon, James Dean, Motorbikes and Marilyn Monroe. I reckon I will have to go sometime in high season for a meaty dinner. First time I had a late breakfast as advertised on the front of the restaurant - 2 eggs, toast, bacon, tomato, beans and fresh coffee - 120 Baht. I was surprised by the size of the plate and impressed by the use of proper thick crusty bread to make the toast. And the coffee was good too...

Fresh Coffee at the Coffee Pot

So having had this breakfast special, I had to try the Full Monty breakfast - 220 Baht including extras - orange juice (fresh), hash brown, mushrooms and sausage. Surely enough to sink a boat? And a very good cure for that well known Changover. I am not sure if the Full Monty was worth the extra 100 Baht, as the 120 Baht breakfast is very good value and very filling. Breakfasts are served all day. Here's the Full Monty:

Breakfast at the Coffee Pot

I checked out the BBQ & Grill menu while I was there - click the photo below to enlarge. People tell me that Tony's steaks are fit for a giant, which would suit me, thank you... I reckon that after the coming vegetarian festival, a big steak at the Coffee Pot might be in order!

Coffee Pot - GRill Menu

Check out that Mixed Grill - 2 eggs, bacon, mushrooms, onions, sausage, pork chop, lamb chop and a steak and chips and salad - 690 Baht. During the vegetarian festival I try very hard to stick to the special "cleansing" diet. I think this mixed grill might be the way to get all dirty again :)

Nearby hotels:

Boomerang Village Cottages
CCs Hideaway Hotel
Kata Beach Hotels
Karon Beach Hotels

A Dog’s Life ...

It was once possible to stroll down the forest path to the dam, extend your arms and find your hands had vanished from view amidst the lush foliage on either side.  Sure there were ruts and rocks, thorns and mud puddles to be navigated but that just added to the sense of accomplishment at the end of the trail.  After a recent upgrade, the term trail is no longer appropriate.  Two lane highway, now comes to mind.  Sure it is still dirt beneath a sprinkling of gravel but the width and more even gradient makes for a different kind of walk. 

While the distance remains the same the effort expended seems less.  The mental effort is reduced as well.  Hardly any need to watch your step to keep your balance.  With little need to look down I suppose one is freer to look up and across the landscape.  Cookie shows no sign of being incensed by the forward march of progress.  She bounds ahead with her unrelenting enthusiasm, undaunted by a break with the past and intently focused on new sights and smells.  The mental health and balance of a dog is perhaps something to be aspired to.

Speaking of health, we spent much of yesterday in the corridors of an unfamiliar environment.  I am guessing it had been eight or nine years since our last physicals and thought it was perhaps time to let someone check on our internal heath.  I seem to remember a tonsillectomy as a child and a broken leg as an adult but that is pretty much the sum total of my hospital experience.  Since coming to Thailand in 1975 I have been a devout self-medicator (my own word).  A little reading and a close relationship with a skilled pharmacist and I was good to go. 

The recent rash of family and village deaths has left my wife a little rattled and thinking more about things like health and life insurance.  Even with an uncle retired from the business, I have never trusted insurance companies.  I view them in a similar light as the large casinos.  The odds seem overwhelmingly stacked in their favor or they would not be able to build such obscene edifices to their grandeur.

As a first step down the road to helping my wife cope, a checkup seemed the way to go.  We did get impatient by afternoon and left with one remaining procedure for her and the reading of our results by a doctor.  We will reschedule the completion on another day when it might not be quite such an inconvenience.  Overall I found the scene that unfolded around us in the hospital quite foreign and unpleasant.  It reminded me a little, of the time I have spent in my parent’s retirement home.  Unhealthy, unattractive and unhappy people meandering around in a desperate slow-motion dance with death but representing a broader range of age groups, from newborn to very old. 

Perhaps it is all down to luck and good genes but then again my distinct lack of vices may have played a part as well.  Whatever the reason my preference is to focus on getting as much joy and experience out of living as I can.  Trying to avoid or postpone death indefinitely seems to me to be a sucker’s game.  I will, however, find ways to comfort and reassure my wife as she goes through this period of grief, questioning and uncertainty. 

With the inevitability of death, it seems clear to me, that how we live is the only thing we can exert control over.  Accidents do happen and living a “perfect” life is no guarantee of a long healthy existence, but high-risk habits and behaviors are nonetheless, not in ones best interest.  Of course you would not get that message by looking around and observing how others live.  I think I will continue aspiring to being a little more like Cookie everyday.  The here and now of a dog’s life seems pretty good right now.

Vegan Mofo: Vegan Pimento Cheeze

I used to love pimento cheese, that beloved nuclear-orange colored spread that comes in the big ole plastic tub. When I went vegan almost five years ago, I thought I'd just have to do without it for the rest of my life.

Then one night, I was tweaking a hummus recipe, and just for fun, I added a little nutritional yeast. And gasp! It tasted a lot like the pimento cheese I remembered. That being said, it's been awhile since I've eaten pimento cheese. But you have to admit that it looks quite similar:

My vegan pimento cheeze is another cookbook recipe, and I've been eating it spread on Whole Foods brand Mighty Multigrain bread all weekend:

By the way, doesn't the bread look really white? I bought it because it said "multigrain" and the ingredients look okay. But eating it makes me feel a little guilty ... like I'm eating evil white bread.

Mofo Muffins

It felt kinda weird making my first mofo post on Thursday and then waiting until Sunday to post the next one, but I don't like to post on weekends. I pledge to post every Sunday through Thursday night during Vegan Mofo III (except the week I'm away on vacation later this month). That's the best I can do. For me, weekends are for nightclubs, wine tastings, art shows, parties ... not blogging. But the weekend has come to an end, so here ya go ...

Last week, I baked up a batch of Mihl's Blueberry Muffins with White Chocolate Chips from Seitan Is My Motor:

Mihl posted the recipe (available here) several months ago, and I knew I had to make them! I've had half a bag of vegan white chocolate chips lurking in my pantry for awhile, and this sounded like the perfect excuse to use them up. Not to mention that I've been craving muffins for awhile.

Despite containing sinfully delicious white chocolate chips (the brand I had was made with all kinds of not-good-for-you ingredients), these tasty breakfast bites seem pretty healthy. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-p, and the recipe only calls for a half-cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar. I used Kroger brand frozen organic blueberries, and they were some of the plumpest berries I've seen!

Lucky for me, I froze most of the muffins to eat again for breakfast this week, accompanied by Whole Soy & Co. yogurt.

You's a Cornbred Fed Vegan Mofo!

I'm starting Vegan Mofo off with one of my all-time favorite Southern comfort foods — Beans 'n' Cornbread. Nothing satisfies this downhome gal like a big ole' steamy bowl of beans topped with a slice of sweet cornbread. A few months ago, my Granny developed a recipe for my cookbook for this Beans 'n' Greens Soup:

White beans, collard greens, tomato, and some spices. Mmm-mmm. I'm rubbin' my belly just thinkin' about it. I tested her recipe this week, and it's delicious. And healthy too! Of course, a bowl of beans ain't nothin' without a hunk of cornbread. That's where my recipe for Jalapeno-Corn Cornbread comes in:

Another cookbook tester, this cornbread is one of my favorites from the book. I've been tweaking it for ages, but I think it's ready for lift-off. It's sweet like Jiffy, minus all those hydrogenated oils and crap. And I add frozen corn and chopped pickled jalepenos for a kick.

Some folks down South like to crumble their cornbread into their beans and stir it all together. But I prefer to plop a whole slice right on top of the bowl, douse it in hot sauce, and cut into it with each wholesome bite: