Why Thailand ---A question most asked by folks we meet or friends

We were in town the other day and we saw a friend or two  that was here in the LOS on a holiday and thinking about retirement, and they ask us the same question many have ask us in the past as to why we chose Thailand as our retirement home and country. Well , it was 12  years in October that we moved here from America," lock stock and barrel "as the ole saying goes and I thought it would be good to repeat a post I posted about a year or so ago , it might help to answer that question, Hope you enjoy the older post and pictures.

                                                             Why Thailand

When we travel on vacation or we are out and about, one of the most ask questions is "Why Thailand."In order to really answer that question , First, you have to know that I am married to a Thai lady , and one of my main concerns in my marriage was what could I do to make her happy .We came to Thailand in 2003 on a vacation and a chance for me to meet her family and kids. I saw at once ,how happy she was to be in her home country with friends and family , and yet have the security in knowing that she had a husband who could and would do anything she needed , with-in reason to make her happy. Not only could I see how happy she was , but I at once fell in love with Thailand , there was lots of things that attracted me to the LOS , BUT the most important one was how happy Ciejay seemed to be .

I knew it was about time for us to start thinking seriously about where we wanted to live out out retirement years , I had always thought about somewhere close to my Brother and Sister, out Tenn. way , and we went for a visit to check things out before coming to Thailand the next year on Vacation , and somehow it just didn't feel right to both of us. Before we came over to the LOS we had mentioned to each other if the opportunity and time arrived that we would look around and maybe think about Thailand (of course it was my first visit ,so much of the decision would be on my shoulders. We looked around and then on the last day when we came to Kanchanaburi and our small village of Whang Pho , We looked at each other and smiled, and knew this was the place. We had little daylight left for this visit to her Older Brother and the next day it was off to Bangkok to catch the plane and head home , Would you believe we found a little house and piece of land and bought it in the dark of night , saying that we would be back next year when I retired and make it our home , Everyone laughed and thought to themselves that they would never see us again, but we fooled them all and you can read about the move and remodel and moving , in a older post , just go back and start from my first ones .



Now that was a long story to tell you the main reason for choosing Thailand. Some of the others are as follows and in no order of importance , all of them to us are important reasons for choosing the LOS.

1.--My small SS check is enough for us here in Thailand.

2.--We were able for Ciejay to buy a house and small piece of land with what little money we had in savings.

3.--The weather is the kind of weather I always thought I would like about a place, when I retired.

4.--The food is out of this world tasty, healthy (spicy mind you ) but plenty and fresh, and growing everywhere , even in your own backyard.

5.--The Thai people,( our neighbors and village folks) even tho it took a while to get use to their way of life and culture and their way of thinking , and for them to get use to me -ha ha ha 

6.-- The almost crime free village and area we live in .

7.--Lots of things to see and do , and a lot of it not far from where we live .

8.--Our Thai family 

9.--Our dogs(our kids ) that can run free and wild .(we have since lost Bok ), but Sabu is alive and well, and a everyday source of fun and companionship

10.--Our home, our yard with all the plants and flowers and the wonderful view of the mountains from our front porch , all these things make up our little  piece of paradise

11.--Our village and the town folks .

12.--And our neighbors

13.--Our Dr's., and health care 

14.-- Our church and church family

15.-- The difference in our health since moving here to Thailand

16.-- And the big difference in me and my thinking about life and living.

17.-- The happiness I see in my wife ,Ciejay,(thai nickname Toon)

That's not all the reasons , I could go on and on , and you might say "well couldn't you find that in your own country ", maybe so , But we didn't. and we have found it here in what we call our little piece of paradise, that , we believe the Lord had saved just for us and all the blessings that go along , with being Retired in Thailand and Loving It .

INTERVIEW :::: Malcolm and Ciejay

Interview with Malcolm Burgess - an American expat living in a Thai village

Photo of Malcolm Bugess and family, an American living in ThailandMalcolm Burgess left life in the States to live out his Golden Years in a stress-free, peaceful Thai village with his wife Ciejay. He couldn't be happier in his modest environment, and gives us a glimpse into expat life in the Thai countryside.

Read more about expat life in Thailand in our Expat Arrivals country guide to the Thailand or read more expat experiences in Thailand.

About you


Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Well that’s a hard one. When I was growing up we moved all over the country, but the last placed I lived with my Thai wife Ciejay before moving full time to Thailand was Salem, Oregon.

Q: Where are you living now?
A: We live in the providence of Kanchanaburi, the Ampour of Sai Yok and the small village of Whang Pho in a beautiful valley at the foot of a small mountain range and on the banks of the famous River Kwai.

Q: How long you have you lived in Thailand?
A: We moved here in 2004, this October it was 12 years

Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A: I moved to Thailand with my Thai wife of 14 years

Q: Why did you move to Thailand; what do you do?
A: After a visit and a holiday in Thailand Ciejay and I decided that this is the place we wanted to live out our Golden years, and I wanted to Bring Ciejay back to her home country and to her Thai family.

About your city
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Thailand, how’s the quality of life?
A: The quality of life is great; it's a peaceful, quite and safe place and I feel no stress.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: Whenever anyone asks me this question, I answer:  family, friends and Taco Bell.

Q: Is the city safe? 
A:  Our little village is so safe, there’s almost no reason to lock your doors and take keys out of the truck, but nonetheless, we keep reminding ourselves, better safe than sorry.

About living in Thailand

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?
A: Well I am not an expat, I'm retired and I say whatever floats your boat. Lots of folks chose the city for all the excitement and things to do , but lots of folks like me, like the quite village life, free from the busy “run here and run there and do this and that life”, I left all that behind me when I retired.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation?
A: Our home was an old Thai house that had not been lived in for eight years, we bought it and when we moved here in 2004, we took three months and remodelled it to fit our needs. Be it ever sooo humble, it suits us just fine, we love it.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: As we live in a small village, most everything is cheaper than it was in the USA; our small social security check goes a long way to meet all our needs and a lot of our wants. For the most part, it's all according to how you want to live. We're happy with our little home, little village and our low-profile way of life.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: All the locals are shop owners or farmers, all related to each other and it's like one big extended family. As far as other expats, there is only one other in our area and we get along great, amazing enough, we are both from the same area in the USA.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: I'm a people person, so it's easy for me and I always say, ”If you want to make friends, then show yourself to be friendly.”

About working in Thailand

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A: I'm retired and married to a Thai woman, so I have a visa that allows me to stay to support my Thai wife.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A: The climate here in Whang Pho is one of the reasons we moved here; it's great all year round, hot, but not too hot with rain, but not monsoons - and no major disasters. Most of the folks are farmers, and thus there is always lots of work, and always a need for workers.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: Home (USA) was a hurry up; it was a stressful, work a day world. Here in the LOS, there’s less stress and a slower pace of living, work is on ones list here in Thailand, but is not a top priority.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move? 
A: No!!! We moved ourselves, after lots of planning and saving.

Family and children

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A: It took me a while to get used to the Thai culture and customs and the Mai Pen Rai way of life, but I listened, watched and learned. It did take me awhile to learn how to adjust my thinking to the Thai way of thinking though. Of course Ciejay was home, with friends and family and as happy as could be with a house, a little piece of land to call her own, a small bhat gold chain around her neck and a wonderful husband doing everything he can to make her happy.

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: No kids here in Thailand, they are all grown and married.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A: The healthcare I have received since I have been here is the best, I've ever had.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A:  Do your homework before you make the move, and then when you get here, go with the flow, don't try to swim against the Thai current and BE HAPPY.

Feeling Thankful

Yesterday was Loy Krathong here in Thailand, a lovely holiday though a little noisy with all the fireworks, which upsets our animals.  Today is Thanksgiving and I am feeling thankful in so many ways.  It is easy to glance over what we are thankful for and take for granted all the little things which go into making us happy and our lives fulfilling.

Health and fitness are high on my list, for without them I would not be able to enjoy much of what makes life worth living for me.  Doctors and medication are not part of my life and I am thankful for that.  I have no vices or addictions except coffee perhaps and of course the love of a good woman.

Love is way up there on the list of things to be thankful for.  To love and to be loved adds an element of joy and comfort which I am not sure can be compensated for by other things in life.  I would not trade the relationship I have with my wife for anything.

I am thankful for the love, support and freedom given to me by my parents over the span of their lives.  Thankfully I was able to spend time with them in their twilight years and my wife was able to know them and spend time with them as well.

I am thankful, that for the foreseeable future, we have no financial worries.  While there are no guarantees in life, I feel confident that I have done what I can to prepare for what remains of my life and my wife’s after I am gone.

They say money can’t buy happiness but it can arguably make life more comfortable and enjoyable.  I am thankful for this house I live in and the views I enjoy.  I am surrounded by creature comforts and space for my pets and my toys.  Nature is in full view from inside the house and stepping out the door I can walk the dogs next to rice paddies or ride my bike from 50 to 100 kilometers through open countryside.  Sunsets are a daily indulgence, weather permitting of course.

I am thankful that I found Thailand when I did, in my early twenties, and that I have been permitted to live here for the majority of my life.  I am thankful for a life that has not been burdened by expectation or permanence.  By moving at three, thirteen and twenty-three the bonds of people and places were broken, affording me more freedom of choice I think, than if I had remained in one place.

I am thankful I don’t live too close to town, even though that means a long drive to do certain things.  Living in Bangkok for thirty years I grew accustom to it taking an hour to get anywhere and often much longer.  Now I live less than an hour from town and really enjoy the drive.  Part of that is down to not living on a schedule, having nice roads with varied scenery and having a comfortable fun vehicle to get me where I am going.

I am thankful for this beautiful weather we are having right now.  Cool clear nights with a full moon to illuminate the fields and mountains, a touch of fog in the mornings for mood enhancement and warm sunny days to brighten the spirits.  The light this time of year is amazing.

I am thankful my wife will be getting her university degree soon and that she has learned so much and done so well.  She has plans to continue her educational pursuits but there will be a long enough break that we may have time to travel, assuming we are able to find someone to take care of the animals and the house.

I am thankful for the absence of toxic relationships in my life.  I have always found it easier to do things on my own than with others.  I like people in small doses and infrequently though some of our houseguests bring great joy and excitement during their stay with us.  Other than my wife there is no one I would enjoy seeing everyday and anything more than a day away from her is something I never look forward to.

I am thankful for the internet and the way it brings people together over great distances while giving you control over how and what you share.  Living were I do would be more difficult without the ability to connect with the broader world when I wish to.

Finally let me say how thankful I am that you took the time to read this and hope you take some time to consider what you are thankful for today.

Back To KFC Buffet, Williamsburg, Va

It has been two years since we have been to the KFC Buffet in Williamsburg, Virginia. For those who do not know, in some parts of the US, KFC restaurants (Kentucky Fried Chicken) have buffets. I have only been to one. This one in Williamsburg, Virginia. I have seen one other in Virginia - there may be more, and I know that they are scattered around the country.

October 30, 2015

Greetings From Thailand!
Sorry we haven’t sent a letter in a while.  It has been quite the month.  We have traveled all over Thailand, to Laos, and to two District Conferences. We also fit in our mission tour with Elder and Sister Funk.
Our quick trip to Laos was originally scheduled to be with Elder Funk but he needed to remain in Hong Kong to meet with Elder Gong, who was called as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. Elder Funk will replace Elder Gong as the Asia Area President.
We thought about postponing our trip to Laos but couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.  We had Yongtee’s mission call in hand and promised to bring it when we came.  He is the only member in his family.  His parents left him and his siblings and moved to America.  He has taken care of his siblings and is a faithful member of the Church.  He had many young single adults at the church as well as his siblings, and the 6 Laos Elders.  He is very talented and can speak several languages, including English.  He sings beautifully and his smile just lights up the room.  The entire group cheered when we walked in the door, with his call letter in hand. He is very proud and excited to serve in Australia, English speaking.
We also delivered a mission call to a young sister in the Vientiane branch.  (Nickname Sister Pookie)  She had opened her call via skype from our home in Bangkok to the Church in Vientiane. She was anxiously awaiting her actual call so she could read it over and over again.  She will be serving in a different mission in Australia.  The members in Laos are so faithful!  They have 2 branches in Laos.  Members from Vientiane Branch 2 travel 2 ½ hours each way to attend Church.  They put 28 people each van that should only hold 12 comfortably.  They are wonderful member missionaries and continue to find people for the missionaries to teach.
We love the Elders in Laos.  They are amazing and talented missionaries.  They really love the members and serve the people of Laos every day.  They aren’t allowed to openly contact and find but they teach English classes and get many referrals through serving in the community.  They baptize, teach English and Mission Prep, play a little piano for sacrament meeting, have great activities and Family Home Evenings and support the leaders in both branches.  They are great examples and we continue to have young women and men from Laos apply to serve missions because of their examples.
Our mission tour was a wonderful experience. Upon returning from Laos, we immediately picked up Elder and Sister Funk from the airport.  They arrived from Hong Kong where Elder Funk (Of the Seventy) serves in the Asia Area Presidency.  Both Elder Funk and Sister Funk are very personable and served as Mission President and wife in India prior to this call.  They could relate to the traffic jams and travel difficulties we face here and didn’t look too nervous when we used the GPS to travel home from the airport.  We took them to lunch at a Thai restaurant.  They love Thai food and handle spicy Thai food easily after serving in India and eating spicy Indian curry.
We had 12 Young Single Adults from Asoke over on Monday evening for Family Home Evening.  We had the best time ever!  They are amazing!  They have such beautiful testimonies and range from being a member for several years to being baptized 4 months ago.  Some are the only members in their families.  One young man lived in England for a time.  His English is excellent and it is fun to hear a Thai brother speak with a British accent.   One of the brothers is a returned missionary also. We had a lesson and then we played the now famous Cat and Mouse game.  I remember playing that at home with you kids and all your friends.  I loved playing it with Ethan and Aaliyah and Annee and Ellee and Dodge and Linen and Sailor and Scout before we left for our mission.  Dad would say, “I’m a hungry cat and want to eat some mice” then the kids would scream and laugh and always pull their mouse out just in case he rolled a six or a one on the dice.  So fun.  Now we have played it at another Family Home Evening in Lampang.  The adults loved it as much as the young members.  I think the game is going viral.  Ha.  We had dessert and they loved the treats. I was able to continue visiting with the Young Single Adults while Kelly took the Funk’s back to their hotel.  I got my guitar out and they sang I am a Child Of God.  Kelly and I love it when the Thai’s sing Nearer My God To Thee.  It sounds so reverent and amazing in Thai.  Then I made them divide the leftover treats and they were so happy to take them home.  One sister said she “has never been so happy”.  She loved coming for Family Home Evening and being able to talk about the church and to be with members and have fun.  They just don’t get that at home being the only member in their family.  I just love them all.  Their faith is so strong and they want to be so obedient. 
Tuesday we had MLC as part of the mission tour.  That is a new addition to mission tours.  I loved it.  I learned so much from Elder Funk and Kelly and the missionaries.  Our Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders are incredible.  They have the best comments which you know come from their daily personal studies.  I was able to share my conversion story and my testimony on prayer.  I just love my missionaries still.  I will always be grateful to them for teaching me that I have a Heavenly Father that loves me and has always loved me and that I didn’t need to earn that love, He simply loves me and that I could pray and talk with Him and He would listen.
Obviously being taught that and then doing that and believing that changed my life.  So grateful the message is the same today for everyone.
We took our MLC  missionaries and the Funks on the subway to Lumphini Park where Thailand was dedicated for missionary work.  We read the dedicatory prayer together and had personal dedication time and then returned to the mission office for lunch and the second session of MLC.
The following day we started zone conferences with the mission tour.  Kelly and I spoke on Obedience.   I talked about selective obedience using Jess our dog as an example of selective obedience.  I told how Jess was always more obedient to Kelly than any other member of the family or if you had a treat she was very obedient.  Or how when she was on the trail of a bird it was harder for her to be obedient because she was so excited.  Then I asked the missionaries how many of us show unwavering obedience to everything, with the exception of one commandment or rule?   Then we read from the missionary handbook word for word what it said about socks, about music, about what time to get up in the morning and what time to finish Pday and begin to work.  Some of the rules in the handbook may seem insignificant or not make sense but that is not the issue, the issue is that a rule is a rule and if you want to be strictly obedient you need to keep all the rules not pick and choose.  You are either 100 percent obedient or you are not obedient.   I told the story of Arabian horses and how they are trained and selected.  Those that follow the masters call instead of heading for the water after being kept from it for a time are chosen for the most important work and those that pay no heed and head straight to the water are chosen for less important work.  I compared it to If God’s greatest work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man then as missionaries the most important work we can do is to share the gospel with all of Heavenly Father’s children.  How sad it would be that when the Master calls and we have not disciplined ourselves to be exactly and strictly obedient that we are only suitable for a less important work.    I had them read in the missionary handbook the page where it tells what is expected of them when called as a missionary and every time it said  *you*  I had them say *I*  and take ownership of their mission and their accountability to follow the rules with exactness.  The last part reads:  When *I* accepted *My* call, *I* promised to live by these standards.  *I* am accountable to the Lord and to the leaders of the church for how well *I* honor this promise.
Kelly gave the definition of the word Always.  He said Always=Always (leaving zero room for words like unless, or except, or if or but).  He gave a great object lesson.
Kelly: I showed the missionaries a bottle of Iceland Spring Water. This water comes from Iceland and is considered perfectly clean. It is filtered through rocks for thousands of feet, removing all impurities. I called up a missionary and asked if they would drink the water. Of course they would agree to drink the water. I then had a bottle of canal water from Bangkok. The canals here are incredibly dirty. The water is actually black. The water is so polluted that it is black. The water is full of garbage and waste. The APs were able to retrieve a bottle of this filthy water for me. I then told them that the Iceland Spring Water had 500 ml of water in it. I then took 5 ml of the filthy canal water and put it in the bottle of perfectly clean water. I emphasized that it was only one percent imperfect now. I then asked the missionary to drink the water in the bottle. There was no way they would drink the water, with even just 1 % of that filthy water in it. I tied this to obedience. Even 1% disobedience taints the entire effort to be obedient. We have to strive for strict obedience.
We held zone conferences in Bangkok, Khon Kaen, and Chiang Mai.
We ended the mission tour with the Chiang Mai District Conference in Chiang Mai.  (Stake Conference for branches).  Sister Funk and I did an Auxiliary Training Meeting for the Sisters on Saturday evening before the adult session of conference.  We split up and went on visits before we started the training.  I was able to go with the Young Women’s president in Chiang Mai and two young women.  We went to visit some of the young women.  It was a great experience to see them with their personal progress books and know that they are setting personal goals and strengthening their Faith and preparing to be worthy to enter the temple.  They loved my young women’s medallion (Thank you Bishop Vincent) and wanted to earn theirs and said they would wear it all the time like I do.  When I was training in the Young Women’s auxiliary I had the young women there stand and repeat the young women’s theme.  It was moving.  They stood and were holding hands and had arms around each other and said it so beautifully and with heartfelt meaning pausing after each value with big smiles on their faces.  Oh the church is true everywhere!!  We truly are all daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him.  I love that I get to be with so many sister missionaries or I would miss Young Women’s way too much. 
We went with the Funks to visit Northern Chiang Mai University.  They loved that Jeremy had been there to meet them and to do so much good with his humanitarian project from Weber State University.  They talked to us about having our missionaries teach English at the University once a week.  They took us to dinner after the meeting to the most beautiful outdoor restaurant.  They had beautiful orchids everywhere and ponds and waterfalls.  Sunday the faculty member (Wiwat) that knows Jeremy showed up at church in the Chiang Mai branch with his wife.  They are both members and would love to have the missionaries at the university. He is so kind and wanted to have our pictures taken together.  Between the university visit and dinner and church we took close to a million pictures.  Ha
Sunday night we said goodbye to Elder and Sister Funk as they departed for Hong Kong.  We loved the mission tour.  It was a very uplifting and testimony building week.
We love spending time with the missionaries.  That is always the highlight of our time here.
Kelly and I stayed in Chiang Mai so Kelly could interview the missionaries.  We were able to spend part of the day with the missionaries for P-day.  We took two songtows (one for the sister missionaries and me and one for the Elders and Kelly) to Doi Suthep. This is a Buddhist temple on top of a high mountain above Chiang Mai. There are at least a 1,000 steps leading up the mountain to the temple on top. It was a beautiful day and even more enjoyable to have a very wonderful but very busy week and a half behind us.  We came back in time to do Family Home Evening with the Young Single Adults in Chiang Mai.  Kelly even did a few interviews for prospective missionaries and Church leaders in the home we were visiting.  We celebrated birthdays including Sister Morgan’s one of our Chiang Mai missionaries.  We left for the airport the next morning to return to Bangkok.
That same evening we had a banquet for the public opinion leaders.  They were able to take a tour of the Stake Center and the baptismal font and to get a tour of the family history center.  They were very impressed and always comment on how much good the church does for the people in Thailand and the world.  They love all that the church offers for the youth to have high moral standards and values.  A funny note:  The dinner was catered by a Mexican restaurant.  The people seated at our table did not know how to eat it.  It was a soft shell taco that was too big to close and pick up.  Kelly was trying to show one man how to dip the tortilla chips in the salsa and eat it.  Maybe you had to be there.  We had some of our sister missionaries that were the entertainment for the evening.  They played piano and flute to primary songs.  It was really lovely.  We showed a film of the humanitarian work the church does and the purpose of the Bishop’s storehouse and Deseret Industries and Latter-Day Saint Charities that do the water projects, wheelchair, eye surgery, infant resuscitation programs and English Classes. 
On Friday, we drove to Lopburi to interview the missionaries there.  They are wonderful missionaries.  You could tell that they were happy and loved missionary work the minute we walked in.  They are so good to each other also.  Elder Reid is an amazing self taught piano player.  He can play anything with any emotion you choose.  While we waited for Kelly to interview each missionary he was asked to play Once There Was A Snowman by Elder Neal.
Elder Neal said, “Play the absolutely saddest rendition of that song.”  Elder Reid sure did.  It was so melancholy that you almost wanted to cry.  Then I said, “Elder Reid could you please hurry and play the happiest rendition of
that song to cheer us up?”  He played the most lifting and happy version you could imagine.  It was all I could do not to skip around the room.  AMAZING!  He is so good at using his special gift and talent to bless the members in Thailand.  He can play any instrument that you don’t blow into he said.  I believe him.
We also were able to meet and interview Elder Hunt there.  His parents brought him to our farewell at home.  His mom knew Kelly from when he served here as a missionary.  She had a letter in a book from 33 years ago that Kelly had written her thanking her for helping him with street boards and missionary work.  This Elder is so happy to be here serving in Thailand.  He grins constantly and everyone loves him already.  We stayed overnight and then the next morning we drove into downtown Lopburi to be part of monkey city which was like being in the movie “Planet of the Apes”.  Unbelievable hardly  describes it.  The monkeys live in some of the ancient ruins in Lopburi and have overrun any abandoned building near the ruins in the middle of the city. As we walked through the area, monkeys would approach and would jump on us, climbing up to our shoulders and one even perched on top of Kelly’s head. We fed them peanuts. It was an interesting experience to be walking right among the monkeys and interacting with them. The baby monkeys were the cutest.
We then drove to Ayutthaya where we were able to see some beautiful ruins and a really neat Buddha head that had fallen and over the years had become encased in the roots of a tree.  It was quite spectacular really.  We saw Elephants  walking down the road which was like …wow!
On Monday, we flew to Chiang Mai and rented a car and drove to Lampang.  The drive to Lampang was beautiful.  Green mountains and lush fields of trees and grass the whole way.  So different from Bangkok.  We were able to teach some new investigators with the missionaries. 
Kelly: I went to teach with Elder Parker and Elder Lindley. We went to the home of a less active couple. The husband was a former branch president. They were happy to receive us. We taught about Christ and the restoration. This home was out in the jungle. It was classic Thailand. The home had cement floors and walls, no carpet and limited furniture. It was hilarious after we taught. The elders were so nervous about running into a snake as we walked back to the car on the small dirt path.

I stayed with Sister Carrillo and Sister Remington at the church.  We taught a sweet sister that was getting baptized the next week.   We taught Joe and Ken (nick names for two Thai men).  They were so humble and really loved reading in the Book of Mormon .  Then we all met up at the church again and had Family Home Evening with some members of the branch.  This is where we played the cat and mouse game.  It was hilarious watching them anticipate getting caught and trapped under the lid.  Many would pull their mouse out before the dice landed.  It was so much fun.  I met two young sisters Tip and Ten.  They were 13 and 7.  They live with their father and the grandmother takes care of them.  Tip is a member and she brings her little sister to church with her every Monday night and activity night and Sundays.  It was all I could do not to take them home with us.     Kelly and I left the church with Elder Parker and Elder Lindley to teach a sister and her brother in law at his dentist office.
We stayed at a little bed and breakfast that only had two rooms for guests.  It had beautiful Teak Wood furniture and looked like the earlier Thai housing Kelly remembered from his mission.  They made us a special breakfast the next morning and watched us eat hoping to anticipate any little thing we might need.
Kelly: Terri didn’t want to eat some of the breakfast, but was too kind to want the cute cook to feel bad that we didn’t eat all the food. So, she sneakily was able to wrap the undesirable food items in a napkin and get it into her purse.
We met the missionaries at the church for personal study time and companionship study.  I loved learning from Sister Carrillo and Sister Remington.  They are so good at applying what they learn from the scriptures.  They have wonderful testimonies.  We had district meeting after studies.  Elder Parker had everyone prepared and it was an excellent district meeting.  We went to lunch with them after the meeting.  We had Som Tom which is a specialty there.  It was delicious and still one of my favorite things to eat in Thailand. 
We left and drove back to Chiang Mai.  Kelly was able to interview Sister Morgan, the only one he missed after the mission tour in Chiang Mai. Kelly then spent the evening planning and setting goals with the Chiang Mai District Presidency. 
On Sunday, we went to church in Bangbuathon. The church is located upstairs in a car dealership.  Once inside it is a beautiful building and looks very much like the sacrament room in our churches.  The members were so kind and we really enjoyed being there with them.  We both had to speak and then we stayed for the other meetings and then they wanted us to eat lunch with them.  We hurried back after for a missionary fireside we had to both speak at.  It was great to be with President Suchad at the fireside.  He is a great leader and excellent teacher.  We were happy to see Sister Hayes and Sister Burbank and to finally get a picture with Sister Hayes.  Her parents are Mission Presidents in Costa Rica.  We had MLC this week.  It was a great conference. 
I know we did things here in Bangkok but it is starting to blur because we were flying off to Udorn before we knew it.  We are just starting all the District and Stake Conferences.
We love Udorn!!  The people there are some of my favorites.  Sister Gaw and her mother Maa Phon and pretty much about every member there is wonderful.
This District Conference was under the direction of Elder Khunukum, an Area Seventy. Kelly called and set apart a new District Presidency and called the newly released District President, President Wonsegon to be his 2ndCounselor in the Mission Presidency.  He is an amazing teacher.  He teaches seminary and is wonderful with the missionaries.  They love him so they were very happy for his new calling.  The new District President will be great.  He is a very humble man. He is a returned missionary, as is his wife.  They have one son on a mission now and a 17 year old son who is preparing to serve.  His wife bore her testimony and said she had an overwhelming feeling when she met President Johnson weeks ago that a wonderful thing was going to happen in their family.  She will be a great support to her husband and the branch.
We were able to go on visits in the branch on Saturday before the Women’s auxiliary training and Priesthood session started.  I went with Maa Phon and Sister Khunakum and our sister missionary, Sister Hoffman.  She was to be my translator but we soon found out that the women we went to visit spoke Mong.  We did the best we could.  I held all the babies at the homes and shared scriptures on living after the manner of happiness.  All the sisters we visited were alone with their babies because their husbands left them.  This happens way too often here and it is heartbreaking.  The Thai babies are beyond beautiful.  I want to take them all home with me but know it is only a wish.  Two of the homes had the babies sleeping in baskets tied to ropes under porches outside.  The grandmother usually sat nearby pulling on the rope so the baby swung back and forth.  Maa Phon thought it was the funniest joke ever when she taught me a song the moms sing to their babies to get them to sleep as they swing.  It goes like this…Ding, ding, ding, ding.   Ding, ding, ding, ding.  And over and over again.  I learned it very quickly ha.  But the funny part was when Maa Phon said she didn’t have time to sing that song so she would just push the baby and give them a good swing and sing …Dings!  She laughed so hard pushing the baby I thought the baby might do a complete spin right over the top of the porch.  She made me sing it and then laughed even harder.  I’m not sure I still get how funny that seems to her but it was Maa Phon and I always laugh because she is so fun and energetic.  She does more member missionary work than anyone I have ever met.  She does not hold back either but just begs people to come to church and to be her friend.  I was able to teach piano lessons to a couple of wonderful young people in the branch.  The one young man (Brother Daft) can play We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet with intro perfectly now.  I made him learn Joy To The World to get ready for Christmas because it is the easiest one.
He was pretty happy and whenever I walked down the hall I could hear Joy To The World.  The sister was learning hymns from the simplified hymnbook hoping to play in the branch when Sister Gaw leaves for BYU in December.  They are all just terrific.  We really love it here and are so grateful we have this opportunity to serve with the missionaries and with these people that we have come to love.  We are looking forward to having Jalynn and Jace come in December.  Good thing time flies here so you should be here like tomorrow.  Grandkids we love you so much.  Children you are amazing and we are so proud of all you do and who you are.  Parents you are the best.  Thanks for your love and prayers.  Family we are excited for all the wonderful things happening in your lives.  (returning missionaries, marriages, school events, missionary service, and family highlights).  Friends, thanks for your support and for looking out for our children and for your many kind deeds.

We love you all,

Terri and Kelly










Phuket Markets

Before coming to Thailand, I traveled quite a lot in Africa plus North, Central and South America. Aside from such things as diving, local tourist attractions, food, drink, beaches, mountains, festivals and enjoying the company of other travelers and locals, I always enjoyed finding local markets. I would go out of my way if I heard of an interesting market. A market is a great place to sample real local life, no matter where you are. The market is the center of the town or village, and despite the arrival of many big shopping centers in Phuket over the last 12 years, the local markets here are still busy. There may be big stores like Tesco Lotus, Makro, Big C, Central and many minimart style shops like 7-11, but the market (Talad) is still the place to get fresh local produce, or a place to hang out and meet people. Phuket is a bigger place than most people realise and there are countless small local markets. I have blogged a number of interesting markets and plan to do more, since (for me) a market is an essential part of life in the local community. Here's some of Phuket's markets...

The Weekend Market

Weekend Market Phuket

Probably the market that most tourists will visit is the weekend market just outside Phuket Town. Locals call it Talad Naka (since it's close to Naka Temple) or Talad Jatujak Phuket (after the huge Jatujak market in Bangkok - the market in Phuket is much smaller!). It's held on Saturday and Sunday starting in the mid afternoon, carrying on until about 11pm. Best time to go, a bit before sunset. It is quite big and once you are in the maze of stalls, easy to be not quite sure which way to go! Lots of food stalls selling all kind of snacks and drinks, lots of clothes, arts and crafts, DVD's/CD's, plants, pets, mobile phone accessories, and it's great for people watching.

Phuket Weekend Market - More Information

"Lard Yai" Sunday Walking Street on Thalang Road

Walking Street Market in Phuket Town

The Walking Street on Thalang Road in the old town started in late 2013 and has become very popular as a place to hang out on Sunday evenings, helping to promote the old town. There are lots of food and drink stalls, clothes and art for sale and entertainment too with performers and music every Sunday.

Sunday Walking Street Market - More Information

Chillva Market

Busy night at Chillva Market

The new Chillva Market opened in April 2016, located on the north side of Phuket Town. It's become very popular, with some areas open every day, but the main market from Thursday to Saturday. There are restaurants, bars, shops, market stalls selling clothes, arty things, food. Often live music too. Certainly worth a look.

Chillva Market - More Information

Phuket Town Central Fresh Market

Phuket Town Market

The main market in town is a very busy place! It reopened in 2010 in a new building on Ranong Road in the old town area. The old market was .... old. And smelly. I never went inside! But the new market is well worth a visit. The streets all around the market are also a market, it's a very busy area and is also where you can get local buses to destinations all around the island.

Phuket Town Market - More Information

Kathu Fresh Market

Roti (Pancake) stall

Kathu is my area. The main market is big and seems to have got busier over the years even though the main Tesco store is only a few km away and Tesco even opened a mini store in the area. Kathu is the area between Patong and Phuket Town and is a mainly residential area but with quite a lot of history as the tin mining industry was centered here in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The market is on daily, all day. It's a fresh produce market with stalls selling fish, shrimp, meat, vegetables, chili paste, eggs, flowers, ready made meals and a lot more! Nice to visit early evening, get some food from one of the many food stalls and watch the world go by.

Kathu Market - More Information

Phuket Town Indy Market

Phuket Indy Market (หลาดปล่อยของ)

The Indy Market near the old section of Phuket town only started in 2010, meant as a place for kids/teenagers to hang out in a safe, smoke free environment. It's not huge, most of the stalls sell arty items and clothes and there's some food and drink stalls too. It is indeed very popular with the youngsters. There is often live music too. The Indy Market takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings (so does not clash with the Saturday/Sunday weekend market). Certainly worth a visit combined with dinner or drinks in Phuket Town. (update) I've heard that this market will be on Wednesdays too.

Indy Market - More Information

Karon Temple Market

Jewelry at Karon temple market

A very easy to visit market if you stay near Karon beach ... the Karon temple market takes place in the temple grounds on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the late afternoon/evening. It's a mix of fresh produce, snacks and food, clothes and a few tourist-aimed stalls selling sunglasses or swimwear. It's the main local market in Karon. There's another market a couple of miles away in Kata on the back road away from the beach.

Karon Temple Market - More Information

Expo Market

Expo Market in Phuket Town

We have used the Expo market quite a lot, bought shirts, pants, Thai souvenirs, computer games. It's an aircon indoor market, open every day near the center of Phuket Town. It's not been mentioned specifically on the blog, but a good place for clothes and souvenirs.

Local Markets

Phuket covers an area of over 500 square km, and there are many local areas and small villages within Phuket, and all have some kind of market. Try looking for fresh seafood at Rawai beach, or check out the big Banzaan fresh market in Patong near the Jungceylon shopping mall - and there's another market in Patong on Nanai road (the back road). Oh and the touristy "OTOP" market. I drive past a small market in the Chalong area every day and there are regular local markets in the Bang Rong and Cherng Talay areas of Phuket. All over the island! Worth a look at any market for a taste of the real Phuket, to pick up some snacks or fruit and see something away from the organised tourist route.

Phuket Markets - Location Map


View Phuket Markets in a larger map

A few things we love about Thailand

All my life,everywhere I have lived, I have always looked for things to be proud of ,rather than looking for things to critize or complain about or find fault with,and here in my adopted home of Thailand I try to do the same. I am proud of the fact that here in Thailand we have to freedom to live and love and enjoy all that life has to offer , as long as we live by the rules.I am proud of the fact that most expat folks who make Thailand their home and realize their dreams come true ,are very decent people. I could go on and on about things that I am proud of here in the Land Of Smiles And Gentle People . I would like to say that the thing that I am most proud of is the little village that I call home ,Whang Pho. All of our local leaders do all they possibly can to make sure that all the people that call Sai Yok their home ,live in the cleanest , safest,and most enjoyable place they can make it . I have even notice that they pay close attention to even the smallest detail to make sure that it looks good and not a eye sore , and the thing that amazes me the most, is that they seen to understand the meaning of maintainence.

This coming year , my goal is to look for all I can be proud of and if at all possible to thank the person or persons responsible and give them a big pat on the back, and to remind myself that  This is Thailand. Lets all give it a try. Just one more reason why We're Retired in Thailand and Loving It.  Malcolm and Ciejay










The Best of the Best

Our pick for the Best Buffet for 2014 was Dutch-Way Family Restaurant in Gap, PA. We have been there a number of times this year and find that the night that I like the best at the Best Buffet is Tuesday nights. All of the nights are good - but I particularly enjoy dinner there on Tuesdays the best.

This is the night when I find the most Pennsylvania Dutch foods mixed in with always good standards. We were the area again recently - and picked Tuesday for the night that we would go to Dutch-Way. The feature on Tuesday nights is not fancy - it is burgers made to order topped the way you like them and also hot wings, both at the Grill. On the buffet on Tuesday's there tends to always be Chicken Bot Bie (Chicken Pot Pie - stewed with large noodles, not baked in a pie shell), Dutch Loaf, Ham Balls, Pork and Kraut, and more. Simple. Plain food which this region is known for - Pennsylvania Dutch cooking of the Plain People. The burgers are an extra thrown in for a very enjoyable meal.

News to Amuse - 6th November 2015

Bihar elections results will come out  on Sunday. The nation is waiting with bated breath to know who the winner is going to be:
Times Now exit poll survey
or
News24 exit poll survey

Manmohan Singh slams the attack on freedom of thought under Modi's rule.
Apparently he said, "Personally, I don't care about the freedom of speech. But, freedom of thought! you are choking me."

Apple Watch is launched in India at Rs 30,900
My thought: Wow! It costs an arm and a leg.
Apple's thought: That's Okay! You can wear the watch in the other arm.


SRK's 50th birthday celebrations push his twitter follower count to 16 million, making him the second most popular Indian on Twitter.

Guys, Today is my 100th birthday! MY 100th BIRTHDAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!
(Checks twitter follower count)
Sigh!


GreenPeace has been banned in India over fraudulent practices.
Thank God! Feeling good now about buying two packets of frozen peas yesterday.

Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne are in New York to play a promotional match. Apparently when they walked around in New York yesterday, no one recognized them.
I don't understand why this is a news. I mean, it happens to me all the time.

Here comes the junk man

That's a sound I love to hear , for one thing , it cleans out our storage room of all the plastic and cans and paper that Ciejay has saved to sell to the junk man.For Ciejay it brings a smile to her face , she saves the recyclable things to sell to the junk man and she calls it her "hair money" . The little bit of Baht that she gets adds to the (my) pocket change cup that she keeps on my computer table and when it's full it's time to go to the hair lady in the village, to get a cut and wash and style and sometimes even a dye job , ( when the gray comes peeking thru).
Recycling is sooo easy here in Thailand , because the junk man comes around with his truck and weight scales about once a month to buy from the folks, things that he can buy for a few baht per kilo and hopefully sell in the big city to the larger recyclers for a little profit . Some do this as a way of making a living and a few others in Wang Pho, do it for a week-in or part- time job to add to their monthly income or to help make the payments on the new truck or to pay for the building of a new home, that's the case, for one young couple that comes by.
Ciejay keeps her plastic in one bag and cans in another, all neat for the junk man , and me I am just happy to see it saved for a good cause ,and for the good of Mother Earth, the more we recycle and reuse , the less non biodegradable stuff that goes into the land fields and is dumped alone our highways and by-ways to stay forever polluting our land and landscape and adding another eyesore to our beautiful earth, and the area that we call home.
Do you recycle???  I remember in America it was a pain in the neck to do, because you had to have different color containers , and everything sorted out for the garbage men or they wouldn't pick it up and when they did , if it was something that they didn't want  they would just throw it back on your lawn and drive away , and you never saw a reduction on you (very high) garbage bill each month. Things here in are so different and the "JUNK MAN" makes it sooo easy to recycle , I have found it to be so , and I hope if you live in the LOS or in a place where they take recycling seriously that you do all you can to pitch -in and help , If we don't do it WHO WILL??.  Malcolm



Vegetarian Festival - The Crazy Final Night

Until last year, I had only heard that the final night procession in Phuket Town, marking the end of the vegetarian festival, was "a bit mad". And I had seen live coverage on local TV with firecrackers being thrown everywhere as statues of the 9 emperor gods were paraded through the streets and Ma Song (the possesses spirit mediums) danced with firecrackers exploding around their bare feet. Over the last 10 years I have been to plenty of festival events, seen plenty of blood and pierced faces and walked through the morning processions also featuring lots of firecrackers. Somehow that last night always seemed a bit too crazy for me. I heard of people getting injured by fireworks, hardly surprising as they are being thrown all over the place! Well, last year I had a little taster, went into town with my wife and kids although they stayed well away from the crazy bits and I left by about 10:45pm - it goes on until after midnight. But I did learn you have to be dressed properly - long sleeves, long trousers, shoes (not sandals), earplugs, face mask, and it's not for the faint-hearted!

So this year I tried again, got dressed up in white, added a white towel for head and neck protection and headed into town about 9:30pm. The main action area is around the clock tower circle next to the Metropole hotel, and I hear that the "Cue Bar" on the circle is a good place to watch from .. maybe next year, although I do prefer to be in the street and feel the action! I found fellow blogger Tim down by the circle and we waited with many others for the procession to begin.

Crowds gathering

Along the streets were many tables filled with offerings of fruit and incense and candles. The Ma Song stop at the tables and take offerings and distribute them to people in the crowd as they pass by.

Ready for the Parade

Anyone driving through the streets on a scooter or car was having firecrackers thrown at them - even with no procession the noise was fairly intense and face-masks essential to avoid breathing too much smoke - actually, already planning for next year, I'm going for a more industrial face-mask next time, not just a simple one from the pharmacy. When things really kick off, actually a scuba set would not be a bad idea!

The exact route of the procession I am not sure about. There are people coming from various directions from different shrines and they do wander all around the old town, but the circle is the well known center of activities. Things started before 10pm as groups of guys carried statues of the gods and got pelted with fireworks from all sides. Only the brave! I was using only my phone for photos. Still lacking a nice camera and not sure if I'd bring one anyway as cameras get coated in dust. I saw "pro" photographers and they had cameras all wrapped up in plastic. Another "maybe" for next year!

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

I tried dashing out into the street to take quick snaps. I am not sure the iPhone was quite up to this challenge, the noise of the firecrackers played havoc with the display, creating bands of light across the pictures. And I was getting a bit too close to being hit by fireworks. One did get me in the back of the neck and the smoke would very quickly get to be choking, so it was a matter of dashing in for a photo and then retreating! Very hard to get a photo with all the exploding lights and general darkness, it's a bit of pot luck really even with a good camera. I decided that some video might work better.



(above) Some video taken with iPhone on the last night of the vegetarian festival.

Maybe next year with a new camera that can also shoot video ... The procession passed by the circle, Tim and I cut through to the next street where the procession was now passing having done a little loop round the old town. In a narrower street I found the firecracker smoke really can be a bit nasty. You really do need to be prepared. I saw one guy watching with no facemask, trying to cover his face with his hand. I had a spare mask in my pocket and gave it to him.

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) So, the guys on the left are holding strings of firecrackers on bamboo poles above the group of guys carrying a god statue, while their helpers on the right try to use towels to fan away the smoke a bit! It is just a little bit nuts! Well, I'd pretty much had enough by 11pm, although really had wanted to follow the procession down to the sea at Sapan Hin to see what goes on there. But .. too much smoke. I found a quite side street and a stall selling cold orange juice. Much needed! And then, walking back to the car which was parked on quiet Thalang Road, I found another section of the procession heading through the old town. Still crazy, but not quite as crazy as down by the circle. And with old buildings to make a nice photo!

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Passing by the former Standard Chartered bank, built in 1907 as Phuket Town grew rich from tin mining. I wonder what the vegetarian festival was like then?

Last Night of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Last night procession in old Phuket Town.

Headed home by about 11:30pm. Could still smell smoke 2 days later. Clothes still smelled of smoke after being washed! Yes, it's a little crazy, but not too bad with some preparation. Need a better mask, might need a hat, and I think next year I'll risk a nice camera! Well, the vegetarian festival is done for another year. What's next?

Related pages on Jamie's Phuket

Phuket Vegetarian Festival - More Information
Vegetarian Festival 2015 - Part 1

Vegetarian Festival 2015 - Part 1

My favourite Phuket festival is over for another year! The vegetarian festival is just a little bit crazy. A lot of people look at photos and can't quite understand what or why. The photos that get shown most often show the pierced faces and maybe a bit of blood for good measure. Sorry for that in advance! The festival lasts 11 days. This year it started on 12th October and the final ceremonies were on 22nd October. There were morning street parades in Phuket Town every day from 14th - 21st October, and plenty of local street parades and evening events such as fire walking and bladed ladder climbing. There's a lot going on. A lot to see. And the food too! The general idea is that people will eat only vegan food during the festival, or at least the last 3 days, to cleanse the body. Those who take part with pierced faces in the processions are known as Ma Song, and they are said to be possessed by the spirits of the emperor gods. Not all have pierced faces. Some take on the spirits of birth and death gods. You see men walking bent over like they are 100 years old and women skipping down the road like children. They too are Ma Song. All with their groups of helpers. And then come groups of young men carrying statues of the gods, and the local people throw firecrackers into the street to greet them. The smoke and noise (and blood) can be too much for a timid soul! The processions are to bring good luck to the community.

I've been going to watch parts of the festival since about 2005. The first few years I was in Phuket, to be honest I had no idea about the festival! I guess it was not promoted that much. It's certainly better known now, but even now, you really don't see too many tourists watching the processions or visiting the shrines. I know most people come here for beaches, sun, nice food, fair enough. If this became just a tourist spectacle, it would mean a lot less. Well, this year I have to say, until the last few days I was not really in the mood for the festival. I was on holiday until October 17th, so was not in Phuket for half the festival, and when I got back here, I was tired and felt no great desire to wake up early. Finally by the 20th I was "in the zone" after a couple of days eating vegan food (I normally do that for the whole duration of the festival). Very early on October 20th, I rode my scooter to Kathu shrine, not far from our house. I was there by just after 5:30am. The good stuff happens early.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015

(above) It's early morning, the Ma Song are getting ready. Some odd stuff happens. Some of them really do look possessed. I do struggle with reality here. This can't be a show. Who is the show for?

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) The same guy a few minutes later at the shrine with his helpers.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) And a few moments after the previous photo. Is this real life? This all happened before dawn, timestamp on the 3 photos is from 5:42 - 5:49am. And the shrine is already very crowded by this time. There are people coming and going, lighting incense and candles and saying prayers and there are Ma Song suddenly rushing into the shrine in an agitated state, their helpers aid them to put on ceremonial clothes. Some of them head outside to get pierced.



(above) A video inside Kathu shrine, a little before 6am on October 20th 2015. You can see several Ma Song approach the altar in the shrine. I try my best to blend into a wall and keep out of the way.

Outside the shrine, it's just as crowded. And there are faces getting pierced everywhere. In some past years I have tended to take a lot of rather gory piercing photos. Other times, more "spiritual" photos. Well, to be honest, there's no plan, I just hang around and snap photos of what I see. There did not seem to be too many pro photographers around on this day, sometimes I see plenty of big lenses! I find that at Kathu it can be a little quieter, as I guess the pros get their photos earlier in the festival, plus the biggest street processions from Bang Neow and Jui Tui shrines in Phuket Town are on the preceding 2 mornings. However, I did bump into blogger Tim (see his photos of the same morning at Kathu Shrine) and pro Adriano (see his website @ Phuket Paparazzi). We all wandered around squeezing through the crowds to get a few decent photos. Can be hard sometimes with so many people, you just can't get into the right position for the right photo, or you have to try and stick your lens between people's legs! Well, here's a couple of pierced Ma Song ...

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015

Heavy Face Piercing

And a non-pierced female Ma Song. Actually at Kathu there is some female piercing. Some shrines have only males. The ladies who do get pierced tend to not go overboard like the men!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

By 6:30am, the procession was ready to leave the shrine and walk to Phuket Town - and back! About 20km of walking. On a hot day, with spikes in your cheeks, or carrying statues? It's got to be hard work. The procession starts through the old village of Kathu and the locals greet the Ma Song and the gods with a barrage of firecrackers. Strings of firecrackers are hung on long bamboo poles and dangled over the road as the parade passes. Or people just throw firecrackers in the street at the feet of the Ma Song. For 15 minutes it's absolutely nuts. Taking photos is a bit of a gamble. If you want to get close to your subject, you're going to get hit by shrapnel and the smoke is choking at times and also means you can barely see the procession! Having felt rather apathetic towards the festival this year, this was what was needed. Get out there and smell the smoke!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

(above) Carrying the emperor gods through the streets in Kathu village. It's all a bit crazy for a few minutes!

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2015 at Kathu Shrine

2015 Phuket Vegetarian Festival

(above) Ma Song, pierced and non-pierced walking through Kathu village.

By 7am the procession has just about cleared Kathu. It's quite a hike to town. Now, if I had more time, one of these days, I'd like to walk all the way with the procession. Just to get an idea of what they go through. And also, one of these days, I'd like to see what happens when they return to the shrine and the pierced faces get un-pierced and presumably the Ma Song get released of the spirits? There is a lot to see and understand at the festival. Next blog post coming soon (part 2) will cover the final night in Phuket Town. Now that really IS crazy!