Archive for the ‘Phuket’ Tag

Somewhere in Phuket, Thailand   1 comment

Somewhere in Phuket, Thailand


Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand


Flash-back to 2013 : Tonight was the Craziest Night in Asia at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival   Leave a comment

Flash-back to 2013 : Tonight was the Craziest Night in Asia at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Tonight is the “Craziest Night in Asia” as noted by Bertrand Linet at the Phuket Vegetarian Festival with the Kew Leong Yah Processions. Reminded me of 2013, when I was there with Bertrand and friends in Phuket. Do take care Bertrand Linet and Chua Boon Keat currently in Phuket. They are experiencing this now (night of Wednesday 21st October, 2015)! Tonight is the final night of the 9-days of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. It is also the final night of the Kew Leong Yah Festival in Penang too and Processions are happening throughout the Penang Island. I had missed the photo-shooting of the local Penang Temples of the Nine Emperor Gods or Kew Leong Yah (in Hokkien dialect) as I had recently attended my uncle’s funeral. This is considered as a taboo.

SP Lim
From Wikipedia:-
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival (Nine Emperor Gods: Chinese: 九皇爺; pinyin: Jiǔhuángyé; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Káu-ông-iâ; Cantonese: Kow Wong Yeh) is a nine-day Taoist celebration beginning on the eve of 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which is observed primarily in Southeast Asian countries like Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and also the Riau Islands.

Celebration in Thailand
In Thailand, this festival is called thetsakan kin che เทศกาลกินเจ, the Vegetarian Festival. It is celebrated throughout the entire country, but the festivities are at their height in Phuket, where about 35% of the population is Thai Chinese. It attracts crowds of spectators because of many of the unusual religious rituals that are performed.

In accordance with the traditions, many religious devotees will perform ritualized mutilation upon themselves and one another (with the consent of, context and understanding of all involved and the practice itself) while under a trance-like state, including but not limited to: impaling through cheeks, arms, face, legs, back etc., with everything from as small as syringes to as large as is agreed upon between all members; partial skinning (the skin is not removed, just cut and flipped over); slashing of limbs, chest, stomach and especially tongue with swords, axes and knives; bloodletting; removal of tissue (normally limited to cysts) and intentionally wrapping or standing near fire crackers as they are lit.

This is done without anesthetic, always inside or near the temples surrounded by other devotees with only iodine, petroleum jelly and surgical gloves as precautionary measures. Despite this scenario, many of the same people performing the rituals are also the people who will care for many of the people in their recovery. The actual impaling is done by doctors and physicians in the community, is planned out for weeks if not months in advance and medical teams are present in and around temple grounds for the entire time of the festival, with spectators frequently needing more help than the devotees, who remain in a trance during this process and are monitored through the entire event in case they should drop out of concentration, in which case they are immediately taken to medical professionals regardless of the circumstances to minimize post trance bleeding.

To this effect few people ever need to have prolonged medical treatment, and although in the weeks after the festival many people will be seen covered in bandages, scarring is uncommon, stitching, even on individual devotees who impale their cheeks, is rare, and return to daily activity for the devotees occurs shortly after the completion of the ritual, frequently before the festival ends unless performed on the last days, much sooner than before the bandages themselves are removed.

The purpose of this practice is a mixture of veneration for their gods and ancestors, to display their devotion to their beliefs and the trance itself, which although anecdotal in nature to what is experienced, has a profound impact upon demeanour for days or weeks after, frequently with devotees appearing exceptionally calm and focused in their day-to-day activities after the festival is completed.

The characters เจ as often shown on stickers or flags to indicate that food is vegetarian. The characters have been stylised to be more reminiscent of Chinese writing.
During a period of nine days, those who are participating in the festival dress all in white and ghin jeh กินเจ, which has come to be translated as abstinence from eating meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products. Vendors and proprietors of restaurants indicate that jeh food is for sale at their establishments by putting a yellow flag out with the word เจ (jeh) written on it in red. However, technically, only food prepared in the sacred kitchen of the Chinese temple (in Thailand, called sarnjao ศาลเจ้า or um อ๊ำ) is jeh, as it must undergo a series of rituals before it can be given that name.

Masong ม้าทรง are the people who invite the spirits of gods to possess their bodies. Ma ม้า is the word for horse in Thai, and the name masong refers to how the spirits of the gods use the bodies of these people as a vehicle, as one rides a horse. Only pure, unmarried men or women without families of their own can become masong. At the temple they undergo a series of rituals to protect them for the duration of the festival, during which flagellation and self-mutilation is practiced. The masong tradition doesn’t exist in China and is believed to have been adopted from the Indian festival of Thaipusam.

The festivities in Phuket include a procession of masong wearing elaborate costumes who pierce their cheeks and tongues with all manner of things, including swords, banners, machine guns, table lamps, and flowers. While the face is the most common area pierced, some also pierce their arms with pins and fishhooks. Teams of people accompany the masong to keep their wounds clean and to help support the heavier piercings. It is believed that while they are possessed the masong will not feel any pain. They can also be seen shaking their heads back and forth continually, and usually do not seem to “see” their surroundings. At the temple during the festival there is also firewalking and blade-ladder climbing. While large crowds of people gather to watch, the entranced mah song distribute blessed candy and pieces of orange cloth with Chinese characters printed on them yang ยังต์ for good luck.

Inserted by SP Lim from Wikipedia
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Climbing the Ladder of Swords   Leave a comment

Climbing the Ladder of Swords
Two of the Temple mediums are climbing the Ladder of Swords in Phuket during the Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival 2013. During this Nine Emperor Gods Festival, I shall publish unpublished photos of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2013 when we were there to witness and photo-shoot this event. We must thank Bertrand Linet for encouraging us to go and experience this unforgettable event in Thailand of faith, devotion, dedication and belief in this Taoist Religious Festival. Two of the Temple mediums are climbing the Ladder of Swords in Phuket. Please note some photos in this series are quite scary, macabre and hair-raising so take your meals before viewing.

SP Lim

My Recollection of the 2013 Trip to the Phuket Vegetarian Festival   Leave a comment

My Recollection of the 2013 Trip to the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.
During this Nine Emperor Gods Festival, I shall publish unpublished photos of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2013 when we were there to witness and photo-shoot this event. We must thank Bertrand Linet for encouraging us to go and experience this unforgettable event in Thailand of faith, devotion, dedication and belief in this Taoist Religious Festival. Some of the Vegetarian offerings, Temples and that of the female & male mediums in trance, in Phuket. Please note some photos in this series are quite scary, macabre and hair-raising so take your meals before viewing.

SP Lim

Friendship made in Phuket   Leave a comment

Friendship know no bound as the saying goes. To me, we can say so much that we may be good friends but when it comes to definition of friendship, I find it rather difficult to describe and define. Though socializing is one of my weaker traits, we did however, make a couple of friends and met up with two friends, from our home-town of Penang, in Phuket. We were indeed very happy to meet Chirasak Chitrsuphap from Bangkok, two more friends from the International School in Bangkok, the Chief Prosecutor of Betong and his family at a restaurant, the neighbours at the hostel and not forgetting Oh Chin Eng and friend from Penang. We had also made many un-named acquaintances like the workers at eateries and even the Vegetarian Food sellers by the road-side who joked with us whether Bertrand is married or not but sad as they have no daughter. The mother lamented she is too old to get married again, jokingly.
F – fraternity
R – relationship
I – interesting
E – eternal, if possible or empathy, enjoyment of company
N – nerve-wrecking, sometimes
D – devotion
S – successfully
H – happy
I – interpersonal, interests eg photography
P – passionate, proximity

From Wikipedia :-
Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields such as sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles. A World Happiness Database study found that people with close friendships are happier.
Although there are many forms of friendship, some of which may vary from place to place, certain characteristics are present in many types of friendship. Such characteristics include affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.
While there is no practical limit on what types of people can form a friendship, friends tend to share common backgrounds, occupations, or interests, and have similar demographics.

Making a friend
Three significant factors make the formation of a friendship possible:
proximity, which means being near enough to see each other or do things together;
repeatedly encountering the person informally and without making special plans to see each other; and
opportunities to share ideas and personal feelings with each other.[12]
Ending a friendship
Friendships end for many different reasons. Sometimes friends move away from each other and are forced to move on due to the distance. Sometimes divorce causes an end to friendships, as people drop one or both of the divorcing people. At a younger age friendships may end as a result of acceptance into new social groups. (Friendships, 2009) (Berry, 2012)
Friendships may end by fading quietly away or may end suddenly. How and whether to talk about the end of a friendship is a matter of etiquette that depends on the circumstances.

Inserted by SP Lim
Friends forever, if possible.
Keep good friends. Good friends are hard to find. Nurture friendships that make your plight through life easier, more wonderful and meaningful. Truly poor is the man who has no good friends.

Heritage houses and buildings in Phuket, Thailand   Leave a comment

With a parallel historical background like my home-town of George Town of Penang, Phuket has many similar look-alike buildings like those in my home town. If one walks down a certain street in Phuket, I might be fooled to think I am actually walking in the old section of George Town – a UNESCO’s World Heritge Site. Phuket shall be conferred this status if the proper application is made in the future. As in the historical past, tin mined in Phuket is sent to the Eastern Smelting Works in Penang for smelting and refining. That’s probably why I felt so much at home in Phuket.

SP Lim

A Wet Market in Phuket   Leave a comment

As we made our way to our vegetarian meals every day while on Penang, we should be passing by the short-cut through a wet market. As a photographer, this was also an opportunity to shoot the every day lives of the workers and vendors in this market place.

SP Lim

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