Posts Tagged ‘Songkran’

Festivals in Phuket, Thailand

Posted on June 3rd, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Festivals in Phuket, Thailand

Phuket has a long tradition of festivals and many have now become world renowned with tourists planning their holidays around these events. Here are a few of the many festivals that can be enjoyed by all.


Festivals in Phuket Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year falls within the month of January or February. The date changes on a yearly basis as it is depicted by the track changes of the moon. The celebrations are in Phuket Town and last for 2 days, where there are lively multicoloured dragon processions, traditional music and dance. There are also many firecrackers. Throughout Phuket Town Chinese houses are decorated. The living room of each house will have a vase of flowers, platters of oranges and tangerines and a tray of 8 varieties of dried sweet fruit. Entrances of shops and houses are festooned in red banners and decorations to encourage good luck and happiness for the coming year. Red is the colour that symbolizes happiness and it should be worn for a sunny bright future. It is said that appearance and attitude during the New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. Traditionally, children, unmarried friends and close relatives are given “lai see” which are little red envelopes with money inside to wish good fortune. Food is also an important factor during the New Year celebrations. It is considered that tofu and bean curd are unlucky, so they are avoided. Oranges and tangerines are symbols of abundant happiness and should be taken as a gift if you visit friends or family. It will also ensure a long lasting relationship with the person you are visiting.


Festivals in Phuket

This festival is in memory of the two sisters Khunying Muk and Khunying Chan who led the defense of the Island against the Burmese in 1785. The celebrations include fun fairs and stage performances throughout the week.  There are a variety of food stalls offering mouth watering delights.  The sisters were bestowed the titles of Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon by King Rama 1. A statue of the sisters was erected at a crossroads near the centre of the Island in recognition of their invaluable service to the country.


Festivals in Phuket Turtle release Fair

This festival coincides with Songkran.  Turtles, both Hawksbill and Green are bred in captivity at the Phuket Aquarium. Once the turtles are mature enough they are released into the sea. The ceremonies are held at Cape Phanwa, Nai-Yang and Mai Khao beaches. The release of the turtles is a program that has been put into place to help preserve the turtle population.

SONGKRAN 13th to 15th April

Festivals on Phuket

Songkran has without a doubt become one of the major tourist attractions, however it is one of the most important of Thai festivals. Traditionally Songkran is a time for visiting family and paying respect to elders including family members, friends, neighbours and monks. It is also a time of cleansing and renewal.  Homes are often given a thorough cleaning. More importantly, it is an opportunity to clean Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at Temples. This is done by pouring water mixed with Thai fragrance gently over the images. This ritual is believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming New Year. The throwing of water is believed to originate as a way to pay respect to people. The “blessed” water that had been poured over the Buddha images is captured and is then gently poured onto the shoulder .

The Songkran festival has evolved into a huge water fight with the emphasis being on fun rather than the spiritual and religious aspects.  People in the streets are doused with ice cold water, which is quiet welcoming as this festival is at the hottest time of the year with temperatures sometimes reaching 40 degrees!!


Festivals on Phuket

This festival is performed bi-annually in May and October at the Sea Gypsy villages in Phuket. Small decorated boats are made which are set adrift by the villagers at night. Prior to the boats being launched into the sea the villagers place small wooden dolls, nail clippings and strands of hair inside. The gypsies also perform the Ram Rong Ngeng, a local dance, around their boats. It is said that this ritual drives away evil spirits and brings good luck. This festival is not attended by many tourists, so it does retain the rustic Thai ambience.


Festivals on Phuket

The Vegetarian festival is an annual event that takes place in Phuket Town during the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, so it normally falls late September to early October. The festival began in Kathu in 1825. This district at the time housed most of the migrant Chinese tin miners. There were so many that Chinese, performers came from China to entertain the population. However, during the 9th lunar month Phuket was hit by a fatal epidemic and many lives were lost. After a while it was realized that during the first 9 days of the month no one had paid homage to the 9 Emperor Gods (Kiu Ong lah). A Chinese performer returned to China and invited the Kiu Ong lah to Phuket. During the next year the Phuket Chinese refrained from eating meat, drinking alcohol, sex, quarreling, telling lies and killing. The epidemic stopped and since that day a yearly celebration has taken place.

The Chinese population of Phuket will always wear white during the 10day festival and they will follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. It is also a time where sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese Temples and Shrines. One of the highlights of the festival is where people possessed by the Gods parade with various piercings on the body with sharp implements. The participants appear to have no pain or signs of injury. There are also aesthetic displays where people walk over hot coals barefoot and climb ascending ladders with bladed rungs. These entranced devotees are known as “Ma Song”.


Festivals on Phuket

Patong Carnival is an annual event at the beginning of November. This 3 day event marks the beginning of high season and offers a range of activities and street parades. The Beach Road is fringed with food and beverage stalls. This gives tourists and locals a chance to sample a variety of fine cuisine from the various regions of Thailand. There are also a many stalls selling local products which are unique to Thailand.


Festivals on Phuket

Loy Krathong is the most picturesque and beautiful of all the Thai festivals. It is celebrated every November on the evening of the first full moon. This beautiful festival is a festival of lights. Loy means to float and Krathong means leaf cup or bowl. The stunning floats are made of cellulose banana tree trunks and are decorated with flowers, banana leaves, candles, 3 incense sticks and coins. Once the candles and incense sticks are lit a wish should be made before letting the float drift away in the current of the sea, river or canal. It is considered that the flame is longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. It is also considered to be a romantic night for couples and it is believed that couples who make a wish together are thought to stay together forever.

There are different legends surrounding the origins of this festival. The most popular version is that it is an expression of gratitude to the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Kongka for providing the people with water for their livelihood.  Some others believe that it originates from Buddhism and that the offering of the krathong is a tribute of respect to the footprint of Lord Buddha on the sandy beach of the Narmaha River in India, as well as to the Great Serpent and dwellers of the underwater realm. The final thought is that it is possibly derived from a Hindu festival that pays tribute to the God Vishnu, who meditates at the centre of the ocean. It is believed that the young Queen Nang Noppamas began the tradition in Sukhothai in the 13th Century. It is an exquisite festival and should not be missed.


Festivals on Phuket

Phuket over the years has become a major venue for the sailing fraternity. The King’s Cup has become Asia’s largest and most popular regatta with the event being held during the first week of December. It was started in 1987 to celebrate the King of Thailand’s 60th birthday. The event is organized by the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in conjunction with Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, The Royal Thai Navy and the Province of Phuket .It has continued to grow on a yearly basis and offers racing of many classes of boats, enabling sailors of all vessels to enjoy the regatta.

Update on Patong, Phuket following the Tsunami Warning

Posted on April 12th, 2012 by admin-scubacat-dw  |  Comments Off on Update on Patong, Phuket following the Tsunami Warning

At approximately 4.00pm yesterday afternoon, 11th April 2012 we received a telephone call. That was to change the afternoon.

The husband of one of our staff called to ask if we had felt the earthquake which had happened in Indonesia and to warn us of a potential Tsunami. Then the Tsunami Warning towers let off their sirens……….

This put everyone in our Dive Shop on high Alert.

Kath, our ever loyal Tourleader from MV Scuba Adventure telephoned saying she was struggling to get down to the shop to prepare for the trip that was due to go out to the Similans that evening! We suggested she might like to stay at home!

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand MV Scuba Adventure Tourleader

The rest of the staff however stayed at the Scuba Cat Shop in Patong, it is in a 3 story townhouse and so we gathered all the customers, staff and unsure tourists and invited them to go and sit up on the roof terrace in safety away for the potential wave.

Jack was manning the telephones, assuring concerned callers from India and various other places around the world that we were all OK and we would keep them posted of any developments. A concerned customer who was due to go onto the Liveaboard trip that evening called, after speaking with him we advised him to stay the other side of the Hill in Kathu until he got the all clear to come over.

At the new Scuba Cat Diving Shop, Kee Plaza Patong, the staff were moved to safety at their roof top restaurant on the 7th Floor.

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Tsunami Update

Great news, all the staff and customers from both shops were accounted for.

The Scuba Cat Boats, MV Scuba Adventure and MV Scuba Sport were moved away from the Island and out into safety, Deep Open Water. Why? The ocean is deep. It is only when the wave comes close to shore when it is slowed down that the water is pushed upward into a huge wave. If they can get far enough out the wave, if it had happened would only have been a few feet high.

MV Scuba Fun had just returned from a day trip to King Cruiser, Shark Point and Koh Doc Mai. We quickly transported the customers to a hotel which was high up in the hills and waited with them for the all clear.

Then we were all surprised, Kath had walked for 40 minutes to get to us at the shop, she wanted to be with us and her customers for the Scuba Adventure trip. Ozzy, who lives in safety up in the hills above Nanai Road, had heard about the Tsunami alert when may people appeared outside his hilltop home and decided to come down and join us at the shop, figure that one!! Irish, need I say more!!!!

Everyone had been warned in Patong and the streets were cleared. Sean went down to the end of the Soi to see if the water was going out from the beach, there he met two Irish Ladies who had been caught up in the Thai staff leaving. At the time of the warning they were half way through having a haircut. The lady cutting their hair talked about the earthquake on Thai and then left, when Sean met them they had their hair half finished….. they were looking for a Pub to forget about their new hair styles.

Sean came back laughing and thought this was a great idea and promptly went and arranged beers for the staff and customers!!!!

The announced times of the Waves came and went without incident. We all proceeded to go down to the beach with our beers in hand, stupid I know but by this point we were all convinced the danger had passed.

This is what we saw………

Scuba Cat Diving Phuket Thailand Patong Beach

The streets were empty, no tuk tuks, no traffic, piece and quiet…………

About 7.00pm we made the decision with the Captain and Customers agreement the Scuba Adventure would proceed on her Cruise as scheduled. Big Smiles all round from a group of very happy customers.

A Big thank you to all the Staff and Customers at Scuba Cat Diving for their calm during the warning and a big thank you to Patong for having the Tsunami warning system ready and working for just an event.

Having been here during the Tsunami of 2004 it was reassuring to see the quick evacuation of a large resort town to safety…….. THANK YOU.

Today is a new day, MV Scuba Fun is at Racha Yai/Noi on her planned day trip, the Scuba Cat IDC continues and Songkran will be here tomorrow……………the soaking we expected this year!