Thursday, January 23, 2014

Phuket, Thailand

Executive summary by darmansjah

From 15 to 23 October, Phuket celebrates the bizarre Phuket Vegetarian Festival. While the name Vegetarian Festival may not have you jumping off your couch in excitement, this herbivorous shindig is much more than meets the eye. In fact, it is the most exciting and idiosyncratic tradition of Phuket province.

The origin of the festival are unclear. Legend has it that the festival was brought to Phuket by a wandering Chinese Opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island. In response, the troupe decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods to purify the mind and body. Upon recovery, a celebration was held in honour of the gods as well as to express their happiness at surviving what was, in the nineteenth century, a fatal illness.

During the performances of religious rites at the temples, priests conduct various kinds of dangerous acts to show the power of their gods and to rid followers of their bad luck. Acts include walking barefoot across a stretch of ground paved with burning charcoal and cutting, striking or piercing parts of the body with sharp objects, among other death defying theatrics.

Thai Air Asia, Tiger Airways, SilkAir and Jetstar Asia fly direct to Phuket from Singapore. Qatar Airways, AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines fly direct to Phuket from Kuala Lumpur.

Set in an exclusive area of Patong, Pacific Light Hotel offers comfortable and spacious accommodation for a relaxing holiday. The hotel features a tropical landscape to enhance its warm ambience (US$40).

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