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Phuket's Organised Mayhem Wins, For Now

Phuket's Organised Mayhem Wins, For Now

Sunday, October 17, 2010
News Analysis: Photo Album Above

PHUKET'S strange, compelling and utterly fascinating Vegetarian Festival vanished in a puff of smoke and a burst of crackers last night, just the way it always does at the end of nine days.

We would question the mystical nature of normal people being possessed by warrior spirits from the sea, of adherents talking in Mandarin having never learned how, and of no pain being felt despite the insertion of sharp objects.

Yet there is one vital, persuasive piece of information that instantly dispels our doubts.

For the duration of the festival, large numbers of Phuketians can be seen walking, running and dancing 10, 15, 20 kilometres without a single set of wheels.

These are people who normally would not move more than 10 metres without the assistance of a motorcycle.

Now, that's spooky. That has to be the subject of sceptical scientific examination. For once, whatever is moving all those Phuketians, it's not a motorcycle.

Mystical happenings aside, last night's Phuket City parade lived up to all expectations. This is no sanitised, controlled, regulated bit of Western cheesecake.

The final Phuket Vegetarian Festival parade is a full-on, no-holds barred mix of pyrotechnical mayhem. This is as close as you can come to being a bomber, without charges being laid.

For once, tourists can pretend to be terrorists, then flee the country without being apprehended.

Smoke fills streets and lungs, crackers distort hearing, and the parade is attracting larger numbers of Malaysians, Singaporeans and Chinese. These days the leaders of those countries, wise but boring, would never permit this kind of Phuket mayhem.

Pleas by foreigners in the press to control the firecrackers during the festival are laughable, serving only to demonstrate how colorless, dull and controlled life has become in most other places.

One aspect that probably does need attention is the vast number of photographers who, because of the international attention the festival is receiving, are now putting themselves in the midst of the parade.

Too many photographers plunging in among the warriors is spoiling it for everybody else. The festival organisers should restrict the pro snappers to fixed points along the route.

That would keep the parade as genuine and traditional as possible for everybody . . . until the day when the control freaks eventually win, as they always do.
Phuket Unfurls a Cheeky Challenger: Photo Special
Photo Album The first big parade through Phuket brings some fascinating piercings, but none more cheeky than the man impaled on a beach umbrella.
Phuket Unfurls a Cheeky Challenger: Photo Special

Phuket Enjoys a Pierce of the Action: Photo Special
Photo Album The first street procession brings a flavor of big parades to come. Body piecing and tied up traffic are two of the Phuket Veg Fest's controversial aspects
Phuket Enjoys a Pierce of the Action: Photo Special

Phuket Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Photo Album Two days to go, and the women take to the streets of Phuket to add a dainty edge to the daily Vegetarian festival street processions.
Phuket Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Phuket Piercing Parade: Impale If You Dare
Photo Album Phuket's Vegetarian Festival reaches new levels each day as parades of pierced warriors hold the attention of onlookers of all ages.
Phuket Piercing Parade: Impale If You Dare


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Yah! It's exactly what I was thinking last night looking at the parade in PT. The festival organisers should restrict the parade only to the people allowed. The others should remain out or it will become only a big "Carnival" with fireworks..

Posted by Dave on October 17, 2010 21:50


Good story, like the part where the foreigners (living a few years on Phuket) are fed-up with a 150 + years tradition. Spot on!!

Posted by Staf on October 18, 2010 00:43

Saturday January 23, 2021
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