Ligaya in West Thailand

Phuket's Vegetarian Festival - The Food Street

During the Vegetarian Festival, all the "believers" have to stick to a very rigid vegetarian diet. It is not just any old vegetarian diet but a special one; all the food must be prepared with special utensils that have not been used for other purposes.

Many restaurants and roadside stalls sell the special food during the 9 days of the festival. They advertise the purity of their food with a yellow sign outside the shop or stall. There is one street in Phuket that has become the centre of the eating industry. It is close to one of main temples and the municipal market.


We went into one restaurant offering the "proper" vegetarian food for lunch. There was a choice of probably at least a hundred different types of food, but nobody spoke enough English to tell us what was what.

We played lucky dip. Just about everything we chose was super hot, but Francesca got the gold star for the hottest dish. Being an avid vegetarian herself, she was looking forward to the food. She took a rather injudiciously large mouthful. It nearly took her head off and for a moment, sitting opposite her, I thought I was going to be wearing her lunch!

There was not much of it we could eat, so we retreated back to the street in search of less spicy fare.

Vendors were out in force on the street, selling all sorts of stuff. This guy was selling small drums that you rotate to make a noise. Despite their small size, they are quite loud.
Many of the food sellers were dressed in interesting costumes. I liked this noodle-seller with his fancy helmet.
The Jui Tui temple is at one end of the street. Although it was not their turn for a parade, the temple was very busy.
I felt a bit intrusive wandering around the temple with so many people busy praying, but they did not seem to mind. In fact one lady saw me and beckoned me into a small side temple and told me to take some pictures there.
Each temple raises a big pole at the start of the festival. This is supposed to provide a handy short cut for the Gods to come down from heaven, or whatever the Chinese equivalent may be. The pole stays hoisted until the end of the festival when it is lowered with great ceremony.
There was a special station set up with candles for lighting joss sticks. People did not just light one or two, but usually did a handful at a time.
Once they had lit their joss sticks, the people lined up to place them in a sand-filled urn in front of a large statue.
The small side temple that I was ushered into was full with the usual offerings of food and drink, as well as a selection of statues and ornaments.
Back on the street there was an amazing selection of food. We finally found some sweet things that were made of peanuts which we could eat without having a hot flush.
Food came in all shapes and types. This lady was steaming things that looked like big dumplings. Of course we had no idea if they were sweet or savory, mild or likely to give you cardiac arrest. After our lunch experience none of us was feeling very adventurous in the culinary department.
There were plenty of roving food sellers too. This lady had a selection of nuts for sale from baskets that hung from a pole over her shoulder.
All the food stands have the yellow notice with red writing announcing that their food is the "genuine" vegetarian food.
Food of every description, but we were shy to try too much after the super-hot lunch.

Even the mobile food sellers had their yellow signs saying their food was "official".

Notice the sign for the "Cocal" bus - presumably they mean local bus.......

When it was time to go home, we decided to try and find a Tuc-tuc to take us instead of a real taxi. These little converted trucks normally do not venture outside of town, and indeed the first couple of drivers we asked were not interested. Eventually we found a driver who was a bit adventurous and agreed to take us back to the marina, despite not knowing exactly where it is located.

It was a fitting end to a very interesting day

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