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Phuket’s Chinese Roots News Feed

Phuket’s Chinese Roots

Phuket has been home to a thriving Chinese community for more than a century, and the island’s main town is now considered a traditional Chinese heritage centre, as well as a popular tourist hotspot.

Last month, more than 200 representatives from the governments of Thailand and China attended an event on Phuket to commemorate the special relationship between the two countries that goes back more than 40 years. The main purpose of the event was to further enhance relations between the two countries and to encourage trade, investment and tourism.

“Many Chinese tourists visit Thailand, especially Phuket,” said Chern Jiang, the cultural attaché to the Chinese Embassy in Thailand, adding that the island has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful places in the world for Chinese people to visit.

Phuket’s Governor Nisit Jansomwong then emphasized the special relationship between the two countries and said Phuket was keen to continue to encourage the expansion of business cooperation.“Chinese tourists bring so much income to our country and to the locals in Phuket,” he said. “I want to see them happy and comfortable, and for them to place Phuket in their hearts as much as possible.”

A number of important Chinese festivals are already celebrated on Phuket every year, including Chinese New Year, the Hungry Ghost Festival and the Mooncake Festival.

The latter takes place around 27th September this year and is a particular favourite with visitors who have the chance to enjoy delicious home-made mooncakes, which are traditionally prepared as a symbol of harmony and unity.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival, however, is undoubtedly the island’s most famous traditional Chinese event. This year, the festival will take place from October 13-21 and will include a special procession to honour His Majesty the King of Thailand.

The Festival  begins with the raising of Go Teng (lantern) poles at the participating Chinese shrines, or ‘San Jao’, around the island to invite the spirit gods to be present during the festival. During the festival, the faithful abstain from meat and alcohol in order to cleanse their body of toxins and merit making at local shrines and temples is also a large part of the festivities.

The opening ceremony is generally a quiet affair, but the excitement builds over the following days as a series of noisy parades take place island-wide with firecrackers set off to scare away bad spirits. The parades also feature believers who mortify their flesh with various instruments inserted through cuts in their cheeks or hung by hooks from their chest or back.

 

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