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Vegetarian Festival Phuket Thailand

gilded-pole.jpg

Every year, in late October, Thailand celebrates the vegetarian festival. It's a Chinese influenced festival lasting 9 days during which Thai's eat no meat, only vegetarian dishes. Since vegetables can be a little boring, they like to spice it up with some self mutilation, flagellation, and feet burning. Yes, this is that festival where Thais stick daggers through their cheeks and pretend it doesn't hurt, you've seen in National Geographic.

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Thankfully, the opening ceremony is just the lifting of the lantern, in this case a gilded pole with a tree on top. We gild the pole with an odd number of gold leaves, in this case it's nine. The pole is ceremonially lifted amid chanting and that is followed by vegetarian food and prayer.

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The stalls sell a range of vegetarian food, I got the recipe for the rolls above, that pink stuff is fake meat. Isn't it strange, you get fake meat in vegetarian dishes, but you never get fake vegetables in meat dishes!

She even sold fake crunchy pork skin! She tells me it's made from flour, I don't believe her, I suspect it was real pork rind, until I found it on sale in the supermarket. It is indeed fake vegetarian pork skin. During this week my local shop sells fake squid, fake pork, fish balls without any fish in them (not that they ever contained much fish!).

The man selling vegetarian spring rolls says he wants to put chicken in them, they'd sell a lot better. But he can't, they'd throw him out of the temple if he did.

The festival dates vary each year, so Google it first. It's on throughout Thailand, but the big events are in Chinese Buddhist temples right across Phuket. The final day is the parade from Phuket town. That's the real blood and gore one.

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