I haven’t seen much evidence of a Thai community in Chichester and was expecting to be reminded that I am ten thousand kilometres away.
But I ate myself to a standstill at the Chichester Thai Festival.
Still no dry curry.
But there was papaya salad, logan juice and the coconut desserts you get wrapped in banana leaf. Mu ping, fried banana and crispy pork.
Khanom krok, nam isan, sai krok isan, and the Chiangmai sausage.
Thai dancing and a young male vocalists who switched easily between between Thai and English who sang exceptionally well.
Stalls selling Thai food products including bamboo shoots, durian and sataw. Others displaying clothes and other typically Thai goods.
Traditional Thai massage
And plenty to keep the kids occupied whilst Mum and Dad relax with an ice cold Singha beer.
I have been in the UK for nearly three months now and have given up looking for a decent Thai restaurant. Haven’t had a decent Tom Yum yet.
It’s not quite the same as my search for western food in Kanchanaburi .
The UK and I assume Europe, lacks that vigor that comes with freshly cooked, spicy meals. It is all regulated, calculated and sanitised.
Making it profoundly boring.
Rick stopped briefly on his way to the dump site I never knew existed, and he mentioned that it looks as if the Municipality is putting in a system to collect methane.
The creek rose significantly higher after raining most nights for a week or so. But we have had a few dry days and the mushroom stalls have started popping up at the intersection at traffic lights.
But it has been a funny wet season. Sporadic showers after an early start. Thereafter mostly rumbling thunder, a bit of lightening and then little to show for it.
The termite mushrooms aren’t that exciting either.
Smaller, scappy and the ones I have seen have already opened. Hopefully more to come.
Despite this cars are now beginning to line up. Hopefully with more to come.
Everyone is cutting, cooking and prepping the young bamboo shoots that are sprouting with the rains.
So no, it wasn’t the Chinese New year festival, it was the Ghost Festival. Although I am damned sure she said otherwise.
The Ghost Month is the seventh lunar month of Chinese Lunar Calendar. And the 15th lunar day is the day of the Chung-Yuan Ghost Festival. That’s today and maybe that is why I misunderstood.
Although I am damned sure I didn’t.
The festival has it’s origins from Chinese Buddhism. Moggallana was one of Buddha Shakyamuni’s best students. One day, he saw his deceased mother amongst hungry ghosts. So he descended to Hell taking a bowl of food for his mother. However turned to burning coals before it could be eaten and Moggallana pleaded with Buddha to help. But his mothers couldn’t be forgiven without the combined power of thousand monks. Buddha told Moggallana that, “the 15th day of the 7th lunar month is the Pavarana Day for the assembled monks of all directions. Prepare an offering of hundreds of flavors and the five fruits, and other offerings of incense, oil, lamp, candle… to the assembled monks. Your present parents and parents of seven generations will escape from sufferings.” Following Buddha’s instructions, Moggallana’s mother was released and similar rituals are held in the Buddhism temples on this day for the deliverance of suffering spirits.
Folklore says these spirits jailed in the Hell have one-month to travel to the towns in the 7th lunar month every year requiring people to prepare and offer food for them.
I had almost given up on local beef until a chance encounter with an unreasonably tender sirloin steak at the Camp Cafe in Kanchanaburi gave us every reason to drive down to Kamphaeng Saen.
Kamphaeng Saen is home to the Kasetsart Agricultural University where they breed a sell KU Beef. You can buy frozen meat retail from their shop on the campus as well as in bulk. Although for some cuts you need to pre-order.
There is also an onsite Steak House for potential clients who might still be a little sceptical about the quality of what is the best beef I have found in Thailand.
We are not farmers by any stretch of the imagination. Nor are we strictly organic. But I am constantly reminded of the practical necessity of growing organic produce as we browse the local market where all the vegetables look crisp and perfect.
It is the time of year when Thai’s from all over the world return to their families, their homes and villages to pay respect to their elders. And to join the kids celebrating Thailands Water Festival.
Songkran is the New Year’s festival. New Year’s Day is 13 April every year, but the official holiday period includes 14–15 April as well. And unofficially stretches through to the following weekend. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti which literally means “astrological passage”, transformation or change.
Mornings begin with visiting the local temple and offering food to the monks is commonly practiced. Later in the day pouring water on Buddha statues represents a way of purification, washing away the past.
It is a festival of unity.
People who have moved to other countries usually return home to their loved ones and elders and the younger members of the family show respect by pouring fragrant water over the palms of elders’ hands. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition.
Main streets in the towns and villages are closed to traffic to allow both young and old celebrate by splashing water on each other and engaging in fierce water battles. Water barrels are placed on virtually every road and traffic runs the gauntlet of laughing noisy kids armed to the teeth with an impressive array of water guns, hosepipes and fragrant paste.
Gunsmithing skills are also an essential service.