Then, we came back in the evening...and it was definitely the best city festival we've ever been to!
It all started with a beautiful parade that we watched from our balcony. People were dressed in traditional costumes and men were carrying a portrait of the recently late King.
King Bhumibol passed away in October 2016, after 70 years on the throne. He was the world’s longest-reigning monarch! The sadness went through the whole country and a one year period of national mourning was ordered. Although it appears that many loved the King, it’s hard to distinguish what are the genuine feelings of the majority of the citizens due to ‘lese majeste’ laws. In short, the laws protect the royal family members from insults and criticism, and anyone who rebels against them may be faced with up to 15 years in prison.
The national mourning was visible to us as soon as we arrived in Phuket. The black and white fabric decorations were hung all over the fences of public buildings and the billboards, with a photograph of the King, were visible on every crossing. The mourning didn’t interrupt the festival, however the photographs in which the King does a variety of different actives were placed in specially designed exhibitions scattered throughout the streets full of celebrations.
The main focus point of the festival was around a statue of the golden Sea Dragon, where the locals make offerings and light the incense. That was also where a big altar with the portrait of King Bhumibol was placed, and where a paper dragon, which swarmed earlier through the streets, was rested.
All the people behind the deliciously-looking street stalls, which a couple of hours ago were still being set up, were now serving hundreds of celebrants with Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Indian food. Majority of the people, who worked at the festival, wore black and white clothing obeying the national mourning (read more about Thai fashion industry turning black here).
The stages were full of singers, puppet shows and orchestras. The children, wild in excitement, run around carrying candy floss and balloons.
Not convenient for us (but we took it as a sign that the festival was not created for tourists, which made us happy) - everything was in Thai - all the descriptions and explanations.
We loved the festival so much, that we visited it on all three days it was on for!
Check what it all looked like below, as words don’t do enough justice!