The famous temple fair in Samut Prakan has now started and will last until Sunday 11th November 2008. This is not only one of the oldest temple fairs in Thailand, but also probably the biggest. Phra Samut Chedi is on the West Bank of the Chao Phraya River, but the fair takes place on both sides with literally thousands of stalls. The fair is open all day, but from 5 p.m. all of the main roads through the town are closed which then greatly increases the size of the fair. There are so many people at the fair that it takes an hour just to move a hundred metres.
The Phra Samut Chedi Fair started on Wednesday. As in previous years, the proceedings were kicked of with the grand procession through the town. Heading the parade was a float which carried the sacred red cloth which will be wrapped around the chedi. This was followed by dozens of other floats and marching bands. There were so many that it took them over an hour to parade around the town. After this, the red cloth was then taken by boat upriver to Phra Pradaeng so that locals in that city could also pay their respects to the cloth. Finally, at 1 p.m. it finished its long journey at Phra Samut Chedi.
Waiting at the temple was the Provincial Governor (second from left) and the District Chief (far left) amongst other dignitaries. There was also several thousands local people who had come for the ceremony. The red cloth was carefully unwrapped so that no part of it would touch the ground. The governor then led the local people in a procession around the chedi three times in a clockwise direction.
Everyone scrambled to touch the sacred cloth. They all believed it would give them well-being and good luck over the coming year.
After completition of the procession, the red cloth was handed over to members of the Rungjaeng family. For over a hundred years this family has alone been responsible for not only making the cloth but also hanging it from the chedi.
I am sure it isn’t easy carrying this very big cloth up the bamboo ladder and also wrapping it around the chedi too. As you can see from this picture there are no safety ropes used at all. Female members of the family down below kept shouting up “jai yen yen’ meaning “take it easy lads”. They had obviously done it all before because only fifteen minutes later they had completed their task.
The final picture above shows the temple during early evening. I was back there this evening for a candlelight procession around the chedi. You can see a picture of this over at our Thai Photo Blogs website. You will be able to see more temple fair pictures here at thai-blogs.com soon.
The 9 day and 9 night temple fair in Samut Prakan is coming to its end. The last day is Tuesday. If you are in this area and haven’t visited us yet then I strongly suggest you do so soon. It is an experience not to be missed. It is probably one of the biggest temple fairs in Thailand and is apparently the first recorded temple fair. As I mentioned before, it is massive as it takes place on both sides of the river. It only costs about 3 baht to cross the river in a passenger fairy. These boats leave every few minutes throughout the night. I took the above picture from the boat this evening. It is the view as we approached Phra Samut Chedi. Both sides of the river are very beautiful with many colourful lights.
There is a lot to see and do at the temple fair. The best time to go is in the afternoon in order to beat the crowds. By 6 p.m. there are so many people it takes forever to walk a few yards. However, the disadvantage of going in the afternoon is that the roads are not closed yet and so you won’t see any of the smaller stalls that set up in the middle of the road. The bigger stalls are open all day on both sides of the road. You can buy just about anything from household items to fashion accessories.
There are also different games you can play like Bingo and darts. Lots of fantastic prizes to be won. As you can see, these games are always very popular. In the final picture below, you can see one of the hundreds of food stalls which are daisy chained up and down the streets. They are everywhere and there is certainly plenty to eat. Just make sure you don’t eat anything before you leave home. There are lots of things to snack on. Like squid eggs, grasshoppers, roasted chestnuts, mini pancakes and sausages on a stick. There are also many full meals to choose from. Make sure you leave room for dessert!
Some people say that the temple fair in Samut Prakan was the first of its kind in Thailand. Not sure if that is true but I have seen records that date it back a hundred years or so. Most of the city is affected by the fair. The whole of the parade ground, riverfront and the two main roads running through the city have stalls. At about 4.30 p.m. theses two roads are closed to traffic and more sellers move in to set up their stalls in the middle of the road. These pictures were taken at about that time on the road running past the city pillar.
This is probably a good time to go to the fair as there isn’t so many people. Most of the crowds will come in the evening or weekends. Though the last few evenings it has rained a lot. I have probably taken just over 1000 pictures so far. Most of them are food pictures! But there are fairground games to play too. I will try and get a better variety for you.
But, it is the food stalls that draw my attention. So many delights to try. And many of them from not around these parts. Judging by some of the signs, they have come far. But, there are some locals which I recognize. A few are parents of my students as they seem to know my name.
If you get bored with the fair on this side of the river, you can pay 3 baht to catch a ferry to the other side of the river. You will find there quite a few more fairground attractions and food stalls. I will show you some pictures from that side later.
I think one food item you always see a lot at the temple fair is the fried insects. Those crunchy things that taste a bit like burnt bacon. Fancy a grasshoper? No? Then why not try some fried baby birds? If you are feeling squemish, do not go to page two to see the close-ups!
Here are some pictures for you of the temple fair in Samut Prakan. It was raining for most of the evening so I wasn’t able to go out until after 10 p.m. I took these pictures about an hour ago and despite the late hour there were still quite a few people around.