The Baba, or Peranakan, people are descendants of southern Chinese immigrants who made their way through Indo-China, finally settling in Phuket with the tin mining boom over 200 years ago.
Peranakan is Malay for ‘mixed race’. As their ethinicity has traits of Thai, Chinese, Malaysian and Portuguese it is clear why. Locally in Phuket, the group identify simply as Baba.
A staggering 70% of Phuket’s population is descended from Peranakan roots (source) which has heavily influenced the distinctive architecture found in older parts of the island, especially in Old Town, the different flavours found in food, the Batik clothing shops and the Chinese temples dotted across the island.
Once a year in Phuket, a special wedding ceremony for Baba people is held with multiple couples taking part. This not only enables them to hold onto their unique traditions but helps to promote their way of life to the public. With a procession through the streets of Phuket Old Town, the families taking part are able to show off their traditional costumes and the public are lucky enough to see all the colours of the parade and hear the brass bands and Chinese drums.
I headed down on Sunday afternoon with my camera to take a look for myself, you can click on any image to view it full size.
All of the talk of the World Cup kicking off has reminded me of this short film that I stumbled across a few months ago.
Koh Panyee is a village in the Phang Nga province of Thailand, built on stilts by the Indonesian fisherman who originally established it. It often serves as a lunch stop for tourists on boat trips in Phang Nga bay, but has so far avoided becoming part of the tourist trail.
This video is about the true story of the Panyee village football team, who built a floating football pitch to practice and go on to take part in local tournaments. It’s a lovely short story that teaches the importance of perseverance and not letting things stopping you from going for your goals (both in the literal, and football sense).
It’s a nice watch and those of us who are teachers could probably do a whole load of different things with it in the classroom, but I will leave that up to you.
Sometimes I post opinionated pieces on the political/educational/moral state of Thailand, other times I post pretty pictures I’ve taken. Sometimes, I just post a little update of all the nothings I’ve been doing; what should probably be put on a postcard and sent home to grandparents but never is. This is one of those latter posts.
It’s been just over a month of my new job/house/life on the island (I like to reiterate this point) of Phuket. In my last update I had just moved into the new house but without furniture or any home comforts. We were camping with cardboard boxes for tables and only the hard tiled floor to sit on.
But after a few trips to Hat Yai we now have kitchen utensils and a sofa and all those little things that make a house a home, like earl grey tea bags and somewhere to put my clothes other than the floor-drobe that was gathering at the foot of my bed. I say bed; we don’t actually have one of those yet, or a mattress. But we’ve created a nest out of duvets and yoga mats and actually it’s really comfortable and probably very good for my back. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.
The house itself is really nice and completely water tight which is better than the last place – and with the shock storms we’ve randomly been getting it’s a good job! It’s not rainy season yet but after 100 days without rain the heavens have opened and every few days we are having thunder storms and rain – which is actually quite nice as it slightly cools down the air which can be stiflingly hot and humid at times (I swear it’s much hotter here than in Hat Yai). The thunderstorms I can bear, but the power cuts that come along with them are a bit of an annoyance. Five hours overnight with no electric and therefore no AC, no fan, no water (electric water pump) so no shower to cool off – not fun!
School is going really well. To begin with I wasn’t quite sure what I needed to be doing and it was a case of making up my own jobs as the teacher I am currently helping out is only covering maternity leave for the actual teacher. After a few weeks we have figured out a routine that makes the days go quickly and get all the jobs done. Working in an international school with high tuition fees means that we have a high level of accountability to ensure that each child is read with x amount of times a week, that books are checked and marked y times a week and z amount of homework is given out and taken back.
The actual year 6 teacher will be coming back from maternity leave in just under a month, when the routine I have gotten into will no doubt be pulled apart and turned upside down and I will have a whole new way of working to get my head around. But once I’ve got my head around that one, at least it won’t be changing any time soon!
On the last day of term (yes, I’m on holiday already) we had the school sports day which couldn’t be any different from the almost-Olympic extravaganza that I went through at my last school. In contrast, emphasis was placed on the actual sport (would you believe it) and there was the smallest of opening ceremonies that didn’t involve an overnight stay at the school, a 4.30 am wake up, ten tonnes of make up and a 3km walk in the searing heat for me. So overall, a much better experience! We even had teacher’s races and a parents v. teachers tug of war – just like the sports days I used to have at school when I was younger!
The whole day culminated with a sponsored swimathon being completed by the teachers with two teamss swimming 5km each. I contributed a pathetic 150m but considering I don’t really swim, it was the best I could do. It helps that the pool is really nice. Maybe I will take up swimming after school… another benefit to working at an international school is being able to use really good facilities.
I’m not sporty at all so my participation in the entire day was a bit of a shock to the system – when we were told to just come in our usual sports gear I had to go on a shopping spree to buy shorts and my first pair of actual trainers. Who knows if they will get any more use? I’d like to think now I have the kit maybe I could go for a run or maybe join in one of the outdoor aerobics classes you see all over Thailand in car parks on weekday evenings – let’s see… it would make for an interesting post I suppose!
So that’s all really for the update. I’m on Easter/Songkran holiday now for the next two weeks so hopefully the storms clear up and I can get some sunshine. Can someone do a sun dance for me please?
Thresh·old (thrĕsh′ōld′, -hōld′) noun
1. A piece of wood or stone placed beneath a door; a doorsill.
2. An entrance or a doorway.
I could have gone metaphorical with this week’s challenge from the Daily Post, but as it would happen I have recently been on a little walk with my camera around Phuket Old Town which is filled with stunning, colourful Sino-Portuguese buildings. So I have plenty of pictures of the thresholds into homes and shops alike. Take a look – it just goes to show that Phuket is more than just buckets of booze and ladyboys, if you know the right places to look.
The sun was rising and it wasn’t yet too-hot as I made my way to get a motorbike taxi to work. I found myself walking behind this monk and something in me wouldn’t let me push past him so I just had to chill out and stroll along.
I guess he has a zen effect on people even when he’s not trying.