As of last Friday, school’s out for the summer holidays so to mark the occasion, Salak Phet throws a temple fair.
The school holidays give the kids over two months to do what kids do when left to their own devices, but mainly to systematically forget all that rote learning so beloved of the education system over here.
Koh Chang has six schools which meet most needs, though some parents do choose to send their children to the schools in Trat on the mainland. Going there is a long long day for them, starting with minibus collection on the island at 5.00 to 6.00, the ferry, travel to Trat, same in reverse, not getting home till 18.00 to 19.00.
Koh Chang’s centres of excellence are scattered all over, on the west coast, at Bang Bao by the temple, the main one in a magnificent location high up on the hill over Klong Prao Beach and another on the waterfall road in Klong Son.
Down on the East Coast, you’ll find them at Dan Mai, the administrative capital and in the local communities at Salak Khok and Salak Phet.
Salak Phet’s term goes out with a bang as it combines a three day football tournament with a nightly festival at the temple just down the road.
The football entertains allcomers from far and wide, complete with full named kits. Indeed, you find a lot of quite deep-rooted rivalry, but the best bit to an outsider has to be the commentary – each and every match delivered in detail by one chap over the tannoy.
There is a love of microphones in Asia, maybe its the karaoke, who knows, and the Thais don’t let the side down. Give them half a chance and they will quiet happily crank it up and keep going for hour upon hour upon hour without a break. Even when the game is over, they keep going, putting all but the very best filibusterer to shame.
There’s always room for some advertising as well, laminated banners miraculously erected overnight all around the pitch, without fail for Red Bull or M-150, its competitor in the country’s vast energy drink market.
The Salak Phet Temple Fair
Any Thai temple fair is worth a look and this one, over three days, is no exception. Stalls lit by bright lights line the little paths around the buildings and of course, you get to experience some offensively loud music.
The food is more of the snack variety than the homemade curries market kind. You can feast on sickly sweet concoctions alongside crepes and 7/11 style frankfurters on sticks. There will be some tables offering noodle soup, or stir fried rice, Best of all and sending your cholesterol levels off the scale, try the hoi tawt, mussels fried in batter with beansprouts and and egg.
Bugs feature too, grubs and worms, crickets and cockroaches, very edible if you smother them with sauce and don’t dally.
Stalls at The Temple Fair
Food aside, the temple fair will play host sopme serious shopping. You can browse from clothes, belts, shoes, robust bras, kitchen crockery to plastic kitchen and bathroom accessories (by the truckload). Try yoru hand to at some bingo with the chance to win a fan, a rice cooker or packet of instant noodles, even a goldfish. In the background, you’ll hear the hum of monks chanting over another tannoy, those microphones again.
The Last Night
Everything builds to a last night crescendo and this year the Koh Chang east coast got a taste of west coast nightlife when Sabay Bar from White Sand Beach dropped in get the locals dancing. Only at midnight was sanity restored and everyone remembered who they were and where they were and went back to the quiet life the next day, mending fishing nets or debugging pomelo and durian orchards.
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