Sapan Hin Chinese Shrine
Many times when I take a day off work we just have a very relaxing family day, we don't feel like taking a long drive or a "big day out". We might stay home, just go out for lunch... sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm not a tourist - it's quite normal to chill out at home doing the garden and let the kids play games. Sure sometimes they are very happy to go out, like the trip we took to Splash Jungle recently, or the "adventure" day on mopeds at Koh Yao Noi island. Other days I try to combine relaxation with a chance to take some photos - the Phuket blog needs feeding! So a couple of weeks ago was a "home" day, but in the afternoon, we headed out for some fresh air and a walk. Destination: Sapan Hin, which is a large recreational area, largely built on reclaimed land in the south of Phuket Town, right by the sea. There are often festivals and fairs held here, and its always popular with locals to take a walk, go jogging, sit by the sea.
At Sapan Hin there is a Chinese Shrine facing the sea. The shrine plays an important role in the Phuket Vegetarian Festival - all the street processions during this amazing festival will visit this shrine and there is a huge celebration at Sapan Hin on the last night of the festival. The shrine doesn't look like much from the outside:
Just over the road is the sea. It was low tide when we visited and quite a few people were out digging for shellfish. I hear that Sapan Hin is also a good place for birdspotting, especially good for waders and birds that eat shellfish.
There's some work being done at the shrine now, which I imagine will be ready for the start of the festival (26th September). Somehow, despite being a big fan of the vegetarian festival and a big fan of Chinese shrines, I had never been inside the shrine here at Sapan Hin. So, with the family in tow, we all went to have a look. The caretaker was sitting outside and we found that we knew her - she used to be the school nurse at our kids school! It was clear that this shrine is very well looked after - everything was spotless. The family said some prayers:
The shrine has an outer area covered by a roof where incense can be lit. The ceiling was pretty spectacular, looks like it's been painted recently.
This fella guards the entrance to the shrine. Someone tell me his name please!
Inside, like other shrines, there are several altars, and all are covered with statues of gods of all kinds. A quite amazing selection of faces. I urge people to visit at least one shrine like this when visiting Phuket. You know you're not in Kansas any more when you look at these statues.
And then there's this guy (below) - his name is Ji Gong, a legendary Chinese monk who lived about 800 years ago and helped the poor with his "magic fan". He was also called the "Crazy Monk" Looks a bit mad to be sure!
Sapan Hin shrine will be a lot busier during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival in October (see schedule). The main street processions are every morning starting about 7am during the festival. And the final night sees a massive night time procession in town and down to Sapan Hin. Always something interesting to see in Phuket Town!
Phuket Chinese Shrines Map
View Phuket Chinese Shrines in a larger map