Tag Archives: festival

Other Contexts of Passion Play

Surrounded by street vendors
Surrounded

There were so much more than just Passion Play performance in Iztapalapa. They could not run such the extravaganza without supports from other teams. To name the least, there were police, Red Cross, volunteers, etc. Their contributions multiplied my fascination for the event.

Before getting there, I was told to be cautious in the crowd. But nothing really happened to me. Until I decided to take a shortcut across the town and got lost in a local neighbourhood without any sight of other visitors or a police line up. (That was when you relied on Google Map too much.) The looks of the residents weren’t so welcoming. Then I realised it was a dead end. I turned back, scooted out, and found my way back in the crowd.

That was a just small alarm compared to what happened next in my head. I was lost again. But this time was inside the route barricades, where the performances flowed along. Obviously, I wasn’t authorised. 

I had gatecrashed a parade once in Sydney Chinese New Year event, stayed in the barrier for a while and got some good shots. Until a staff had caught me and politely escorted me out. But this one could have been a very different story for many reasons.

My legs were heavy, my bladder was full, my skin was toasted, and most of all, my stress went up to the clear blue sky. I needed a break but had to keep moving on, taking photos (it was an exceptional photo opp after all), and hoping no one noticed that I wasn’t supposed to be in there. Until there was an exit.

What kept me going in there was the experience in photographing big events like Sydney Mardi Gras. And I acted professionally. Actually, I missed the thrill and the excitement since I hadn’t done anything like that for a decade. It could have been less stressful if I got prepared for it. 

It took around eight hours in the borough when I decided to stop taking photos. By that time, my energy was drained out by the heat, the crowd, and especially, the adrenaline in my brain. Being a solo traveller and not speaking Spanish didn’t help. However, in the end, it was such an experience that I hadn’t had for a long time.

Passion Play in Iztapalapa

It was Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebration in Mexico. I was aware of it but didn’t realise how significant it was until got my feet there. Since it was at the right time, I had to be in the right place. That was Iztapalapa to see the largest and the most elaborate Passion Play in Mexico. I had no idea what to expect and it turned to be my most intense photography shoot in recent years.

Crucifixion of Jesus
Crucifixion of Jesus in Iztapalapa

With a little time for background research and not many online resources in English, I took a plunge and caught the Metro to the borough in the morning of Good Friday. The day was the peak of the reenactment for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Although my knowledge of Catholicism was very limited, the vibe made me immersed in it. It was apparent how much dedication put into their faith. My eyes were even wet at some point. It was the first time I experienced Christianity like this.

The performance spread along the designated route around the borough. It was hard to keep track of what was going on. The best approach for me was just to go along with the flow. It caused some anxiety during the photo shoot. I might talk about it later.

But the event wasn’t just about the performance. I also enjoyed seeing its ecosystem–how others related to it. That will be in the next post.

Thai Food Festival 2008

Thai Food Festival 2008

While Thailand is celebrating Loy Krathong Festival around November each year, the Thai community in Sydney has an unrelated event, Thai Food Festival, in Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. This year features Thai Prawn Showcase to promote the export.

One trick I learned is to stay around until the party is over. The stalls are willing to lower the food price rather than pack the food back even though there is not much left to scoop.

Loy Krathong in Pak Kred

Full Moon over Chao Phraya River
Full Moon over Chao Phraya River on Loy Krathong night in Pak Kred, Nontaburi

My original plan was to focus on Bangkok’s management of the waste in Chao Phraya River on the night. Unfortunately, the Environment Office needed me to personally present the project and I had trouble getting to their office in such a tight timeline. So plan B was just being spontaneous in the event somewhere.

I was feeling crooked from fever and the drinks on the night before so I decided not to go to a big event in the city. A district called Pak Kred in Nonthaburi Province, north border of Bangkok, was my choice because it was not too far from my brother’s where I stayed. But I was wrong to expect a small and intimate night. Being crushed in the crowd by yourself while having a fever was not the best idea of travelling but I did it anyway because I was already there. However, I took it easy and retreated quickly before it got worse and spoiled the rest of the trip.

Under Rama IV Bridge, the entrance to the main stage
Under Rama IV Bridge, the entrance to the main stage

The crowd packing the street
The crowd packing the street

A big krathong for a big spender
A big krathong for a big spender

Colourful krathongs made of ice-cream cones
Colourful krathongs made of ice-cream cones

A range of colourful bread krathongs to choose from
A range of colourful bread krathongs to choose from

A happy vendor selling her bread krathongs
A happy vendor selling her bread krathongs

An on-stage show ramping up to Nang Nophamas beauty contest
An on-stage show ramping up to Nang Nophamas beauty contest

Schoolboys lining up for their opening parade
Schoolboys lining up for their opening parade

Nang Nophamas beauty contestants and their krathongs
Nang Nophamas beauty contestants and their krathongs

A ferry service taking punters into the River to avoid the crowd
A ferry service taking punters into the River to avoid the crowd

The hi-light krathong of Pak Kred community floated
The hi-light krathong of Pak Kred community floated

Making a wish
Making a wish

To the water
To the water

Kids snatching krathongs for some changes people leave in krathongs
Kids snatching krathongs for some changes people leave in krathongs

For some snacks
For some snacks

Fireworks for the celebration
Fireworks for the celebration

Boat noodle for supper
Boat noodle for supper

A dropped krathong revealing the styrofoam base
A dropped krathong revealing the styrofoam base

Newtown Festival 2008

I must say that Newtown Festival on the surface is the same event as every year or other events that have been rolled out in Spring-Summer. But it is on a big scale with an estimated 80,000 punters. I look for something fresh to photograph just to discover that the trash interests me the most. While we are enjoying a good time, do we consider what we leave behind before moving on the next stop of decadence? A stream of bubbles is a symbol of joy and dream but it does not really last.