The recent flooding in large parts of the country, caused by devastating storms, has impacted the cost of vegetables with a rise of B10-20 per kilogram putting extra strain on vendors.
Heavy rainfall brought about by the likes of tropical storm Dianmu has resulted in extensive flooding in many areas, especially in the north, northeastern and central regions which has left many agricultural crops and vegetables damaged or completely ruined. Added to this is the complexity of actually transporting vegetables from their source location which has further increased the cost.
The current typical cost of selected vegetables includes kale at B60 per kg, Guangdong vegetables at B35-40 per kg, Chinese morning glory B30-40 per kg, eggplant at B20-30 per kg, and celery at B110-130 per kg. However, vegetables like Krachai have seen a reduction in cost from B180 to B140 per kg.
The impact has been felt by market vendors ahead of the festival who have reported sluggish sales and a much more downbeat atmosphere. They also say COVID-19 has impacted sales as many people have been impacted negatively financially and far fewer people are getting involved as a result.
Meanwhile, preparations are taking place ahead of the start of the festival on Wednesday as all associated shrines are being cleaned including all equipment used such as tables, lanterns, Tuolian, all kinds of brass amulets, in addition to kitchen utensils such as spoons, plates, pots, pans, etc.
It has also been confirmed that any visitors to the shrines during the festival must adhere to health and safety measures in place such as undergoing a temperature check and wearing facemasks at all times. Certain shrines, such as the Jui Tui Shrine on Ranong Road in Mueang district, are insisting that only those who have received COVID-19 vaccination will be permitted to enter and engage in any activities.
Jui Tui Shrine is considered the largest shrine in Phuket where usually the atmosphere is vibrant in the weeks leading up the festival with stalls lining the streets outside its gates. However, this year, the shrine has banned stalls on the street outside its gates due to concerns around the spreading of COVID-19 which has contributed to a muted and sluggish atmosphere and pushed what business there is towards commercial shops.
It was also confirmed that the procession of monks around the city will be done in cars this year as opposed to the usual walking parade, again due to health and safety concerns relating to COVID-19.