Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Songkran in Ranong

The only downside to living in my new, rambling home in the country is that it makes going into 'the city' seem inappropriately daunting. This is especially ridiculous considering the 'city' is my small, college hometown of 100,000 closer to the Antarctic than to anywhere else.
Most days I fight the urge to laze on the balcony or spend the day strolling through native bush, and instead force myself into my car and to my office, where - in theory - I will do more work.
Today, I decided to let myself stay in, just me and the dog, and catch-up on my blog. Clearly, an urgent task.

Anyway, here are some snaps from over a month ago (feels like another lifetime) during Songkran in Ranong, in the south of Thailand on the border of Myanmar/ Burma. Songkran is Thai New Year and is celebrated primarily by having a giant water fight. The local teens are the main instigators, grouped into gangs - either on the back of trucks or stationary, and with various gimmicks; group costumes, iced water, paint, water with red food coloring in it, et cetera ad infinitum. ZamZam and I joined the gang outside our guesthouse, with giant hunks of ice keeping the water at a suitably squeal-worthy temperature. All the better for pouring down peoples' backs.

Our reason for coming to Ranong was to visit my friend Top, a monk, philosophy-buff and trainee teacher. I met him in November 2010 at my regular Bangkok hotel, the Atlanta, during one of his English lessons and promised to bring him back a kippah from Jerusalem. Songkran afternoon, Top drove us to the temple where he ordained as a monk and we got to cleanse Buddhist figures by pouring fragranced water over them. This is also a Songkran tradition, bringing luck and prosperity, but we didn't even know that at the time!
Later, during a walk in some local gardens, I awkwardly handed the little plastic bag to Top, with his kippah inside.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Toads are Truly Hideous (and Loud) (and Crass)

Nothing is more exciting to me than going for a drunken solo stroll in a foreign, preferably tropical, place in the middle of the night with my camera. On Koh Si Chang, I had the mixed fortune of having these guys to follow around. Aren't they disgusting?!

[I know the photo below is way too dark, but I kind of like it because it gives an accurate representation of what it was like before I flashed them in the next picture]

Also, one could make a convincing case that the crass and disgusting being is in fact the one behind the camera, who spent such a long time watching toads' sexy time. It also worth noting that the toad I pictured right at the top, alone, was actually following the mating couple around and trying to get involved. To no avail and leading to much toad fighting, which I was too enraptured by to photograph.

After that - some eye balm in the form of the beautiful night streets of Koh Si Chang.

That letterbox and drive-way just kill me!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Karaoke in Koh Si Chang

Koh Si Chang is a tiny, picturesque fishing island, only two hours from Bangkok, with one sandy beach and lots of windy roads through arid countryside, on which I finally learnt to ride a scooter. There is some tourism on Koh Si Chang, but most of it is Thai tourists getting out of Bangkok for the weekend - it doesn't have enough sandy beaches for the international circuit.

The obvious choice of heading into the 'deep south' was out due to flooding, so Cindy did the research and led the way, and ZamZam, Cindy and I spent an extremely relaxed five days in a 'bungalow' in the small township on Koh Si Chang. On our last night we found the best street food I have ever encountered, a massively charismatic Chef I still have a huge crush on and some fishermen who insisted on taking us out to karaoke.

The stage is pictured below, and was facing a dark, empty football field.