Southern Thailand and Songkran, again!

A few weeks have passed since my last note. I’ve been in Thailand the entire time, but headed South for Songkran (Thailand’s new year) to a few new and interesting places.

I’ve taken quite a few “vacations� within Thailand over the course of the last year… often to Phuket or Koh Samui. Vacation doesn’t seem like quite the right word though… not that what I do there isn’t vacation-like, but it is the fact that I am generally leaving my vacation-like life in BKK to go on vacation elsewhere that is the strange part.

The last two times I went to Samui and Phuket, as example, I was lounging poolside in Bangkok when Jane called down to me to let me know it was time to go… yes, my life is not all that difficult!

Anyway, I had a friend in Phuket so we decided to go visit him over the Songkran holidays.

Songkran, btw, has to be one of the most interesting, fun, crazy events I have ever been a part of… I didn’t actually know which day was the exact starting day of the holiday, but as I walked downstairs with Jane around 1pm on our way to lunch in Phuket we passed a guy wearing head to toe raingear.

In Vancouver, this wouldn’t be conspicuous, but we were in Phuket and it was 33c and not a cloud in the sky.

As we got on our scooter and began to drive into the street, a little kid came from hiding behind a building to nail me, dead center in the chest and face, with an ice cold large bucket of water! It came with such surprise, and with such force, that your average person would have likely completely wiped out, which is pretty par for the course during this time of year as most of the road deaths in Thailand happen during this week, for this reason!

We continued to weave in and out of traffic, dodging and trying to avoid water guns, other people, many of them very cute Thai girls wearing bikinis on scooters with water guns, the streets lined with people with hoses and buckets of water, in a country-wide 3 day water fight… Everyone is smiling and laughing as they do it and it is really something I highly recommend everyone try to get to, at least once, just for the experience. I am rarely into anything which is traditional, but I’d have to say, this is one of the funnest things I’ve been a part of… And, as a sidenote, it really helps to ease any tensions that the public has in general, if for a few days of the year you can go around and just dunk people with water, no matter who, where, when or why! It is really a special event… add it to your Life To-Do-List along with Running of the Bulls in Spain etc…

Anyway, we were pretty much soaked for those entire days… the ones you really got to watch out for are the 4-8 year old Thai boys.. I think they consider getting farangs double-points… and these kids are incredibly precise and accurate and they take intense glee at trying to hit you as hard as they can with their buckets of water! I can’t blame them too… as a little boy I woulda taken Songkran over Christmas every year! Toys are fun but nothing beats clobbering random people in the street with water!

…..As I mentioned, we were in Phuket to visit a friend who is taking his Master Diver scuba course… we went out on a daytrip with him and I went scuba diving. I’ve dived once before, in LA, in the frigid Pacific Ocean… it was so nice to dive in the nice bathtub water warmth of the ocean here. When I dove in LA I had to wear headgear, footies, full wetsuit and it was still too cold for most people… in Thailand we wore a half-wetsuit and that was all, and I didn’t even see the need for that, the water was so warm…. Although the deeper you dive the colder it gets, but we didn’t dive very deep.

For anyone who hasn’t scuba dived, I would also highly recommend it… it is an entire different world under the water and to be able to swim with the thousands of different fish that populate the oceans is really an amazing sensation… it is such a different world down there that I would almost compare it to going to outer space… it is that different! Ok, I have now given you 2 must-do things, if you haven’t already, that’s enough for today.

After Phuket, we took a 2 hour ferry to Phi Phi Island.

Phi Phi was kinda cool. For those that saw the Leonardo deCaprio movie, “The Beach�, it was filmed around here. The landscape is amazing with big cliffs running down to the turquoise green ocean.

Phi Phi is cool because there are no cars, or even motorcycles on the island… you just walk around, it is great… the vibe is different than any other place I’ve been in Thailand… most of the island are backpackers, so it has a very hippy, young vibe. We went to one of the main bars there, called the Reggae Bar. It has something I had never seen before… they have a Muay Thai Boxing Ring IN the bar!!!!!!!!!! And they offer free buckets of beer (worth about $2) if you are willing to go in the ring and fight!! Numerous farangs (white people) get in and it is an all-out slugfest! They also have some real Thai Muay Thai fighters there… I saw some of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen there, it was pretty crazy! The Thai Muay Thai fighter guys were some of the toughest fighters I have seen…. Twice I saw guys get knocked out, woken up, and then continued fighting!?!

I actually think more nightclubs should have boxing rings in them! Especially in Canada and the US, the home of the drunken bar fights (I’ve been to nightclubs around the world and never seen bar fights anywhere but in Canada and the US, mostly Canada)… why not let these drunken idiots fight it out in an organized, non-broken-beer-bottle-smashing way? I considered getting in the ring as I’ve always wanted to get back into boxing but after watching numerous people getting knocked out I decided to pass. 😛

After Phi Phi, we took a 2 hour ferry ride to Krabi. The ferry from Phuket to PP had A/C but the one from PP to Krabi did not… the difference was night & day! 2 hours in the blazing sun on a packed ferry without A/C is NOT fun… I recommend that you check to see if they offer ferries with A/C… if they don’t, take one of the privately hired speedboats on offer and save yourself from the free sauna/steamroom treatment… I must’ve lost 5 lbs sweating on that trip!

Krabi was really, really nice. Again, it was different from anywhere I’ve been in Thailand. Krabi is part of southern Thailand and is really relaxed and cool. The people are a bit different down there too, getting some mixture of muslims and darker skinned people originally from the Indian region.

The food was amazing… even Jane found all the Thai food there to be better than in Bangkok, which is saying a lot! And while it is quite small and quiet there, there is just enough nightlife to keep it interesting, including a cool Thai nightclub called Ibark which had a pretty cool Thai crowd.

I have been in Bangkok now for the last week and have less than a week left until my 30 day visa runs out again… I am not sure what I am going to do yet. I may go to Nepal or Laos for a bit… or even possibly to Australia to get a 1 year visa here. And I may also go up through Korea to Vancouver and spend some time in Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton) and maybe down to Las Vegas and LA for a while… if I do that, then I’ll likely continue on after that to the Caribbean… Dominican Republic specifically, for business reasons… after that it’ll likely be Europe for much of June and July.

As usual, everything is up in the air, but will figure it out over the coming days…