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Songkran!

Happy New Year 2551

sunny 34 °C

Written on April 15...
So much has happened over the past few days that I don't even know where to start....
First of all, it was my mom's BDay yesterday and I wasn't able to call or e-mail because everything was closed (because of Songkran). I hink she turned 38 or something...maybe 39...hehehe
Bonne Fete Ginette!!! :-)

Alright, so Songkran is the New Year for Thai people. We went from year 2550 to 2551 (it's actually the year they use on everything: tickets, boards,..I don't know about legal documents, but I wouldn't be surprised). My life insurance co said that I would retire by the year 2045, so I feel a bit robbed to be still working in 2551! hehehe, This holiday is celebrated by people throwing water at each other. IT'S SOOOO MUCH FUN!!! It actually officially lasts 3 days, but the "water throwing" lasts 1-2 days in most places, and up to 1-2 weeks in tourist areas. Aliya and I were in Suratthani on the first morning, and I took a few pictures (which I won't post right away because the internet is 2B/min here and posting pics takes me at least 1 hour). In a few days. I didn't take a super great number of pics because..well my camera isn't exactly waterproof but it'll slightly illustrate the events here. There were NO OTHER WHITE PEOPLE in Suratthani, so it was very very cool to see the actual Thais celebrating their tradition. Essentially, families would gather in front of their shop (which was closed obviously) and have a massive bucket of water (think a big wine barrel or something like that) and each have either water guns or plastic bowl and douse you/each other in water when you came near by.
It was all in good fun and it's sort of a blessing, so your've supposed to say thank you (khop khun khaaa). They also had thalk (coloured powder) mixed with water to become a kind of a paste which they would dab (or rub all over) on your face. We decided to see how many colours we could gather, we had pink, blue green white and orange. On top of these families on the sidewalks, other families were in pick-ups (i.e. the dad would drive and the kids would be standing (yes yes, standing, forget about safety here!) in the cargo area with a massive barrel of water and throw water at passerbys, people on moterbikes and the people with their own water on the sidewalks. The result: a massive traffic jam (at certain intersections) of people in pick-ups throwing water at each other! hehehe! soooo funny. Everybody quickly gets completly drenched, and it's all in good fun so the mood is very positive. Some families had big chunks of ice in their buckets, so their water would be freezing (they always thought it was very funny to hear us squeak at the coldness) hehehe. Everybody in the family was involved, from the youngest kid to the dad!!! (moms seemed to monitor everyhing rather than actually participate as much.)
So anyway, after walking around for 1 hour, we embarked on a local bus to our current location: Khao Sok National Park.
Aliya wanted to shower and change into dry clothes, but I talked her out of it (and it's a good thing as you'll see).There are different types of buses here: the minibus (exclusively for tourists), air con buses for locals and tourists and no-air-con for locals (and the rare tourist -like us).
We sat at the back on the bus, only to find out that the back door didn't close. It remained opened the entire trip. This is relevant because the bus driver kept on slowing down and sometimes (often) stopping to let Songkran"ers" in the bus to dab some of their colorful mix on us. Because we were so accessible, and tourists, we got repeatdly, as Aliya would say, "raped with colour".
Even when the bus didn't stop, people would throw water into the bus (the opened back door was always the target, and they were quite good at it sometimes!) SO the result was that we would start to dry off (with the wind from the opened windows and door), then get covered in colour, dry off again, then completely soaked (aka "washed"), then dry off some more, then more colour, and more water and so on for the 3 hours of this trip! hehehe I've got a couple of pics of that. It's too bad the full effect of the colours doesn't come through very well.
So we finally made it to Khao Sok, and walked for a while until we found this quite decent place to stay. We unpack and everything, only to get to the bar/restaurant and find out that ALMOST EVERYONE there is Canadian!!!! hehehe There are a couple of guys, brothers, with a travel/tour co called Free and Easy. They organize groups from Canada/US to vists a few places here in the south of Thailand. Sounds like a pretty nice concept... SO anyway, we've been hanging out with them for a couple of days now. Very cool. Since they come here often and give good business to the owners fo the place, they get all sort of special treatment, and us by ripple effect. Quite fun! (and the guys are quite good looking, tanned, and always walking topless, soooo eye candy ont op of it! yay! hehehe!)
I can't complain!

Final story for now. Yesterday Aliya and I went hiking in the National Park here (it's a proper jungle with..well, jungle animals! - we didn't see any except for 1 kind: leeches!!!, and may of them!)
we started the walk around 2:30pm. It's a 4k hike to a waterfall. All is well until at around km 1.5 I (felt the bite) of a leech on my ankle (small thing, but still gross!) weeeee! We keep on going. At km 2 we start wondering if we can make it on time until darkness, so we decide to pick up the pace significantly. We get to the waterfall after fighting many many leeches (Aliya got 6 on her ankles and I had one as high as my thigh (it bit me for a long time before I noticed and it bled for the rest of the trip. Result; my left pant was "blood coloured".) They weren't even in the water, they seemed to be on the ground of the trail, or maybe the trees, so it was quite impossible to escape them. We looked at the waterfall for about 3 minutes (it's a waterfall, whoopti doo!) and more bothered about having to fight more leeches on the return trip than anything else and get going again. It's now 4:30 and we're still concerned about darkness, so we "haul ass" for another 2 k. Result, we almost jogged (actually, it was more like a fast walk but still) 4 k in total (2 each way) of a 8 K trip. We were exhausted and pretty grossed out over the leeches.
Jungle hiking: check. Will not want to do this again!
So that's that for now!
Cheers

Posted by Mistrale 23:55 Archived in Thailand

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