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Thailand

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 Comments (0)

Pics part 2

sunny 31 °C

You might want to start with "part 1" for this...

I only saw one of the following however:
pineapple tree
56-Pineapple_tree.jpg

Not sure that kind of fruit this is, but it has a texture and tastes kinda like apricot...but it's not apricot...
32-Apricot-like_tree.jpg
31-Apricot..lose-up.jpg

On a "grocer" note, I went back to the night market I was talking about in my first blog of the day, and took a pic of the bug display! weeee, I don't know if you'll be able to read the words on this small pic, but they are loud and clear when you blow up the pic (so are the bugs!!)
34-Bugs_for_eat.jpg

On a nicer note, we tried all kinds of foods tonight, a lot of what is small and easy to just munch on. We pretty much munched our way through the market (going, "what's that?" hmm looks good, how much? ok, taste and go...hehehe). The prices were sooo great (like 5B for this, 20B for that...) and to conclude with a "real meal" we had both the best pad thai ever and one of the spiciest dish (although it didn't quite beat the shrimp curry I mentioned a while back!). hmmmm, food!

Moving on, here is a nice pic of a... I guess village....built on the water (literally ON the water), surrounded by sticks sticking out of the water looks like a fishing village of some sort, but I'm not 100% sure... anyway, nice pic!
39-House_o..er_best.jpg

Let's conclude with, yet again, a nice sunset
65-Sunset_..izontal.jpg

Cheers!
46-Me_and_..e_funny.jpg

Posted by Mistrale 08:06 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

I'm happy to be back in Thailand!!!!

yay! (the islands were not it!)

sunny 34 °C

Written on April 10...
Yesterday was Rafale's birthday. I have some pics to post on this, but this PC is acting up, so it'll have to be another time...
So the plan is:
Today, Aliya and I are going to Haad Rin (the bucket place) for a couple of days, then I (maybe we) are heading off to a National park called Kao Sok, which is at the same height as this island, but inland, toward the west coast of Thailand. I read that it 160million years old and is considered to be older than the Amazone. There's obliviously a lot of plants and trees, but also elephants, tigers, monkeys and other crazy "jungle" animals. Hiking is a main attraction, along with elephant trekking and tubing on slow moving crystal clear rivers. I look forward to this very much!
Ultimately, we want to be in Bangkok for the 18th, as a friend of Alyia will meet us there and we'll all head up to Cambodia. I don't know if I'll spend all my time at this national park, or if I'll also visit a few surrounding towns (probably). So anyway, that's the plan!
Cheers

Written on April 12...
Alright, little bump in the road. Aliya and I stayed at Haad Rin for a couple of nights, it was, all and all, fairly boring to be honest. We are now officially in low tourist season, so Haad Rin was quite empty and..well...drinking is not always that much fun!
In any case, we're done with that. We made the decision to get away form what I call the "cattle herd", which is that almost every tourist buys "all inclusive" trip packages, which take them through the 2 or 3 transporation methods needed to get to a final destination (aka, taxi to boat, boat trip and bus to final destination). It really feel like a herd of animals being loaded and unloaded here and there. Not very pleasant, but certainly easy and convenient.
We kinda did the math and figured out that there was a bit of a premium for the convenience (of course), so, since we were not going very very far, why not just try it on our own. It all started pretty well, taxing a taxi and the boat (saving approx 100B in the process), but when we arrived at Surat Thani (town service almost exclusively as a transportation hub for tourists between Bangkok, and the islands on the East and West coasts), we were quoted 250B per person for a 100B trip to Kao Sok (our final destination). hmmm bummer. We ended up at 180B, bought out ticket, and were told at departure time that the bus was full, sorry to come back tomorrow (last bus departure for the day). At least we got our money back, which is not always a given here! We're not "stuck" in Surat Thani for a night...there is apparently nothing to do here according to Loney Planet! hehehe
We booked at a small hostel, management is very nice (an expat and his Thai wife) and they indicated where to get to a night market. IT IS AWSOME!! There are no other tourists here (no one ever stays for a night, unless "stranded" like us!) The market has all the food we normally see at other night markets (some unidentified meats on sticks, deep fried chicken pieces, yummy- and less yummy- sweets, fruits, corries, and..... fried insects!!! We had many choices there, such as water bugs (kinda like massive cockroaches), silk worms, crikets, and the likes! hmmmmm! I don't think I'll venture THAT far in my desire to learn about local customs and foods! hehehe
So anyway, we went for a 30 min walk and didn't see any other tourists so far! hehehe We got stared at more than anywhere so far on this trip (being both tall white girls is a very probable cause for this).

Tomorrow is Songkran, national holiday, which is marked by people throwing water at each other! hehehe. I'm glad to be out of touristtown for that, as I didn't really feel like having a waterwar with other tourists, but I'm totally in for taking part in a local custom! yay!
And on top of it all. we will be taking a local bus instead of a tourist minibus, payin 70B for the trip and enjoying a bit more of locality! double yay!
So that's that for now!
Cheers,
P.s. Having new problems with the PC and the camera memore card. Pics will have to wait a bit longer. arrgghh!

Posted by Mistrale 04:31 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

What now?

hmmm...

sunny 32 °C

Written on April 8...
Happy Easter everyone! Glad you're enjoying a few days off (Easter is not even mentioned here at all, but you and other tourists here reminded me).
I'm still in Ko Paghan as my cousin Aliya (did I ever mention that you can't spit anywhere in this world without hitting a cousin of mine?), Rafale's sister, has come to Thailand from Australia. I was going to head up to Bangkok today, but it would have been kinda cold to leave right as she got here + it's Rafale's BDay tomorrow and Aliya might join me for the next few weeks up to Laos and Cambodia, so I decided to hang here for a couple more days and see what she wants to do.
Other than that, still enjoying the beach (we rented a bungalow on my favorite beach, Haad Yao) and it's quite nice. It's also quite nice to be able to split the cost of everything with someone! (did I ever mention I'm super cheap?..I must have! hehehe)
The tantra workshop ended on Friday and it was super very extra interesting! I'm just kinda sorry I didn't get to practice yet, but it'll come, and I'm prepared! hehehe
It was very refreshing to talk about sex and sexuality in a very "adoring, beautiful and sacred" way as opposed to the "shameful, dirty, secret" that Western society always present it. It's not like I was raised being told it was dirty or anything, but still, over the years, I seemed to hear more negativity and shame around sex than its positive aspects, so it was good to "get a refresher". hehehe
On a different topic, I'm working on a little expose for you on the fruit trees around here, so this is to come soon.
On that note...cheers!

Posted by Mistrale 21:05 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

It's all good

Last night was thankfully eventless!

sunny 34 °C

Writte on April 1st...
I can't believe it's already April 1st!!! Wow!
Anyway, this short entry to say that nothing of any real interest happened last night (no burglars under -or in- my bungalow). I didn't want to write it yesterday (not to worry my mom), but there had been someone under my bungalow the previous night (the night before the burglary) as well, but I had made myself think it was a dog. I became worried when I realized it was someone and yesterday I must admit that I was a bit worried and I slept with 1 eye open...
Anyway!
I've now moved to a house for the week, which like most houses here, is composed of 1 living/sleeping room, 1 small enclosed kitchen, and a bathroom (with hot water! yay!). It has a hammock, so I'm good!
Cheers!

Posted by Mistrale 22:01 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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