Thursday, 4 March 2010

Thailand - The first Chinese New Year

Hello everyone!

As I said before, the reason we were still in the 'kok (I don't think that will catch on) was because Chinese New Year was on Sunday night. This was quite the (blurry) adventure, hold onto your seats!

We waited for everyone to get ready in the hostel. Whilst chatting by the pond the hostel owner, an extremely chilled guy called 'V', came over to us and asked if we wanted to see some Chinese magic. No harm in this, surely, just going to be some sort of trick. He asks the girls if any of them are wearing a ring of special significance to them, and one person gets drawn in and says yes. Good job, Kelly. He then balances the ring on an elastic band, held between his two hands. You may be able to guess what happens at this point. The band begins to wobble, and the ring begins to move. Ooooh. Then the real trick comes. The band slips, and the ring vanishes. Impressive, but you can see from his face, which has now plummeted to very relaxed, that this wasn't supposed to happen. Where is the ring? Where is the one place where it wasn't retrievable? The pond, of course! Muppet. Luckily it wasn't as valuable as it could have been, no 24 carat rocks on it, but sentimental attachment meant that we weren't overly thrilled with the 'magic'.

We soon leave for the bus to take us to Chinatown. Well where else would you go on Chinese New Year. We stock up on beer. It's cheap enough anyway out here, but we plumped for the cheapest yet also biggest bottle 7-11 possessed. 7-11's are on every street in Bangkok, they've obviously marketed themselves pretty well. 23baht for a giant bottle of 8% stuff seemed too good to be true. It kinda was - it wasn't beer. Ladies and gentlemen...Thai cider. And it's rank. Still, when you invest such a significant sum - I mean, its almost 75cents - into liquid refreshment, you have to drink it.

We are allowed on the bus for free, possibly because the money collector was slightly intimidated by 10 or so falang getting on and being loud. Soon we were at China Town. I had an idea in my mind of what would be there - lots of costumes, people and fireworks. As Meatloaf once said, two outta three ain't bad. It was essentially one long road, swarming with people and markets and stalls. It was intense, with such a vibrant atmosphere. Some of the stalls were a little concerning; one seemed to be selling rabbits that didn't have any water in their hutches. There was lots of food, so the aromas were rich and diverse. We walked up the street and observed the sight before our eyes. It was strange, as if it was a normal market day, with people going about their business.

Then a loud bang of a drum. Here we go. People start clamouring around the entrance of an electronics shop. As we were right next to it, we had a pretty decent view of proceedings. Through the crowd a large white monster emerges, and bobs around in front of people. Not particularly scary, and not as big as I thought they would be, to be honest, but an intruiging sight. Especially as they appeared from a random shop.

This happened again further down the stretch. The face one was far scarier than any monster, but they added colour and verve to the road. Soon after this we stopped at a stall to get a drink. It looked like coke. We knew it wouldn't be, but were fascinated by what the black liquid inside the giant bowl could be, so asked for some. Me and Jono tried them at the same time, and then both reacted in a similar way - what the hell is this stuff? The taste was odd, at best,but that wasn't the issue we had. It was the texture of the stuff. It was thick, but it was too thick, almost as if part of it wasn't liquid. We offered it around, pretending it was coke, and everyone else recoiled in horror and castigated us for giving it to them. At this point I tried it again, and the glutinous element to the texture was stronger. It felt as it there were small solid bubbles in my mouth. I looked at the bottom of the cup. The reason I felt small solid bubbles was because there were small solid bubbles at the bottom, looking like numerous frogspawn. It was now my turn to recoil in horror, and then buy a beer as a very necessary chaser.

Soon we were at the end of the road, where a stage had been erected. Some Chinese dancing occurred, which was interesting. No fireworks, though. We left soon after, and headed to find transport back to the Kho San Road area. Two tuk tuks, side by side, seemed perfect. We piled in - girls in one, boys in t'other. Someone then shouted out three dangerous words...TUK TUK RACE! Off we speed, taking the lead and pulling away from the girls with ease. However, we are soon being caught at an alarming rate. Speed up, we implore our driver. SPEED UP!! FASTER!! A flash of black and red zooms past on our left, with some lovely gestures from the girls to boot. Still, the driver observes the speed limit. Our opponents disappear into the distance. We then pull out 500baht and tell him we will pay generously if he puts his foot down and beats the girls. Stunningly, he refused. It may have had something to do with me leaning very far out of the tuk tuk on a regular basis to 'feel the wind in my hair', or we may have encountered the only morally strong tuk tuk driver in Thailand. We lost. It pains me to admit that.

Most people returned to the hostel at this juncture, but four of us ventured out on Kho San Road, to a rooftop bar called...well, Rooftop. Say what you see, I guess. You could sit on the balcony and watch the world go by, which was nice. There was also a house band playing in the background, who seemed insistent on playing Oasis songs at every opportunity, not that I'm complaining. It was me and three Germans, and we had great fun. Germans can drink, as well. My goodness, they can drink. I ended up talking to some Americans on the table next to me, one of whom claimed to be 16. The Germans said I left with them to go somewhere else. I don't remember it like that, but I'll take their memory over mine. I have pictures on my camera from inside a club, so I guess I went somewhere else on Kho San Road. There is also a picture of another pad thai, which would be standard drunk food out here. Kelly told me that I came back at around 4.30, and soon passed out. We had planned to go to the floating market the next morning, meaning we would be leaving at 6am. I'm quite glad I didn't go.

So Chinese New Year was eventful, bizarre and wonderful all at the same time. Though slightly disappointed about the lack of fireworks, I can safely say that I have never experienced anything quite like it in my life, and was definitely worth seeing. In the meantime, we felt it was now time to leave the noise of bustling Bangkok and head south to the beaches and islands.

Love you all


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