Here’s a few shots for your eyes to enjoy while you suffer through another Vancouver spring…
Here’s a few shots for your eyes to enjoy while you suffer through another Vancouver spring…
We arrived on Gili Air, one of three Islands all with the name Gili just off the coast of Lombok, on Saturday not knowing what to expect. Overall my Indonesian experience has been good but a little on the disappointing side (see previous posts). We had penciled in a month to spend on one or more of these islands and I was wondering if we had made a terrible, horrible mistake (well, as terrible as spending time on a tropical island could be). We could travelled to a myriad of different places for our last month. My expectations were pretty low.
But low and behold (whatever that means) what a nice surprise Gili Air turned out to be! As soon as we stepped off the boat, and almost got run over by a horse pulling a wagon, I knew we had made the right choice. There’s just something about the feel of being on an island that is immensely appealing. Life seems a little more relaxed, time seems to slow down and not really matter at all. Every0ne seems pretty happy. I can dig it.
There are no motorized vehicles on this island outside the odd tiny electric scooter which is so very excellent as I’ve grown to despise automobile very much. The main form of transportation is the aforementioned horse and cart (I do fee quite bad for the horses, especially watching them pull a wagon full of fat sweaty tourists and all of their luggage) and bicycles. It’s a small island – it would take one about 1 and ½ hours to walk around the entire thing and it’s flat which is great for biking, especially for someone like Swanson who is not the strongest cyclist having wiped out twice in the first hour that we had bikes.
Unlike the overly-developed Thai Islands which are swarming with tourists, Gili Air has a nice mix of tourists and locals. It’s not too busy – high season hasn’t started yet so I can’t say what it’s like here then – and once you get off the main “road” you’re in pretty rural surroundings. It’s quite fun to bike around these quiet paths, checking stuff out.
Speaking of stuff, the wildlife here is crazy! It’s quite common to see spiders the size of my fist, monitor lizards strutting their stuff, cockroaches the size of a Buick (I chased one out of our room the other night), centipedes as long as my forearm and the odd Komodo Dragon skirting along the trails. I tried to take a photo of a giant one a couple of days ago but it was too fast for me. All I can say it was goddamn huge!
We’ve met a few interesting folks – this one dude from Australia who brought his weird Australian football with him and spent the days walking around Sengiggi, in very short shorts, looking for anyone to toss the ball around with him. He also claimed he was a chef, “Try the chicken parm! 9 out of 10!”. We also met a nice guy named Virgil who was from Romania where he worked as a space researcher for the Romanian Space Program. Yes, I was surprised as you to hear that there was a Romanian Space Program. There was a great dude named “Rocky” who owned the diabolical Riverside Hotel mentioned in the previous post. He knew his hotel was shitty and apologized for it’s shittyness many times. He also owned a great restaurant that we ate at at least four times. He was a hilarious guy and Swanson loved him.
Swanson finally met a friend – a kid named Scott, also from Australia, who’s 9, is into Minecraft and Adventure Time! He’s over the moon having a kid, and a boy, his age to play with. They’re staying at the same lovely home-stay that we are. The parents are nice and they like to drink quite a bit (did I mention they’re Australian?) so we have that in common. They are having a blast together. It will be interesting/sad to see what happens when they leave in a couple of days. I expect a few tears (from Swanson at least).
Gili Air is a fine place to wrap up the tropical adventure part of our trip. We’ll continue to enjoy the sun, the pool, the ocean, some amazing snorkeling (man, there’s a lot of freaky fish in the ocean!), eating pretty good food, drinking pretty good beer on the beach and watching the sunset. Tough life.
We have ten days in Japan before heading home in early July. I will miss this place but will be glad not to have bugs crawling all over me (I found some ants in my bed) and seeing spiders that don’t make me want to scream until my soul is dead.
Until then I’ll just have to make do with this…
We’ve stayed at some dodgy places along our journey. We’ve also stayed at some great places. Here in Lombok we’ve been served up both. We arrived at a lovely little place – little being only 4 rooms – but only had one night due to complications that I won’t bore you with. We loved this amazing home-stay – nice big room and outdoor seating area, great pool and the woman that ran was fabulous, cooking us a fantastic meal (for only $5!) and hanging out with us after dinner and chatting. It was one of those places that you’ll remember and we were very sad to leave as they were booked solid. I was even more sad when we arrived at our next place. But we were in Lombok primarily to get our visas extended so we can have one more month in Indonesia so whatever, it’s just a room right?
If it weren’t for the weird floor that was basically rocks that had been painted black, the tiny, crowded room (we had to get an extra bed for Swanson), the disturbingly murky swimming pool that made us nervous to swim in it, the view of the landfill next door, the bathroom that smelled like an elephant’s butt, the water that sometimes works along with the electricity, the mosque next door that blasted prayers at least five times a day (the first prayer wakes everyone up around 4am) and lasts about ½ hour or longer (sometimes its yelled into the distorted loudspeaker by horrible children), the location – kms from anything and the terrible restaurant, this would be a great place. The staff and owners are incredibly nice so that helps but I can’t wait to get out of here. Oh, and it’s overpriced – actually more expensive than the wonderful spot we had when we arrived. They do offer free transport, which we took full advantage of, offsetting the cost by at least one night’s stay.
We haven’t been doing much in Lombok, spending a couple of days getting the visas. There’s tours to be had but we’re a little tired of these types of adventures and Swanson can’t handle 8 hours being driven around. He barfed just outside the immigration office after a 20 minute drive. Poor bastard. I got my hair cut. We drank some beer. Heard Hotel California by The Eagles at least 6 times. We went out to a beach that was recommended by the staff. It was a pretty fun day despite the beach being littered with tons of trash. That was quite depressing. There just isn’t any thought or effort put into keeping litter in it’s place. Give a fucking hoot, Indonesia!
We were the only tourists on the beach and therefore we were quite popular. We had our photos taken numerous times by various groups of school kids (nice classroom!) and even had a bunch of punks hang around and watch us play cards. We felt a little hesitant about swimming (not just because to the garbage on the beach and in the water) as the locals swam in all of their clothes. We were already conspicuous just being there, never mind strutting around half naked. It was a fun day all told, chatting and having fun with all these kids. A definite highlight of Lombok.
So as many of you know, some of my good friends opened a brewery last year. It was named after my hockey team, The Bombers. I have been there since the germ of the idea was born in the parking lot one rainy evening over beers after a game. I helped them with some renos – painting and moving tanks into the joint and helping them taste their product. I’ve been connected to Bomber Brewing since day one. Why am I yammering on about this? I’m not getting paid to promote them. Something I’ll have to talk to them about when I get back. 🙂 Anyways…
Ever since we left Vancouver almost 9 months ago, Bomber beers have been haunting my dreams. Literally. Its been weird. I have have at least ½ dozen dreams about Bomber Brewing (that I can recall). For most of the trip they all involved me trying to get either to the brewery or the liquor store and failing for some reason or another (Bigfoot, snowstorms, no legs). I’m not going to bore you with dream details as I hate listening to people tell me about a fucking dream that they had.
The other night, after we had booked out plane tickets home, I had a dream about Bomber Brewing. I finally, for the first time, made it to the liquor store and bought a bunch of beers – The Super Pest IPA, Shut-Out Stout and a few other made up concoctions – a shandy, radler or hard lemonade or some such nonsense. The connection was obvious – now that I knew when I was heading home, I could reach my beer destination. Unfortunately I didn’t make it home in my dream as I was interrupted by a 2 block-long garbage scow blocking my way (probably reflecting my view from our hotel room) and a 600 foot dinosaur. No idea. Time maybe? Again, I won’t bore you with the details. So the dream is almost complete. I imagine, as I’m sleeping on the plane flying home, I’ll be dreaming of Bomber beer – either drinking it or bathing in it somewhere – probably my high school. Naked.
We move onto the Gili Islands Saturday. I cant wait. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it’s pretty great as we might be spending up to a month there. If it is a drag then we’ll have to come up with a plan B on where and how to spend our remaining time that we have left on the trip. We’ll be heading home soon and until then I’ll just keep dreaming of Bomber beer!
Continuing our assault on Indonesia we’ve moved on from Ubud, with all of the lovely rice paddies, lush jungle, numerous temples and shambling tourists, to the small island of Nusa Lembongan – or Moose Toboggan as Swanson and I like to call it. It’s a nice, sparsely populated little place favourited by the surfer breed. I think that we are the only ones staying at our hotel that don’t ride the waves. It’s an odd assortment of characters lurching about here. Most of them are Australians. Need I say more? 🙂
I’m quite impressed with the age bracket that the surfers fall into. Of course you have the young men and woman, all tanned, buff, blonde hair with that cliched surfer drawl. But you also have the older set – I’d say up into the sixties – all tanned, buff, blond with that cliched drawl. Nice folks. Makes me a tad envious that I never learned to surf as it looks like a good fraternity to be involved in.
But it’s not all Jeff Spicoli’s and Soul Surfers here. Our little complex is filled with an odd assortment of travelers. There’s an old silver maned dude with nipple rings who shares his bungalow with a younger studly local boy. I’m not one to judge, I’m just an observer of the human condition, and folks should be free to do as they please but the power dynamic is a little off-putting. There’s an awesome looking older woman with Heat Miser hair and some face tattoos – a diamond in between her eyebrows and a couple of tear drops leaking out of her right eye. She could be a long lost sister of Red from Orange is the New Black who’s done a stretch in some remote Gulag in northern Russia. Maybe a duece – 10 years for each teardrop. And there’s lots of threesomes. 2 girls and a dude or 2 dude’s and a woman. I don’t know what the relationship between everyone is, but I can pretty much guess. They don’t seem like siblings. It’s kind of like Melrose Place around here.
The first day we were here an old Australian guy with handle-bar mustache, a huge gut and tiny bathing suit chatted me up in the pool. This guy wouldn’t stop talking – telling me how he travels to this part of the world all the time and everything in between. I appreciated some of the info he was laying on me but he was a big know-it-all seemingly trying to make me feel like a novice traveller. Bit of a knob. I forgot most of what he said as soon as he said it. Saw him going out later than evening in his “dress clothes” which consisted of ugly shorts and a Jack Daniels tank-top. Looking good dude. He left the next day so I didn’t get a chance to listen to him anymore.
It’s a small island with not much to do but lay around, swim, eat and read. Lots of reading as the wifi is pretty terrible on the island. It’s taken me days to even put this post together.
We spend our time by and in the pool. Swanson loves the water. There’s not much of a town here but we did manage to get out and walk around the dusty roads. Saw some stuff. Took some photos. Pretty cool.
And the town is riddled with goddamn roosters. Someone should get them a watch as I’m pretty sure dawn isn’t cracking here at 3:30am. Idiots.
We move on in a couple of days to Lombok where we will attempt to renew our Indonesian visas. Chatty know-it-all guy just says, “Good luck” with a condescending asshole smirk when I tell him of this plan. But truth be told, I’m a bit worried as I’ve heard it can be a bit of a gong show. Hopefully we won’t have to bribe anyone (as I saw our driver do one day after being pulled over at a stop-check). Stay tuned…
So it was in the waning days of our time spent in Jogja that I finally came around to taking a shine to the place. It took a while as I wasn’t too impressed with the place upon arrival. Most of my enjoyment from this busy, loud, crazy city came from actually leaving town. We did a couple of day trips out to BOROBUDUR!! and Prambanan to see some temples. The drive out into the countryside was amazing, the best part being the lush jungle and just watching folks living their lives. What also made my time in Jogja cool was the amazing restaurant that was part of out home-stay complex at the Via Via. As mentioned, our room wasn’t worth two fucks. It was the kind of room that you see in the movies where a junkie is trying to kick his habit and the room is always grim with the paint peeling off the walls and he’s sweating and losing his mind (maybe seeing a dead baby crawl across the ceiling). But it did have a nice outside sitting area perfect for late night drinks, conversation and handjobs (so I imagine). But at the end of the day it was just a place to sleep.
The restaurant was the star of the show. We must have eaten there at least 8 times as it was the most consistently excellent food I’ve had on the trip. Everything was good – from the crispy fried chicken smothered in home-made spicy sweet and sour sauce, to the scrumptious Gado-Gado, the fried tofu and tempe plus many other fabulous morsels. And almost everything was under $5! Here here for Via Via! You won my heart.
We left Jogja on Tuesday and flew to Bali. We opted to bypass the famed beaches and instead head for the sleepy little mountain town of Ubud. Imagine our shock when we arrived to see throngs of tourists crawling all over the place. Even our driver was a bit surprised to see so much pale white skin buzzing all around the town like a swarm of ants feasting on the emaciated carcass of a dead, eyeless bird. It was a tad dismaying. But that’s Bali.
I mentioned to Swanson, “I don’t think anyone will be asking to take our photos here.” If you recall in a previous post, everywhere we went in Jogja locals asked to have their pictures taken with us. We were like rock stars. Especially Swanson. But like so many who had tasted the sweet nectar of fame and then were cast aside when they were of no use, in Ubud we shrunk into the background of anonymity. We were kind of like Sammy Hagar who went from Van Halen to selling Cabo Wabo tequila in Tijuana or that ShamWow guy who was at the height of his ShamWow prowess – he had it all; fame, women, money, power – when, one fateful sweaty Florida night an insane, drug-fueled rampage with a Florida hooker who tried to bite his face off, sent him toppling from his ShamWow throne and into the depressing realm of obscurity. That’s what it was like for us. Exactly.
We didn’t get off to the best start in town when we picked an over-priced, shitty tourist restaurant for our first meal. I knew we were in trouble when we sat down beside a table of tourists, and the portly frat-boy type dude forgot to bring his shirt with him. Tami remarked, “I don’t think I can sit here looking at that.” Who, in any place on the planet, thinks it’s OK to go to a restaurant in the middle of any town without wearing a fucking shirt? Such arrogance. Did this knob really need us all to admire his terrible tattoos, including one that was either a baby that had been in a fire or a “young” Benjamin Button?
But Ubud warmed up to us fast as we walked around town, hiked into the outskirts and enjoyed the local celebrations, which seem to go on every night. Not too sure if it’s a real thing or stuff that’s done to help part tourists from their dollars. And although you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a goddamn tourist (and believe me, I’ve tried) and we’ve had a couple of decent meals but have have yet to find anything that can rival the Via Via in Jogja, Ubud is still a pretty cool little town.
We stayed at a lovely little bungalow set in a beautiful garden. It had a cool outdoor bathroom. I like showering outside. Sexy. The only downside it the critters that might want to get in on the action.
It was a little pricey – about $42 a night so we moved into town for a place half the cost. No outdoor shower, but an OK room. It’s a strange little complex run by a family – friendly son and father but a crusty, unsmiling matriarch. Our toilet was leaking and after we mentioned it and asked to change rooms she insisted that it was fixed. There was an empty room next door but she didn’t clean it for over a day so we couldn’t move into it. She also looked unhappy when I asked to have our room cleaned after being there for 3 days. Oh, and she had scales for skin on her back. Tami says she’s just old but I think that she’s some sort of unholy reptile/human hybrid. I call her Reptilicus. I hope she’s not the one cooking us breakfast.
Besides fellow travelers, one other thing that Ubud has lots of is dongs. There are dongs everywhere. Phalli or phalluseses of all shapes and sizes (well, really one specific shape) can be found protruding out of many shops. Some at eye level. One has to be careful. There’s dong bottle openers, dong key chains, (“Is that a dong in your pants, or are you just happy to see me? Um…”), dong stir sticks, dong ear rings (unsure about these, but one can dream) and dongs with legs. Yes, legs. Be neat if they were motorized – giant wooden cocks walking around the town, getting in your way.
I know it’s a fertility symbol but it’s just a little odd having coffee with a two foot penis with big balls and tiny legs sitting next to you. It’s actually kind of cool as it lends a nice, somewhat erotic, vibe to the place. Some even have festive little flowers painted on them. Awww. I was thinking of getting foot-long bottle opener just to have sitting around the house. I’m sure that it might spark some interesting conversation at our next dinner party. Or at least inspire some awkward silences.
While Tami (especially) and I appreciated the unbridled passion for the dong that Ubud embraces, Swanson seems a little horrified by all the boners on display.
So we took a ride in a couple of “becaks’, aka cyclos, rickshaws or former bikes reassembled with a carriage on the front that a guy in the back pedals folks around in. It was hot and we’ve walked the walk many times here in Jogja. It was walk that I wasn’t too excited to relive.
We talked about using this mode of transportation. It’s a troubling subject. I feel like such a knob, like a privileged rich white tourist being carted around by a “lower class” local. It didn’t help that he was an older gentleman. I feel I should be carting him around. As we ride down the streets I feel the judging eyes upon me as we pass folks by. I feel so uncomfortable and I hate it.
But at the same time, these guys are looking for work. I can take the high road and not use them, but who is that actually helping? I did feel a little better after observing locals using the becaks. It doesn’t cost us much and puts a little money in the pockets of the drivers and in the local economy. Hopefully it helps these guys out. Conflict ensues.
I welcome your thoughts on the matter.
They say that you only get to make one first impression. If that’s the case then I don’t think that there will be any second date for me and Yogyakarta, Indonesia. After four months of Thailand and friends, I was quite looking forward to some fresh surroundings. It is our first new country since we hit Malaysia back in January (Vietnam doesn’t count as I was there 12 years ago). I didn’t quite know what to expect from Indonesia but we dove in. Head first.
Imagine going on a blind date and discovering that your date is just another huge, crazy, sprawling. exhaust-spewing, dirty mess that’s covered in garbage and smells like an open sewer. You would probably be a tad disappointed, no? I had heard very good things about Jogja (as the hip folks call it), a nice town with lots to do, so maybe my expectations were somewhat high but from what I’ve seen in the past few days is just another crazy, busy, dirty, stinky, noisy, traffic-nuts, some-what depressing, mostly ugly town. I was hoping for at least a nice room which to hang my hat. Upon entering our place, the first word that popped into my head was grim. Grim was the word. But it wasn’t a big deal as we’re only here to sleep. Just sleep…
We spent the first few days walking around (as we like to do) but it was tedious, fucking hot and relatively unpleasant. Terrible sidewalks (no surprise there) and row after row of motorcycle repair shops, abandoned buildings, dodgy restaurants (which are OK with me) and garbage strewn about. We’ve visited quite a few cites with this general description but most of those had a nice old part of town or square or area thats cool to hang out in. Not so much that we could find here. Swanson complained incessantly which drove me bonkers. This wasn’t going very well. How long are we here for?
On the upside, the people are incredibly nice. Maybe the nicest folks we’ve run into on this trip. Walking around on our first day a very affable chap approached us and started a chat. He told us a little about the city and suggested that we visit the fine art batik school/shop/museum. He gave us explicit directions, even offering to procure a ride for us. Nice guy I thought. We moved on. A few minutes later another fellow approached us. He said he was tired, on his way home from work but suggested that we visit the fine art batik school/shop/museum. He even drew us directions on his hand. We met four other guys – a teacher, a student, a couple blokes on the road and, after a little idle chit-chat, all suggested that we visit the fine art batik school/shop/museum. This was getting really weird. We thought that either this was either a spectacular place to visit, some ruse that everyone in town is on to get us there to sell us some crappy wares or was some leftover Indonesian Death Squad compound where we would be tortured and killed. Turns out that, after a little internet research, that it was door number two. We couldn’t figure out what was in it for the random assortment of folks who tried to persuade us to visit this place. Did they all have relatives who were hocking their goods there? Did they somehow get a royalty for getting some tourists to visit? Who knows. I took it all in stride and enjoyed the conversations we had anyways. And we never did visit the damn place (it was only open on Monday and Tuesday – or so they said).
A couple days later we were out and about and only one guy told us to visit the fine art batik school/shop/museum. We said we were on our way to the royal palace, but he said it was closed to due to some sort of royal circumcision. He asked me if I knew what that was. I did.
After a while we did manage to find some lovely quiet streets and interesting things to see including bunch of strange cars all done up with fine detailing – I expect they look pretty cool at night – that had the engines removed and were pedal powered, Fred Flintstone style.
On Wednesday we hit the local Science World. We thought it would be good for Swanson and get us out of the blistering heat for a few hours. It was a fairly depressing Science World as far as Science Worlds go (I never understood why tourists go to Science World in Vancouver. I guess it’s to help fill up the day? Get out of the blistering Vancouver heat?). Only about half of the exhibits worked and they one’s that did were pretty low-rent – think dioramas of oil refineries, milk production plants, curved mirrors, fit the thing in the thing, and shitty not-to-scale dinosaurs. The best part was playing bowling and baseball on a Wii system from around 2009. The controllers were grimy and gross. I’m pretty sure that they were white a one time.
The best part was all of the teenage school kids asking us to pose for photos with them. It was pretty odd but cool and they seemed genuinely enthusiastic and fun to talk with. At least they weren’t trying to get us to visit their uncle’s shop.
On Friday we hired a car and driver (no fucking way am I driving anything on the roads in this country!) to take us out to Borobudur (yes it’s as much fun to say as it sounds and it sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings). It’s an ancient temple “discovered” by some Brit named Sir Raffles back in the late 1870s. It’s also the number one tourist attraction in Indonesia. It was pretty cool, but quite busy and after seeing Angkor Wat and Petra, a tad underwhelming. For me, the best part was the drive there and back through the beautiful countryside complete with intense-green rice fields, thick jungle and even an active volcano off in the background. It actually erupted here only 5 years ago.
Again we – I should say Tami and Swanson – were the most popular attraction of the day, being asked by about 7 or 8 different sets of folks to have their photo taken. None for me today. Old cheese.
We have a few more days left here in Jogja. The place is starting to grow on me a bit – we’ve found a great little restaurant and the beer is cheap and not too bad – so we’ll make the best of the time we have left and then it’s on to Bali and the Gili Islands for maybe a month or more. I hear that it’s nice there.
Here’s a few photos that didn’t make it into the the last couple of posts. Not that they weren’t worthy…
We spent our last week in Thailand on Koh Lanta. It’s a beautiful island on the Andaman Sea side of the country. We were there just as off-season started and the place seemed almost deserted. That was pretty sweet. Our days here consisted mostly of swimming in the astoundingly blue, warm waters, eating great food, bombing around the island on scooters (which was a blast if not somewhat dangerous) and hanging out at a little bar on the beach every night where a trio of 2 week old kittens resided. They had been rescued after being abandoned in a field by some cruel asshole. Swanson fell in love with these cute frisky felines. Of course he did.
One afternoon a baby whale shark washed up on the beach. Some of the locals tried to get it back in the water and save it but it didn’t work. The poor fella died and, I imagine, ended up on the menu at one of the restaurants.
After Lanta we headed to the small port town of Krabi before flying to Kuala Lumpur early the next morning. Nice little place to visit, if only for one night. Great street food and later we wandered into a little cultural celebration. Nice send off.
Thailand has been great. It will be missed. Especially by Swanson. Except for the drivers. The damn crazy, dangerous drivers. Locals and Farang alike. No wonder Thailand has the world’s second most traffic fatalities per year. It’s terrifying on these roads.
Au Revoir, Thailand! Hugs and kisses. Hopefully we’ll see you again soon.
Yes, we’re back at the Seaflower resort on Koh Phangan. In total we will have spent close to two months here. Some might think, “Why you spend so much time in one spot? There’s so much else to see, jerk!” Apart from being one of our favourite spots (obviously) on the trip, we needed to slow down the moving around due to budgetary concerns and we’re all just getting a bit of travel fatigue. And it’s a lovely spot to while away the hours. Not to rub it in, but we generally spend most of the day swimming, reading, eating, writing (I’m working on that opera Ive been talking about for years), lounging, maybe the occasional nap, kayaking, poking the dog with a fork, and then, BAM!, it’s sunset and beers on the beach. And if we can do this on the cheap – I think that we spend an average of about $85 a day for the three of us (cabin, food, booze etc.) – then why wouldn’t we stay here?
The owners of the place, Lise and Chai, are great. They like to hang out with the guests, have a drink or whatever and have become nice friends of ours. They have a great staff, including their daughter, Pascal, that make us feel as if we belong here. One of the family. I haven’t been to place anywhere on this or any other trip that I’ve felt that. It’s quite an amazing experience to stay here. That is part of what makes this place so special. It’s no wonder that many folks return here for their vacations year after year. I can see us maybe doing something similar.
There is all kinds of wildlife around these parts. There’s a huge monitor lizard that prowls the grounds here, although I have yet to see it. I’m not really one to go wading into the tall grass behind the bungalows. I’ve heard tales of a python/cobra fight just down on the beach a few year’s ago. I’d love to see that. From a distance. We had a large, almost two foot, lizard spend some time in out bathroom one night. It shat down one of the walls. The ants here are large, red and angry. They look as if they could strip your flesh down to the bone in about 4 minutes flat. I have yet to test that theory. There’s also a family of ducks that run around the resort. Swanson loves them and has even named a few – Fred, Steve, Carol, Aank. There’s a nice dog named Chalum that loves to swim with everyone and handsome diva of a cat named Coco Chanel. A natural born killer she is, taking down lizards and birds with aplomb.
We’ve made some good friends down at the bar – Denis from Winnipeg, Paul from England, Leo from Minnesota, Rachel from Ireland, Tom from Finland. It’s a nightly ritual to meet at the bar for sunset, share some drinks and talk away into the night. We suggested the Seaflower to a couple we met in Kuala Lumpur – Todd and Jess from Colorado. They loved it, even extending their time, and have already booked a month for next year. They are traveling the world and write a nice blog here, if you want to check it out.
Monday was Thai New Year – Songkran. The celebration revolves around washing away the bad stuff from the previous year. To do this means water. Lots and lots of water. What it essentially boils down to is a huge all-day water fight. Amazing. We jumped into the back of Pascale’s pick-up truck, armed with squirt guns and a sense of adventure and headed into town for the biggest water fight of our lives. Unfortunately it rained on Monday (the first day of rain in months!). Rained fucking hard. That’s the only way it rains in this part of the world – fucking hard. We were soaked before we left the compound. It was damn cold buzzing down the road, Pascale only slowing down so folks along the way could soak us with hoses, pails of water, squirt guns or whatever other apparatus they could find. Some bastards went so far as to chill the water down with ice!
Then we hit town and, after driving around and getting even more drenched – some with some gross, foul-smelling, rust-coloured water (keep your mouth closed!) we got out, shivering, and made our way into the morass of people. What a blast! Hundreds of people, some drunk (alas, not me), all spraying water having tons of fun. Loud music blared, folks were dancing and soaking everyone in sight. Any idea how much fun it is to spray complete strangers in the face with a high-powered squirt gun? Damn fun! I wasn’t too sure if that was a cool thing to do – going for the face – until everyone who shot at me was aiming for my eyes. My beautiful eyes. I managed to nail a lot of dude’s who had man-buns. Face, eyes and man-bun. No mercy. I was a one-man man-bun wrecking crew!
They had giant tanks that you could refill you weapons. I leaned over into one to find a drunk woman lying in filthy brown water screaming, “Party in the refill tub!” Pass, thanks. One of my favourite moments came when I was chasing my friend, Keira, and she hid behind a group of people. Instead of following her around them I just started blasting all them in the head and face until they moved out of the way. Hilarious. Another time a dad and his two kids, all completely dry, wandered into our sights. Swanson dumped a bucket of water on the boy while I shot the dad in the head and face. Lots of head and face shots. Sweet. He didn’t look too impressed but, fuck him, he’s walking through a water fight on Songkran!
We did this for a few hours until we were exhausted. Swanson (and Tami and I) had an amazing time. A freaking blast..
It was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had on this trip. Even if it wasn’t hot and sunny. The only down side is that I didn’t bring my phone or camera with me (a tad too wet for that) so I don’t have any photos. But I do have my memories and if you ask nicely I may do some sort of interpretive dance of that great day for you.
So we finish up our time at the Seaflower this Friday. We have about one more week to spend in Thailand and then we’re finally finished with the Thai portion of the trip. We hadn’t planned on spending this much time here but one thing we said at the beginning of this journey was that if we found a place we loved, we’d stay there for as long as we want/could. That place is here. Our home away from home.