Happy wet Songkran!

Trip Start Feb 02, 2006
Trip End May 14, 2006

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Songkran!

What a holiday! We have GOT to start this in the US. First of all, you know April is the hottest month in Thailand. So they have this mega 3/4/5 day holiday where it's an all out water fight - and I'm not exaggerating! I went walking along the beach (did I mention that I'm staying in Bang Saen for the holiday?) about 7 am this morning and all was calm, kind of boring but in an oh so beautiful way. I went back to my hotel room for a bit, came out again at 9 am and all hell had broken loose. I took the songtaew to the next biggest town, Chonburi, and was doused with water the entire trip. Fortunately, I had put my phone and camera in zip locks, although my money is still wet. Thousands of people on the streets and in the backs of pickup trucks (I counted 20 kids in one pickup alone) have mega size BARRELS of water and buckets and water pistols and they just run up to the songtaew and dump them on you or throw them into the songtaew as they pass by. The police have their walkie talkies covered in plastic and even they get soaked. Somebody blindsided me with what had to be a 2 gallon bucket of water. I was wet right down to my underware all day. And no point in changing, it just continues. Then they have some sort of chalk substance that they run up and smear your face and clothes with. They actually hop on the songtaew, smear everyone and hop off. The funniest part is when you come to a red light, there's no pulling away and side by side trucks just pommel each other bucketful after bucketful. Some young men where standing on tables in the backs of their pickups trying to dance to really loud music, but they really have no rhythm. As the day heated up, the streets were like a sauna, just steaming from the constant watering. I saw dozens of water trucks but I'm not sure whether they charge people to reload or not. They looked suspiciously like the sewage disposal trucks that come around weekly, but I try not to think about it.

Anyway, it took about 20 minutes to get to Chonburi, I just walked around and pointed to some food in a shop and ate - I have no idea what it was, but it was edible. Then it took over 2 hours to get back to Bang Saen - I finally got off the songtaew and started walking. The roads were so clogged we just crept along. At one point, the songtaew driver seperated us and put those doing intermediary stops on a different truck, then took the Bang Saen people over some back roads to the beach.

I am in Bang Saen which I believe is in the Chonburi province for the Songkran holiday. I have a decent room in a Condotel with a pool and it's ON THE BEACH (Gulf of Thailand) for 800 baht (20 US) a night. The good news is this is totally a Thai town - so far I've only seen one other falang in 2 days. Which makes you sort of a celebrity - people stare as you walk by and you can hear them saying "falang, falang" and obviously talk about you. The bad news is this is a totally Thai town - very little English spoken, all signs are in Thai. I spent about 15 minutes trying to ask the hotel clerk where was internet access nearby and she finally got me the janitor to put the electricity on in my room (?)

I have no idea what I'm eating, I just say "gai" or "moo" and "mai pet" and they give me something with chicken or pork, not spicey, but other than that I have no control over the menu. Which means I eat snack foods alot instead. Snack foods being barbequed chicken on a stick or the honkin' biggest shrimp you've ever seen grilled by some woman in a straw hat over a paint can lined with cement. Coca Cola here is sold in glass bottles so when you want one to take away, they pour the Coke in a plastic bag with handles (like a mini t-shirt bag) add ice and a straw and away you go.

I strongly suggest that if you come to Thailand, 1) come during Songkran, and 2) come to Bang Saen or Si Racha which are 2 of the prettiest beachfront towns I've seen so far.

My school would like me to come back next summer to teach again - I told them maybe I could bring another teacher with me. How about it - Sue Boyer or somebody else with an adventureous spirit? The one thing I regret is that I'm here alone and have no one to laugh with. The only real cost is the airfare - the school feeds and houses you and you could practically live on air here. Right now, I'm in a high speed internet cafe, sitting in a comfortable leather lounge chair for 15 baht/hour - 37 cents US. I swear it's cheaper than staying home. Many pharmaceuticals are available on the shelf - Retin A cream, industrial strength Tylenol, birth control pills, hypertension pills, antibiotics.

Well, carry on. I bought some funny t-shirts for Jolene today. They try to write in English and it gets twisted so some shirts are really funny - for instance , Snater Girl (Skater Girl), Carifornia Girl ( those l's and r's cause so much trouble), and the best one (I love this) had a love letter written on it - "I am so sorry. I was wrong. I am dispicable. I am lower than snake scrotum." Oh, where is a good friend to laugh along with when you need one?
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