16 August 2011

to the east; part I

I started this blog as somewhere to share and explore my ideas but whilst out here in Thailand it'd only be right to document it in some way. I've decided to write a semi-diary style photo journal type thing. All the photos I post will either have been taken on a Sony DSC-HX1 or Simon's new Casio EX-RZ100, so here goes. By clicking on any photo it should enlarge too.

Thailand is great. It's beautiful, it's mad, it's hot, it's intriguing, it's new, it's strange and it's great. The people have a hugely positive attitude towards life which makes the experience as a visitor that much more rewarding and enjoyable. They don't seem to have the Western thirst for knowledge and constant disposable media either, which means they're all a lot more relaxed and care-free. The scenery within Bangkok is mental and within the countryside spectacular. It's very similar in culture to Sri Lanka (the only east asian country I can compare to at the moment) and the locals optimism for life, their tuk-tuk driving both also leaves safety to be desired.

We spent our first full day on a boat cruise, witnessing how a lot of the locals in Bangkok live in semi-floating wooden structures. The amount of Thai actually in the water on boats selling produce, fishing or just swimming was astounding and showed just how much the people of Thailand do rely on the water as their main source of food.

After dinner at a condom restaurant, Si & Joe went out on the 'toon where Si quite strangely bumped into Andy bloody Barron from Malmesbury. Other side of the world and someone from your school is just chilling, love it.

A day later we flew to Chiang Mai, in the greener north of Thailand, after dinner myself, Joe and Si headed out to visit some local Muay Thai boxing night at the Thaphae Boxing Stadium. We weren't sure what to expect but were keen to try it out, what we arrived to was a 6 man royal rumble event which was made more ridiculous with the addition of blindfolds to the 6 competitors. A few events and the main fight later, we'd even earnt some thai Baht from betting off the local bar owners. Joe then was bet by a small Thai boy to arm wrestle him.

The following day we rode elephants, it's one of those things that you must do when you visit Thailand and it was great fun. Joe and Simon's elephant got scared, it's driver (mahoot) fell off and it went on a bit of a charge through the jungle, so much so it scared all the other elephants into
running off a bit too. Joe even muttered to Simon in the blaze of fear, "are we jumping then?" before the mahoot took control again, a bloody funny moment mind. We then headed through paddy fields to a waterfall as it began to rain (it's monsoon season here in Thailand where rain falls usually every day for an hour or so in the late afternoon/early evening). 

The paddy fields were amazing and the wildlife we spotted was pretty damn unique too on the way to the tribe. The bamboo bridges made crossing all the rivers a fun challenge and eventually once we got to the waterfall it was a relief to dive in off the rocks into the flowing river below.

After the waterfall and a drenched jungle trek back, we headed out back onto the river on bamboo rafts, it was like a cross between a lazy river and some rapids. Good fun and a nice way to relax floating away on bamboo in the sun. We were a little worried about falling off at first until we had a little wrestle and fell off only to realise it was no more than knee deep.

After the waterfall we headed to visit a local community who lived out in the jungle. We found the animals the locals kept at their farm more interesting than the shawls and banana cigars they were trying to sell us so just had fun with the animals instead.

This evening we headed back into town for dinner and a bit of bartering and (potentially) shopping in the local markets. My favourite was the local painters, there was a large section of the underground Night Bazaar reserved specifically for them and for a small sum and a photo they'd paint your photo in amazing oils in just a few hours. I noticed a lot of them as well as painting famous people enjoyed painting the iconic Afghan Girl. If you aren't familiar with the story and rediscovery of the Afghan Girl now's the time to educate yourself; i've always found her fascinating and like many was mesmerised by her eyes the first time I saw the photograph, hence was keen to buy myself an original painting. I managed to get one for a very reasonable price after a little bartering and brown-nosing with the artist himself as well as a different print for my parents apartment.

The following day we visited a temple, I've never been a huge fan of visiting religious buildings as I don't find much of their architecture to be of interest however the gold that covered the temple we visited was in fact pretty damn good. I haven't included a photo of that, but what I have done instead is include one of us waiting in the rain for our lift to arrive and trying to 'battle' a group of small local children who were dancing for money. We choose to compete against our local rivals in the form of a rather simple umbrella rain march. Here is a photo of said dance.

Next we headed to the X-Centre, an establishment set up by a bungee and motor sports enthusiast from the islands of New Zealand. We took out 3 All Terrain Buggys, 1000cc each, through the jungle, creeks and through the local roads for a few hours which was bloody ruddy fun. Joe managed to get our buggy stuck in a cliff once and in some pretty deep mud a second time so myself and the leader had to push it out in the rain but all in all great fun. The buggys had no windshields either so hitting water and mud in 3rd gear did ensure the filth flew up over the dashboard and onto our lovely overalls.

Our last night in Chiang Mai featured another cheeky night of Muay Thai Boxing, this time we convinced Mum, Dad and Katie to come along with myself, Simon and Joe. We arrived just in time for what looked like the Under 14s event, followed by a few teen fights and a women fight and the finale which paired a Thai boxer against Mick from Sweden, we managed to place some bets with the local bartenders for our European representative and he came good. 

Once the rents had retired to the hotel the rest of us went to a few interesting bars and finished the night with a half hour foot massage. Half an hour doesn't seem like a long time when you're watching a football match, sat on facebook or in a park or something but the time ticks away rather slowly as a Thai girl is rubbing gel on, around and in-between each one of your toes. It also wasn't helped by the fact that all 4 of them thought we were very 'Mao' (drunk) and found us brilliantly funny to laugh at for half an hour. Though judging by all of the expressions on the faces in the photo perhaps even the best of us do get a little Mao from time to time.
Just before I post a little musical delight, I realise this diary-esque post is rather different from my usual topic-based blog posts (well, all 3 of them in fact) but as I said, I feel I must mention this wonderful country whilst i'm here. Usual business will return in the near future after one or two more of these diary style blogs. I might even write a topic-based one in the coming few days, we shall see.

Last but not least I leave you with a little note to commemorate the end of Alexisonfire. After a decade of innovative hardcore music it always seemed inevitable that Dallas Green would pursue his undeniable talent and interest in City & Colour (in the same way I hope Liam Cromby of We Are The Ocean does in the near future.. call me..). And yet with this less than amicable (apparently) split comes the formation of an entirely new beast. With the announcement in July that Frank Carter would be leaving Gallows to be replaced by an unknown member, Wade MacNeil (of Alexis') stepped up. 

"I told the band I wasn't going to join if they wanted me to be Frank's replacement. I was us to be even more brutal. I want to build on the legacy this band has. I want to make some music that's just fucking vicious sounding"
- Wade MacNeil

It'll be hugely interesting to see how the new Gallows functions with Wade at the helm (having been a backing singer with Alexis') and even more interesting to see how they're received by the fans and whether they decide to play old songs live or not. He certinaly seems passionate to prove people wrong and good luck to the new-look Gallows. 

Here's one of the songs which made me, and many other teenagers, fall in love with Alexisonfire.

"The king is dead. Long live the king."

Download #5

No comments:

Post a Comment