Friday, 27 January 2012

Kho Phangan, jungles, buses, Bangkok...

And so Furious George and myself arrived at the beautiful island of Kho Phangan to chill out after the Bangkok madness. It doesn't matter if you do nothing in Bangkok, the relentless psychopathy of the city will charge towards you like a drunk rhino with a disorganised infrastructure.

There's beaches. There's sea. There's a beach bar. The sun shines and the water is warm. We lie in hammocks and drink beer. Basically, it's a bit like being in a film, albeit a slightly boring one for anyone watching.

And so, to get some excitement back in our lives before leisure morphs into complacency, we hire motorbikes to go around the town. We're in the north of the island, which is quiet but far away from a lot of the partying action that goes on in the south. I'm on the motorbike for roughly ten minutes before we fall off, me cutting my elbows and shins up, Mr. Furious escaping with a grazed knee.

Unsurprisingly, my companion then insisted on driving us everywhere because, and I think I'm quoting this verbatim, "you'll fucking kill us". At least a nice old Thai man gave me something for my cuts. Bless him. He clearly sees cocky, moronic, no mark twats like me crash mopeds that ten year-olds can ride all the time.

On our motorbike travels, someone tells us of a Jungle Experience Party. I like experiences and parties, and I've never been to a jungle before, so going sounds like a good idea. So, a couple of days later, armed with little or no expectation, we get a taxi into the jungle.

And it's bonkers.

Thumping trance, fire juggling, beautiful dancing people, "happyshakes" (not a sex thing)... the whole night passes in a blur of illegal-in-the-UK Red Bull, intense dancing and yoga (the latter I was doing when my brain actually felt like it was going to fall apart into the darkness of the jungle and chewed up by the jungle sex elves). I don't really wanna bang on about it, as relaying having an awesome time partying isn't that entertaining for the reader, and it would also just come off as a predictable traveller on Kho Phangan partying story, so I won't pretend it's anything special in the big scheme of things. It was pretty fucking awesome though.

Anyways, after much sleeping and recovery on the beach, we head back to Bangkok on the bus. It takes ages and ages, but we get back to The Overstay, our home away from home. Everything's quiet. The owner is asleep on the sofa.

My companion and I sit down to rest, since it's 5am and all.

Then fifteen Thai guys burst in, glasses raised, cheering and shouting. I'm bolted out of my lethargy. The owner leaps out of his sleep, immediately sticks on some reggae, begins pouring drinks, and encouraging Furious and myself to indulge in some MCing over some reggae beats. We oblige.

Welcome back to Bangkok, infuriating, inconvenient and awe-inspiring in equal measure.

Today is our last day in Bangkok (probably... we say this every day). Last night, both myself and Furious performed at a poetry night (which took us two fucking hours to get to). Excellent fun, and a couple of people had some extremely interesting stories/poems over a slide show of illustrations. Live narrated graphic novel is one of the future expansions of spoken word. It can be so engaging and wonderful, adding real texture to the words you're hearing. Some genuinely inventive stuff and a really attentive audience. That said, I'll always have a special place in my heart for screaming at people who are completely ignoring me. One of our company, Dan, got irate with the "liberals" in the audience and shouted at them: "Let's burn down the nearest 7/11". It was a fair effort to turn a relaxed crowd into a rowdy, viscous mob, and you can't have a go at the man for trying.

Personally, I think an ex-pat riot against their own exoticism would've been awesome, a bit like Millennium People.

And yes, I will be referencing Ballard in each blog I do.

I think that's all from me for now.

Over and out.


Friday, 20 January 2012

Flights, scrapes, drinking, and so on....

So this is my first blog from South East Asia, which is where I'll be for the next eight or so months. I landed in smoggy, mental Bangkok on early am, January 12th, cabbed it to the Overstay, which is a hostel in Pinklau. Pinklau is a teeny bit out of the way of the traveller action, or whathaveyou, but the hostel was great. Basically, a bit like the squats I've been living for the past year or so, everyone chipping in, really friendly etc.

On the day I landed I had a gig that night, so I hung out for a bit, napped, then scampered across Bangkok. I decided, in all my misguided arrogance, that walking to the station would be a great idea. It wasn't. It was insane. The walk was ninety minutes, and I don't know if you know Bangkok, but everything in it seems unplanned, ridiculously fast and smoggy. Its like a city tripping over its own feet, so finding stuff as an ignorant, foolish cretin like myself is next to impossible. Still, eventually got to the gig, which was at a hotel (two hours late), managed to squeeze one poem out of my brain, talked to some lovely people and then went back to the hostel.

It's taken me a little while to get into full on backpacker mode. Not being the best with big crowds (at least in a sociable sense. I'm fine shouting and screaming pre-planned rants at them), I was standing on the side, being a bit quiet, with nothing of any interest whatsoever popping into my head. Fortunately, at The Overstay there were a few people who cajoled me out of my weird neuroses and made me drink alcohol and be sociable, which turned out to be jolly good fun. The last night I was there had an awesome reggae jam session, and a did a poem or two, plus a Ruby Kid (Dan, if it helps, I totally forgot the words so I don't think you can sue for breaching copyright or anything), which was really good fun.

Oh yeah, and I was stopped and searched by Thai police in Bangkok. A bit intimidating given all the horror stories of corruption and so forth. They found a leaf in my bag, and the one of the policemen (he looked about ten) showed it to his old, grizzled companion as if to say: YES. WE'VE CRACKED HIM. HE'S DEFINITELY GOT DRUGS AND NOW WE CAN EXTORT MONEY FROM HIM.

Sadly, it was only a leaf. Leaves aren't illegal in Thailand, and I'm not fully sure that having a leaf on you is illegal anywhere. Maybe in Canada its illegal to damage a maple leaf? Do let me know about any leaf-related laws.

The night before old squatmate, friend, fellow poet and now travelling companion met me in Bangkok, and now we've travelled down to Kho Phang Yang, which is home of the dangerous-sounding full moon parties... we've not arrived in time for those, which is probably a blessing, as we'd obviously just get stupidly, hopelessly, pathetically hammered and probably drown ourselves or something equally horrible. Its all relaxed at the moment though, but, as we all know from our Lord of the Flies and J G Ballard, from paradise is born eating and fucking each other in a state of collective psychopathy induced by a tyranny of leisure.

And, God knows, when you get bored, don't you just feel like eating and fucking the nearest person?

Anyway, in a teeny rush, got torces to buy, dinner to eat, I-pods to charge, Thai people to gesticulate wildly at and motorbikes to ride.

Over and out.