Happy New Year! ... Now, DROWN!

Phuket Travel Blog

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Water pistol sniping during Songkran (Thai New Year Festival).

On our second night we headed to Phuket’s “FantaSea” show, and for the second night in a row we found ourselves overwhelmed. The grounds are so extravagant – with its massive temple like structures, a huge carnival area, and tonnes of neon lights – plus the buffet we had beforehand couldn’t have been much bigger and better. As for the show itself, I was slightly underwhelmed, but maybe that’s just in comparison to the ridiculous lavishness outside the auditorium. To be fair, a lot of the acts were very entertaining (especially the trapeze act). But a warning to anyone who’s really into their animal rights – we didn’t see any obvious mistreatment, but performing animals (including elephants) are a big feature of the show. Oh, and if you are lucky enough to be seated in a broken chair, make sure you tell the usher about it. We were moved to much better seats for this reason, and found ourselves in a perfect position to watch one of the elephants take a pee centre stage (the comedic highlight of the night).

The next day was spent on an island tour off the coast of Phuket. Again I was almost lost for words as the scenery was like nothing I’d seen before. There seems to be hundreds of small islands in very close vicinity, most with a great cliff jutting out of the water as the shoreline. No kind of gradual slope, just; sea – sea – sea – big freaking cliff – massive green mountain! It was breathtaking. By the end of the day I’d seen the gravity defying James Bond island, seen plenty of wildlife (including mudskippers!), swam to shore from the boat and back on Lawa island (about 100 m each way), and waded through an 80 m long tunnel that opened up into a secluded clearing that was walled in by towering cliffs on every side. There were a few hiccups, including the tour guide leaving someone behind when they jumped to another boat to use the toilet (we told the guide, but apparently he thought we were joking), but overall it was a great excursion.

We came back to the mainland to find the city had descended into absolute chaos, and every second person was walking around with a pistol. No, there wasn’t any political uprising trouble ... it was the Thai New Year’s Eve water festival, which means you can’t go 10 metres down the street without someone drenching you in water. The funniest thing I saw was a guy filling up buckets of water from a big tank and splashing anyone who walked by, then getting thrown into the tank by someone else. It wasn’t long before we’d bought our own water pistols and were walking around shooting anyone else with a gun. I felt like such a gangster!

After a while it seemed like the water frenzy had died down, so we left our guns behind as we headed back to Bangla Road. It was soon apparent that we’d made a mistake. We were soaked just from the tuk-tuk ride to the party district. That ride was good fun though – it was like being in a high speed shootout (we had one mini-pistol), and I got to use the phrase “Bogey at 12 o’clock!” as an armed motorbike rider sped up to us.

New Year's blessing. 2009 style.

My night threatened to turn bad however, when I stepped out of the tuk-tuk to kick my foot on a bent piece of grating. The cut was pretty deep and there was so much dirty water around that a nasty infection seemed inevitable. I then had the surreal experience of receiving medical attention from a Thai “ping-pong” show peddler. He ushered us to his club, pulled out disinfectant and band-aids, and before long everything was A-OK.

Of course, after that we had to do him the honour of entering his club ... alright, so maybe that was the intention all along. But hey, try everything once ay? I won’t go into too much detail about what we saw inside – those who’d be interested can probably have a good guess, and those who’d never be caught dead somewhere like that surely don’t want to know. Let’s just say that one of the acts was a demonstration of great penmanship, but she didn’t use her hands ... or her feet ... or her – well hopefully you catch my drift. I won’t pretend that I was shocked to the point of regretting watching the show. In fact I got a lot of good laughs out of it, but once the initial shock value was over, we all got sick of it reasonably quickly and headed back out to the street.

After stacking it down a flight of wet stairs and resolving to buy a new pair of thongs that actually have some grip left, we found ourselves at a bar with a live cover band that were surprisingly good. They even let me on stage to play tambourine for a while, but someone kicked me off before I had a chance to sing -despite the lead singer inviting me to have a go :(. After that we kicked on to a few other watering holes, but failed to find anywhere with a particularly good vibe and cheap drinks. Plus, I’d received enough punishment for one night (falling down stairs, cutting open my feet etc.) ... it was time to hit the hay.

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Water pistol sniping during Songkr…
Water pistol sniping during Songk…
Kitted up and ready to go.
Kitted up and ready to go.
New Years blessing. 2009 style.
New Year's blessing. 2009 style.
photo by: Aclay01