Kiss the snake…

Songkran was over (road toll over the 4 day period was just over 400 people dead), the squirting was done and now any time we returned to my parent’s apartment soaking wet it was thanks to the heat & humidity. For a bit of a distraction, Kitt, Nykolai, my father & I went to the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, the home of a Snake Farm run by the Thai Red Cross.

Nykolai had been with my father about 5 years ago when I had been working on a project in Korea. On a lark they’d gone down and 5 year old Nykolai had been draped in a python (the snake, not the programming language) and had everyone going crazy when he kissed its head. Sadly, dad had not taken the camera so we missed out on having the moment recorded visually.

This time we went loaded with camera and spent some time touring the new museum they’ve set up. It’s an amazing set of exhibits with live snakes, samples, replicas and multi-media shows describing everything about snakes. Well worth the visit.

After checking the displays we watched the live show where handlers bring out a king cobra, siamese cobra, pit viper, rat snake (not venomous) and a couple of other snakes. You’re right up there with the snakes so it’s a great show. The final part of the show is the python. Before they brought it out, they asked who wanted to hold it? Nykolai’s hand shot up and, Thai’s loving kids, he was chosen to go down and wait as a handler brought this huge snake out. The lady running the show had Nykolai looking the wrong way so the snake appeared rather surprisingly from behind, much to everyone’s amusement (even Nykolai’s).

So, we now have a few photos of Nykolai holding a Phython and photos of the other snakes. I’ll get around to loading them eventually.

More Songkran Soakings

Today we went for a walk to a local super market to pick up some supplies that Kitt and I would need for tonight. We’re spending our anniversary night at The Lebua Hotel so we wanted to stock up on nibblies, booze, water and so on so we wouldn’t have to raid the mini-bar. Given that Songkran is still being celebrated at maximum drenching levels, we dressed in easily washed clothes, wrapped our wallets in plastic and set out on the 3 block trek to the store.

Walking down Soi Prommit was easy, but Sukhumvit Soi 39 meant getting past 2 groups with hoses, tubs, buckets and containers. Nykolai had his backpack super-soaker as usual so he tried to give cover but failed miserably. We were rather wet by the time we reached Sukhumvit Road. We managed to get down Sukhimvit to the store without any further hassles and then proceeded to turn into ice cubes in the super market’s aircon…

Loaded with supplies, we began our return with full expectation of further drenching. Passing once again along Soi 39, we were thoroughly drenched by the two groups who also proceeded to smear a white/grey paste all over our faces. One group about 3 stories up were throwing buckets of water and running a hose. Fortunately the shopping was all in bags…

Thinking we were home safe as we walked back down Soi Prommit, we got ambushed by a bunch of kids in the back of a Soi Taxi (imagine a small mini-van with an open back – like a cross between a Tuk Tuk and a tiny van – I’ll get photos up eventually :) Further soaking and a wet, squelching walk back to the apartment where the guards at the gate were most amused to see our drenched arrival.

I really really love Bangkok :)

Songkran Soaking

Here in Bangkok it continues to be in the high 30’s and obscenely humid. Fans are running in the house and we put the aircon on at night or we’d never sleep. Yesterday it rained for a bit in the morning and there was a hint of thunder – the first rain they’ve had in Bangkok since before Christmas.

Outside the Songkran festival is in full swing so Nykolai has been out joining in. He went off with his backpack super-soaker to escort my father down to the shops, squirting people & cars all over the place. Later in the afternoon, I took him down to the gate and we spent a few hours soaking people going past and being soaked back. One four wheel drive pulled up as he squirted the car, opened a small window in the back and three kids with super-soakers launched a drenching counter attack. Later on utes were driving past with people in the back, large tubs of water and buckets to throw it around (as well as squirt guns). Cars are driving past covered in flour powder as well as water. A lady walking down the street has a bigger backpack super-soaker than Nykolai and the two of them square off and proceed to drench each other. A ute comes back to our building and comes in the gate as we’re refilling Nykolai’s backpack – the back is filled with soaking wet ladies who have been out driving around and engaging in water based warfare. After a quick squirt gun fight with Nykolai, they all get together so I can take their photos.

Finally I call end and drag a very wet but happy young boy upstairs to strip down, towel off and change into dry clothing.

Same stuff again tomorrow but this time *I* have to go out and get supplies. Fortunately, we have lots of ziplock bags to protect wallets and cameras :)

Boiling in Bangkok

So, here we are in Bangkok and it’s damned hot (35 Celcius and more every day) and humid beyond belief. We’re talking 2, 3 or 4 showers a day and it’s STILL not enough. It’s great to be here again – I missed this place. We came into the new airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport) and it looks great from the outside but once you get inside it’s all raw concrete and looks sorta unfinished. Officially it’s finished – oh – OK – oops – sorry – my bad…

Right now it’s Songkran (Thailand’s new year) and the place is going nuts. Everyone drives somewhere to be with family, usually into the country. They’re trying to keep the holiday road toll below 400 this year (yes, that’s 400 deaths in 4 days) as it’s usually around 450-500 people over the 4 day Songkran period. It officially started today (Saturday) but they start the road toll on the Friday. So far, it’s over 50 people dead on the roads already.

That’s almost 1/3 of Australia’s annual road toll in 4 days. Amazing.

Traditionally Songkran involves sprinkling a little bit of water on people for good luck. In true escalation of warfare style, this has now evolved into dumping buckets of ice-water on people out in the street. Water pistols & super-soakers are everywhere. We’ve already been squirted just walking a couple of blocks to the 7-Eleven. Mind you, with the heat, it’s kinda welcome. Mom has picked up a backpack super-soaker for Nykolai and he’s going to camp out at the gate to the building and squirt hell out of those going past. He gets all the luck… :)

After Songkran I’m planning to catch up with a few of the people we work with over here – folks from the UN and NGOs. Should be fun to put names to faces.

For now it’s a few beers, some great food (mmmm, spicy!!!!) and hanging out with family while sitting in the breeze of an electric fan. Woo hoo :)