4am Tuesday the 19th. I woke up with the on-going echo of either large fire crackers or fireworks that sound very much like cannons being fired. Now the sign in the town centre about ‘over-sized fireworks not permitted’ that puzzled me (‘how do you define over-sized in fireworks?’) is making a very good sense. They are using something that could blow a piece of meat off your hand. The women have been chatting in the kitchen next door so I hear the voices from my window. I thought I was fighting mosquitos in my dream, and I knew there were some around here before I fell asleep, but no itchy patches. Why?
Just now, chickens started to make their morning announcement. 4:30am. Slow starters you guys, aren’t you?
Last night was fun. The big Krathong, as people call it, the final of the 3-day festivities involved more vehicles or Krathongs than the previous days. There were companies and government or municipalities represented as well. Somebody was saying there would be 26 or something? Obon-matsuri summer festival for Japanese consulate-general made sense, but cosplay? It was Isuzu and I did not see other Japanese companies but the cosplay characters were getting a lot of attention, for sure.
But I don’t know whether that many actually made it. It started off as drops here and there. Initially it was just ‘getting wet’ while trying to hold my camera under my shirt. Then the rain gathered strength and it became heavy. But the parade continued. The marchers in traditional outfits stood still in the rain, even while audience all stuck together under covers of shops on either side of the street, with few have umbrella handy. I went back to my room to grab the jacket, put the hat on, made a rain cover on camera out of plastic bag, and I was off again. Those people are getting drenched and still putting up the show, I got to keep my level up.
But I did not stay out until it was all over. The sun hat was soaking up too much rain, my jacket was okay under the rain but it was not a proper rain coat. My Krumpler is beginning to take in a little too much water now. So I called it a night. It was time to go inside for a shower and change.
I saw the bathroom earlier and knew there was a shower. But what I came to realise – this bathroom had not been used regularly because the owner of the room comes in only occasionally, I end up sharing it with the current occupier – a family of brown coloured, full-size winged insects. They are no happier than I was to share the space, and they were there first. Besides this is a temple so it is not a place to go killing. There are chickens in the courtyard together with cats and dogs; when I asked Toi whether people here ever catch the chicken and consume for food, he looked at me as if I was saying the most ridiculous thing in the world. It’s not that he doesn’t eat chicken, I don’t think. But they live there, and add to that ‘temple for everyone’ world. I put all my wet stuff up on plastic chairs and let the fan run on low. By the time the morning came, almost everything was dry. I forgot to put the sun hat in the mix, but I guess that can be taken care of another day.
Earlier in the day, I shared the photo of the monk with Toi and his friend up in the studio. He then quickly went to print shop somewhere and had a few printed so that it could be shown to the monk as he was driven to the airport. He was pleased with it and thanked me for it. ‘arigato’ I remember hearing him say it towards the end of our shoot.
Toi, forever playful, mocking a shot at one of the birds in the cage (-releasing the birds will bring you happiness- you know the one. I personally do not agree with catching creatures for game or for earning living like this, so I won’t take part… either sling shot or releasing, that is.)
Icecream sandwich. Not like what I had on Orchard road. This is really tasty. Perfect vanilla ice cream and is that a mango flavored one inside? In a bread pocket.
Booking a bus to Chiang Rai was just a phone call away. Borrowing Toi’s phone, I rang the call centre and got a reference number for my booking. I was to go pay at 7 Eleven. I was still chilling out for another hour or two before finally heading down to the 7 Eleven down the road as the crowd began to build up on the road outside the temple. First they tried it on ‘Green Bus’ and nothing came up. They said it’s probably expired. Another 7 Eleven, this one near the moat, as I remembered the call centre girl saying I should tell it is for Chipattana company booking. My pronunciation (problem with English language that allows multiple ways to pronounce the same spelling!) was not right, so they did not understand me first, but in the end they got it. That showed up as booking does not exist, or something. They suggest I call them and book again – there was a pay phone outside. 1 baht for a minute. When was the last time I used such an old pay phone? And with a coin?
The bus I booked is an 11:30am service from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 2nd class with A/C (no toilet). 144 baht (and 7 Eleven I think charged commission about 20 baht, which is much lower than the taxi fare to the bus terminal. It should reach Chiang Rai at 3pm. I hope I can find a guesthouse easily. I intend to stay for one night, and get to that 2-day boat trip into Luang Prabang in Laos. Let’s see if I can find the guy I’m after…
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