Last Tuesday was Kru Noy’s birthday. We went out to dinner with her, her husband and another teacher from the school.
I Now Measure ‘Fun’ By How Much Karaoke Is Involved
November 25, 2008 by Marianne
We ate in a town 20 minutes down the road called Bua, or Pua depending on who you ask (the Thai sound is actually somewhere in between a ‘b’ and a ‘p’… they have more letters than us). We ate some good Thai food, but I couldn’t help but notice that the menu also had ‘farang food’ i.e. Western food including steak and burgers. My mouth is watering just writing about it. I restrained myself since the ‘farang food’ was a lot more expensive, but you can trust in the fact that this restaurant will feature again at a time when I am not so poor. Or perhaps when my mum comes to visit since actually if you convert the prices into dollars or pounds it’s hilariously cheap. Suddenly the £5.50/hour I was making with AYS in London is looking really good…
After we ate, the karaoke machine was turned on and you all know what happened next. Devon even bravely got up and sang “Have I Told You Lately” by himself, and he even managed to sound great.
Karaoke is one of those things that I have always been scared of. Like most of the population. I don’t enjoy making a fool out of myself and I’m aware that my singing abilities are slightly below par. However, I have come to realise that the whole point of karaoke is not to sound good, but to entertain. I suggest that everyone reading this blog, if you haven’t already, go to a karaoke bar and sing one song.
Good songs to start off with include (in my opinion) “Kiss Me” “I Will Survive” and “I Want It That Way.” The Beatles also have a large list of sing-able melodies. I hope that, like me, after this first song you will realise how addicting and fun the microphone can be. However, be careful not to be a microphone hog, as this makes it less fun for the others involved that want to share in the high you are getting from the spotlight.
To continue on my mission to karaoke my way through Thailand, Kelly and I met up with Lisa, Kim and Lee (a Chinese teacher at Kim’s school) in Sukhothai this past weekend. We arrived at 2am after nine and a half hours of waiting for and/or sitting on buses (again, we live in the middle of nowhere) to find that Lisa and Kim were still up hanging out with Sergeant Smith.
So we grabbed a drink with the Sarge before heading to bed. Sergeant Smith was a middle aged Thai man who decided to assume the identity of Will Smith from the movie ‘Bad Boys.’ I’m still not sure if he was actually in the Thai army or not, but he did drive a Mercedes…not sure what that means, but it’s not often I see a Thai person in anything but a motorbike or a pickup truck.
Sukhothai is the oldest city in Thailand, where the Thai alphabet and language were created. Old Sukhothai is now just a maze of ruins, mostly of old temples that have more or less crumbled to the ground. Still standing are some amazing Buddha images and the remnants of the pillars and walls that once protected them. There is a standing Buddha (something not often seen) that is the height of about ten men. There is another temple ruin and Buddha at the top of a rather steep hill that we climbed in the beating sun to be rewarded by beautiful views over the countryside. My favourite, and probably the most famous Buddha image in Old Sukhothai was of a seated Buddha in a temple called Wat Si Chum. This seated Buddha was bigger than any of the others. The distance between the tips of his fingers to his middle knuckle was as long as I am tall, if not more. It was a humbling sight.
We explored all these ruins and more by renting bicycles. We rented five bikes, for the cost of 30 Baht each (about $1). We rode to one side of the walls of the old city, locked three bikes together with one chain, and the other two bikes with a second chain. We explored for a while and then came out to continue our adventure and found that the two bikes that had been locked together were gone.
My first experience of crime in Thailand, and if I’m lucky, my last. After awhile we started to realise that there was a good chance that the bike rental place was in fact stealing their own bikes back in the hopes that naive farang would return groveling and willing to pay huge sums of money for the missing bikes. Little did they know that we are now seasoned Thai residents who are not fooled so easily. For that reason, we spent the rest of the day with two of us sitting on the book rest on the back of two bikes, and then at the end of the day, abandoning our three remaining bikes, unlocked near the old walls. In the time it took us to buy an ice cream, the three bikes were gone and our troubles were over. We got a tuk tuk back to the hostel to avoid walking past the bike shop again, and all was fine.
That night, we met up with Mark, a guy from England traveling alone whom we’d met earlier that day. We had a rather disappointing dinner at Poo Restaurant (‘poo’ means ‘crab’ so stop laughing). Poo came highly recommended by the Lonely Planet guide, but for perhaps the first time, this recommendation has let me down. After that, we went out to find somewhere else to spend the rest of our night and we happened across a restaurant with a live band. We were one of two tables in the place, and I made sure we sat right up front.
It took less than 10 minutes for the karaoke to begin.
Song after song was performed, ranging from “Like a Virgin” to “A Whole New World” which ended badly because unfortunately the words were in Thai and Kim and I didn’t know them quite as well as we thought…
I even got to sing “I Will Survive” with a Thai girl who was in fact a good singer and probably belonged somewhere better than in front of a karaoke machine with us. She also took our request to sing the only Thai song Kelly and I know, called Rak Saam Sow which translates into something about Three Lovers, or Three People In Love, I’m not sure. The gist of the song is that a girl has a great, secure boyfriend whom she loves, but she is also in love with his more dangerous and way cooler best friend. She can’t decide between the two of them, who both love her back, but lucky for her she gets hit by a car and dies so never has to make this heartbreaking decision. It is in fact a requirement that all Thai music videos involve someone dying. The more tragic the better.
On Sunday, Kelly and I were able to meet Kru Noy and Kru Daeng (her husband) in Uttaradit, a city a lot closer to Sukhothai than Tha Wang Pha, and ride with them back home. This cut our travel budget in half, and our time by three hours so it was a blessing.
That’s the news!
I have received more notices of soon-to-arrive (hopefully!) care packages from some people, and I would like to remind the rest of you that you can indeed win my heart by sending your own.
Things to consider including: things that will make me smile, things that are delicious, fun letters/notes/cards (this falls under things that make me smile), a book that you’re willing to donate to Thailand (as I will read it and then sell it to a shop to avoid the extra luggage) and if you have any photos of me with you/other friends/anything, I would LOVE something to stick up on my walls that are currently bare except for some photos of me and my parents circa 1988 mysteriously sent to me by a Siamese cat residing in Glasgow.
I’m not even kidding.
My mum insists that the cat’s owner, a good family friend is, in fact, the one who wrote the letter and sent the photos, but I personally think she underestimates the abilities of Siamese cats and should perhaps watch out for our own Siamese, Molly, who allows my parents to live with her.
Missing you all TONS! For the record, I currently have a second bed in my room which can function as a guest bed should anyone get the notion to buy a ticket half way around the world! Just think about it…
Thai lesson #5:
Juur dan mai pru nee = see you tomorrow.