the.goldbrick

Nature! Spectacles! Kaboom!

It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down to write some words in the manner that this blog was started for…ruminations style that is. The truth of the matter is that my well of ruminations is damn near dry. Seriously, I live here in Phang Nga almost completely disconnected from the happenings of the outside World with access to media being high limited. No TV and an occasional Web connection. Given that, here’s what is current…

Current listening:

TM Juke & The Jack Baker Trio – Present Boto and The Second Liners
Tyrone Ashley’s Funky Music Machine – Let Me Be Your Man
Soul Jazz Records – The Dynamite Series Soundclash
Rockers Allstars – Chanting Dub With The Help of the Father
Beat Konducta – Dil Cosby Suite, Madvillainy 2, WLIB AM
P.U.T.S. – Fun DMC / Funner Than Leather Mixtape
Menahan Street Band – Make the Road by Walking
Studio One Roots Volumes 1, 2, 3
Tru Thoughts – Shapes 08:01 / 08:02
Thievery Corporation – Radio Retaliation
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Segu Blue
Ohmega Watts – Eyes and Ears EP
Belleruche – The Express
The Bamboos – Side-Stepper
Alton Ellis – Cry Tough

Current viewing:
Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest
Gorillaz: Demon Days Live
Be Kind Rewind
Baadasssss!
Balls of Fury

As the calendar has flipped to October back in the ATL, I’m missing the Fall and the related activities that coincide with the season. Cool days and crisp nights, kickoffs, changing wardrobes, trees hintin’ at vibrant colors, playoffs at the ballpark, the NBA season getting close to tippin’ off, shows, the L5P Halloween parade, and gathering on porches with jackets, vibes, and brews.

As the calendar has flipped to October here in Thailand, I’m anticipating the clear and sunny skies that’ll be pushing the rain away sometime soon and I’m diggin’ the Vegetarian Festival that just finished throughout the south of Thailand which was filled with body modifications, delicious food, massive amounts of fireworks, grand processions from the shrines, and jaw-dropping spectacles left and right. Jui Tui Procession. Saphan Hin Finale. Insanity.

A recent excursion about a month ago landed me in Trang via Phang Nga and Krabi. With a loose itinerary in mind, I went straight to Trang Town where I spent a couple days checking out the area. I headed further south to Laem Tasae the first afternoon to catch a boat out to Koh Lao Liang, but was deterred by both the rough seas and the boatmen wanting to rip me off, as this was a place that foreigners rarely show up at. No worries though, it was back into town where I spent the evening at the market and hangin’ out around town.

***I finally purchased a new camera recently, so enjoy some of the views that my eyes beheld. Simply writing this without images to complement the words would make this post highly lacking as the descriptive vocabulary to create the imagery in your head simply doesn’t exist.***

Trang Tuk Tuk

Old Style Tuk Tuk in Trang Town

Trang RR Tracks

Railroad Crossing in Trang Town

(First time I’ve seen one of those in nearly 2 years)

The next day I opted to check out some islands closer to shore and, fortunately, the weather was on my side. I departed from Pak Meng Beach and the boatman told me that Koh Ngai would be a chill spot for me to stay, so I took his word. He also asked for some extra cash and, in return, he took me to explore the area for the entire day. Snorkeling and spear fishing in coral reefs around Koh Ma, Koh Chuak, and Koh Waen was the agenda for the day. Amazing adventure, but a bit unnerving when we’d anchor next to a karst and he’d disappear from sight for 30 minutes or more. We (or should I say ‘he’) speared a couple fish, but he told me the waters at deeper depths where the bigger fish lurk weren’t as clear as usual due to recent storms in the area. Thrilling for me nonetheless.

Pak Meng Beach

Pak Meng Beach, Trang

The Hope Over Koh Ngai

The Hope Over Koh Ngai

As the sun began to set, he took me to Koh Ngai where I stayed for the next day or so. Low season for sure. I was the only person there outside of the people who live there. The next morning I went to Koh Muk and visited Tam Morakot, or the Emerald Cave, which is a hidden beach accessible only by swimming through an 80-meter cave during low tide. Once you’ve made the journey past the stalactites, the other end opens up into a white-sand lagoon surrounded by limestone walls. After spending some time there, we made the swim back out and as we approached the entrance, I realized the place was true to its name as the water exuded a deep, turquoise hue and glistened from the rays of light hitting it from the outside. While swimming out I was yelling “That’s why I come here…Nature! Goulet!” Spectacular scenery.

Entrance to Tam Morakot, Trang

Entrance to Tam Morakot (credit: Boris Kester)

Inside Tam Morakot, Trang

Inside Tam Morakot after the 80-meter swim (credit: Boris Kester)

It was off to Koh Kradan to relax for a bit and snorkel in the waters. Unfortunately, I wasn’t with the guy from the day before, but rather with two teenagers from the bungalows who had little desire to just chill out on the waters and roam around to take in the gorgeous surroundings. They fired the engine up as soon as I got back to the boat and made a beeline back to Koh Ngai. Hitting the bamboo bong and drinking a Singha is what they did as soon as we got back which made it obvious that they just wanted to get the job done and return home.

Koh Waen, Trang

Snorkeling off Koh Kradan, Trang

Whatever, coming back early gave me the opportunity to hike over the hills in the afternoon and relax on the beach on the other side. Not a far hike, but the path to get there was everything but a clear-cut path. I got a laugh when a man pointed me toward the path and, when I looked in that direction, he was simply pointing at vegetation and trees with no sign of anything that said “Start here.” I made my way there, made it back, ate some dinner, chilled out, and in the evening I witnessed a thunderstorm out on the water unlike any I’ve ever seen before with the entire sky being lit up by massive pure white flashes spanning the whole horizon. Made my heart skip a beat the first time I saw it from the shore. Nice to watch though since the view from the island was directed toward Koh Ma, Koh Chuak, and Koh Waen which were all illuminated each time the lightning struck.

Koh Ngai, Krabi

Clear skies over Koh Ngai, Trang

It was time to head back the next day, but I had to hold out for a while when a storm came rushing in as we were getting ready to take the 45-minute trip back to the mainland. Finally, we left and the weather wasn’t so bad back in Trang. I made my way up to Ao Luk in Krabi, stayed over for a night, and then came back to home to Phang Nga the next day.

Koh Ngai, Krabi

Stormy skies over Koh Ngai, Trang

It was back to the grind again for a few weeks, but last weekend, I made my way down to Phuket Town to experience the Vegetarian Festival once again. It definitely did not disappoint in the least bit. The Jui Tui Shrine parade and the Saphan Hin finale are easily two of my favorite days of the year here in Thailand. In the evenings, I ventured out to gorge myself with fantastic foods and to check out the shrine near my old house to watch the spirit mediums climb up 30-foot ladders with steps made of razor blades and run across a 15-foot pile of hot coals. Impressive.

Guan Ou Shrine, Takuapa, Phang Nga

Mah Song Robes, Guan Ou Shrine, Takuapa

Guan Ou Shrine, Takuapa, Phang Nga

Sword Collection, Guan Ou Shrine, Takuapa

Jui Tui Shrine Parade, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Procession, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Parade, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Procession, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Parade, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Procession, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Parade, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Procession, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Parade, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Procession, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Parade, Phuket Town

Jui Tui Shrine Procession, Phuket Town

The beauty of the area I reside in and the atmosphere and substance of the Vegetarian Festival are the reasons that make me love living here. For the festival, it’s not just down in Phuket. In the village I live in, they did the same sort of activities. The community all comes out to cook their own special food and to either take part or observe. Overall, it was a nice reminder of the vast differences that exist between here and back home in the ATL. Life here can be just as repetitive as it was back home with the daily routines, but getting out to explore and witnessing these events are when I sometimes just take a step back and remember where I am. This place truly is called “Amazing Thailand” for a reason. Back home in Kuk Kak, Phang Nga now. Till next time…Guidance.

Kuk Kak, Phang Nga

Kuk Kak, Phang Nga

Tung Kamin, Phang Nga

View from my front porch, Tung Kamin, Phang Nga

Underneath the Smog
Change We Need

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