On one of my many trips around Singburi province I visited a village called Khai Bang Rachan, which is remembered for resistance against Burmese invaders in the Burmese-Siamese War (1765-1767). One of the most prominent monuments here is the Heroes of Khai Bang Rachan monument, which remembers the villagers who bravely fought against the Burmese. There were many more troops to villagers, but it took the Burmese eight attacks before the villagers were defeated due to shortage of weapons. The monument itself stands magnificently in impeccably kept gardens.
As we wandered around the gardens we came across a local Thai women releasing turtles. This is something you see in many places throughout Thailand where you can pay money to release a turtle into the “wild”. I have done a bit of research on this and apparently this is a traditional way of merit making for most Thai’s on a lot of occasions, such as birthdays and to bring good luck. On the surface this appears to be a nice thing to do, to release a turtle into the wild, but if you look they are all cooped up in a small, bowl –like container before being “set-free”, and then caught a few hours later and put back into the container, only to be “set-free” once more for the next paying tourist. It’s supposed to provide good luck- for you maybe, but for the turtle it is deprived of a normal life and will probably end in its death. Much better to get involved with one of the many turtle conservation projects, like the one I visited on the island of Koh Mannai, off the coast of Laem Mae Phim, where you can help to care for the turtles and learn about the work they do, breeding and releasing them into the wild (properly!)
I met so many people whilst I was in Singburi and two of those people were Dang and Wan, owners of a nearby bar which was frequented a lot. I got really friendly with them and even stayed in their house when I went back to Singburi later in the year.
Dang and Wan organised a couple of parties for us, both of which were at their house, which was opposite the bar on the other side of the river. And to get from the bar to their house the quickest, although not the easiest, way was by boat.
Their house was quite big, with a large yard at the front and a huge garden at the back and they had a stage erected in the front garden near the front gate. They had hired singers and scantily clad dancers, who became even more scantily clad as the evening wore on, much to the enjoyment of the gentlemen viewers (and some of the female ones no doubt!) That night we all got slightly (OK very) merry on copious amounts of alcohol, which we had to pay for but it was cheaper than what you would pay in a bar. There was drinking, dancing, more drinking, karaoke, nearly naked dancers, even more drinking (and if I remember rightly drinking from water guns- oh dear the things you do!)
We had a really good night and a good time was had by all-dancing and drinking the night away with everyone. After the party we had gone back to the blue house to carry on partying, so in the morning we had to do the “walk of shame”. I am sure you know, but this is the term used by my friends and myself to refer to the slow walk back home still in the clothes from the night before, trying not to draw attention to yourselves but of course you do because you are staggering around and being loud because you are still slightly drunk! I have done this many, many times in the past, and not something to be proud of, but no doubt it won’t be the last time. And always you think it is “just up the road” but actually it was quite a long walk back to where we were staying so it took ages. Probably because we were walking at a snail’s pace, and had a couple of stops to quench our raging thirst with a cola-in-a-bag (another reason to love Thailand- literally your drink is served in a little plastic bag with ice in it and a straw, and all for 10 baht- about 20p!).
Later on we went to the swimming pool in town which was a great idea, because we could nurse our hangovers and have a swim in the refreshing, cool water. However, we decided that the best way to get rid of our hangovers was hair of the dog-more beer. This remedy always, always works and is thoroughly recommended although there will be a point when you just can’t drink anymore, maybe because of work or whatever, and then the hangover will just creep up on you again, but it’s great at the time. We returned to our house later that day and went straight to Dang’s bar and proceeded to get drunk again! You know when you sometimes have those days? There is nothing to do but surrender yourself to it and have a good time.
Down the road from the bar we heard loud music and wondered where it was coming from so a few of the girls went to investigate. They came back and told us that there was a party to celebrate the ordination of a new monk and this was his farewell party before entering the temple. So being a little tipsy we decided to go and check it out and basically gate-crashed our way into the celebrations. There was more scantily clad dancers strutting their stuff on a huge stage, and loads of tables where all the party guests sat eating and drinking. Really? Half naked dancers AND copious amounts of alcohol at a monks party? Nevertheless, we got into the celebrations quickly and were dancing with the locals who were happy to hand round glasses of Thai whiskey, which is very popular amongst most Thais. You will find that the Thai people are very generous and think nothing of sharing with you and they love to party and have a good time. There was a particular woman there, who was very drunk and she kept looking at one of the girl’s (Rachel) boobs, and she kept asking for cigarettes and booze from us. She looked like she had just wandered in off the street (as we had done actually!) She even asked Rachel to go somewhere with her but Rachel politely declined and just let her get on with it.
One of the beauty’s of Thailand is that sometimes random things happen, like this party or going to watch boxing matches with Thai families, things that you would never do at home and things that the “normal” tourist wouldn’t do, and for me it is these things that make you fall in love with the place.