Monday, 22 November 2010

From Marathong to Loy Kratong . . .

Please excuse the misspelling on Marathon - I find the mistake so absurd that I have chosen to say that I ran the Bkk Mini-Marathong rather than marathon. can you imagine how funny that would be? Although there is nothing really that funny about waking up before sunrise on a Sunday morning to run but it was thoroughly worth it, every drop of sweat. The running route is extremely scenic and beautiful, to have the normally very busy streets of old Bangkok clear for running is definitely, albeit I found the marathon itself to be poorly organised considering it is in its 23rd year. Sure I am a newbie at this but you would think after 23 years of organising the same event, they should get it right . . .there was nowhere near enough water, the registration system was a pain and come on, bag drop with NUMBERS means that it could be arranged in numerical order.

Nonetheless, the run, which is what we were really all there for, was amazing. It was a temple and bridge run through old Bangkok weaving back and forth between Ratanakosin Island and thonburi with the first breaking light of day.

I only did the 10 k, that is enough for me (for now), Lee and his buddies are much more fit and serious runners, they did 21 km. The full marathon is 42 km and that is for mega-fit people, the elite runners finishing that in under 3 hours!

Lee and I
I thnk I have almost mastered the art of running correctly, my abs hurt, then again, it could be because brekkie with three very funny guys. Could not help to think whilst running how fab running gear could be. If we got our hands on designing some. A hint to Nike!

I had gone to sleep very early the night before as I wanted to get a full night's rest. I woke up to see a NY number on my phone, I knew that my friend Waris was arriving but was just not sure when. I found out later that the late night call was because he found himself in a situation that he described as being straight out a movie, at Bkk airport, totally surreal and really is not something that I will write about here. Let's just say, in developing countries like Thailand, well, some plots are exclusive to ours and rather absurd. Waris made it through as I made through my very early morning run and we rendez vous'ed for tea. Waris came with a friend of his, Paula, who incidentally I had met in Seoul last year at the Prada Transformer (she used to work at Prada) and now lives in Bali and even knows Hamish. The world is small.

To celebrate Loy Kratong, we had decided earlier, Nat and I, that we would do Loy Kratong - proper Thai-style and go to a local temple fair/party (ngan wat) at Golden Mountain Temple. Nat and the boys even dressed up for it. The plan was to arrive by klong boat, we are tourists in our own town and did not know the boats had ended for the day, so tuk tuk it was to Golden Mountain.

Waris and I

What the fair promised was gold old-fashion fun, neon lights, ghosts, lots of food and lots of young people. Nat bought me a pink elephant balloon so I would not get lost and we can all look up to the pink elephant and find each other. It worked.

Highlights were the dunking girls . .

Ferris wheel and haunted house

The old-fashioned vintage freak show (ghosts, Siamese twins etc etc)

The red-wrapped pagoda on the mountain which we decided not to climb.
Basically, it felt like we had entered the universe of Apichatpong, which is really Thailand, one full of neon lights, curiosities and fun in a simple almost innocent way (so much pink and so many teddy bears).

We created a ritual of our own, the passing of the pink elephant, I passed her on to P'Boyy. I felt a bit insecure going through the crowd without it to get to the exit but we survived.

Waris and I left the crew to go to his friend's house on the river to catch the annual Loy Kratong fireworks, a light show on the river, it felt like my third light show of the day.

Last year, my view was from P'Eric's boat and we could almost feel the heat. This time it was from a balcony on the 12th floor, right on the river next to the Shangri- La - it was like the light flowers would fall on us. The wait felt like an eternity, we became like annoying children staring at our blackberries hoping that would make the fire works start quicker - alas at 10.15 pm - with a big bang - literally - it started.

It was like watching exploding supernovas. It was well worth it. Every moment.

Then we went to float our kratongs. The lady added a betel nut and betel leaf as apparently the river goddess likes to chew them.

Waris and his kratong

My kratong this year . . .

The river by the pier was a bit turbulent but my little kratong was a resilient one, seeing as she was going to collide with a boat, she survived much longer than we thought she would. Tough little cookie (actually banana stalk),and with her went my thank you to the goddess who gives us life, floating the kratong with a pink flag and incense and flowers is like offering her a present (a biodegradable one).

I made my wish (2 actually) and sent her off . . .

What a beautiful day and night it was, truly magnetic, energy filled and with so much light. One probably should not expect anything less on the day and night of the full moon of 12th month of the lunar calender. When the river is full and the moon is bright, supernovas and goddesses come out, it is the festival of light after all.

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