Thailand: Halloween

I wake up to the sound of rain falling against the rusty rooftops just outside my window. It’s a beautiful sort of rain. The kind that comes crashing, refreshes the air, and then leaves. I fall back to sleep, but when I wake up the air is as hot, sticky, and humid as it had been yesterday. The rain gave a false sense of hope.

Ilona and I plan our day around figuring out how and when to go to north. We visit a travel office by our hotel and find two tickets for an over-night train to Chiang Mai. The trip is 14 hours long and we leave at 12:45 tomorrow, which has us scheduled for a 4:30am arrival. What we are going to do in Chiang Mai at 4:30am is a mystery to me, but we have our trusty Lonely Planet guidebook so hopefully it will offer some suggestions…

After booking our tickets we walk around the streets of Bangkok through markets and down busy streets with lots of shops and tailors. I buy some fresh watermelon from a portable cart on the sidewalk as a snack while we’re walking around. We find two costume masks for 100 baht ($3ish) and each get one because tonight is Halloween!

We go back to our hotel and get ready to go out to a celebration at a nearby bar. Obviously Halloween isn’t big in Thailand but we’re on Khaosan Road with a bunch of backpackers. There was bound to be something going on.
When we leave our hotel wearing our masks, we can’t help but notice that we are the only people in any form of costume. It’s still early though, so we continue onto the bar, being stopped a couple of times by people taking photos of us and our “costumes”. Even when we arrive at the bar our server asks if she can take a photo of us on her cell phone to print out and post in the restaurant, which I think is pretty adorable.

We run into the same guys we met last night and sit down to have a beer. We all leave the bar when we get hungry, and walk down a couple streets over to a pizza place. I am more than happy to agree to eat something as boring as pizza for dinner tonight, if my other options are anything like the fried crickets yesterday. The menu has many Asian-influenced pizzas with seafood toppings, and I consider ordering one of these because I am in Thailand after all, but can’t bring myself to do it. I am still too mentally scarred from the bad experience I had with seafood pizza in Hong Kong so many years ago (ie. got so sick I thought I had SARS). Instead, I order a Hawaiian pizza, which takes forever to get to the table, but exceeds expectations taste-wise. After dinner we go for a walk around the area where the Halloween festivities are now in full swing. Lots of people have gotten their faces painted, or are wearing masks but I don’t see a lot of full-on costumes. We pass countless massage places that have chairs set up outside on the sidewalk so you can people watch as you get a massage, so we do it. A half-hour massage in Thailand costs 150 baht (5 dollars), and it is SO relaxing that I think I might fall asleep. Ilona and I manage to stay awake, but the boys start to feel tired afterwards and go home.

The night is still young, so we sit down at another outdoor bar while huge crowds of people flow past us through the busy street. They have blocked the road from use for cars, (I’m not sure if this is just for the Halloween festivities or all the time) though the odd motorbike will crawl by, stuck behind groups of slow moving people. We meet two more guys, this time from Ireland, not Scotland, while we are sitting at our table. They have been to Thailand a few times before and have also lived in Australia, so they give us lots of suggestions for where to stay, where to go, and what to do. They invite us to come with them to a nightclub that is just a short tuk-tuk ride away. On the way there our driver is popping wheelies, at the request of one of the Irish boys. It’s slightly terrifying…but no one dies so it’s fine. We get to the club and it’s… well… it’s a club. Colourful lights, flashy bar, top 40 remixes, sweaty people, the usual. I’m not usually a club goer, but it’s fun all the same.

People here party until 6am on a regular night, and I don’t dare stay up long enough to find out if it’s longer on special occasions, so when Ilona and I get tired we leave the club and go back to our hotel. We have a train to catch to Chiang Mai tomorrow at 12:45, and my bag is still half unpacked and all over the room, so I need to get up early enough to pack everything back up. Living out of a backpack is not as easy as it looks! But I’m loving the challenge to keep myself more organized, and so far, I haven’t left anything behind!

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