So it’s the last day of the year 2556 (Thai people use the Solar calendar from the Buddhist Era which started 543 years before the Christian Era!) and it is was going to be a mental one.
Having been throwing up all night, I was not sure how the day would go, but as I don’t like to moan or mope, I soldiered on.
I had my own little early celebration and bought a T-shirt and some pants. God I know how to party! We knew that it was going to be a heavy night so we took it nice and easy for the day. We decided that we would brave it down Bangla Road for when the celebrations were happening. Normally, this road is crazy. People pulling you from one way to another trying to get you into their clubs with the promise of free shots and cheap drinks and seedy men trying to get you into their bars which, like the “food market” in Bangkok, have ladies performing various orifice shows! We had no idea what to expect on the biggest night of the year.
Stef’s cousin Paul told us that this year, there would be a free party on the beach. This sounded great and as neither Stef nor I had ever celebrated new years on a beach we decided that would be the place to be! We left our hotel in our party clothes (pretty much shorts, t-shirts and flip flops – It’s 27 degrees at night so nobody really wears glamorous clothes!) and set up for the night. We had dinner at an Irish pub called, The Irish Times. Having not eaten anything for about 24 hours, I decided to take it easy and ordered a rack of ribs. Stef ordered pork chops with applesauce. Stef cracked on with the beer but I took it easy with a manly coke – when the waitress brought them over, she gave me the beer. It was just a bit embarrassing having to swap them in front of her.
After a while, out came the food. My ribs were massive and coated with a delicious sauce. I had to give in and leave the last rib. My stomach just couldn’t stretch that far. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with the Man Vs. Food challenges that are going to present themselves to me in the States. But I’m putting this defeat down to me being ill. After the meal we started on the drinks. £2 a pint and that’s expensive out here. I even got Stef on the pints. The glasses looked really massive in her small hands, but Dad always said to go with a girl with small hands…
We headed towards Bangla Road from the restaurant, which wasn’t a way we were familiar with. However, it wasn’t a problem as we were heading in the way of the beach along with hundreds of others!
As we got onto the main road which junctions with Bangla Road, we were met with bodies everywhere. And we weren’t even on Bangla yet! When we did turn onto Bangla, it was mental. It was just a normal sized street but you just couldn’t move. It was absolutely rammed – people were shoulder to shoulder. Stef gripped my hand and we started the journey. As always, there were the locals selling their tat. However, today, they were selling cans of silly string and snow spray that everyone was snapping up. You couldn’t move a foot without someone spraying you in the face. Every now and again, you’d see one of these street sellers literally covered in string. Brilliant. We made our way to “The White Room” which is where Stef’s cousin works just to say hello. It is situated on a little turn off from the main road. It was a relief to get out of the madness to get our breath back. After a short time, we braved it again and headed back into the human jungle to the other end of Bangla Road where the beach is situated. A journey, which would normally take 5 minutes by day, took us nearly 30+. When we got to the end, there was a cross junction which normally had cars flying past. Some stupid drivers had decided to make it a part of their journey that night and it was probably the biggest mistake of their year! The police were trying to direct traffic but they might as well have given up. There were too many people and the cars were not going anywhere. Bibbing cars and people with silly string don’t go together that well, with only one real loser!
We got to the beach with 20 minutes to go until midnight. We were presented with a big stage with a DJ on it. It was playing loud house/dance music. I actually quite enjoyed it. Not that much that I danced, but I did enjoy it nether the less. The beach was rammed like Bangla, but it was worth it. There were fireworks going off all around and hundreds of Chinese lanterns in the sky. I’ve never experienced such a thing before; it was amazing.
With 10 minutes to go, the mayor of Patong (I assigned him that title as we weren’t really sure who he was) got up on the stage and started gearing up all of us revelers. He was an old man but he loved it – he’d ask where people were from and then get a reaction when he shouted it through the mike. With 5 minutes to go. He began the countdown. As I explained earlier, Thai use the Solar Calendar for their dates. “Thai Time” is unique as well; it’s what ever it needs to be, whenever it needs to be. The “clock” hit 12 and everyone went mental as usual. The music was cranked back up and everyone started dancing. Apart from me. Obviously.
After a while, we headed back to “The White Room” to have a few drinks. This was more of a mission than getting to the beach. There was no order. People were going one way on one side, people going the other way on the other side. Nah forget that, go where you want. It took about 10 minutes to go a couple of foot. I was getting rubbed up every which way. There was no need for me to pay for a massage the next day!
Covered in silly string, we made it. As they refuse to have bins in Thailand, the streets were covered in silly string cans. If you looked down to see where you were going, you were vulnerable and got sprayed in the face with string. If you kept your head up to make sure you didn’t get sprayed, you tripped on the cans. It was a lose lose battle! We had a beer and after a long night we walked very slowly back to our hotel. We still had to walk the remainder of Bangla.
Like quite a few times on this trip, this was one that we’ll definitely remember for the rest of our lives.