#5 from Southeast Asia — New Year's in Pattaya. Blowing up the city…

#5 from Southeast Asia  — New Year’s in Pattaya.  Blowing up the city…
January 2nd, 2011,
from Jomtien, Thailand

Some are girls here, but you must find out for yourself

In front of my hotel door, the show goes on...

the Saint Vitus day's dance of frenzy

free street food all day long

I woke up to this.  It went on for 24 hours and got louder and louder.

I had heard about the New Year’s Eve party in Pattaya.  I thought that, before I die, I should see it.  So I did.   And it was unlike any other New Year’s party I have ever seen.
The New Year’s Eve party in Pattaya begins in earnest first thing in the morning.  The girls out on the street set up free buffets of delicious Thai food.  I could not walk by without them offering me free food.  Cant be free, I thought.  There must be a hitch.
“No.  Food all free.  Just come inside and drink beer with us.”  What do we say about no free lunch?

It was like this on every street, on every block, throughout the city, best I could tell.  Our street was louder and wilder than most, but there was a street party going on everywhere, with food and drink and music and dancing and costumes, cabaret,  and karaoke.  You were either invited or dragged into it.  Walking anyplace else was difficult, unlikely, and probably unnecessary.

Warfare on the beach. Things blowing up all around us

Prayer balloons burning and floating thru the sky

This prayer balloon crash landed next to me, starting a fire. Some prayer!

For the last few days you could see literally hundreds of burning floating lanterns in the sky at night.  These were miniature hot air balloons with a plastic globe and a burning sterno bowl beneath it.  Historically the Chinese have lit these for their new year.  Across the sky goes a burning lantern, carrying any remaining badness from the previous year, and inviting prosperity and blessings for the new year.  The Thais have modified this ceremony for themselves.  In reality, it means that at any one time one might see a hundred of these in the night sky.  Often they are raining fire on those below.  People quickly put out the few fires that I saw.  I guess that was part of the ‘luck’.

Russians blowing up the beachfront. I had just missed getting pixs of the cannons going off.

Anyone could shoot off any kind of fireworks from anyplace at any time.  I saw absolutely no regulation.  It was simply ‘observer beware’.  Viewers sure could use eye protection, and water.

Late in the morning on January 1st, I stumble down down my street, Soi 2nd, for coffee.  I am wading thru several centimeters of spent fireworks.  I have gotten virtually no sleep because of the war zone outside my room, punctuated by the shrill cries of dancing girls.  Something happened last night.  I realize that I have not come close to seeing it all.

Lost in translation…

There was a line in front of this place

Tired of tearing your pants apart?

Huh?

The Thai drinking age. My students would like this.

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