Thailand 2010 Notes

05 April 2010

Arrived in Koi Samui, after a few days in Bangkok, spent with my parents. We took in the usual sights – a visit to the Grand Palace, a canal boat ride, a tour to the floating markets, a trip into the city to buy dad a new camcorder with digital hard drive and a ride on a tuk-tuk.

The most interesting part for me was that our hotel was right in the heart of the red-shirts protest zone. That made it a very noisy 36 hours, with constant sloganeering and speechifying over the load speakers set up about 250 metres from the hotel (including throughout the night). I didn’t really mind. The protests were all peaceful (at that stage) and it was interesting having such a close-up window on a rising social resistance movement.

My 3 hour speech on Friday – hosted at the Thailand Stock Exchange, with sponsorship and support from Thai Health Promotion Fund and NGO Business Partnership – seemed to go down well. Certainly, it was an honour to be the expert guest, with over 150 participants. I also took my parents to the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant, a social enterprise to promote awareness on safe sex and HIV/AIDS with décor made from condoms and pills.

17 April 2010

I haven’t written since arriving at Koh Samui. On the Tuesday before my sister’s wedding, both sets of families and friends had a day of adventures together, travelling by boat from Koh Samui to various islands for snorkelling, kayaking, and hiking to an enclosed lagoon (where they filmed The Beach, I think). The snorkelling along a small coral reef was amazing; definitely something I’d like to do more of, or even scuba diving. Mom, Dad and I also spent a day exploring some of the Buddhist and Hindu temples, including a giant gold statues of Buddha and a 12-armed goddess.

The bachelor party the night before the wedding was lots of fun. After dinner, we headed to the part of the island where all the night-life happens. The open-air, circular bars were quite an eye opener, with girls serving drinks, playing games (like Jenga) with customers and pole dancing (fully clothed), all while trying to entice clients into buying more than just a drink. Very bizarre.

The wedding itself in Koh Samui was really lovely – an idyllic setting, beautiful floral arrangements, thoughtful words of love in the ceremony and grand finale with an elephant ride for the bride and groom. The setting meant that everyone was fairly relaxed; I even wore my crocs! The size of the wedding also meant that it was quite intimate. My sister looked absolutely stunning and it all went off wonderfully.

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