July, 2010

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Cowboys & Indians – Bikers in Thailand

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind

A lot of rubber is burned on the asphalt, when the great hordes of Thai bikers converge on Ayutthaya once a year for the Cowboy and Indian party. No TAT (Tourist Authority of Thailand) in sight, to promote such an event – it isn’t geared as a show-off to tourists in bulk and also not a profit generator for anybody, just for the bikers and their fans. Wheelies are performed here by the boys and girls on their steel horses, clad in black leather or other outfits. The fun begins at sundown and involves a quarter of the city near the bus station, that is usually dedicated to Karaoke-bars and Massage-parlors.

Riders came from near and far, big customized bikes are their trademark. Every new arrival is beeing greeted with cheers and kisses from the Squaws and Cowgirls.:kiss

The prices to participate are unbelievably low, they really lure big bikers from a large radius on the roadmaps to Ayutthaya for this event. The 300 Baht (under 10 US-$) inlude all night food and drinks. Alcoholic beverages (firewater) are not excluded!:P

Besides a great buffet, there are several BBQs on-site and live music from local bands. Country music goes well with the crowd and the mood is great.

Some Indians showed up with their chief dress-ups, others in warrior garb. About 100 followed the call to the ancient capital of Thailand. For the price of a single drink in Bangkok’s clubs, you can eat all you want here, get drunk (some did, they camped out for the night later) and play games or dance. I call this fun-maximizing and skip the expensive Bangkok clubs again anytime for this.

Some of the squaws were hard to resist ;(, but my number one squaw was naturally coming along and she demonstrated later in the tomahawk-toss, that axes and tomahawks were nothing new to her (she trailed the later winner of the ladycup throughout the whole contest, only by very small margins).

Their Northamerican brothers would have been proud of their Thai tribesmen, the firewater did flow freely all night. Except for the long gun shooting, the Indians sacked the Cowboys badly in every type of contest.

All of the Karaoke girls were then invited to join and quit their job for the day, most followed much to the dismay of their pimps and customers, we all had a great time.

The long gun contest was dominated by a female cowgirl, who was celebrated wildly by the crowd. This great looking gal would have made every western show in the states a hit, as she had a great aim and wonderful party spirit. She shot 3 times a burning candle on top of a bottle in 50 m distance in a way, that the candle tumbled into the small amount of gasoline inside the Kratingdaeng (Red Bull, original formula) bottle and lit it up in a fireball. Calamity Jane couldn’t have done that better. She used a 30-30 lever action Winchester for that with no scope! She also took a victorious first place in the shotgun contest on paper silhouettes.

A lot of beauty was to be seen here and everyone had so much fun, many trophies were awarded later. The event organizers scored big with the guests, as almost no one ended up empty handed.

Cherokee, Navahos, Apache and Chippewah, many known Indian tribes and nations were present, at least their traditional costumes, all hand made and great looking.

This Iroquois warrior was the champ in lasso and cow wrestling contests, he also won the practical joker pedestal, when he lost his hip-cloth accidently and walked naked through the camp to get a replacement dress.

I was definitively underdressed here, but a welcomed guest at the event. They told me, that they never had a foreigner traveling here with his steel horse before. This happened quite a few times before, that I was greeted as the first long nosed pale-face at a regular happening, festival or event. It pays for me to not go with the tourist and expat hordes and hang around with my local buddies occasionally, I get to see and witness so much more.

We will sure be back here in Ayutthaya to smoke a peace-pipe and have a ton of fun, but then I will dig out my Stetson and the boots and will surely book a local teepee for the night, so I can participate in the firewater fun.;)

The 2010 Koh Chang Chronicles – Week 2

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind

This is the sequel to week 1 of the Koh Chang Chronicles, it will cover week 2 of our second summer 2010 trip, with the usual updates.

To get some actual facts on travel options and how to get here, check our 2010 report on Koh Chang travel options.

Day 8 (July 12th)

Today marks the second leg of our current trip to Koh Chang. We hope to share some of the beauty here with you and give you some travel ideas. Koh Chang covers the whole spectrum of accommodations from bamboo huts for a few hundred Baht to DeLuxe Resorts with plenty of stars for over 5 figures in daily rates. Here are some rather basic beach accommodations, quite a few kilometers to the south of White Sand Beach

Today was also a special day with a birthday bash for our host, the owner of the Top Resort. He invited every guest and plenty of his friends to come and celebrate.

Your Team Hinigugma will be enhanced by Rogielyn’s photos here, she’s a good friend of ours and a perfect auntie for Teddy too:).

It was a fun filled event with mountains of free food and drinks being served. The generous host is famed for his splendid catering for all kinds of events, so I learned from other guests during some chitchat at the party. He hosted a great number of weddings and all kinds of parties. The F & B manager is a master at his field and supplies his bakery goods, wines and delicatessen throughout Koh Chang and the neighboring islands.

This party was cool and all party guests had much fun. Dancing lasted well into the night. The entire resort celebrated, guests and staff alike.

Jhez, the Filipino baker victimized a lot of his female co-workers by tossing them in the pool. But they retaliated smartly and organized the dumper being dumped. Mr. Gaeng, an assistant manager, who is well trained and physically fit, choreographed this toss much to the delight of the female crew.

We went to bed late, but our bungalow is only meters from the party site. More explorations of the other beaches and sites here on Koh Chang are on our agenda for the remaining days, as long as the weather doesn’t play foul.


Day 9

Accommodation on Koh Chang comes for all budgets. Simple bamboo huts are still to be found in locations south of White Sand Beach, some are rather run down and without any facilities, others are in prime location on fantastic beaches. Take a pick according to your budget and taste.  

Food on Koh Chang is not a hard to get commodity. Specify your likings and pick a location to grab your proteins and vitamins. Some restaurants have seating on the beach, a great choice for a sunset-dinner, just make sure to have an insect-repellent on hand.

There are many choices on Koh Chang. Besides great Thaifood and seafood everywhere, we have spotted a Mexican restaurant and a Steakhouse right in the village of White Sand Beach. Khlong Prao also sports a variation of eateries and Bang Bao has a reputation for Seafood. We’ll dig more into this and will inform you accordingly in a future update.:)


Day 10

Another day with exceptional weather, we are seriously thinking about an extension of the previously planned time here, we just have so much fun and the well working WiFi within the Top Resort lets us do some minor work with the aid of my old laptop just like at home. Did meet Micky, the Manager of a resort property on neighboring Koh Mak again, he spends his leisure time on the more active Koh Chang. We learned about a daily fire-show on the beach and Martin captured the event later. For tomorrow, we will visit some waterfall, and maybe the Laguna Beach.


Day 11

Martin and Vivien went for an elephant ride experience with a bath along with the pachyderms, the weather again was as perfect as a holidaying person wishes for. We have absolutely no reason to complain about anything. We have decided to stay as long as we can, here in paradisic Koh Chang. A few more phonecalls have to be made and a few meetings postponed, but that task can be accomplished. Wish us luck for the remaining days, it’s “Rainy Season” in Thailand – but obviously not on Koh Chang!

Laguna Beach marks the southernmost point on Koh Chang’s ring road, which remains uncompleted for a short stretch of road (200m) since at least 6 years. A large resort occupies this area, but they seem to have no guests staying at their fancy boats, which have been dragged onshore. The beach here is narrow, but almost tourist-free.


Day 12

There are quite a few waterfalls on Koh Chang, neither one is spectacular on a global scale, but the Thais treasure every small creek coming down their hill slopes and rocks. Unfortunately they see every one (but the Nakhon Nayok ones) as a profit center and play their ugly pricing game with foreign visitors. Foreigners are asked to pay a 10 times inflated fee to view these meager falls. Neither Melona nor me felt urged to toss our money away for this.

Martin is here for the first time and needed to check some out. Khlong Phlu is one of them and offers a small and shallow pool for swimming.

The slippery granite rocks draw much attention by the predominantly young crowd, but quite a few visitors to Koh Chang shy away from the very rough walkways from the parking lot to the falls. In the case of Khlong Phlu it is only 700 meters.

Swimming here is only for the brave and tough, as the water is fairly cold and not really deep. Plenty of nasty mosquitos here, but another adventurous option for others.


Day 13

Today we were lazy again, a bit of beachc ombing and a great homemade lunch with friends filled most of the day, then some pool activity that lasted long into the night. For tomorrow we have plans to take a boat trip to some secret snorkeling reefs, you will see the video later here – weather for the boat ride permitting.


Day 14

This is the final day of our week 2 here, the weather looked promising in the morning and we set out for the snorkeling trip. Pickup at the Top Resort was at 8 AM, a songtheauw was sent to bring us all to Bang Bao. 500 Baht was the price for the whole trip, that included pick-up and return transport to the hotel, the boat trip with 4 scheduled stops and all kinds of food plus free water and coffee. Not a bad deal, as we soon found out..

The boat was a large wooden vessel with a capacity of about 100 people, we left with 4 guides and roughly 25 persons. First stop was at a micro island far out at sea, it took the boat 90 minutes to get there. Snorkeling there was a smacker, as there were plenty of corals with myriads of smaller fish to watch. Almost everyone circled the island, the reefs were in 2 to 3 meters depth and there was a lot to see. Unfortunately, our camera is not water resistant, but we took a video for you, which we will add here tomorrow.

The 2nd stop was at a beach with great swimming and snorkeling options, the crew prepared 3 different tasty Thai dishes for lunch. Stop 3 was again some islet with plenty of corals and fish, the entire trip was a lot of fun. Why pay multiples of the 500 Baht in Phuket or elsewhere for a fun day out at sea with snorkel gear and food provided.

What you see here in those two picture is actually Koh Wai, our 4th and final stop. Snorkeling from the beach was called for, visibility was good and again we saw so many different colorful fish. We really enjoyed this as our final activity on this trip to Koh Chang and we did promise our friends here to be back next month for another vacation in this tropical paradise and we’re lucky – due to the season, the Top Resort shows still some vacancy for the second half of August, we’ll be back for sure.

The final evening was spent on the terrace at Paul’s Restaurant in the Top Resort, another great meal accompanied by a fabulous sunset lightshow. Paul created another of his signature dishes and the tremendous wine selection did once again round off a splendid feast.

We conclude this trip report and wish you all could witness beautiful Koh Chang for yourself.

The rooms in the Top Resort, White Sand Beach currently sell fast for the reduced rate of under 1000 Baht per room-night. Maybe we’ll meet you there one day!