..please keep in mind in this edition of the croftee blog that whenever I say "champagne" i really mean "sparkling wine." there is NO champagne in Pai
06.11.2008 - 07.11.2008 26 °C
That is the sound of the entire world heaving a HUGE sigh of relief that we don't have ANOTHER republican president. It was around 11 AM Thailand time when Obama stepped up on Aljazzerra News to give his acceptance speech. I was in an open air restaurant called Tik Kitchen on the main street of Pai, Thailand. I looked around the table and saw Canadians, French, Germans, Thais, and Dutch; all eyes glued to the television. A few of us were tearful, others were smiling and clapping our hands, still others were just silent with relief.
Obama's speech was good. I'm not going to say great, because I've heard him give better, and I known he's capable of more. But the speech was not over done, which is to say he did a good job in not rubbing his victory in anyones face. He did a good job in including a historical perspective on change: and myself and others got caught up in the "yes we can!" refrain he's become known for.
That evening there was celebration in the air. I hunted all around Pai for champagne, and finally found some in, of all places, a bakery. One by one, two by two, familiar faces and new ones gathered at Jekko's Bar. It's a tiny stand right on the street with a few stools outside, and Jekko is playing his laptop and keeping the mood up-tempo.
Dam and Jane toast to Obama over Mai Tais
Around 15 of us had gathered, and I asked the bartender for 15 shot glasses, amid resounding cheers and camera flashes, Croftee burst open the champagne. She poured out 15 little shots of champagne and passed them round to everyone, including the bartender.
Amir (dutch), Ingo (German/American) and MOI-toasting champagne!
Amir and Croft and some LOVELY orchids!
We all raised out glasses and toasted Obama, Yes we Can!, To a Bright Four Years, and No More Bush!
But that wasn't all we had to do.
In the thai tradition of OUT WITH THE OLD, we walked down the street to a lantern vendor. We all purchased lanterns and then skipped, frolicked, and generally made merry down to the bridge over the Pai River.
Croft, Amir, Jane, Dam, and Roman with lanterns in hand.
The mountain air is cool compared to the heat of the day. The water of the Pai river rushes under the bridge and seems to celebrate with us. As we light the wax inside of our lanterns, motorcyclists and pedestrians pass by and slow and stop to watch. The Thai tradition is to write on the inside of the lantern all the negative things that have happened in the last year and let it go as the lantern rises to the sky. We all have had etched in our hearts the oppression, manipulation, and lies of the world leader of the "supposed" greatest country on earth, who for the last 8 years has abused his power and wrecked the reputation of nation. Our intentions were to set fire to this past, and let it float away into the atmosphere, into the past-not to be forgotten, but to apart from us so that it can not hurt us anymore.
It was a really spiritual night spent with many friends. But much more fun stuff is to come.
Except for a minor setback: I did get really ill the next day, and I"d intended to go to Sappong. Instead I spent the day and evening throwing up. No good. They tell you to beware of any fruit of vegetable that hasn't been cooked or peeled, and I've followed that advice to a tee, except for some sliced raw tomatoes I had for breakfast the day before...the culprit perhaps!?!?
If you get sick in Pai, don't worry! Everyone gets sick on their travels at least once, its nearly inevitable. In a place like Pai, you're likely to make so many friends so quickly, that someone will be there to take care of you. Once you're up for eating, there are tons of good veggie noodle soup places to sooth your aching tummy. There are also good places to get freshly baked whole wheat bread (usually hard to find in Thailand), and of course ginger ale can be had at the 7/11.
Luckily by 9pm I felt well enough to emerge from bed for the aforementioned noodle soup and I even watched a movie at the movie house. Its cool because they have mattresses and pillows all set up on the floor and several rooms, so you can pick your DVD among, literally hundreds, and watch!! I watched Knocked Up. It was an astonishingly good film, considering it's subject matter!! The characters were all developed with a surprising amount of complexity-the issues were pertinent, and the humor-well-just too easy to relate to!
I've got more AMAZING stories and PHOTOS of what happened today! Stay tuned!