Railay Beach con’t…

November 12, 2011-(journal excerpt)-Last night I was saying that we havent had rain here in the evening like you often see and about 15 minutes later it started pouring continuing well into the night.  Usually after dinner we walk around the beach but we couldn’t do much without getting soaked so we went back to our room and watched a movie (terrible-The Adjustment Bureau) on the computer.  Today it is still cloudy which we don’t mind so much as we told ourselves we’d spend one day out of the sun to nurse our burns.  We spent a bit of time swimming in the pool instead of the coean where it is a bit more shaded and met an American couple just briefly as they were on their way to lunch.

Tomorrow we will get up earlier and go to Ao Nang and Krabi as a day trip to see about getting a voltage converter as we are worried about charging our new computer and blowing the battery like M just did with his razor for the second time. 

A lot has changed here-there seems to be almost a desire to move this place away from the backpacker haven it used to be towards the more upscale family oriented resort island.  A new resort has been built on the shabby east side where we stay and gone are the DVD’s for sale and the movies playing in the restaurant at night and even the bookstores are gone here.  The place is riddled with Russians, the retired and little kids with their parents.  I certainly don’t expect a place to never change-beautiful places inevitably get discovered and I have no more claim to this area than anyone else who is here, but as M says, he feels maybe a small piece of his love for this place dies each time he comes here and we wonder if anyplace is unspoiled anymore.  Maybe there are no more secret places and we don’t deserve to know about them anymore than anyone else.  We are also here to take, exploit and leave…

Today our place was descended upon by a massive family of monkeys-they ran all along the rooftops, rifling through the garbage cans and tipping them over, pulling out 1/2 full yoghurt containers and first eating with a spoon and then their hands by the dripping handful.  Some annoyingly loud newcomers to our bungalow strip started feeding them biscuits only to have the package ripped from his hand as the little fucker ran for the rooftop.  From the asshole monkeys, to the bitchy woman in the mini-mart to ourselves-we are all here to take from each other what we can get. 

November 10 was Loy Kratong-an important holiday for Thais and apparently the last major one until New Years.   Beautiful “Kratong” are constructed from plants and flowers-a base made of a sawed segment of some kind of tree and is covered in orchids, marigolds and banana leaves, intricately folded with candles and sticks of incense in the middle.  You can make these yourself or purchase one.  The owner adds a piece of fingernail and a hair and a few baht as an offering to the goddess spirits of the water.  Then the Kratong is held up to the owners heads while they make a wish or prayer and the Kratong is held up to the owners head and placed on the water to float away (after lighting the candles and incense, of course).  The sea was all lit up with Kratongs and people were also shooting off fireworks and lanterns that float through the sky by flame.  On Railay, the Kratong celebration seemed relatively small and subdued compared to what I imagine would be taking place in BKK on the Chao Praya where the residents must have a lot to say to the river spirits.  But it was still beautiful and we sat on a second story platform open bar with pillows under the full moon and tamarind trees to watch it all take place.

Earlier I watched a woman meticulously constructing her kratong and I wondered about the sense of importance this had for her or if it was just a tradition that one does without spiritual ceremony, like putting up a Xmas tree out of annual habit.  Or was the careful placement of each folded leaf imbued with her hopes and wish and maybe this was a really big deal?  To construct something so beautiful but transient reminded me of buddhist mandalas made of sand and the next morning when we saw a few orchids and other bits washed ashore I thought of all those hairs, fingernails and coins sinking to the bottom in the dark water while their owners lay dreaming of their dreams full of food and drink…

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