Nov 26, 2005
Yet another demonstration that www.iamkochang.com brings you the stories other sites daren’t or, more likely, can’t be arsed to waste their time on. It hardly seems it was 12 months since Koh Chang saw excitement on this scale but the temple fair is back. Here I was having my senses assaulted all in the name of fun in all it’s plasticy, noisy, under-cooked forms.
Anticipation had been mounting for days in our household. Our builder having seen a sign posted that announced the presence of a Thai ‘superstar’ at the event spent half a day relaying and then discussing this info in depth with my missus and her Mum.
My initial question “Who is the superstar?” couldn’t be answered as the sign didn’t actually mention any names. My follow ups “Has Klong Prao temple got a big enough draw for a recogniseable celeb to make the trek out here from Bangkok?” and “Is the star from the world of music, game shows or print commercials in provincial newspapers?” was met with a chorus of disapproving “Tuts”. I went back to the painting the bathroom.
The fair was held over several nights, its theme was to combine traditional merit making activities with some shopping and the chance to indulge in a few less than traditionally Buddhist games of chance whilst enduring volume 11 music.
Having parked our car next to the official car park and not in it, thus saving 10 baht, we walked through the fake gilded temple gates to be greeted by a veritable emporium of purveyors of lime green plastic table ware and second hand t-shirts. Deciding we’d leave the best till last, we moved on and stood in awe as a group of local girls, accompanied by distorted Thai pop, jigged around on stage wearing cycling shorts and ‘Just say No’ T-shirts.
Just what they were saying no to wasn’t crystal clear. Could have been drugs. Could have been strange men with big wallets. Could have been dance lessons. Time to move on and my missus spotted the ‘Pay 10 baht, scoop a small plastic container out of a tub of water, open it, check the number and see if you’ve won crap worth a couple of baht or crap worth a couple of hundred baht’ stall. After wasting 40 baht and ending up with 3 sachets of Coffeemix and a small bottle of saccharine sweet lychee drink I said a little prayer to the tombola gods who took heed and rewarded us with a desk top fan. We then blew another 150 baht in failed attempts to win a flatpack desk on which to put it.
By now things at the bingo corner were beginning to heat up. Bingo is to Thais as shit is to flies and a large crowd, wowed by the promise of winning either a rice cooker or bottle of John Langer whisky had gathered. We took our places, waited 15 minutes for the organisers to sell enough number boards to make running this little diversion from the futility of life profitable, and it was game on.
Five called numbers later and it was over, we hadn’t won. For the next game the rice cooker was replaced by a flower spattered duvet, our builder appeared out of nowhere, plonked himself down next to us and let it be known he was wearing his entire lucky amulet collection and 5 minutes later he walked away with the duvet, much to the delight of his wife.
Something described as a ‘French lamp’ but looking for all the world more akin to a mini Palace of Versailles with an exposed light fitting on the roof was up next so we made our excuses and continued our circuit of the temple.
Food stalls were everywhere including one with the simple motto ‘The best noodles on Koh Chang’ we had to give it a go and true to their word they were excellent. The stallholder, who runs the nearby vegetable shop, only ever cooks noodles at the temple fair and so she draws long queues and must have got sick of people, ourselves included, asking her why she didn’t sell them more often. If Michelin awarded stars for noodle stalls she’d be up there with Raymond Blanc.
Having downed a couple of bowls each, I spotted my favourite game from last year the ‘Bet which hole the mouse will run into when we lift up the metal box’ stand. Slapping down ten baht on hole number 13 and another ten on 24, the mouse promptly ran into number 1 and I walked away complaining of a fix.
The final highlight – yes, these are the highlights, was the ‘likay’ show. Being a helpful soul I took it upon myself to help educate a tourist couple who were wondering what was going on and whether it was supposed to be like this or not.
“What’s this?” they enquired.
“No Likay. It’s Thai”
“Yes, that’s right. The over made-up guy in the spangled outfit mincing around is Thailand’s answer to Bob Marley. The ostensibly uncoordinated screeching, plinking and banging on wooden instruments is coming from the aptly named ‘Wailers’.”
“No, Likay is that Thai cultural equivalent of Morris dancing. It’s a chance for grown men to show their artistic side in the most embarrassing way possible.”
And on that culturally ignorant note, we departed to pick out a Tupperware chilli powder holder that had caught my significant other’s eye for a bargain.
See you there next year!