Happy new year, we are in Penang Malaysia, working out how to get to Indonesia, no mean feat on a Public Holiday :)
Xmas wrap up: we had a lovely Xmas, Xmas eve we did the big tourist resort buffet and local performances style (but I have to say our Xmas lunch the next day was better: see below) They had traditional performances by the Sea Gypsies, violin, two drums, wailing singing and 10 girls dancing. ( I videoed it!) The music was a bit grating after a while, and it would have been nice to have had some explanation about what the songs and dances were about, and the dancing, I felt I could have really turned it into an amazing perfomance, but then it wouldn't have been traditional then huh?
Then we had the lovely Thai girls with the long finger nails and the bendy hands perform in lovely traditional costumes, with head dresses, who then all strangely got changed into beach tyourist type sarongs, UNICEF white T-shirts, and put their hair into pigtails and did a disco style dance (?!) actually the best part was after the fireworks, two of the waiters stared fire dancing, and it was the best fire dancing I have ever seen! (I videoed it!)
How to top the fun for Xmas day? We jumped on the motorbike and headed down to this special place we found, a restaurant, run by the sea gypsies. We had been there two times before and just fell in love with the view and the kindness, and couldnt think of where else we would prefer to go. The Sea gypsies of Koh Lanta are fascinating. They are scared of people, and when Thailand made it law for children to go to school, they took to their boats, they always spend some time on land, during monsoon seasons, and their life revolves around the sea.
Because they are such shy people, when new people came to the island, the just kept moving south until they had nowhere left, recently the Queen interviened and gave them land of their own. The kids go to a special school, they have set up a restaurant, a museum (free entry) about their history and culture, and put together a performance group to go to hotels for Xmas for example. I finally learnt all about the group and the music and dance from the night before!
Anyway third time at the restaurant, and we were invited to ignore the menu and have traditonal food..... WOW and we had a feast, (I videoed it!) we had fresh from the beach beside us, shellfish, their bodies were bright red, so if any knows what I ate please tell me! a platter of local fruits, mmm mango, and a special fried rice, with more unidentifiable but mouth watering items. All for about $4 (you dont want to know how much the Hotel buffet was)
then they gave us hand made gifts: Me a hairpin with beads wrapped around it with fishing line, and ayanda a hand painted wood thing with a hook on it we think could be a towel hanger. And then the best gift of all: they invited us to stay with them if we come back! I felt we had missed a part of Thailand that we had gained by staying with a family in Malaysia (with adventures to be written about shortly) and now if we go back, we will have that chance! We can go and camp on one of their islands (no permanant structures) and we would be staying with an old couple.
If anyone else would like this chance, then ask me for details, you cannot book to stay with them, they must meet you first and you can ask for an invitation if you say you know us.
Boxing day, we left the island and did the long haul to HatYai, where we really enjoyed the night markets, and we also had the best Pad Thai of our lives
the next day we had a real adventure, but I will wait until the next blog post for that.