As promised, here's a look behind-the-scenes of the resort I was shooting at in Indonesia.
Waking up at a super early pickup time meant big sunglasses to cover my sleepy half-opened eyes. We get to immigration in Indonesia, and i lower my glasses slightly for immigration officer Dedi. He grumbles and I lower my glasses so he can see my entire face, but i guess Dedi's in a real shitty mood and starts raising his voice at me to completely take off my sunnies. It felt like he came to work, felt bad about his day and decided to take a power trip on me, so being the naughty girl i am, i put it to him logically, "Look, I've lowered my sunglasses till below my chin, you can see my ENTIRE face, so what the f*ck man?" Dedi starts repeatedly shouting at me, "I NO F*CK MAN" rejects my entry into Indonesia, takes my passport away, and detains me at immigration.
2 hours later, i'm still sitting in immigration detention, and after an official apology letter upon reasoning with him that i did not mean he f*cked men and that he was gay, i finally get through customs.
By the time we got to the resort, the sun was setting and here are the awesome pictures from Day 1:
Photos from Day 2 coming up soon...
I grab a couple of maps, a Thai sim card and head out into the touting of drivers. To every driver I tell that I need to get to Narathiwat, I get looks of shock and stern warnings not to go there. For the little English the drivers could speak, they managed to tell me of bombs, war and danger. It was then that I realized how truly scared the people of Thailand are of the hostility in the deep south. Phuket airport’s a long way off from the deep south, but a great way to experience Songkran along the way.
Songkran is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year's Day from 13 to 15 April. The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water – this originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder. Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100°F or 40°C on some days). This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.
7 hours in a minivan and I’m in Hat Yai. The crazy wet festivities are the same, but not a single foreigner in sight. Songkran in Phuket and Krabi feels more like drunk foreigners with water guns looking for a party. Hat Yai engulfs you into the genuine vibe of the celebration.
A soldier from Narathiwat shoots dead 1 person and injures 4 others in a pub in Phuket during the celebrations, but i'm still making my way to hostile Narathiwat...
- to be continued -