Southeast Asia Journal Numbers Five and Six


Well, I am finally back and working again.  It’s been a lot of days out of the office lately because of all the holidays.  There are the Asian holidays (Thai’s love to take as many holidays and days off as possible) and then there are the mid-term days off for all those in school.  And between them all, there were quite a few days off.  Luckily, this year, they all landed on weekend breaks.  So that was nice.

To start off my first holiday weekend, I left on Thursday, December 24th to Koh

Overlooking the rock islands from Ao Nang Beach

Samui where I enjoyed a nice weekend on the more touristy islands.  It was a little busy for my blood, but all the same, it was nice to get away and experience a little bit of tourist-island fun before the New Year/full moon/blue moon celebrations took place and packed those little islands beyond capacity.

This past weekend I headed out to Koh Lanta where it was much more my

Felix the fire-thrower

speed.  I wound up sleeping in my jungle hammock right on the beach as lanterns floated up and filled the sky over the resort celebrations on the New Year’s Eve holiday weekend.  The photos from this trip turned out to be quite nice. I shot several of a young Thai flame-throwing expert.  It was pretty cool to watch.  He was really good at entertaining the crowd.

Lanterns tracing lines in the sky

People would burn these lanterns that would shoot up into the heavens and likely land somewhere where they would be ruining some fragile habitat where a niche-specific species of endangered animal lives whose waste is the cure for cancer, but it was a pretty sight.  Aesthetic is always a good cause.

When I left there, I headed over, by long boat, to Krabi, Rilai and Ao Nang.  This was a little faster paced.  But I hung in there for the rest of the weekend.
Journal Six:

Back in Surat Thani, I have returned to where my nice, easy, (locally) well-paid life continues; But only until tonight.  Tomorrow morning, it’s back on the road to Malaysia.  I have to go to the border checkpoint and head down to Penang so that I can extend my visa another two months.  But I will be traveling through some rough territory.

The South Thailand Muslim population has been at war with the Buddhist Thai-ruled government for the last five years.  It’s epicenter is what they call the notorious three provinces.  These are the three southern most provinces that have been bombing and shooting one another (mostly Muslims to Muslims, but also Muslims to Buddhists) with no end in sight since 2004.  The radical sects of these provinces are fighting to regain their Malay soil from the Thai government and they often single out and behead the locals who voice opposition to their plight.  There are bombings every day and they often take place at a spot chosen that morning, so there’s no real idea of knowing when or where the next bomb will detonate.

I will be driving through there tomorrow.  Hopefully there won’t be any bombs planned on my route.  It will be the closest that I have been to combatants and militants and armed only with a camera.  I will hopefully be getting some pretty good photos – while trying to keep my head down.

Photos of recent celebrations and of markets and people in my little town of Surat are being edited now and will be coming soon.  Picasaweb.google.com/cyleodonnell.

Wish me luck on my next leg and I will be writing again soon.

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