Last month, we shared in the action-packed adventures of Rob and Annie Cornforth as they took a swim at a dam in Indonesia and explored a watery cave. The Ottawa couple packed their bags after wedding at the end of August and set off for an eight-month trek around the world. Ottawa Life Magazine is tracing the couple’s steps every month and telling their stories. This month, Rob describes the weird and wonderful sights and smells of a market in Sungai Kolok, Thailand:
The spirit of a town can be found in one place – its market. The spirit of Sungai Kolok was embodied in a multitude of crowded stalls which lined the dingy back streets. An endless variety of oddities and bargains lined the booths. Fruit, vegetables, raw meat and t-shirts made up the regular fare. But it was the oddities that evoked so many emotional reactions.
Annie and I bought some soup from a vendor, determined to stay open-minded as we sampled the local cuisine. As the mixture was placed in a bowl in front of me a host of ingredients whirled by: onions, carrots, spinach, garlic, gristle and, suddenly, a chicken foot!
A groan escaped my lips as the grey and wrinkled claw settled to the bottom of the bowl. It was like a scene from a horror flick! Discreetly I extracted it, placed it in a napkin and waited for the hurl reflex to pass.
Unlike Canadians, Thais don’t gut their chickens or remove the head. The whole thing is chopped up from head to foot and cooked, with nothing but the feathers wasted.
The next day we took the 45-minute ferry trip to the neighbouring island of Ko Phangan, to take part in the “full moon party.” The idea of this gathering is to celebrate the union of many different cultures, together in harmony under the same moon. The party is the island’s busiest time of the year-people from near and far flock to participate.
We started the night drinking whiskey in our bungalow. Our rooms gave a perfect view of the sandy-white beach and the ocean-blue water. From our vantage point we could see that the beach had been transformed into a fluorescent boom box. Four huge speakers pumped out techno music. We moved down to the sand and sat on bamboo mats facing the ocean as the partiers started to gather. The full moon and its bluish hues cast a reflection on the swooning ocean which stared back at us.
We were invited to have our faces painted in phosphorescent colours. I drew an Egyptian eye in the sand and the local artist tattooed it over my left eye in blue. Annie ended up with smiling lime-green lips and orange polka dots on her cheeks and forehead, which captured the emotions of her face.
The party was really wound up. Repetitious bass beats pounded into our bodies. Painted faces glowed in the black of the night. Festivities didn’t wind down until 1:30 a.m. or so the next day.
In this leg of our journey we were reminded of the difference between a tourist and a traveller: a tourist has more money than time and therefore enjoys the convenience of expensive hotels with all the amenities. Travellers have more time than money and learn to revel in simplicity.