A Travellerspoint blog

A week in Bangkok

overcast 33 °C
View Koh Phangan & Bangkok on chaosity's travel map.

It seems both like it's been a long week and that time has flown by. I'm settled in my apartment but other than attend my course, I don't seem to have done much! I know the weather has been extreme here but as the only news in in Thai and I don't speak any, it's mostly (like the flooding) passed me by.
The city is very busy, the skytrain cool and efficient but, other than picking up a few shirts and the odd meal from street vendors, I don't feel like I've seen anything of Thailand yet. Nor will I until I've finished this course. Then I'll have a holiday, so I promise lots of pictures of the city and wherever else I fetch up. For now- back to work!

Posted by chaosity 05:59 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

A brief interlude

sunny 28 °C

That was a month in Spain! Now before I go to Bangkok I've returned 'home' briefly to London. I use the term loosely- I'll be staying at Sarah's and at Pete's but, as I don't have a place of my own at the moment, home is a loose term. It's not where I grew up, or have lived the longest, but until something better comes along, London, and Streatham, will do. So if you're around this Friday, come and have a drink before I set off.

Posted by chaosity 15:28 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Mostly horses

28 °C
View London to Spain on chaosity's travel map.

There isn't any good pretending it was any of us Rachel came out to see, it was only ever about the horses! She has been mucking out, feeding and polishing tack non-stop (though she did take yesterday off to come to Malaga with me. There are no photos of that cos we didn't go anywhere I hadn't already photographed.
This morning however, began with a ride around Helen's arena.
horse17

horse17


Which Rachel tried first on Whuelga (big mistake- her comment)
horse 13

horse 13


and then on Canella, and she did look more comfortable.
horse12

horse12


Then I got to ride Whuelga back, ready for a visit from the blacksmith (or Farrier, Rachel insists)
farrier1

farrier1


farrier 2

farrier 2


farrier 3

farrier 3


farrier 4

farrier 4


So Whuelga got new shoes, and Canella got a tighten-up.
new shoes

new shoes


Whuelga isn't too happy about standing around on 3 legs, so, whilst Wendy held her foot up for the Farrier, I acted as a leaning post for her!
horse-prop

horse-prop


The whole business lasted about 40 minutes but... as the smith's car was off the road he had got a lift over from a friend,( In a car totally unsuitable for the track, so the 3/4 mile trail of oil they left proclaimed) they stayed for a few beers until the Spanish equivalent of Green flag sent a car-smith out to fix them up.
car-smith

car-smith

Posted by chaosity 07:24 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Water, Goats and new arrivals


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Well I did promise some pictures of goats so on Sunday I made sure I was waiting for them with my camera.
Rachel

Rachel


No, silly, that's Rachel. The other news, of course is that she has come out to visit in a move that makes the solution to the middle east problem as simple as 'well haven't Israel got any horses the Palestinians want to ride?'
goat 10

goat 10

goat 9

goat 9


Those, are the goats. Sedella likes goats, there is a local story that, at the time that the Spanish were taking back Spain from the Moors, Velez-Malaga fell but there were few Spanish men around, able to fight. In order to stop Mountain villages becoming havens for escaping Moors from fallen towns, locals wanted precipitate action. The women of the village drove goats, in secret, up the mountain and decked them out with lanterns and bells. They then rushed them down on the town, causing the moors to think they were under attack. The moors fled the village and headed down the valley, where they were massacred by the waiting village men. When a message was sent to Queen Isabella, she is said to have said of the place 'sé de ella' or- 'I know about that' and thus, Sedella gets it's name. That, however is all total rubbish as before the moors came it was known as Sedille, probably from the Latin 'sedilla' or rural place. It doesn't stop the village hall breaking the name up into sé de ella on official documents, flags and pennants.
On the other hand, it could all be true as there are still goats here, a mountain, a valley and a motto. What else do you need to make history?
goat 3

goat 3


Proof of how the Moors were driven out- a goat, a bell and a mountain.
goat 9

goat 9

goat 8

goat 8


More proof.
And you know what a sheep dog looks like, well, here's a goat dog:
Goatdog

Goatdog


The other big news is, as I said, Rachel has come to join us. Well, actually she's come to ride but, same difference.
horse2

horse2

horse1

horse1


I wasn't allowed to go and photograph them schooling this morning but will take some more later, I've been told.
Other than that, I spent yesterday mending water systems, as the 'deposito' for the track seems to have been filling itself mostly with air and the 1,000 gallon storage tank at the house was almost empty. Though we knew there had been intermittent filling problems we didn't think it was causing a problem until I discovered that the ball-valve was corroded up, meaning that wh en the water has been on, the tank has not been filling, possibly for the entire month. Still, all sorted now, at the cost of a few blisters.
And here's a picture Rachel took in revenge for me taking hers.
me

me

Posted by chaosity 06:17 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Busy weekend

sunny 31 °C
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It’s been a busy time, hardly a chance to read a whole Terry Pratchett and definitely not enough to read more than a couple of pages of a text book. After spending the day in Malaga on Friday I went straight to Salares with dad and Wendy for the first night of their Fiesta, which lasted 3 days but is not one of their official two, so the villagers don’t get the Monday off afterwards.
I’ll start with Friday afternoon, which, after the castle in the morning, consisted of visiting the Roman amphitheatre, a mooch around the beach then the backstreets, Tapas lunch and a little shopping. The beach isn’t a place to be on your own; you can’t leave your stuff and go off for a swim so a couple of Cokes in one of the bars whilst watching the British tourists turning a bright shade of lobster was about the only option. As I knew we’d be heading for the fiesta in the evening and it gets dark really early here, I picked up a second-hand flash for my camera, which, without any Spanish on my part, or English on the shopkeeper’s, was a surprising success.
IMG_0275

IMG_0275


Salares is the smaller of the two villages near to my father’s place, and is a ten minute drive or a thirty minute walk cross-country, down the mountain. It has a healthy rivalry with Sedella, the larger village, half an hour’s walk in the opposite direction. They share quite a lot of players between the village bands and Wendy plays in both. She’d already done the afternoon slot by the time I got back so we went down about ten o clock to see what was happening.
Each village around here gets two fiesta slots a year, usually one in the summer and one in the winter, but this was Salares third one of the year, to celebrate its Moorish heritage, so there were a few costumes around, the village was hung with crescent moon decorations and most of the music and dancing was Arabic-themed.
On the first night there was a video of the year in Salares to date, followed by a group of local girls demonstrating their belly-dancing, both held in a torchlit courtyard high up in the village which was small, very atmospheric and very packed.
courtyard without flash

courtyard without flash


friday dance 1

friday dance 1

Friday dance 2

Friday dance 2

Friday dance 3

Friday dance 3

Friday dance 4

Friday dance 4


And a... belly dancing group, accompanied by a fire-eater
fireater1

fireater1


fireater2

fireater2


fireater3

fireater3


There are only about 200 villagers in Salares and the population had at least doubled for the fiesta. As they have to raise the money for the fiestas locally and they give away free kebabs on the Friday
IMG_0435

IMG_0435


and free paella for everybody on Sunday, the tradition is to buy an appropriate number of raffle tickets to support the fund for the next fiesta. I didn’t even ask what the prizes were.
The healthy rivalry between Sedella and Salares meant that Sedella had scheduled a one-day candalario celebration on Saturday, right in the middle of Salares Al-sharq festival. As Wendy was playing at that too, we spent Saturday evening there, before returning to Salares. Nobody seems to know what the candelaria was about, other than that ‘it must be held on the 8th September- no, the weekend closest to it, no- the other one, you know, when Salares are doing their eastern mystic thingy’, and the best description I got in English was ‘it’s about taking the village virgin up the back alleys, accompanied by fireworks, while the whole village follows’. This sounds more like the kind of festival that ought to have been held in Norfolk rather than Spain. In this case the village virgin was a wooden statue on a bier, lit with electric bulbs and borne by 6 men (Although you can see why that particular celebration would have naturally died out in Norfolk, as even wooden virgins are hard to come by there).
IMG_0348

IMG_0348


They have a very relaxed attitude towards punctuality here and although the start time is advertised in advance, this is pretty much a waste of time as what is really meant is, ‘we’ll start when everybody is here’ and, as there’s nothing to see, nobody bothers turning up until something starts. To defuse this particular paradox they use signal rockets (maroons), a kind of firework for the blind, which have virtually no visual effect but produce a massive noise, which echoes around the mountains. One person carries a sack full of them at the head of the procession whilst another lets them off, one at a time, using a staple on a short, charred wooden stick as a launcher.
Maroon1

Maroon1


Maroon2

Maroon2


I thoroughly approve of this kind of approach to health and safety, which makes the English way look like a bunch of pathetic worriers. Needless to say, many of the Brit ex-pats here don’t approve at all of this kind of celebration, which may last ‘til 4 O’clock in the morning with the close marked by a ‘tracker’ or long series of closely spaced, equally loud, fireworks, and may stop them from going to bed at a decent time like 10 O’clock (when the Spanish get up to eat and start the evening). I mean, who would behave in this kind of way, hardly gives you time in the morning to get up and read the daily mail. Also needless to say that these particular type of ex-pats don’t show up for fiestas unless the mayor tells them to, until the free paella. (You can see why the rest of the world resents the British; exporting these kind of weapons should be illegal- although exporting a few more might do Britain some good domestically- you watch out Johnny foreigner, I don’t care if this is your country- more of that behaviour and we’ll ship Andrew Lloyd-Webber over to live next door to you. Far more effective than a gunboat)
the Sedella band

the Sedella band

sedella band 2

sedella band 2


old church

old church


candelleria fire

candelleria fire


There were a few stalls in the streets of Salares, selling a range of goods from handmade jewellery to remote control cars. I managed to get a present for Sarah from the leather stall which sold a range of things, some made by the proprietor, whose English was commendable and some, equally hand-made, by a friend in Morocco. He put so much effort into explaining each of his items, where and how they were made and what from that I happily bought the most expensive item he had to sell, and he sold it to me equally happily.
salares band1

salares band1

wendy

wendy


In the morning the Salares band, half of whom are also the Sedella band, played a session on stage which was followed by sword dancing,
sword dance1

sword dance1


a belly-dancing competition with 5 acts, hence the number of similarly themed photos.
fr1

fr1

fr2

fr2

fr3

fr3

d5

d5

d4

d4

d3

d3

d2

d2

d1

d1


Although the local girls, who had performed the night before joined in, they didn’t win, although I thought that being the home side and related to most of the judges only counted against you in England. The afternoon had the free Paella
paella1

paella1

paella2

paella2


followed by a group playing traditional Moorish music and occasionally joined by a professional dancer.
d8

d8

d10

d10

d11

d11

d12

d12

d13

d13


There was also a falconry display, although this consisted mainly of watching the birds sit on perches, Wendy did say she saw one fly across the square once.
falcon5

falcon5

falcon4

falcon4

falcon3

falcon3

falcon2

falcon2

falcon1

falcon1

falconry1

falconry1


At 5 we had to leave to sort out the animals and although it was only scheduled to go on for another hour or so, it was still going at 11 o clock.

Here's some of the dance competitors in shortened form:
parade

parade

group-5ii

group-5ii

group-4

group-4

group-3

group-3

group-2

group-2

group1

group1

dance1

dance1

Posted by chaosity 08:25 Archived in Spain Tagged salares Comments (0)

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