Saturday 28 July 2007

Thais - the party people

Thais love to have fun and party! Every week there will be a party in the village somewhere. Whether it be a wedding, a new job, a monk initiation, a funeral or a new house, there’s always reason to have a party. With a Thai party, comes the infamous Karaoke! It’s a well known fact that Asians love to sing Karaoke but you can’t really appreciate how much they love it until you live among it! In Australia, every city will have a couple of Karaoke bars hidden away down a dark alley with soundproof walls and no windows. Here Karaoke is BIG business. A typical karaoke session will have at least 10 one metre high speakers stacked upon each other on both sides of a small stage. After thorough sound checks at top volume, the singers are already queuing up. No one is shy about singing in public here. Skill is not fact it will be a complete shock to almost everyone if someone gets up who can actually sing. Every singer gets a healthy round of applause though and depending on the occasion, even a garland of flowers or money for getting up and singing! If it weren’t so painful to listen to, it would be a beautiful thing.

Today is a very auspicious day for Thais (monks are going into hibernation for 3 months). On these special days (of which there are hundreds in the year) the parties are endless. Last night as I lay in bed at 11 o’clock with a pillow over my head trying to dull the volume of many a drunkard singing off key, I knew I was in for at least 2 more nights of this. Standard procedure of a party covers a 3 day process in most cases. First day involves setting up tents, chairs, tables and start cooking all that curry, killing some pigs, and perhaps a cow. Afternoon is filled with lots of men sitting around getting drunk, lots of eating and of course, karaoke till the wee hours of the next morning.

Day 2 starts bright and early with all the women congregating to cook more curry and have a good ol’ gossip and laugh. People start arriving for whatever the ceremony is at about 9 in the morning. Hundreds (I’m not exaggerating) of people will continue to stop in to eat over the next 12 hours. Some funerals of very old and respected people can go on like this for a week!

Karaoke can start at any time once the official ceremony part is concluded. Day time volume is usually more bearable than night time volume, perhaps due to sobriety and pain thresholds? The volume of Karaoke is beyond comprehension here. It ranges between obscenely loud and deafening. I speak the absolute truth when I say my ear drums vibrate with the volume when I'm not even close to the party. Last night's karaoke from 3 houses away was rattling our windows! Just to complete the 3 day party scenario, Day 3 involves the cleanup, more eating, more drinking and, need we say it, more Karaoke…

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