The two step is a proud traditional dance in Australia. We no longer have a smoke in the left hand to balance the beer in the right, but we still two step left then right and call it dancing. My generic understanding of dance culture was that Latinos shake it, North Americans crunk it and the Brits sit on bar stools. I’m not sure what I expected from the Thais, but I thought it would involve some hand jive talent synchronised with taking photos of each other.
I’ve just returned to Chiang Rai after spending 3 days with mum and dad going through the mountains and border regions of Nothern Thailand. It was fun spending time with them and relaxing to tour in a car and appreciate the engine labouring up hills and the rain hitting the windscreen instead of me. I waved goodbye to mum and dad as they left in the back of a share taxi headed for Chiang Khong on the Laos border. The driver had one eye and they were sharing it with an old guy that smelled like urine. Apparently the trip was good.
Back in Chiang Rai I found a cheap backpackers above yet another reggae themed bar and headed out to the Saturday night markets for dinner. I’ve been loving the Somtam, green papaya salad. Its green papaya, tomato, onion, chilli and some random unidentified liquids mashed in a mortar and pestle and eaten in your hands with sticky rice.
They normally ask how hot you want it and I haven’t worked out the correct answer yet. The Thai amount of chilli makes me cry, the farung (westerner) amount is zero chilli. One of my survival Thai phrases is ‘Nit Noi Pheet’, a little hot. This also makes me cry, but I can hold the tears back if I have plenty of beer to wash it down.
I sat down at a table in the market with my somtam, sticky rice and beer from the 7-11 across the road (they open it at the counter for you, thats the convenient part of a convenience store). In front of me was a stage with a singer, percussionist and a backing track. The songs must have been good because there was a good crowd dancing. Thai style dancing.
The dancing crowd made Australians look like Latinos. The heads all bopped with immaculate timing but they had all the vigour of an arthritic nanna terrified to break a sweat. The most creative they got was the occasional twirl, and the crowd diligently copied when the dance leaders on stage pulled out the hand barrel roll. The dance move of choice was the power walk shuffle, elbows and shoulders pumping and the feet shuffling forward. The mass of bopping heads had a slow anti clockwise rotation like at rollerways during an uneven hour.
At the end of the song the whistle blew to remind them to stop dancing. I finished my beer and the last of my sticky rice and left for he safety of reggae style Shania Twain covers back at the hostel.