Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The King and I

  I think some current event updates are in order. This weekend was totally awesome. I spent a few days around the Grand Palace, which is just up the street from the school. Pictures will be posted shortly. Monday was the King's birthday, so the area around the palace was lavishly decorated with lights, tents and pictures of him. The road through the park was lined with tent vendors selling things like food, wooden carvings of home appliances and reed sitting mats.  My friends and I spent a few afternoons relaxing and throwing a frisbee in the massive field outside the palace wall. I love the winter season here. Winter weather here is an ideal American summer. It's hot every day, but not unbearably hot and humid like the previous seasons, plus it's cool in the morning and evening. It seems like the seasons change so quickly. It's obviously warm and tropical all the time, but the rain suddenly turned off after rainy season and now the decreasing humidity makes the heat more comfortable. The weather this weekend was perfect for my rooftop gig and the King's birthday celebration. 

  On Sunday I played my first DJ gig in Thailand at Phra Nakorn bar. For those who aren't familiar with the bar, it's conveniently hidden around the corner from Khao San. The place is made up of four levels: a cozy restaurant on the first floor, an art gallery on the second floor, a vintage-themed third floor with a bar and pool table, and finally an open rooftop crowded with small white tables adorned with oil lamps, flanked by a bar on each side. Phra Nakorn has quickly become my favorite bar in Thailand. Eclectic music styles, the inviting atmosphere of each floor and the strongest Long Island iced-teas around all create a recipe for a great night. What led to my gig was my innate curiosity about the music on the roof. Whenever I song catches my ear I always ask the DJ or person near the computer to tell me the artist and song. I've done this a few times at Phra Nakorn; enough to introduce myself to the bar tender. Maybe about two weeks ago I started talking to the bartender, Oct, and his friend, Prince about the possibility of playing music one night on the roof. Guest DJ's (a.k.a. Farangs) are only allowed to play on Sunday nights. Lucky for me, this past Sunday happened to be a full house! Since Monday was the King's 84th birthday, thousands of Thai people poured into the streets and bars to celebrate all weekend. 
  On the way to the bar I went to the street to summon a cab, but attracted a motorbike driver instead. Rather than take a cab through the traffic I decided to hop on the guy's bike even though I couldn't properly explain where I was going. I was nervous to weave in between cars with my computer on my back. When I got closer to the bar, the adjacent street was absolutely packed with people gathering to enjoy the holiday decorations. My motorbike driver drove onto the sidewalk to get out of the traffic. The ride took about twenty minutes and then what felt like another ten just to cross the street. When I arrived on the roof I greeted my Thai friends (Prince and Ock) who work at the bar. I was nervous about my playlist at first because the music was super soft and mellow when I first got there, which made me self-conscious about my louder songs. All that trepidation was so unnecessary! I was just nervous about everything working out. It turned out that my two Thai friends and I all have similar music taste and our selections blended together nicely. To my surprise they were familiar with The Postal Service and The Drums among other bands. I wish I could've played only my songs the whole time, but it was fun to introduce new songs to the Thai guys and learn some new things from them. I was so happy that I could play anything I wanted and that the Thai people liked my selections. Almost all of the Loyola teachers were there to hear me play. How flattering! I could tell everyone had a great time. Prince offered me another chance to play music this Sunday, but I'm going to Avicii/Armin! I'd like to play every Sunday if possible. 

  On Monday night I went with a few friends to the Grand Palace for the big celebration. There were thousands upon thousands of people filling the streets. It was breathtaking when we first arrived - to see lights hanging in all the trees and the glowing golden palace in the distance as hundreds of paper lanterns floated up into the sky. I felt so privileged to be a part of this peaceful cultural celebration. As we neared the white wall of the palace there were images projected along the entire thing. I saw it transform from a giant moving piano into an art gallery of paintings. Once inside the palace we found a spot in the courtyard to sit and chat. It was funny to laugh at all the silly Asian people posing for pictures in front of the golden pagodas. There were plenty of Thai people throwing up the peace sign in a photo and making a goofy face. Later on our walk home we stopped to send off a lantern of our own. 

Song of the Day: Same Same but Different
  "Get a drink, have a good time now. Welcome to paradise." This original song cleared away any initial doubts I had about my playlist when I looked across the bar and saw a Thai man at his table nodding his head to the beat. The track, Since I Left You, is The Avalanches' most recognized hit. The remix properly retains the melody of the original and jumps the tempo to a tropical dance party. After all these years I can still remember the first time I saw the music video. A seemingly uncoordinated and bulky man unexpectedly dances gracefully with a super hot chick. I find the ambiguous plot quite compelling. Maybe it teaches us all to bravely act on those fleeting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities before they fade away...

The Avalanches - 'Since I Left You'

The Avalanches - 'Since I Left You' (Kama Qu Remix)

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