An Intrepid Tour Leader

by Marlo Perry

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Tour Leader Job in Southeast Asia

 

17. Songkran

23rd April 2005
Hello everybody,
Wow! I have had a fantastic little holiday recently. I asked for some time off a few months ago and was very cunning and asked for it during the New Year celebration time in Cambodia/ Laos/ Thailand/ Burma.

So I enjoyed the lead up to my third New Year in 2005 with a cool group in Cambodia before I waved them goodbye and walked into the Songkran festival streets of Bangkok. Songkran again - how much fun! I told you all last year that it was the best festival ever and I will remind you again.

Officially the new year started on the 13th but by the day before most people were all geared up. The base hotel where Intrepid stays in Bangkok is smack bang in the middle of the festivities. All the roads are blocked off by the middle of the day and trying to get groups to/from bus/plane/train stations is a massive undertaking but I didn't have a group so it was all water and fun for me.

The streets are massive water fights and 'bang' (white powder) covered messes. Music playing at each corner and icy water pouring beer sellers every five meters. Classic scene I walked past of an old grandmother running from out the back of her shop with a large supersoaker, she took aim at her very young granddaughter and pow completely saturated her. Huge grin on grandmas face.

Check out some photos at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/4441471

Leaving a bunch of wet clothes and my faithful supersoaker behind I went off to Hong Kong. I had never been to HK before but was actually looking forward to being in a mega metropolis. I was very lucky that a leader friend was in town and he was hanging out with some of his old passengers who are teachers at the Australian International School.

Straight off the plane and I was in the trendy Soho district. A little bit of culture shock as there were so many tall foreigners neatly dressed in the area. Not one pair of Thai fisherman's pants or dreadlocked hair to be seen - freaky!

Had a great night and tasted the most spectacular strawberry chocolate daiquiri in my life. Ended the night with a bowl of HK noodles at 4:30am and found the way back to the guesthouse only to find that there was no electricity between 4 and 8am in the morning. So barely managed to walk up the 8 floors by candle light.

Met up with the teachers again for a dim sum lunch. Tasty! And then they took us across to Lantau island for a short hike. I never thought that there would be green areas in HK but it was beautiful.

A group of boxers from the gym I train in Bangkok had also gone to HK for a fight. Got myself in for free and hung out 'back stage' during the fights. All was good as they won their matches with no major injuries.

Headed out for supper with an up and coming boxing promoter "Master Kim". Dim sum eating at midnight including a taste of shark fin soup then the obligatory karaoke. Fortunately not the best range of English songs so got out of that quite well! Fascinating to watch a true HK businessman at work.

Master Kim was a meet and greet contact talking, shouting, sharing guy. As one bar closed the group would move to the next. Meeting and greeting these 'friends'. Apparently he is only 'middle mafia' but working his way up. I was fading by 6am but had no idea where we were to make an easy get away. But Master Kim being the true host took us all out for breakfast - the most crazy bowl of noodle soup I have ever had the misfortune of having put before me. Usually I can be polite enough and nibble away but I couldn't see anything besides offal, stomach, liver and clotted blood so I had to give it a miss.

I barely had enough time to do some shopping in HK but managed to squeeze a little bit in and finally got myself a camera. Very cool new toy so I will apologise in advance for clogging up your email boxes with all the shots I plan to take. Back to work in two days. All ready and refreshed for a new bunch of passengers.
Love Marlo

About the Author
Marlo Perry is a Group Leader for the Australian based tour operator, Intrepid Travel.

1. The Apprentice... 2. Trip One... 3. Half Way... 4. Tet... 5. Monkey Business... 6. Quick Turnaround... 7. Thai New Year... 8. Angkor... 9. Bangkok... 10. It Depends... 11. A&E... 12. Laos... 13. Routine... 14. Pig Rabies... 15. Burma... 16. Tsunami... 17. Songkran... 18. Sick Note... 19. Cycle Vietnam... 20. Street Kids... 21. My Life. Ideas Needed... 22. June Jambles...