Yesterday was Chinese New Year, beginning the year of the Snake. This holiday is celebrated around the world and I have participated in several countries. It started in the morning on my run when I saw a procession of pickup trucks packed with drummers and walkers carrying banners and symbols announced by the blast of hundreds of firecrackers. The procession was going from business to business giving blessings.
It just so happened that the date was also my friend’s birthday, known as Momason, the owner of my favorite bar in Phuket, the ATM. Last year I attended the birthday bash and swore I would not miss it this year. Last year I jammed with a phenomenal guitar player, Hootey, every Monday night at the ATM. The first thing I did when I hit Phuket was to ask about this friend. He had some medical problems that had taken him to Bangkok I was sad to hear. So when I heard he would return for the party I was even more excited.
I packed my electric guitar on my back and mounted the motorbike headed to town. Seeing the humor in my image, riding a scooter, guitar on my back in shorts and flip flops, the song, “I Don’t think Hank Done it This away” came to mind.
This party always draws the top of the music scene in Phuket, as the owner of the bar is a huge music promoter. Three bands were booked and others came to jam. My friend Hootey arrived and I was glad to see him healthy and ready to rock. He joined the bass player from last year and a drummer along with a very throaty Thai girl vocalist. I sat in for a few numbers, some blues and classic rock. We finished with Born to be Wild!
The traditional “Red Envelopes” were passed out to the girls working in the bar. This is a Chinese New Year tradition that I participated in while in China. Money is given to workers, friends and relatives in the red packets. Giving money will insure good luck in the New Year. I put a few bucks in the packet of my friend. She (actually he) insured me that giving to a ladyboy meant extra good luck, hahaha.
The Birthday cake came out preceded by many many rounds of drinks and great food along with the music. The “girls” had the night off to party so the usual dynamic was not there, it was all for fun. The affection the girls had for the birthday girl, the Mamason, was vividly apparent dispelling the western image such places. The party demonstrated how the lines are blurred here, barriers found in the west are absent. the crowd included working girls, ladyboys, middle aged couples, single middle aged and older men and women, fenags, Thais, all together having fun.
As I walked into the party, guitar on my back, greeted by so many friends, Papa’ herro. I am called Papa’ by many young Thais, boat workers and young ladies. At first i reeled at the name, sounded bad. I sooned learned it is a term of endearment given to older men and only to ones that are liked. Here older folks are respected and loved for thier years. You will never hear a Thai person disparage someone for their age, quite the opposite. So when i heard the sweat sound of this greeting I had another of those “God I love it here” moments
May the Year of the Snake bring you happiness, prosperity and be all together groovy!