After a difficult and lonely afternoon of separation — hell, it must have been almost 5 hours — this evening, we the Open Water crew had a grand and long-awaited reunion. It's been a while, but it was good to see everyone again :P. To celebrate, we drank the legendary farang beverage of southern Thailand: the bucket. Buckets come in two sizes: huge, and f$#%ing huge. Their contents generally consist of whisky, Red Bull and Coke; but they also come in numerous other, more exotic varieties (and, should you drink them on Ko Pha-Ngan of a full moon, less legal varieties :P). Tonight was my first bucket-drinking experience: and please G-d, may it be my biggest. Because if it gets any worse than it got tonight, then I'll be dead.
I really should stay longer here in Pai. It's such a nice place. Anyway, despite the great friends that I've got here, and despite the urging of said friends for me to linger, tonight was my final night here: what can I say, except "the south is calling"? This evening, I enjoyed a delicious Thai curry for dinner with Sonny (can't remember the name — but it's one I've never had before), while the two of us engaged in our final heated political debate. Then, it was back to the sewer bar: it left such a good impression on us last night, that we just had to return for more.
Every bar in the world is unique: but few are as unique as Pai's "sewer bar". On the main street of Pai, they have a hilarious setup: the town's largest supermarket (not very large) is also the town's cheapest source of alcohol; and in order to cash in on this fact, they've got a long line of picnic tables and benches available right outside! So you can buy your booze for less, and not even have to worry about finding somewhere to drink it. There is one small catch — namely, the sewerage drain that runs uncovered down the side of the street, and that makes the picnic-bench area positively reek — but 'tis a small price to pay. And in my opinion (and if you have a different opinion, then you may kindly shove it up your a$$ :P), this only adds to the ambiance. There are some things you can only do in a small town in Thailand.
This evening's colourful introduction to cosy Pai was a visit to the town's night market. Marie, Claire and myself went exploring the street or two that comprises the market: primarily to grab a bite to eat (actually, we grabbed several), but also just to peruse. The food is definitely one of the market's highlights: although some of the dinner-food isn't so crash hot (my "omelette and rice" dinner was rather ordinary), the snacks are incredible. The shmontses are arrayed in abundance: some of them quite amusing, althogh most of them just regular hippie junk. The highlight of the market, however, is the nightly dance show: a large group of young local Thai girls perform an elegant traditional routine, garbed in their finest silks; while their friends accompany them with flutes and violins.
Everyone's dream is to find a bar where you order one drink, and where they insist on refilling that one drink for free, all night long. Tonight, that's exactly what I found: I ordered one whisky and coke; and the lady behind the bar just kept topping it up again and again. Not a bad deal! The place in question was the "quintessential dodgy Thai bar" — quite a sight in itself. Deplorable Thai pop music playing non-stop. Ladyboys hanging out on the benches. Rickety old pool table with awkward legs and chipped balls. And to top it off, a z-grade horror-slash-porn movie on the TV (monsters exploding out of the stomachs of naked women, every 2 minutes or so). Why don't we have places like this back home?
It was a long night, and it was a good night. Sadly, it was also my last night: Kitzbühel après-ski, I'm going to miss you! After our fun and games at Snowbunnys, Jake and Mitch, Nikolas and Viktor and myself hit the usual pub crawl route: we started at Flannigans, and then eventually moved on to Highways. Flanny's was mainly about the drinking (and the passive smoking — f$#% that place stinks), and Highways was mainly about the dancing. All of it was about partying like only an Austrian mountain village knows how. I got back at about 4am — considering that Jake and Mitch were asleep on the breakfast table the next morning, I hate to think when the hell they returned.
We were entertained by several card tricks. We had more than a few to drink (I bought a bottle of Jim Beam yesterday, and it was received with glee in the Snowbunnys lounge this evening). And then, it was time for a CARDFIGHT! I never before realised just how fast and how hard you can throw a playing card: but as Jake and Mitch proved, they're actually quite aerodynamic little buggers, if you know how to flick 'em right (they hurt, too). So the Aussie brothers started flicking cards. And then everyone else started flicking them back. And after that, everything went way downhill.
I've been to cities that never close down — but I haven't yet found a town (anywhere in the world) without an Irish pub. Congratulations, Ireland: us Aussies only have ourselves everywhere on the planet; you guys have taken world conquest that one step further. Flannigans just goes to show that Kitzbühel (and the Austrian Alps) is no exception. Flannigans is loud, it's smoky, and it's packed every night of the week. This evening — after our enchiladas — Jake and Mitch continued their après-ski tour of the town, by bringing the gang over here. These two Aussie brothers are incredible: they walk into Flannigans, and half the pub is rushing up to talk to them — seems that they're best mates with everyone! Flannigans has a fairly large contingent of "regulars": and if you hang around, you soon get to know most of them. This really is a very gemütliche place, after all.
Hammerschlagen is a game with a simple set of rules, and a very difficult gameplay. In this centuries-old German / Austrian social game, you have a tree stump (with its surface flattened and smoothed), you have a hammer, and you have a bunch of nails. Each player takes a nail, and hammers their nail a few millimetres into the stump. Then — using only the thin, axe-like side of the hammer — each player in turn attempts to whack their nail all the way in. For this evening's après-ski in Kitzbühel, we kicked off the night with a visit to Chizzo (an outdoor bar in the main street of town), where they have a Hammerschlagen area set up. Jake and Mitch introduced the rest of us to the game: here in Kitzbühel, the rule is that the loser (the last person to hammer their nail in) shouts a shot of Jäger to everyone else who played. Check out the video.
Jägermeister is a strong German liqueur, that for some reason has become wildly popular all over the Western world today. It tastes pretty bad (it was originally invented for medicinal use), but makes up for it with its legendary effect. I haven't gone near any Jäger for most of my trip: but here in Kitzbühel, everyone seems to be drinking an awful lot of the stuff — especially in the form of "Flying Hirsch" or "Jägerbomb" shots (i.e. Jäger and Red Bull together). It sure as hell ain't Aussie — and it's not Austrian either (although Red Bull is) — but Aussies in Austria can't get enough of it. Personally, I can take Jäger or I can leave it; and I don't see what all the fuss is about.