CHAPTER 5: SNAKE OF BUDDHA
It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning the day after our little market and river adventure and we were about to head back out to the Chao Pray river for another. The first order of business was a bit sad as we had to bid the rest of our class goodbye. They were heading off to Phistanulock and from there onto Phuket, while we would remain in Bangkok for one more day before going back to London. Although, we weren’t thrilled about this (Phutket is an amazingly beautiful place and I have every intention of going back to Thailand just to see it), it couldn’t be helped, we had job ‘interviews’ that week. I crawled out of bed, went downstairs, said my goodbyes, crawled back up to my room and promptly went back to sleep.
I woke up again, hurriedly dressed up and jumped into the bathroom, cleansed myself, ate and proceeded to the hotel lobby to wait for the rest of my crew to congregate. Once everyone was good and ready, we called two taxis, hopped in and sped off toward the private pier we had accidentally gone to the day before. In a fit of stereotypical Ijebu-ness, my friend ‘Miss-O’ decided to renegotiate the prices we had previously agreed upon the day before and we ended up getting the same deal for a cheaper price. Everybody needs that one friend…
The boat wasn’t really a boat; it was a canoe with delusions of grandeur. Long, with a plastic ‘roof’ and a motor at the back, it was nothing like the boats you would expect on a ‘private boat cruise’ but then again, it was bloody awesome fun, so I didn’t much care. For example, when our driver sped up, the boat hopped on the waves and sprayed a little bit of the river water upward. As much fun as this was, I did my best to keep my mouth shut, I was sure that if any of that river water entered my mouth I was going to become a mutant turtle or the incredible hulk. Up close, it looked like it contained all the pollution of all the factories in Thailand.
After about 10 minutes of ‘sailing’ along the main river, we branched off onto the small pathway that led toward ‘Snake Island’ running into fishermen selling things, waving at random villagers standing around and taking pictures of the scenery and temples along the way. Finally, after about 25 minutes on the boat, we finally arrived at the Snake Farm.
Things got off with a bang once we stepped off the boat. We were ushered in, told to buy our tickets and quickly led into the premises where there was already a show in progress. The show took place in a circular arena surrounded by raised seats where we were expected to sit and be amazed. There was an announcer in a corner providing factual/comedic commentary and occasional misinformation. He spoke with a slow, deliberate pace, heavily accented but passable English and a bizarre intonation which I’m not sure how to describe. It felt like a scene out of something on National geographic.
The first snakes on show were two cobras which the commentator informed us were some of the most poisonous snakes in Asia. After charming and tossing the snakes around a bit, he took one, brought it right to our front and ‘milked’ it – extracted the venom.
He then put it back in its cage and another fellow brought out the next display, a viper. The bloody snake kept trying to crawl off the stage and come to our seats and the silly fellow in charge would let it wander a bit close before he pulled it back, I’m sure this was part of the show but it scared the righteousness out of me.
Anyway as per badt goiz, I didn’t flinch, just sat there, like a boss. When he was done showing up the somewhat boring and yet scary viper, he picked it up and without warning, swung it around 360 degrees so it went right past my face. In the 2 seconds it took for that to happen, I made my peace with my maker. I swear that must have been the fastest repenting of sins that heaven has ever received. When the snake was put back and I realized I was not dead, I relaxed and settled in for the next display – a black mamba.
When they pulled out the mamba and the charmer started his dance of death with it, all I could think of was Wiz khalifas ‘black and yellow’ , that and the Kobe Bryant vi 6 sneakers.
Apparently, the black mamba has one of the highest kill rates on the planet; almost 100% of its bites are fatal. I also learnt that brightly colored snakes are to be feared since they are the most poisonous. Nature tries to warn people not to mess with these snakes by giving them bright, visible colors, essentially, the bright colors are the “Don’t fuck with me” T-shirt of the snake world. The ones that blend into the environment aren’t so dangerous hence they have to hide so as not to be seen. (Don’t quote me on this).
Anyway, when they dragged out the Pièce de résistance – the python, I was genuinely excited because by this point all my fear had gone, I’m not sure why. The snake was huge! The creepy commentator/lecturer told us that slow snakes are the most poisonous, again, since they cannot move fast enough to run away, they have to be badasses. On the other hand, the faster snakes were generally not as dangerous. (Again, don’t quote me on this, for all I know the guy might have been talking out of his arse)
After the talk, milking the python and a few stunts, they asked us to come and take pictures with the snake…on our necks. I could have sworn that for a millisecond I smelled raw fear from myself and my companions. But after I led the way… as usual, we eventually dragged ourselves up and posed to take the picture. The snake skin felt like a living breathing ‘Loois v00itton’ handbag. Anyway when that was done, we were roamed around the farm where there were lots of other animals to play aroung with…monkeys, tigers, deer… it was buckets of fun. By the time we were ready to leave, we were asked to take one more picture with a python and this time, it was to be personal. Only ‘Miss O’ and myself had the guts to do it. She’s a Five-star chick in my opinion, with more balls than all of the others combined. (Suckers! :p)
When the snake and animal tomfoolery was done, we took the boat back to the pier and decided to head out to see the largest solid gold statue in the world – The Golden Buddha. It was located in the temple of Wat Traimit which we headed to via taxi. The temple itself was awesome with a gigantic picture of the king in the background.
Gold topped white buildings in the entire compound gave it a feeling of royal peace. It was spectacular in many ways. Some of my more religious companions refused to come up to see the statue; I guess they were scared of being infected by some stray spirit. There might have been something to their theory but still, there was no way I would come all this way and not see the statue. Those of us that were willing, went in and I can tell you, there is a big difference between gold and GOLD.
The statute was 5500kg of pure radiant gold and it shone even in the shade. We didn’t stay long so as not to disturb those that came to pray here, we took our pictures and left in peace.
The final stop on our Bangkok trip was the Gem gallery. A giant building that housed a workshop and sales shop where jewelry is made and sold. The place was pure class. When we walked in, they offered us drinks, told us pictures were not allowed and two of the most polite Thai ladies ever walked beside us offering information and asking questions. It was obvious they were putting the moves on us, trying to get us to buy something. While the prices were reasonable, the gems were stunning and there was a great variety, we were quite simply…broke ass niggas. We couldn’t really afford anything of the quality on display there but when I am good and ready, there is every possibility that I will buy my wedding ring from them. We walked around, admiring the craftsmen at work, looking at the finished products and the shark tank in the center of the gallery. I bought some smaller items I could afford for a friend *wink* and we headed to the tailors to pick up my suit which was finally ready.
Finally back in the hotel, I ate dinner, started packing up, collating all the pictures from the days before, and mentally preparing for the 13 hour trip back to London. It was going to be a long and hard goodbye to the Land of smiles and gold.
~And thus concludes the Legend of Bangkok. Its been fun recording the memories and sharing them with you all. On a personal note, I think a lot of us Nigerians don’t have enough of a traveling culture, how many of us have even been to Obudu Cattle ranch? Erin-ijesa waterfalls ? Ghana? Cotonou even? Is it fear, do we think too much about things? Whatever the reason, travel more. Theres splendor to behold in the world . Take advantage of every chance. Don’t think, just go. Cheerio~