Last weekend we had church with a few Thai friends. Afterwards our friends Lung and Geat invited us to go to a street fair with them that night. I’ve lived in Thailand long enough to know that a street fair in Thailand does not mean funnel cakes, crafts, and merry-go-rounds. However, I don’t think we were fully prepared for exactly how crazy that night would get. After meeting up with Lung and Geat and two girls, we got a truck taxi to the fair. Our first sights were overwhelming crowds, bright lights, and a whole range of foods from toasted bugs to squid on sticks. Our hosts were really into a game of popping balloons with darts, so we stopped repeatedly for more games. They had been at the fair the night before and won three stuffed animals, but had no luck on this night. Okay, let me see if I can describe the crowd to you. We were walking in streets with booths of blaring music and bright lights on both sides. The heat of all the lights and bodies was so intense. We all had sweat pouring down our faces. We had to shuffle because a real step was just not possible, the crowd was so crushing. I had people touching me on all four sides. I began to have panicky thoughts about being trampled or crushed upright! I held Eliza because I hated the thought of her being squished at knee level. Honestly, it was scary. But that wasn’t the scariest part….
The rides in this place were like a horror movie- rusty, ancient looking garish and scary plus ear-splittingly loud. We had to scream right into each others faces to be heard. We picked the least scary looking one- a torn up, dirty bounce house and the kids had a great time (btw, I was the freaked out one, the kids didn’t know enough to be scared).
After the kids survived the bounce house (I had visions of it collapsing the whole time), came the worst part of all. Lung got tickets for a show for all of us. We went up this long flight of stairs into a temporary building shaped like a barrel. In Thai the signs said, “See the motorcycle in the tank.” We stood on a platform around the outer edge, about twenty feet up (my heart is starting to beat fast just typing this!). The bar in front of us was waist level and the kids stood right in the front to watch. I was envisioning some crazy stunt drivers jumping motorcycles over the two trucks in the bottom of the tank. Oh no. So this motorcycle takes off (the driver was wearing street clothes, no protective gear of any kind, no helmet). He took off with a roar and drove up a ramp and then the motorcycle was ON IT’S SIDE flying around the tank wall. He zoomed around and around getting progressively higher on the (totally vertical) wall. I was shrieking, grabbing the kids and backing toward the stairs at this point. The roar was tremendous and the walls were WOODEN…the entire building was shaking. He came higher and higher until his tires were right at the top of the wall- directly in front of us with no protection between. At some points he drove with no hands and even REACHED UP AND TOOK MONEY from the hands of the people watching at the top. I felt like I was putting my kids in danger the whole time- it was horrible. And we needed to act like we liked it for our host’s sake! Every time they looked I me I forced a smile and tried to act like it was awesome while dying inside. I wish I could say that was the worst part, but no, it wasn’t. Ya’ll, a truck did that too! A full sized pick up truck was racing around these vertical walls right up to where we were standing and the driver was leaning out the window grabbing money. Seriously, I don’t remember being that terrified in a long time.
I have never been so happy to leave anywhere! After that,we shuffle shuffle shuffled for what felt like hours in extreme heat and noise until we finally made it back to the truck taxi. Tom and I kept giving each other these wide eyed stares like what in the world are we doing! 🙂 It was not a street fair for the faint of heart. I sure didn’t see another foreigner all night in spite of the massive throngs!