The smell of gasoline hits me hard, yet I am mesmerized Before me a group of very small but well built Thai boys perform fire tricks I haven’t seen before in my life. Their tattooed bodies glisten in the dark and move to the music. It is a truly sensual experience....
I am in Haad Rin, on Thai island called Ko Phangan. This is the place to come if you really want to let your hair down and party until dawn.
I’ve been coming to the beach every night for the last couple of days not only to watch the spectacle, but also to meet people.
I don’t know if this is a bucket of alcohol I’ve just had or too much sun during the day, but I’m deciding to learn some fire tricks. I simply ask one of the guys about it. Without saying anything he handles me two chains with tennis balls attached and shows me how to move so they swirl around me. This seems easier than I thought.
The next night my new skills allow me to have a small conversation with one of the ‘perfomers’. They are all 30. They work for a local bar for food, accommodation and small cash. It’s a simple life but they seem happy.
I’m enjoying their company.
They show me some new tricks they learned the other day. One of them burns himself quite badly, but all he does is smile. ‘Mai pen rai’ he says to me, ‘It’s nothing’.
If you go to Thailand this is the expression you will hear very often. It reflects the Thai way of life, their attitude towards problems. You lost your bus ticket? You failed your exam? You’ve just stepped into a huge cow poo? ‘Mai pen rai!’ Life is too beautiful to be worried about insignificant things.
My thoughts stop for a few seconds: I imagine my desk on the other side of the world, overloaded with papers; my emails probably blocked by now with hundreds of messages, which need responding; my stressed out boss. In a few days I will have to go back there and face the everyday life. ‘Mai pen rai’, I say to myself quietly, and suddenly I feel a hundred times better.