Tag Archives: thai

Music Festivals around the world

Music is something that in international, but every country has their own take on it. Whether it be the music they make, the influences they work from or the way it’s played. Music festivals are one of the best places to experience this, as you’ll see a huge range of musical styles, both international and local, as well as seeing how the locals like to enjoy it.

Probably the strangest festival experience was a large festival near Pai, in north Thailand. The music was a good mix, there were ska/reggae cover bands, which are pretty common along with the strong rasta influence in the region, there were a couple Thai rock bands, who played a slightly dated sounding emo-rock, with occaisional top40 covers. There was a DJ stage, which was a nice mix of dubstep and comericial house, which unsurprisingly was where most of the white people were. Finally on the main stage the most popular and certainly the biggest pull were ‘bands’ (essentially DJs and some vocalists) that just covered modern Top40 songs. So the biggest names were those that didn’t play their own songs. But even more strangely than that; nobody pushed to the front, nobody pushed at all. In fact, the whole audience area was littered with tables, which worked hand in hand with the drinks being sold. Multi-packs of mixers, and whole bottles of liquor along with a bucket of ice. Perfect for sharing with friends around the little table you had in the middle of the crowd during the headline set. It’s something I’m sure some of the more mature festivals in the UK could take on with great success, but a very odd compared to the usual crush if you’re within 500 meters of the stage.

Another odd one for a UK festival veteran was Soundwave festival in Sydney. Single day festivals have often got a different vibe (I blame people having phone battery), but the Aussies don’t use the festival vibe as an excuse to be social. Instead I found most people stuck in their groups and the day lacked the community spirit you get at the longer events. The music while mostly American bands, was contemporary, even if a few of the bands would’ve had much bigger, or smaller, crowds in Europe. A case of each band getting a different reception as they spread around the world is never more evident than in Australia, where the styles are a little late, but from the local bands, you can hear the influences a few years behind the UK. The fickle music scene trends also really affect the popularity of a band, so while they can reach great success in one region, they could bomb in another.

UK festivals will probably always be my favourite though, the combination of naff weather, no phones and general drunkenness means you can be friends with anyone, at anytime. No matter who you’re watching, chances are you’re there for the same reasons, (because you love them, or you want to throw something at them) and that’s enough to make you friends. The rain makes them a little less fun, and rain is almost guaranteed at some point, just hope for a touch of drizzle over the epic floods that have been seen in past years. The tents, and the inability to find them along with the new campfire friends you make during the search are often some of the best times to be had at festivals. Something which is completely lacking from single day festivals.

So, in conclusion, the best festivals are multi-day with original bands, and a good mix of styles (without any mad clashes). Just like the ones we have in the UK.

Benjamin Duff



The Wheres and Where Nots of Thailand

Recently I’ve been meeting lots of people heading off to Thailand and South East Asia, and a lot of them don’t have a clue what’s in store for them so here’s our places to go, and places to avoid in Thailand.

Bangkok – Unavoidable really, you’re almost guaranteed to fly in here (especially from Europe). My advice, get out within three days maximum, while Bangkok is a magically different world to western Europe, and well anywhere that’s not Asia, it’s also a filthy stinking hole for overpriced rubbish and rip-off merchants. It’s hard to find anything you can trust, especially around Koh San Road, so get out quickly, preferably from one of the government bus stations so your bags don’t get robbed in transit. Try to see some of the impressive sights before you go, Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are worth a look.

Pattaya – Good for ‘Lads on Tour’ and sex tourists. There is a few fun things to hit down here, including the Skydive centre, but other than that, I say swerve!

Chiang Mai – Absolutely yes, the rich Ex-pat community and the relatively small size of the city centre makes it easily manageable, and palatable for those still finding their feet in SE Asia. Pretty decent western food, and a great area for nightlife (check out Zoe corner) mean this town attracts a lot of the backpackers, and now has some excellent hostels that get you meeting and mingling. There’s also the wonderful night market and plenty of almost authentic local food and stores. Plus it’s about half the price of Bangkok!

Pai – Unmissable, the hippy vibe, the Thai inventiveness and the positive attitude make this town a lovely place to hang up the flip-flops and chill out for some time. Live music somewhere every night, late nights in Bamboo Bar, copious amounts of reggae (and weed) that accompany the Thai Rastas, and awesome little hot springs and day trips available to all those brave enough to take on the roads with a Moped. Stay at Spicy Pai for a really inclusive and enjoyable experience.

Ranong – Skip it unless you’re doing the visa run into Myanmar

Chumphon – The gateway to the Eastern Islands, not much to see or do here

Koh Toa – Diving, Diving, Diving! Then partying and beaches. One of my favourites, this island has a good party scene, without resorting to tacky gimmicks. There’s the typical fire jump rope and poi displays, but generally less obstructive than those on some of the other islands. If you’re willing to get away from the party beach, there’s some absolute treats where you can waste away the time sunbathing and swimming in the pristine ocean.

Koh Pha Ngan – The infamous Full Moon Party island. This is almost a rite of passage these days, and missing it while in Thailand is a traveler sin. Sure it’s basically just a load of westerners getting drunk on a beach on dodgy Thai alcohol but how often are there 50,000 of them? There’s also some nice bits to see on the island – the wipeout lake is a great way to spend an afternoon, as is the quad biking. Avoid the Elephant treks and Zoo, they’re not good places for the animals, so until they improve, please don’t support them. Take a boat trip out to the Ang Thong Marine Park for an excellent day kayaking and climbing.

Koh Samui – The last island of the three is turning slowly into Tenerife (or any of the other Mediterranean party islands) with nice family accommodation along the beach front, lots of family friendly beach activities and sports. Then as you head closer to the centre, the hotels get pricier, and the standards get lower. Fast food chains, nasty nightclubs and PR people make you feel right at home, finally, at the epicentre is the home of the prostitute bars. Officially waitresses they will fetch your drinks then drink them with you, flirting until you’re drunk enough to take them home. Not a place we’d stay for long

Krabi – Split into three areas, Krabi town, Ao Nang beach and Railay beach. The town has a few interesting stops including a nice backpackers, but really hasn’t got anything more than beds for the night on offer. The beaches however are lovely places to relax, chilled out areas that most backpackers skip, so not so much of a party scene, but there’s still some cool bars to spend time in. Railay beach is also famous for it’s climbing, rock climbing and deep water solo climbing is very popular here, and well worth a try.

Koh Phi Phi – Pronounced Pee Pee, this island basically sums up all of the others as far as the Thai islands go, there’s some gorgeous beaches, and some jungle to explore, there’s also gimmicky party bars, loud club music until late at night, terrible tattoo shops, plenty of recreational drug use, and a really disgusting beach (which is inexplicably the most popular on the island). It’s really got a bit of everything, but what we really like was the lack of roads, which means no need for a moped, and no drunken bike accidents. If you’re staying at a fancy resort though don’t worry, a porter with a giant wheelbarrow will happily take your bags. It’s a yes from us, because it’s just good fun, without the seediness of Pattaya or Phuket. If you’re there, make sure you head to Banana Bar up on the roof, and have a laugh at the idiots trying to fight at the Reggae Bar.

Phuket – Avoid! Apparently there are some nice spots, but with the centre looking like it does, a seething mass of drug addled thieves, drunken western tourists and prostitutes it wasn’t somewhere to stay for long.

This was originally going to be all of SE Asia, but there’s too many words already. We hope you find this helpful in planning your trips!

Benjamin Duff