Meet Aung Ko Lin, our nightly entertainment during our stay on Koh Tao in Thailand. Over the course of our three weeks on the island I had the pleasure of getting to meet this man who's hobby is fire dancing. He was a very friendly guy that by day worked in the restaurant but by night turned his hobby into entertainment as a fire dancer!
Every evening as the sun was going down he started setting up. First he'd take a bar stool down to the water's edge then bring over all his equipment, petrol, an empty beer bottle to sustain a lit flame and his tip jar. As everyone settled in for the evening on the mats and tables out in front of the bar and restaurant, he'd start practicing. Twirling and twisting, he was preparing for the night's show. Then as darkness set in he'd don his NY Yankees hat, situate it to the side, grab a fire stick, dip it in petrol before dragging it over the flame to ignite the fire and then off he went in a furry of flames and dance moves.
He hails from Burma and has moved to Thailand for work to help his family back home. His Mom still lives in a small remote village and needs his support. Since we stayed so long I was able to make friends and learn a little about his culture.
Getting to know him was fascinating. Every morning we'd sit on the deck of the restaurant. He'd bring us our food and then stay and chat. He had just recently been able to purchase a used laptop and once he found out my profession he opened up asking me all sorts of questions.
How do you type so fast? How do I make a title bold in Word? What is Excel? Can you help me setup a blog so I can post about fire dancing?
In the end, I was able to give him a few pointers and lessons in Word and Excel. We even had a short typing lesson so he could learn a few easy commands like copy and paste.
All of the staff at the restaurant were Burmese and so once I got to know one of them they all started being more friendly and keeping an eye on us. By the end there was always a friendly face waiting to take our order each day as quite a few of them knew our dinner order by heart - two beef penang currys and two Tiger beers.
As our time ended on Koh Tao, I realized I hadn't taken any photos of his show. So the last night I spoke to him ahead of time to let him know to go all out because I'd be more than happy to do a little photography and give him the results - which I did.
Here is a photo with my new friend on the morning we left. Best of luck to you Aung!