More Bits Of Journal
My first trip to Thailand was an 8 day package deal staying at the Holiday Inn in Patong. It was an ideal location just across the road from the beach. In all the time I was there I never had a single meal at the hotel, preferring to eat at roadside venders
or smaller venues. Spent a lot of time in Paradise bar – Mekong and papaya is definitely the breakfast of champions. After living and working in a few countries it just felt like I’d finally come home.
There was an old guy who used to read palms and tell fortunes who operated from the lobby of the Holiday Inn, so one morning I sat with him for a reading. While a few of the things he said were baffling at the time, a lot of them turned out to be remarkably accurate predictions. One of things that struck me was his forcefulness when predicting I’d live to 84.
On my second trip I started off in Phuket with no plans, no bookings, but a full month to enjoy. After a couple weeks took a walking dictionary with me to travel around a bit. We headed up to Bangkok and decided one night to see what Patpong was like. I’d read Lonely Planet so was fairly confident that I could avoid the worst of the scams. We ended up in a grotty upstairs bar where some old broad was doing the tardis act with her vagina. Very sad. So after one beer decided to move on. Went to pay and the chick with me says they want 4,000 baht. I just say ‘no’ with a shake of the head. She talks to them then 3,600. ‘No’ with shake of head. Then 3,500 – ‘No’. After more talk she says there are not budging. So it’s time for me to enter the discussion. I put my hand on the blokes shoulder and say “Look mate”, and he looks at my hand as if I’m wiping shit on his shirt and says ‘Don’t touch me”. “Right!! I’ll pay 100 baht for the drink me, 100 baht for the look me, 100 baht for the drink her, 100 baht for the look her. OK”. I could feel the anger in me, and he must of read it in my eyes because he accepted without another word.
I don’t like being angry and it has only happened on one other occasion during over 12 years of visiting Thailand. This was when I was working in Bangkok and after Nana was closing one night I decided to walk down to the Thermae. Was accosted by a bunch of katoey, with them pulling my arms – come and play with us. Then one of them said ‘oh we upsetting him’ and they moved away. I turned to go and then it registered, sure enough a quick pat of the pocket shows the wallet's gone. I took after them but by the time I reached the alley they had disappeared into the dark. I didn’t fancy my chances in a dark alley so turned round and went home. We were living off Phaholyothin so with no money it was quite a walk. As soon as I walked in the door the wife took one look at my eyes and said “Who did you kill”. Angry – you better believe it, and as you may have guessed I have no liking for katoey and these days will go out of my way to avoid any contact with them.
On my last trip to Thailand I took the family down to Jomtien for a few days. While there have been lots of negative comments on Stick’s site recently about the beach sellers – I love them. It’s great to be able to lie back in a deck
chair with a beer Singha and wait for the world to come calling. And because I travel with my family I don’t have to deal with the unwanted ones, that’s all done for me – it’s great. The police were having a bit of
a crackdown while we were at Jomtien, and every day they would turn up and be chasing the hawkers around. One afternoon I was enjoying a beach massage when the chasing began. There was I lying there with a cop one side and a vender on the other
as they circled me. It’s fantastic. Finally the vender ran off and disappeared across the road. Another bloke was flogging fake Rolex watches. I was looking at several when the cops appeared, he left the watches with me and went for a walk
to come back later after they were gone. My previous watch was looking decidedly scratched and battered so I upgraded to a new one. Although at nearly 600 baht it was the most I’ve ever paid in baht, but with the latest exchange rates it’s
actually the cheapest watch I’ve ever bought.
The wife’s older sister died of cancer a few years ago and we inherited her two daughters, who are now teenagers. So when we travel there’s the wife and I, 2 teenagers and 2 infants. The beach venders love us as we end up buying all sorts of stuff. The older sister took a long time to die and it was very hard on both her and the family. So it hit the family quite hard when they learnt that I also had cancer.
When a friend of the wife learnt that I have cancer she said that I look really healthy and should last at least another 3 years. And in her mind she was probably being really generous, but in the circumstances I think I’ll take the astrologer's prediction.