The Village Life Tales – A good Omen
I'm back in the states writing my adventures after my most recent trip this April/May 2000. After spending a few days in Bangkok and Pattaya it was time to visit the village again, and see Momma, and all the rest of the relatives and friends. Poppa lives in Pattaya, with another sister named Moi, which pronounced incorrectly means pubic hair, so she insists on perfect pronunciation. I've got it down right folks, so no problem there.
We visited Moi, and her kids, and Papa, while in Pattaya. He’s a nice old guy. We get along fine. I always bring him some nuts for his pet squirrel, and a few beers. We get along famously. My Thai cracks him up, and he's always trying to teach me Thai and Lao, much to his amusement. We, my lady, daughter and Sis, and I, booked our seats on the BKK-Surin VIP bus for the night of Saturday, April 29. 9:40 p.m. departure. It cost 330 baht each, from the Ekamai bus terminal in Bangkok. The VIP bus is the only way to travel in Thailand. (Except by plane of course.) Price wise they are a deal, and almost (Yeah, right. Not quite.) as comfortable as the overnight sleeper-car train ride. Although on the train ride you have the added plus of being able to have an intimate moment or two with your lady in the privacy of your lockable private compartment. A definite plus, but at about 900 baht per person (one way) for the train sleeper, just to get some private time, you're better off going to the bus station and taking the VIP bus, and saving some of your baht for beers and food and such later, plus the train takes many hours longer to get to wherever you are going compared to the busses. These VIP busses are very comfortable, with seats comparable to business class airline seats. Alright, maybe that's a bit much, but at least like a good coach class seat. The VIP bus is a much better ride than the regular busses, for only a few baht more. Try it! No more of the excruciating bus monster rides for me. I’ve had enough of that torture routine. Although you get better humorous stories from the monster bus rides, I think I'll pass if at all possible.
So, this time everything worked out okay; no delays or broken down bus, no little Thai brats sitting in front of me giving me a hard time, no asshole commie driver trying to leave me at a station, good air conditioning, blankets, and even a free snack with drinks, free bottled water, a nice and clean, though small, bathroom on board. Bring your own toilet paper though, as there is none available on the busses. A very nice and much more relaxing trip up country this can be. Yes! Buddha smiles upon me for once.
After arriving in Surin, around 4 a.m., we grab a couple of tuk-tuk's (the three wheeled tricycle motorcycle taxis) and careen the few blocks over to the Thong Tarin hotel. The driver guy drove like a nut! "Slow down buddy!" I cried in terror, as the maniac tries to win the tuk-tuk Grand Prix to go only two blocks or so to the hotel. A freakin' mental case this guy is! I thought the damned thing was gonna flip over on its side on the turns for chrissakes. Arriving in a cloud of smoky fumes, and squealing brakes, we proceed to check into the hotel with no problems, getting two rooms, with a good fifty percent discount for frequent patronage and airline staff designation. Shit, shower, and shave, and it's off for some rice and such to quell the hunger pangs. A beer or two for me, and a quick dip in the pool afterwards and I'm ready for a nappie-poo until my "rent-a- wreck" truck arrives later in the morning. Much later as it turned out.
We wake later and grab some of the free breakfast buffet. Coffee, tea, milk, juice, eggs any style, made up on the spot, toast, cereal, bacon and sausage, Thai rice and noodles, Danish pastry and croissants, all free with your room. Not a bad deal. This is a good hotel, and not expensive at 700 baht a day. I ask my nong sow (younger than me sister-in-law) when the truck would be delivered. She still hasn't been able to get a hold of the lady who owns the truck. Screw it. Let's hit the town and shop for some goods for the house.
I had been wanting to grab one of those special A/C looking portable fans on wheels that take water and ice in a tray on top, and blow cool air, and even have an oscillating option. I'd seen them at the “Big C” store in Pattaya before, and was informed by my lady and her Sis that they were available in stores in Surin also. I was going to grab one in Pattaya for 2,400 baht, but was assured we could get it instead in Surin. Well, this entailed a trek through every goddamned store in Surin before, about three friggin' hours later; we were able to track one down. For 2,900 baht! Why the hell do I listen to these women?
New rule #1: We're doing it my way from now on. Jeeezus! It's true you know. Women ARE the same everywhere in the world. Thai's are the same, just cuter, smaller, and with nice little butts.
After paying for the cooling unit, to be picked up later when the truck arrives, we stop for a bite at the Colonel's place. KFC. This is their choice, not mine. Seems KFC chicken is quite the treat, and very"Arroy mahk, mahk." (Tastes very good) Everything here is much less expensive and tastier too, than the Colonel's places in the U.S. I'm not a big KFC fan, try the "twister" sandwich though, tasty. Mashed potatoes and gravy aren't going over big with the chicken, but the cole slaw and fries seem to be quite acceptable falang (foreigner) fare for my ladies. Go figure. Cole slaw?
"Hey Sis, where's the lass with the truck?" I query. Another bout of mobile phone proficiency ensues, to no avail.
Doesn't anyone in Thailand turn on their stupid mobile phones? Before 10 p.m.? What? Are the night rates that much better?
We grab a couple of the tri-cycle/bicycle samlor taxis, and head for a store I had noticed earlier while out walking about, where they make aluminum window screens of all sizes to order, even ones on hinges that open sideways. I can use this place, as I want screens in all the windows of our new house, but I would have had to remove the wooden shutters and cut them down to fit and put them on the inside of the house, opening inwards instead of outwards, if I wanted screens. With the hinged screens I can just install them inside, without having to remove and re-fit the wooden shutters. Problem solved, less work required, security shutters remain as is. Let's go talk to the owner and get some prices I tell the family and off we go on said tri-cycle taxis, my lady and her Sis in one, and me and our daughter in another.
Seems I got the weaker driver of the two, and he also seems to be a bit retarded. As we crawl down the sois (streets) my guy loses the other bike driver, and gets lost. What the hell? Sis had the address, I didn't know where the hell this dope took a wrong turn, but my Thai isn't up to helping him out anyway. He's riding around in circles, with a panicky look in his glazed eyes, until my look sow (daughter) gives him a smack on the ass, and straightens him out with pointed directions, and a few sharp words. Thanks sweetheart. I thought we'd be riding around in circles for the next few hours at least!
Look sow and I catch up to the others, and I talk to the screen guy. No problem he says after my desires are translated for him. He says he can make anything I require with some precise measurements from me, at reasonable prices too. This is the first place in Thailand I've been able to find that sells window screening. Thank Buddha! Hey, when I'm outside, bugs aren’t a problem, I'm outside, in their territory, but, when inside my house I like the bugs to stay outside, inside is MY territory.
I'm a happy camper now with this problem on the way to being fixed. He can also make me a wooden screen door for the back door I am told. Happy days are here again! We walk back to the hotel once this is all figured out and contracted, doing a little window shopping along the way. This is the best way to find places and shops and services you might need later on. There aren't any Thai "yellow pages" from what I've seen. If you see a place you might want something from later on, stop, and grab a card for future reference, and remember to write in English on the back of the card so you can remember what the heck you even have the damn card for in the first place.
Survival rules here folks.
We get back to the hotel, hot, sweaty, and (my lady anyway) a bit grumpy. Too much walking in the heat for the poor old lady I guess. She's all of 29. I'm 46 or 47. I forget which. Senility sets in quickly after 30. Like I'm used to the heat myself coming recently from the dead of winter in Boston. I'm tempted to give her a swat on the ass for her griping, but think better of it, as I wouldn't mind a lengthy boink back in the room later. It is a hot day today; it must be in the mid 90's. I cajole her, and them, into a shower, and drag them down to the hotel's swimming pool. I order my lass and her sis a Heineken, and a bowl of chocolate drenched ice cream to cool them off. I order myself a beer and I proceed to swim and frolic in the pool with my look sow and some other kids while waiting for our orders to be filled. I manage to splash my lass and Sis in the meantime, and lighten up my lady's mood a bit.
After swimming and playing with the kids a while I grab a towel and a beer, and stand gazing off towards our village in the north. A huge rainbow appears in the clouds in the distance. I point it out to everybody, and feel its beauty touch my soul as I stand there sipping my beer, watching its colors harden and brighten in the firmament. I could live forever in this one moment. "A good omen this." I think to myself, as lightning flashes in the distant large black clouds piling up on the far horizon. A strong breeze starts the palm trees swaying and dancing about, its cooling caress promising rain later in the evening. Swallows flit about, chasing the coming evening's bug meals, and a feeling of total serenity engulfs me in its silken embrace, as I feel the past few months stress dissipate into the cooling Surin twilight air.
A mosquito bites me on my ass, breaking the spell. I slap at the blood thirsty insect and turn to Sis and growl, "Where the hell is that broad with the damned truck anyway?"
(To be continued)
(The Central Scrutinizer)
More magic from Cent.