Further Extracts From The Diary of Dr JA Earnshawe (The Honeymoon Part 1)
After our marriage Nok and I set out for a very short (two day) honeymoon, which I will now recount in two parts.
Mum Tri’s Boathouse, Phuket Wednesday 30th March 2005
The emotional cost to the villagers of Thabo of my pyrexic misadventures during my marriage ceremony was very great indeed. However, the material cost was relatively small; a few huts containing the villager’s meager possessions, a couple of hens, pigs and buffaloes, did not add up to a great deal. In contrast, the value of the equipment lost by the news teams when their vehicles and outside broadcasting equipment were destroyed in the fire was many times greater.
It is therefore gratifying that the combined insurance settlement from the media circus is projected to be more than adequate to replace all losses, including the complete rebuilding of the village and the installation of new bathrooms and kitchens for all the residents. This paradoxically fortuitous consequence inspired the villagers to the universal agreement that the rebuilt village should be renamed in my honour. However, I modestly objected that the name of their new homeland should be changed to ‘Earnshawe’. Instead, the villagers responded affirmatively to an alternative suggestion of mine – that the rebuilt village must bear the name of an individual who left a deep and lasting impression on me from the minute I set foot among the wonderful residents of my new wife’s native homestead.
After a night in The Nong Khai hotel, which was reserved through the generosity of the media budgets for all the homeless villagers until the rebuilding was complete, we returned to the scorched earth that was once Thabo to perform a very solemn ceremony. I laid the foundation stone that would symbolically begin the rebirth of the new village of Nancy.
Only two days remained for my honeymoon in Thailand. I had to return to England to fulfill a pre-existing obligation to complete my teaching contract. This meant leaving behind my new bride because of the difficulty of making the necessary visa arrangements at such short notice.
For our honeymoon, we decided first to fly to Phuket for a one night stay in Mom Tri’s Boathouse, before flying to Pattaya and staying a second night in the Diana Garden Resort as I had agreed to play in a golf tournament at the nearby Phoenix organized by Foreskin. Nok begged that her brother Tic and youngest sister Toa, should be allowed to accompany us on our honeymoon trip, and I readily agreed.
Cummings and Walker flew back to Bangkok to begin their new teaching term in the International School in which I had been recently appointed (although Cummings would be taking the afternoon off to partner me tomorrow’s Golf Tournament). However, I will not be joining them as colleagues until late August.
The Honeymoon, Day 1: Mom Tri’s Boathouse, Phuket
I am aware of the fashionable trend among contributors to the Thailand Writing Forums to commit the most intimate details of their private lives to the voyeuristic appetites of their readership, and I understand the positive correlation between sex and the number of views a particular article attracts. However, as I made it quite clear when I began to submit my diary extracts, that it was certainly not embarked upon with a view to revealing explicit information on the activities behind my own bedroom door, nor has anything happened in the meantime to influence me to change my opinion. What took place in the honeymoon suite of The Nong Khai Hotel on the night of Tuesday 29th of March 2005 should therefore forever remain a private matter entirely between me and Nok.
Nevertheless, I don’t believe I am being imprudent in disclosing that yesterday was a long day, and because I am not as sprightly as I once was, I fell asleep in the taxi on the way back to the Hotel, was then carried to bed still asleep by Cummings and Foreskin, and slept soundly until 10am, when I was finally awakened to lay the foundation stone for Nancy Village. Although I am not sure I slept with Nok even in the literal sense, my duties as a husband will not be shirked. My marriage will be consummated on this honeymoon or I’ll eat the corks from Foreskin’s hat.
We flew from the airport at Vientiane and landed in Phuket late afternoon. It was the first time that Nok, Tic or Toa had flown and they were a little nervous. Nok asked if she could sit with her elder brother on the flight and I must say he did an excellent job of reassuring her, keeping his arm around her for the whole flight. I believe he will be a worthwhile asset to me and his sisters on our short honeymoon; he even brought a slice of wedding cake which he shared between the three of them. I noticed that it was the portion that bore my own name in blue icing, the rest of it long since devoured by the wedding guests or perhaps consumed in the fire. Now that last piece of cake was gone, the only physical reminders of the ceremony were the loops of string tied around my wrist which I was reluctant to untie, although I noticed that Nok, who had none of my foolish sentiment, had already removed her own.
Three moths earlier the area had been damaged by the tsunami and there were signs of this everywhere. On Boxing Day 2004, many people had lost their lives in the devastation caused by the huge wave generated by the after effects of an earthquake under the Indian Ocean. At that time very little repair and rebuilding had been undertaken and there were many information posters around displaying the dramatic contrast in the area before and after the tsunami had hit. The Boathouse itself had been very badly damaged in the tsunami, yet it had quickly reopened for business, although there were many indicators of ongoing repairs, not least the numbers of workman’s tools lying around in the corridors and even in some of the cabins.
The taxi ride to Mom Tri’s Boathouse was quite a long one. By the time we had checked in and had finished dinner it was already quite late and I was feeling rather tired. We tucked Toa up into bed in the cabin she was sharing with her big brother; she is so sweet and has a nickname for all of us:
‘Goodnight Mare, goodnight Papa, and goodnight Pom Loy Fa.’ she said.
No longer endowed with the stamina of the younger people, I decided I would have a little nap in our honeymoon cabin and left Nok chatting happily with her family. I had to be fresh for what was to be a cardinal evening, one which I faced with curious mixture of excitement and trepidation. However, I was so tired that I quickly fell into a profound sleep.
Whether it was the burdening of my mind with the shear exhaustion of the last few days or my recent exposure to the vivid detail of the recent disaster that hit the island, I will never know precisely how the following events took place. All I know is I woke up alone in the middle of the night in Mom Tri’s Boathouse convinced that I was caught up in a huge tidal wave that had broken against us with so much power that it had capsized and completely inverted our floating hotel.
At first, I was so tangled up in bed sheets that I could scarcely move a limb. Since she was now upside down, the boat would soon fill with water and I knew I had no time to lose. I should have been thrown on the ceiling of our cabin, but by a stroke of good fortune I found I was still in touch with the bottom due to the tangle of bedclothes around the legs of the furniture fixed to the floor. Thinking fast, I grabbed a nearby power drill from among the tools the workmen had left scattered around and drilled a deep hole in the upturned floor of the boat. A little water seeped in but I carried on, now pushing a power saw into the drill hole and cutting a rough circle large enough to use to escape. A lot more water came in than I expected as I crawled to reach Nok and the others.
I found the three members of my new family tucked up together in bed, presumably even more tired than even I had been and had slept through the whole thing. I was about to wake them when a huge wall of water bowled me over and pinned me against the wall. People were screaming now and panic was setting in. As the lights came on and alarm was sounded, I was shocked to see that the boat had somehow righted herself again, and ironically, the danger was now from the escape hole I had so deftly cut in the bottom of the boat.
When we finally managed to scramble out on shore I looked around me to see that the swelling ocean had already subsided, and although it was too dark to be certain, there seemed to be far less damage done by this tsunami than there was by the Boxing Day disaster. The surrounding streets and buildings were hardly changed from how I remembered them the evening before and it seemed as though the Boathouse had taken the full brunt of the catastrophe, and was now full of water and listing almost on to its side.
Because it wasn’t peak season and many tourist had not returned since the last tsunami (it had turned out how very right they were not to do so, but who would have predicted a recurrence so soon?), refugee guests from the Boathouse were easily accommodated in nearby hotels.
Next morning, as we were having breakfast two smartly dressed gentleman, one in black and another in a brown came to speak to me.
‘Dr Earnshawe,’ the man in the black suit said as he reached our table. ‘I am investigating the sinking of Mom Tri’ Boathouse on behalf of the Chicken Star Insurance company. Is it convenient for you to answer a few questions?’
‘By all means’’ I said relieved at last to speak to someone who could speak fluent English.
‘Please sit down gentlemen.’ I said, ‘There is hot tea just brewing nicely in the pot and is nearly ready to pour.’
‘Thank you most kindly,’ he said taking a seat. Both men declined to take tea with me, but the man in the brown suit immediately began to hungrily help himself to our breakfast plates.
‘Can I first ask you to confirm that it was you and your wife who stayed in the honeymoon cabin of Mom Tri’s Boathouse last night?’
‘Only me,’ I said, ‘I slept alone.’
‘Alone?’ he asked in surprise, ‘on your honeymoon? Where did your wife sleep?
‘With her brother,’ I said, failing to grab the last piece of toast and marmalade which was already in the mouth of Mr Brownsuit.
‘Her brother?’ he asked, looking across the table at Tic who was concentrating on his bowl of rice porridge. ‘You mean your wife slept last night with this young man here?’
Tic looked up and gave a little wink of acknowledgement to the Insurance investigator.
‘It may seem to be an unusual situation,’ I explained, feeling a little ashamed that I had not yet consummated my marriage, ‘but I was very tired last night.’
‘Not at all,’ he said, ‘I quite understand the situation – it happens all the time. But what I don’t understand, Dr Earnshawe, is how a large hole came to be cut in the bottom of the floor of your cabin, which led to the evacuation of, and considerable damage to the hotel.’
‘You mean to tell me that there wasn’t a tsunami last night?’ I asked in shock. ‘Surely that is why the Boathouse sank – because of the huge tidal wave that hit it – not because of my little escape hole?’
‘I assure you there were no adverse weather conditions, waves or acts of God.’ He said pointedly, ‘- apart from your good self and what you call your little escape hole.’
It was all as much a surprise to me as anybody. After many more tedious questions with which I shall not burden the reader, I signed a statement to the effect that I did what I did and why I did it, but of course, refused to admit any liability for damage. The Insurance man told me that his investigations would be ongoing and that his company would be in touch. I had to then go through a similar kafuffle with the brown suited gentleman after he had finished our breakfasts.
I do not accept that I could be possibly held responsible for sinking the Boathouse – I am not a pirate person for goodness sake! But I think the Thai people must thank me for teaching them some important lessons through this incident.
For a start, vivid picture’s of the tsunami should not be displayed willy nilly around the place, because it will upset sensitive people, leading to nightmares, then heaven knows what the outcome will be. Look what happened to me. It could have happened to any one.
Secondly, it is disgraceful that workmen should leave dangerous tools lying around and not lock them away in their tool chests at the end of their working day. Everyone knows what little children are like and how they wouldn’t be able to resist touching them. What if poor little Toa had picked up a tool and had a nasty accident?
Finally, the boathouse did not appear to have enough life jackets or life boats available. Have no lessons at all been learned from the sinking of the Titanic? Jack and Kate Winslett might have still been together – and she need never have sung that awful song. I know the Boathouse was only moored in a couple of feet of water – but that’s not the point. It is a boat, and as a boat should have had the proper safety equipment and procedures.
What annoyed me as much as anything is that I wasted most of the morning answering questions when I should have been enjoying my honeymoon with my new bride. How is a man supposed to get around to consummating his marriage with all this going on?
We managed to just make our flight to Pattaya. But you’ll never guess what the in-flight movie just happened to be: ‘One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ That’s right -nothing to do with the sinking of a boat at all – completely spoiling my hopes of an ironical ending that would have finished off my story nicely indeed. Oh well, nothing has gone right so far on my honeymoon, I only hope things will turn out better at the golf tournament.
J A Earnshawe BSc PhD
What can I say? More Earnshawe magic!