Adventure Island Part 2
As I said in my last article my mate had headed off to Singapore and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Toy, my hairless friend had invited me to go back to her village as she was taking a trip anyway. She was going with a friend who was married to a Canadian guy and she was paying for her own ticket. Off I went.
Caught the plane and landed in Udon Thani where the girls were met by relatives and we ended up going to a country style showground. Didn’t think much of the dried squid but got a laugh out of the kids all running onto the dodgem car circuit and trying to avoid having their friends run them down. God knows we were not even allowed to do that when I was a kid and that was well before the OHS committees were dominating everything. I thought it was a hoot watching these kids. Just the sort of thing I would have enjoyed as a youngster and it all reminded me so much of my childhood. It appeared as though all of the equipment from the country shows I went to as a kid had suddenly materialised again right in front of my eyes. Anyway I paid for a fair few rides for the kids we had in tow but unlike the prices back home for that sort of entertainment I didn’t have to blink an eyelid. No double pricing when you are buying rides for kids.
After watching some strange outdoor Thai Punch and Judy style stage show we eventually piled into the back of a Toyota ute (about ten of us of course) and headed off into the night. It was a great feeling to be driving around at 3 AM in the morning without the foggiest idea where I was or where I was going just like we would do when we were teenagers. Ok, in reality it was also bloody cold and uncomfortable but most great experiences have some kind of hardship attached and, after all, I had Toy to snuggle up to so it wasn’t so bad.
We arrived in a dusty village full of pigs and chooks and mangy dogs called Ban Don Wai (that I have never been able to find on any map since) and settled in to her brother’s room for the night. As settled as one can be anyway when they find themselves in Northern Thailand for the first time and haven’t yet adjusted to the concept of mosquito borne risks. I have spoken to people who have had dengue fever and malaria and it was just one of those things I didn’t want to get.
The next day we all went for a picnic. The Canadian guy showed me the irrigation system he had been financing for his wife’s family plot. Some sort of fruit tree operation. We then went fishing in the dams for fish with those nets that you throw out and then stomp all over trying to locate the fish. After watching some of the younger Thai males doing this and yelling out every time they reached into the muddy water and grabbed a snake and hurled it out the dam I lost my enthusiasm for the task. Someone should teach these guys the art of sportfishing.
So next thing we are all sitting around in the paddock drinking beer and having lunch and I asked Toy what the wizened old lady with no teeth was eating as it looked a bit odd. While we were all doing our thing she had been catching birds and was enjoying these BBQ sparrows immensely.
After a few days of this Toy and I headed off to Nongkhai. Didn’t seem like much of a town but had an amusing time or two getting silly as a rabbit and going out to Thai discos where even a trip to the toilet resulted in being propositioned for a quick BJ before I go back to the girlfriend. Nice. Didn’t take up the offer. It was one of those situations where one gets up in the morning and wonders if they had put themselves at risk last night or is it just another case of being in unfamiliar territory. I have heard that many tourists approach the Australian bush with an apprehension I don’t feel simply because I am used to it.
Anyway it was nice sitting in a restaurant on the Mekhong river eating a whole big crispy fish with all those extra little plates of bits and pieces they bring and icy cold watermelon shakes and all for about ten dollars for two of us. Terrific stuff.
Got hit up for a 5 k baht gold bracelet and another few k in change at the airport but hey that was the year 2000. From what I am reading on here these days it all amounted to a very modest sum. Mind you, there wasn’t much sex as I decided I couldn’t handle more of the paranoia that I had been through previously. She took it as an insult of course. “You no like me, you no want sex with me” but stayed around all the same. You might think that some of these Thai girls would come to the conclusion that since some of us clever western fellows are wary of sex they would conclude condoms should be an integral part of their lives but it ain’t necessarily so.
Here I must outright confess what I am constantly alluding to which is that I am a person prone to cautiousness. It is not within my personality to properly adopt a devil may care attitude and yet if I don’t take some risks I begin to shrivel and become bored and depressed. Occasionally I venture out of my comfort zone in this regard and go whoremongering but usually only if my judgement is alcohol impaired. Jim Beam – Helping Ugly (and frightened) People have Sex Since 1899.
I heard all the lines at that time that I have later read on Stickman. What a shame I have now lost my newbie naivety. I believed her when she said I made her heart jai dee. Yes I even wanted to put her through English classes. I wouldn’t have minded paying to assist her in this manner but I am now glad I didn’t because I think she was one of those pretty well entrenched in the scene. She knew what she wanted. A sponsor or a husband just like her friend had. This is understandable. Good luck Toy, hope you achieved it.
On my second trip I went with my 22 year old daughter. She wasn’t very impressed at being called Mrs. H****** at hotel reception desks by girls her own age who clearly were not batting an eyelid at the older guy with the young western girl. She would explain to them that I was her FATHER but in the end simply seemed to accept that no one cared.
We did the Bangkok stuff and then took off to Samui and then over to the full moon party island. Well I liked the scenery and the restaurants and the snorkelling and diving trips (training for deep sea diving took 15 minutes on the boat on the way out to the site). Cool. Got a PADI certificate and all. We also enjoyed sitting around in one of those little beer huts away from the action and chatting with the local Thai guys. You get access to a few different experiences when you have a young western girl in tow. She was especially fascinated by one couple, a Pommie bloke in his forties who sold hash back home and would smuggle it into Thailand on his regular trips as he didn’t figure anyone would be suspected of trying to smuggle drugs INTO Thailand. He had a steady Thai girl in her 20’s that he would pick up each time he made a trip. It was her first real encounter with these relationships and she was pretty fascinated by it all. While we were there we also met a young Victorian guy who was waiting around indefinitely for his court case to be heard as he had been caught with a joint on the main beach one night.
Now speaking of drugs in Thailand, here is a warning based on my experience of Samui and Koh Phangnan. After my daughter had flown out to London I was back on my own and starting to get lonesome and bored. On another boat trip back from Samui to the island a gorgeous Swedish dreadlocked backpacker sparked up a joint on the boat and was sharing it around. I then noticed as I was walking around stoned that there were a lot of people so casual about it all that they were leaving their bongs in full view on their verandahs as they coned on all day. I had picked up a companion by this time and before you know it I was up to the same tricks and sitting on my verandah smoking joints and listening to music. As I look back this is stupid behaviour for a man like me but one becomes complacent. Add the fact that you can go down to the main beach and buy yourself a magic mushroom shake in a restaurant and I can easily see why complacency occurred. I am still convinced that Bob Marley’s eyes on the wall tapestry were following me around that night. On the next trip when I was riding around in the hills at Pai and they were all coming out of the woods or trying to stop you on the main road making those joint smoking movements at me I declined the offers. My back home considerations of how well I would have actually coped with a stint in the Bangkok Hilton if I got unlucky convinced me such risks were for a younger version of myself that I no longer am. Besides you waste your holiday being wasted, and it’s a ridiculous thing to do if you are a person inclined to be paranoid.
So that’s about it really for this post. Those few experiences that wouldn’t even register on the Richter scale of possible Thailand shenanigans have still left me with an abiding fondness for the place. My life in a smallish town in Farangland is simply predictable and dull in its regularity and while there are no doubt things I could do to improve this one of the easiest and best options is to be jumping on an aeroplane back to adventure island on as regular a basis as I can. I am still in two minds about this whole Thailand thing and tend to agree more with those who think it’s a bit silly to be living 2 – 4 weeks out of 52 and bored the rest. However, I have to get this Thai fascination thing out of my system or I inevitably will either bore, intimidate and irritate any western girlfriends I have with it long after I even know that is what is happening. Can’t seem to help myself.
As an aside I really liked Pai and would recommend it highly. It’s a place even cautious types feel ok to risk riding around on a motorbike (I was hospitalised for a long time when younger doing this) and there are lots of great outdoor activities to do (hiking, rafting etc). Plenty of young tourists but they seemed a lot friendlier to us older people than they did on the full moon island. On a long trip back from rafting one day we even had a sing-along in the back of the truck and I was the only one who knew all the words to the songs due to my wedding DJ days. Now me singing solo is risky behaviour I can tell ya and not just to me. Pai is still unspoilt in that it is small and isolated. There are no beer bars with girls in them and I did not get propositioned the whole time I was there (oh I did get invited to come in and drink beer one day when I pulled over to the side of the road and happened to look into a house where three girls were sitting on the floor) but there are music type bars with some great bands and interesting accommodation options on the river in huts and so on. You also might get to see 300 Thai soldiers out for a day time jog in full kit all singing like Yankee marines. Quite a sight when you don’t expect it. Some would prefer I kept Pai as a ‘secret’ for those in the know but I don’t care about that. There’s a million things to see in the world and Pai is only one of them.
I have never been to Ko Phangnan. With an aversion to drugs and all things drug related, I just don’t think I would like it. Still, if others want to do that sort of thing, up to them.