Thai Navigation, Relief and the Fire Brigade
During my last visit to LOS, I had a couple of interesting experiences for which I may thank Stickman and my female companion of several years. I decided before my trip to visit Si Racha (sometimes written Sri Racha) and the island Ko Sichang (also sometimes
written Ko Si Chang). After two days in Bangers we decided to take off in the direction of Ko Sichang. As I was intending to charter a boot there, I had my navigations equipment with me (compass, sextant, 2 watches, one set to UTC, sea charts,
HNO tables and slide rule). I come from the old school of sailors who do not carry GPS. The batteries can die, or our brothers from over the pond may decide to start a new war and change the coding. I experienced this effect during the Gulf War.
We were on our way, the lady driving her own car. She had been in Si Racha before and knew the way (she assured me). Just to be sure I had looked in 'Google Earth' and had my compass at the top of my rucksack. At some stage about 70 km south of Bangers the lady asked which way now. I cannot read Thai except the words baht and extra price for farangs. Most road signs were only Thai and we had no map (for that which it is worth in Thailand). I had to think a little (not easy because at the last service station I had consumed two beers, (the lady just nam som) and found my compass. June is midsummer and the sun in the north because south Thailand lies between the equator and the Tropic of Cancer, and for this reason I had to adjust my navigational instinct – the sun is in the north here, (my main navigations tool) looked at the compass, and suggested that she take the next turn just to get off the freeway.
I advised the lady to turn right, left or stay straight ahead at critical moments and she was very surprised as I announced that we were on the Sukhumvit Road and Sri Racha was about 5 km away. I now thought that I could relax and dream about the fishing the next day. Silly me, the driver was a Thai lady. About 25 minutes later I saw a large sign over the road – Sawatdee, Welcome To Pattaya! My navigational instincts told me that something had gone wrong, and suggested to Wan that she stop and think a little.
Why ? Pattaya also nice!
You know I not like Pattaya. Too many drunken farangs and boring gogo bars.
Yes but we know AA Hotel from January and can stay cheap here, and you know beach good.
Tirack, I know, but I have chartered a boat in Si Racha and not in Pattaya. You see the radio antenna on the hill over there. Just drive back in that direction!
Thai lady sulking a little turns the car around and drives back to Si Racha.
Back in Si Racha I see a road sign with the word PORT and instruct the lady to turn left. We arrive at the Koh Loi Pier in Si Racha and the lady drives past various parking possibilities until I notice a public loo. After my two beers on the way I desperately needed to take a leak and tell the lady to stop. The lady does not want to stop there because there in a gentleman in a tight fitting black uniform there. I tell the lady that if she does not stop there could be an accident in the car and apart from that there is an ATM machine there which I need. Suddenly the lady stops directly next to the gentleman in a tight fitting black uniform and I spring out of the car and run to the public convenience. There is not even a lady at the entrance who expects a donation for the pleasure of being able to dispose of my two beers, and it is spotlessly clean.
After my disposal of the two beers I decided to try the ATM. The English version of the instructions were unusable, and the Thai version displayed a text which I did not know from my use of these machines in other parts of the kingdom.
The gentleman in a tight fitting black uniform noticed my confusion and came to help and explained to me in near perfect English that the data connection with the bank was broken. He also explained to me upon my request where we could find a good but not expensive hotel for the night and to drive out from the pier, left on the roundabout in the direction of the hospital, take the left fork -Sri Racha Lodge.
I can recommend it at 900 baht including breakfast, modern, clean rooms, friendly personnel, a perfect swimming pool, directly on the sea and a wonderful view over the bay.
We spent a very pleasant evening in Sri Racha and discovered a very good restaurant thanks to a tuktuuk driver (tuktuks are a relative rarity in Sri Racha) who took us to a Thai Restaurant complex on Sarasak 3, just a little bit further south of the park south of the park south from Koh Loi Pier, about 13 Deg 10 Min 6 Sec North, 100 Deg. 55 Min. 30 Sec. East).
The destaurant has live music, with a good mix of Thai and English tunes. The food is fresh. If you are a seafood fan it is perfect. The fish crawls almost fresh on to your plate. It is really fresh from the sea.
There is only one problem. They do have Thai dishes which are not only spicy but could be dangerous. Please be careful about what you order.
Now and again a guy in complete fire brigade clothing comes out of the kitchen with asbestos coat, boots, protective hat and a warning whistle, carrying a plate of what I can only imagine is a some sort of courage test for Thai teenagers. When he goes by about four meters away downwind, then the eyes start to burn. We selected different, milder fare. I am used to fairly sharp dishes due to my culinary leaning towards certain elements of the Indian kitchen, but have to admit that after eating, my next leak did burn a little (just the one time. No, not dripping!)
In summary I can only say that Si Racha is an interesting alternative to the classical tourist venues for a couple of days. There are a number of bars in the central area where one may sit and also converse with the people who live and work there. It is not a standard farang tourist destination and one may be better accepted by the local population as in Bangers, Pattaya etc. One may even walk along the pavement without fear on stepping into a two meter deep hole, the taxi drivers are all polite (and use the meter). If one crosses the road it is only necessary to look right and left, not behind and upwards as in Bangers. There aren't even any motorsais threatening pedestrians!
There are gogos, special massages etc. in Si Racha but mainly catering for the local Japanese population who I did not see in the locations which we visited.
We did get to Ko Sichang on the next day but that may be another story.
I've passed through many times and never stopped. There are actually many places along the Eastern seaboard that are worth a day and a night of your time.