Rambling Thoughts and Observations
The reception desk of my favourite Pattaya Hotel has a square metal tin. This is where all of the lady cards spend the night once they have been handed over to the receptionist.
At some stage of the mid morning the square tin is transferred to a small desk by the main entry. Upon departure, the girls will have their cards semi-discreetly returned to them by the doorman. They will then quickly exit the hotel and jump on the back of one of the many waiting motosia taxi thingys that are hanging around right out front for this very reason. The girls don’t seem to loiter or go to the nearby family mart, and they rarely talk to other girls who may be leaving at the same time although I guess quite a few of them know each other. Are they in that much of a hurry to get back to loom? Or are they fleeing the scene?
I am an early riser by Pattaya standards. If I am wandering through the hotel lobby in the mid morning and I spot the “square tin” on the desk by the door I will often indulge in a little amusement by opening the tin and flicking through all the lady cards. The doorman may try to stop me but I just smile and make chuckling noises and invite him to join in the fun; they never actually stop me from doing it and frequently join in. I am known to many of the staff in this hotel and they probably think I’m mad; who’s to say they are wrong? I’m not sure why I do it either. Apart from voyeurism, there is some information of use that can be gained from my rummage through the square tin.
1. I can gauge how busy the hotel and Pattaya really is by the number of cards.
2. I get to check out the talent that the other punters have managed to pull.
3. Get a “heads up” as to the likelihood of imminently coming face to face with a previous acquaintance.
Now these things scare me. How many times do you point to a scar on the body of a Thai (read -girl), and when you ask how he/she got the scar they will reply “Motosia”, and this scar here? “Motosia” and that one there? “Motosia”, and how did your father die? “Motosia”. And in the next sentence “Me no scare Motosia”. There is no shortage of badly injured westerners due to Motosia accidents either. I personally avoid using the things whenever possible. Every time I set foot outside the door of the Soi 8 mothership (my favourite hotel) I am constantly pestered by someone wanting to take me somewhere on the back of their motosia.
So why the f**k is it, that the day I actually need one to take me up the road to collect my rental car, there is not one of the freaking things to be seen! I’m thinking conspiracy, I’m sure they were all hiding around the corner having a good old laugh.
Gambling – and a bit of quick thinking.
I’m sure we are all aware of the gambling scams that go on. This may be a useful tip; it got me out of a tight spot once.
I was in the middle of Issan staying with a previous flame. I had seen what I had come to see and was trying to find a face saving excuse to head back to the civilisation of Pattaya. I had been taken all over town several times on that rotten little motosia and was getting bored.
There were a few places in town with pool tables and I wanted to go for a few games. The little lady thought this was a ‘bad idea’ saying that she was not very good at pool. I insisted that it would be a great time to give her some pool practise so off we went. We had a few games, the little lady got fed up with the lessons and I was up for a bit more of a challenge. One of the local boys in the establishment offered to give me a game. I accepted the offer and this generated a good bit of interest amongst the local lads. Together the Thai guys managed to produce 600 baht and I was informed that this was the stakes on the game, winner takes all. I said that I did not want to play for money and the boys insisted that it was no longer an optional offer as I had agreed to play the game. ”Time to leave” I say to the little lady very quietly. Uh-oh, now I know why little lady was not keen on taking me to the pool hall. How about I just give them 600 baht and then we can get out of here? No can do, they will then have 1,200 baht and will want to play you for that amount. These guys looked like they knew what a pool cue could be used for other than playing pool, so it seemed that leaving in one piece was not an option either unless I emptied my wallet.
In a flash of inspiration I explained to all and sundry how sorry I was and how great it would be to play for money, but as I am a Christian, it is against my religion to gamble.
And bugger me! They all bought it! The Yobbo walks away, and lives to blunder another day.
It’s a close knit community, must be that half of them are related to my Tiny teerak. When ever we head out somewhere on that rotten little motosia I bought for her (she is very proud of it) we will usually meander our way through the village, beeping the horn or waving to folk as we ride along, stopping for a chit chat here and there, watching the locals indulge in one of their favourite past times of picking the lice out of each others hair, and generally poking our noses into everyone else’s lives. No secrets in this village.
We could take a more direct route to the market via the main road but we are not in a hurry, Tiny T’ likes riding through the village. And I feel safer.
I like the village, I don’t even mind buying the daily 500 baht box of Leo when I am staying there. But I started to notice a pattern occurring. If we rode back to the farm via the village on our return journey, with the box of beer balanced on my knees and a basket full of ice up front, it would only be a matter of minutes before people started to drop by. I had noticed that when we took the direct route it would be a lot longer before anyone showed up, if at all.
I mentioned this to Tiny T’ one day and she assured me that it must be a coincidence as she had never noticed this pattern and we never spoke of it again.
However, the day after this conversation Tiny T’ decided, without any suggestion from me, to take the direct route for our daily beer run and avoid the village. There can be several trips to the market every day but usually only one beer run. Surprise surprise, it was a good hour and a half before any visitors arrived. I have never again discussed this “pattern” with Tiny T’, I don’t need to as she no longer takes the village route when returning from a beer run. I assume she got the point.
Having a beer with Mum
When I arise in the morning between 7:00 – 7:30am and head to the food preparation area (not worthy of being called a kitchen) to make my coffee, I will often find Tiny T’s’ mother taking care of any left over unfinished bottles of beer from the previous night. Unfinished bottles are put in the refrigerator for later consumption. I suspect that when there are no left over part bottles of beer a “left-over” can be created (aren’t I a cynic).
Mum will offer me her glass of 7am beer and I will politely decline stating that it is too early to start drinking beer. ‘Farang Baa’ (crazy westerner) is the response from mum. “The beer is going to taste the same now as it will later so what has the time of day got to with it”. Hard to argue with that statement.
Mum then gives me another lesson in village culture “The best time to drink beer is when it is available and before someone else comes to drink it”
It is hard to argue with that logic either.
I have stayed at Tiny T’s’ family farm many times by now and I am constantly fascinated by what they eat. Every time I return to the farm there is a different tree in fruit. There are bananas, mangoes and coconuts that are easily recognisable and many others fruits that I have never seen before. Many of the fruit trees are very large and I presume old. Some of the fruit is also large such as the ‘Jack Fruit’ which I mistook for durian; these things can be 5+ Kilo and have been known to fall on an unsuspecting head. Even plants that I assumed to be weeds are edible (sorry mum, for pissing on the lemon grass last night, I didn’t know that what it was and that we are going to eat it today). I could never have imagined being surrounded by so many edible things. The weeds that grow along the side of the road taste like parsley, if it is green and has been washed and other humans are eating it, then I figure that I can eat it also.
Tiny T’s’ dad will take his diving face-mask and ride his 30 year old bicycle the 1 kilometre to the lake. He will return with a big bunch of water reeds and hopefully a bag full of fresh-water mussels and some really huge water snails. I got to eat the reeds and they tasted alright, but I got nowhere near the mussels and snails as the locals had scoffed them all down while the ungrateful farang was still summoning the courage to try them.
Same thing goes with KaiMotDeng (red ant eggs).
If you could see my Tiny T’, climb up a tree, (in bare feet) and observe the way she grips the limbs with her feet then you would be in no doubt that humans evolved from the apes. These red ants make ball shaped nests from leaves. Collecting red ant eggs involves a long piece of bamboo with a basket attached just below the top. The tip of the bamboo is used to pierce the ants nest and then shaken, thereby causing the ants and eggs to fall into the basket. The contents of the basket are then drowned in a bucket of water. I was determined to try some of these ant eggs and was wondering how they would be cooked. But the closest I got was to see the locals sitting around the water bucket licking their fingers, they had eaten the lot, eggs and drowned ants alike, uncooked and straight from the bucket.
Scorpion is also on the menu. I have only seen one but it was big and black, really big, must have been 1 metre long (Yeah OK it was 10cm long) but still the most frightening creepy crawly that I have ever seen and I come from Australia where we have spiders the size of small dogs ( Yeah OK, spiders the size of small birds). Now this massive scorpion that I saw was looking like it had a bad hang-over and was out to sting something. Tiny T’ picked up a machete and Whop! Off goes the scorpion tail with the stingy part in it, and then Whop Whop!! Off go the two pincers, and then Crunch! The killer blow. I then did the manly thing and called the chickens over to clean up the mess. Tiny T’ does not like to eat scorpion but her mother and daughter do. I later remarked to Tiny T’ how lucky it was that she had lopped of the stingy part first and then followed it up with the pincers. Tiny T’ replied “It not lucky, I want to cut like that” *Note-to-self* for future reference, Tiny T’ is deadly accurate with a machete.
From my observations it seems like anything that walks, crawls, flies, swims, hops or slithers is a potential food source.
The only thing with legs that they don’t eat is the table.
Wait a minute…They don’t have any tables, they sit on the floor to eat. Was I jumping to conclusions with my previous statement?
Hey!…Who ate the table?…
Hope it was worth the read.
Let me know if you are interested in reading any more of my “rambling thoughts and observations”