Things started to crumble organisationally-wise so I’ve headed back to Bangkok to try and sort them. I’ll get to them further down (along with further plans), but in the meantime, the last couple of days…
On Monday night we jumped on board one of the tourist buses after the work day finished and headed for Kanchanaburi. There we ended up in a backpacker’s joint called the Jolly Frog and had nice food and much beer. 85Baht for a steak can’t be complained about. The beer was Chaing and came in “towers” – a huge plastic structure that looks a bit like a blender but filled with beer, sloshing around a central core of ice to keep it chilled. It arrives with a handful of half-pint mugs and a free cap or t-shirt. 240Baht for 3 litres of get-drunk-juice. Nice.
We went through a few.
7-11 was visited and somewhat naughty snackfoods stocked up on. We felt like kids in a boarding school breaking the rules, but what the hey. Several days of nothing but cow pat guy gets to everyone after a while.
On Tuesday I finally managed to get bitten by a tiger. OK, it barely scratched me, but it drew blood (not enough to drip but it took enough layers off for blood to show). And it did so with its teeth. So I was bitten by a tiger and have a mild skin abrasion to show for it. Leo has a big hole in his jeans were another of the cubs took a nibble down near his shin.
I also got some fantastic photos of the cubs lost in the upper reaches of the canyon. One of the staff is mental – moreso than most – and teased them into following him up a steep incline. Two of them then did the stereotypical cat thing and realised they could no longer get down. While I was taking pictures, I kept hearing cries of “watch out!” and looking back down the slope to see a cub bounding at me before pouncing on my ankle and gnawing it through my jeans.
Now I know why they insisted on long trousers for working with the tigers. Especially useful as this happened three times.
I can’t thank the staff there enough for allowing me to spend what little time I did. Sure, a couple of hundred people a day walk through and touch the tigers, but only a handful a year get to wash them, feed them and share breakfast with the monks. It was very much an honour and a memory I will never lose.
Now to change the subject and on to my current problems…
First up, the Post Office managed to lose the only copy of the Power of Attorney my mother needs to sign to be able to handle the house sale (and other things) in my absence. The only way to replace it is to have me sign another copy… For which I need an address for the solicitor to send it to. The closest I have is Joy and Nacho in Bangkok, so it looks like I’ll be here until that piece of mail appears.
Secondly, 5 days after booking I was informed that the hotel I was staying at in Chaing Mai is fully booked and there were no alternatives. This from an agency that’s meant to get back to me within 48 hours with my booking status. I tried another which (after returning to Bangkok) I was told was also full, though at least that reply was well within half a day. I have, however, booked into the alternative offered to that one subject to my card being accepted. The downside is it doesn’t seem as nice a place as my original and it’s almost twice the price (but still very reasonable). Given that it’s Songkran next week, the hotels are busy so I guess it was expected. Essentially, Songkran is Thai new year, and it lasts 3 days – 13th to 15th of April. The 15th is when everyone heads home to celebrate and Bangkok empties! That’ll make for a fun time here when my flight lands as I’m heading to Bangkok on the Saturday.
Thirdly, Lou’s having problems with her New Zealand work permit. It was meant to be sorted ages ago, but the agency have lost her paperwork twice. They’ve now been faxed it for the third time by one of her colleagues back in Blighty but she’s been warned that registration can take up to four months… so she may have to go home to work. Whether this would mean ending her trip altogether, or flying back out I don’t know.
Fourthly, Student Loans have done their sums wrong and reckon I have to start paying them back each month. This is nigh on impossible to sort out from here as they will not communicate by email, only by phone or letter. How convenient. For them.
So, I’m back at Big John’s on Thonglor Soi 9 using the free wireless broadband and sorting things a lot quicker than I could at the temple. I’m also getting a little head cold and the lack of sleep wasn’t helping.
I’m enjoying Thailand quite a bit and I’m getting tempted to use up my whole 2 months’ visa allowance. Kho Samui is tempting as is Phuket, which has a small island called Koh Ping-Gan off its shore. Most will recognise it as the lair of Scaramanga – the Man With The Golden Gun from the Bond film of the same name.
Effectively, I have a month to play with (my visa expires on May 13th) so we shall see. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to having to organise another Vietnamese visa anyway. Time to start pricing up hostels and flights!