Chilling out

As I sit writing this, many of you will just be getting up for work. Ready to face another day in the office, the long drive there, the traffic… Except maybe Phil, who’ll be running round trying to find matching cufflinks and making sure plane tickets are where they should be for the honeymoon after he gets married tomorrow. I don’t know which of the two situations is worse πŸ˜‰

I’m splayed out on a sun lounger by the pool on the roof of a five star hotel, just waiting for the sun to pop over the top of the building. There are maybe 12 people here, it is peaceful and I have been working my way through yet another novel. After years of not having the time to read due to my OU courses, work and so on I am now ploughing through 2-3 books a week. I may have a dip in the pool in a while.

Yesterday was fun. Pop (who runs the B&B) borrowed a flatbed from her grandparents. We loaded it with two dustbins filled with water and 8 of us took off for the moat area and much water-related carnage.

It was bedlam.

Eventually, we came a cropped as the traffic ground to a halt due to the enormous number of vehicles filled with people doing much the same. This did mean we could refill easily enough, running back and forth to the moat with buckets to replenish our (now iced courtesy of a street seller and 100Baht) water. Lenny managed to get his foot run over (no damage done – this is a guy who can open beer bottles with his teeth), and I got trapped when another 4×4 parked on the heel of my right flip-flop!

We managed to escape up a side street and parked at a mall, taking off on foot. The streets were packed with people. Every 100 yards there was a new stereo blasting out music, band performing, or dancers gyrating to convince you to drink some brand of alcohol or other.

We didn’t take much convincing. 7-11 and the street sellers made a pretty penny from our desire to really get in the party mood. Mind, at prices as low as 20Baht for a can of “Cheers” beer, getting merry was hardly financially challenging.

Everywhere you walked for about quarter of a mile, water was spraying from hoses, foam erupting from cannon, beer flowing, people dancing, music belting… Water over an inch deep was literally flowing down the streets. Thames Valley Water would have screamed if they’d seen so many hosepipes in one place. Just fantastic. The atmosphere was enough to raise the hairs on your neck and everyone had the biggest smiles. And this goes on for almost a week.

Thais were giving us free beer, whisky and un-named creamy-looking Cocktails of Doom (I confess I tried to chug one and ended up… erm… regurgitating most of it back into the glass).

The lady-boys were out in full force, at one point trying to strip one poor sod down to his underwear. Only he wasn’t wearing any. They were also the only ones with a decorated parade-style “float” rather than just a truck loaded with water.

So as well as being kind, helpful, polite and friendly, the Thais really know how to party. I mean, really. When the mood takes them, they utterly rock.

I did chance life, limb and leprosy by going for a swim in the moat. Three times. It’s not the cleanest water in the world, but I’m not dead or puking so I guess I’m OK. On a cleanliness scale, imagine something like the Tyne, Mersey or Clyde only without a current to move the water along. I think I bounced twice before I found a place unpolluted enough to submerge.

I made it back to 3Sis around 10:30. I didn’t realise how late it was, but time flies when you have no watch – I replaced the battery but it’s not waterproof so I left it in my room. The others decided to meander back and I fancied a quicker stroll so I paced off ahead. After a lot of footwork I found a section of the Night Bazaar I’d not seen before and a temple absolutely swamped with people. The inner area (where the Buddha statue is) was barely visible and they seemed to be operating a nightclub-like “one in, one out” policy. It was very pleasant seeing a temple being busy with people there for the “right” reasons, not just tourism.

After more random wandering I located a tuk-tuk for hire, and it was another of those who claimed he knew where he was going… but after 30 minutes, two phone calls and him asking me if I recognised where we’d ended up it became obvious he didn’t have a flipping clue. When we reached somewhere near Singapore, I gave up and told him to head for McDonalds at the Night Bazaar. I could walk home from there.

Another thing about Thailand is how clean it is. The streets are swept regularly, and very few people litter – there’s a 1000Baht fine even for fag ends. I walked for well over an hour barefoot with no concerns over broken glass or whatever. Thais walking their dog always have a roll of toilet paper with them to clear up afterwards.

Today I shall chill. Surprisingly, I wasn’t hung over and was awake from 8:30am again. Still, I’m glad I didn’t book the Chiang Rai trip as that would have meant getting up at 6:45! I was going to book the ATV for tomorrow morning, but there’s a chance it might run over and I have to be at the airport by 2pm to catch my flight back to Bangkok.

Hanoi, though, is booked. I fly, one way, on the 26th and will be at the Hanoi Backpacker’s Hostel for 14 nights at least. I think it’s $US7.50 a night or thereabouts, though if I get a Youth Hostel membership I save 20%. This could be worth it as I’ll effectively get my money back after about 18 nights and I hope to be in Hanoi for some time.

Anyway, the crystal clear waters beckon. And I think I may get the waiter to bring me another ice-cold Coke. Enjoy your days at work. Or panicking over upcoming nuptuals…

[addendum – I’m typing this up 9 hours later and I’m a stunning shade of red. As the ADSL at the guesthouse has gone up the swanny, I’ll be posting this from an internet café. On the same excursion I shall be buying a big bottle of aftersun from Boots. Oh, and I heartily recommend Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. One of the best books I have read in an age. And I’ve read some very good books recently.]

[addendum 2 – Got an email from my folks. Turns out that the letter from the solicitor was sent to number 19 on my old street. The woman at number 19 (lovely lass, if I remember) recognised my name and popped it through my door. All fine and hunky dory aside from the fact that I don’t live there any more and said letter was supposed to be sent to Perth. The estate agent, at my parents’ behest, collected all the mail from behind the door and sent it to them. The letter was there. So all these letters to Bangkok and Hanoi were a waste of time and money. I really hope the solicitor isn’t thinking of charging me for sending them out…]

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