We were Wei’d the first time when we were on the way. While embarking, it was. The Wei is the clasped hands, as if in prayer, the tips of the fingers around the same height as your bottom lip with a small bow, or a deep nod, and it’s a sign of respect. However, it’s not as simple as that. Inevitably.
Kev told us, and I’ve no reason to disbelieve him, that you should only Wei an older person, to Wei a younger person is to impart bad luck to them. If a younger person Wei’s, it’s ok to bow, but don’t Wei. You can Wei an older person back, that’s an ok Wei, but it’s not easy to tell how old they are.
Then you’ve given them bad luck and said that they look old.
Back in Bangkok, Kev had to get his eyes tested for a new pair of glasses. We went off with Jayne to get something to eat and then went back to the opticians to wait for him.
We were welcomed with a three way Wei, from the older optician and two young men whom we assumed were his sons.
Well, this was a bit of a minefield. We were ok to Wei the optician, but had to bow to his sons, who were Wei ing and running around finding chairs for the three of us and smiling broadly. We sat down, smiling broadly back, and the optician sent out the two boys with some coins. They returned with four refreshing paper beakers of cold cold orange juiceand ice, filled somehow above the top of the beaker.
The boys came back carrying two each, and, using some ancient eastern artistry, didn’t spill a drop of it.
They had put the chairs they’d fetched by the glass cabinets filled with many thousands of pounds worth of expensive designer spectacles, and the moment they put the beakers on the counter, they began to spill juice over the glass.
I was mystified by this and could do nothing as the pool of orange just got bigger and bigger.
I found some paper in my pockets and began trying to mop it up but the pool just got bigger and bigger and bigger. Picking up the beaker to try and drink some spilled more and it didn’t stop until I’d drank half of it. The boys were grinning and nodding and saying not to worry about it. I hoped. Disconcerting.
Kev told us, and I’ve no reason to disbelieve him, that whistling is strictly a no-no in Thailand. This is because whistling attracts ghosts, and throughout the east, people are scared of ghosts. And I don’t say people in Thailand *believe *in ghosts, implying that it’s a silly belief because many people in the west believe in ghosts too. I do because I’ve watched Most Haunted. In the west though, Yvette Fielding is the only person who is terrified of them, which make you wonder why she took up ghost hunting as a career.
Kev told us a story, and I’ve no reason to disbelieve him, about an expat he knew was with a bunch of Thai friends, and who, after a drink or two, and discussion about such matters, called down the ghosts to show them that they don’t exist. They all ran away and some of them have never spoken to him since that day.
When Daniel Craig exited the water wearing blue shorts and pecs in Casino Royale, he strode manfully and purposeful onto the sand, probably killing a few terrorists on the way to his towel, which they didn’t even bother to put in the film.
When I get out of the water, I am first knocked several feet forward by the incoming wave, pipecleaner arms flailing, and then sucked several steps backwards by the water rushing the other way, phlegm streaming from my nose and eyes and ears, hopping because I have stepped on a stone, and falling over backwards. This process happens twenty or thirty times until I am in the shallows where my feet get scorched by the sand so hot it’s beginning to turn into glass, and then I begin a different dance. This time a sort of hop, skip and jump like in the Olympics. Then a final 9 meter leap onto my towel.
This amuses the local flip flopped Thais enormously, who laugh and ask ‘hello! Are you foreign?’
I don’t wear flip flops
The electric power to Thai houses and hotels and shops and pavement stalls is not delivered by high tension cables like those we use back home but by a piece of flex nailed to a lamppost. Or the side of a house, or a tree, or a wall. And when a road has to be crossed, the flex is thrown to a man who has climbed the lamppost, or house the other side of the road, who then nails it up there. This ad hoc infrastructure building has resulted in bunches of flex so thick and dense that it obscures the midday sun and provides a shady retreat for rabid soi dogs to escape the midday sun.
To inform road users about what vehicles can and can not use the road, there is a sign tied to the cabling at the end of the street where we’re staying that helpfully says 5 METERS. There is another sign tied four feet above it that unhelpfully reads 4.5 METERS
The restaurant where we eat breakfast and dinner most days is called A-Roi, which means delicious. A justifiable boast provided you avoid the fried yellow powder and the basil and chilli curry.
For me, breakfast is a large, fat banana pancake and two cups of hot coffee, thick and strong. A-Roi!
Nel has toast and tea.
The girls who bring this to us are always smiling, as are all Thais, and though they speak little English, will do their best to explain what each dish is. Horseshoe crab, for example, one of the oldest organisms on the planet unchanged for many many millennia, served with noodles and a hammer. Cuttlefish, shrimp, squid, octopus. Many things that just don’t look so good to the white man’s eye as a chicken, boned and diced so you don’t have to look it in the eye as you eat it.
Leo beer less than a pound a pint. Watermelon drink thats a watermelon straight out the blender, orange juice with whole oranges in it, poured over ice. And all this deliciousness served amongst 50 grandfather clocks, casement clocks, cuckoo clocks and furniture made from teak which I’m sure has been reclaimed from an old water mill because there are gear wheels and wooden cogs built into the backs of chairs.