There was a stiff breeze coming in off the ocean yesterday which whipped the water in to a frenzy of gently rolling breakers.
This was enormous fun and I cavorted and frolicked for hours in the surf like a porpoise, while Nel sat on a lounger with Dennis and Joy.
Dennis told us, and others have too, that only a couple of years ago, the sea was many meters back from where it comes to now, and that the tides have changed.
The tidal range at Cha Am is very small and the sea goes out only about sixty feet or so. There is a sand bar on the part of the beach where we have been most days and so you walk out, first to your waist and further out to your ankles and then out to your ankles again, and then deeper. This creates a shallow area and then a deeper area where you may swim and be mown down by jetski’s.
We’d remarked about the tiny tidal range, but then, for a couple of days, the ocean went out many meters more than usual and this I couldn’t figure.
The tide is predictable, linked as it is to the movements of the moon and it shouldn’t one day stomp off like a sulky teenager to its room and not come back for hours.
Dennis himself, who has been at sea most of his life couldn’t explain this. He said they used to walk the entire length of the beach, about half a mile, many meters further back than where the ocean breaks now. Eh?
In Thailand, the mobile food stalls, selling all manner of fish, and squid, put through a mangle and then dried, and cuttlefish, and creatures that I can’t even guess at, deep dried in batter. There stalls, which make walking the pavements impossible and have a lighted charcoal brazher bolted on are all driven somehow slowly but recklessly by old ladies, and so it is entirely possible to be run over by a fishmonger’s shop, or a shell trinket stall, or a clothes stall. Or, as we saw one time, a stall selling brushes and brooms and hundreds of feather dusters. Think of that! Crushed by feathers. You could die laughing.
When we walked to the hospital the other night to have Nel vaccinated again, we nicked into one of the supermarkets on the way to buy mosquito repellant.
For the first few days we were here, I had bites which had turned a livid, worrying purple colour and spread an inch across.
For the last couple of weeks though the mozzies have left me alone, and I have left them alone, a truce. Perhaps they have felt sorry for me, seeing my scrawny pale legs, drained of blood or perhaps I have just stopped reacting to the bites severely. Either way, it’s a bloody relief.
Nel, being a woman, doesn’t feel comfortable unless she’s taking positive action and being proactive. There’s a cream to keep your skin young, preparations for your hair, to make it silky, and shiny, and DDT for your legs and arms, to kill insects.
These cosmetics and poisons comprise a large proportion of our luggage, so, naturally we should get some more.
It took a while to locate the poisons section of the supermarket but we eventually found what we required. Mosquito and snail repellant, it said on the pack. Mosquito and snail repellant! You could easily believe they do these things to make us laugh.
We bought the plain mosquito repellant. Nel reckoned she could probably fend off the snails.
And so our last night in Cha Am was spent with Dennis and Joy in the same bar, laughing and listening to the band and drinking Leo beer.
When way past the time we should have left eventually came, we said goodbye. They headed to their room next door and we headed back a few hundred yards to ours.
We got to the crossroads on the main road where Nel had been bitten and the dogs came. I turned and waved my arms and shouted at them but more came until there were six or eight in the road, coming at us slowly. Nel ran towards the hotel and I faced them. It was late and the road was quiet and the dogs were coming at me silently and, without wanting to sound dramatic, menacingly. I yelled and waved and stamped my feet and even lunged at them, trying make them back off and I knew that if I turned my back to them they’d come at me and so I had to face them down, but they wouldn’t back off. I was nervous, very bloody nervous, backing away from them and glancing behind to see it was clear and Nel was a way down the street. I was looking around for a stick or a rock and backing away and then I was far enough out of their patch that they stopped and I backed away, all the time keeping my eyes on them.
When I got to Nel she was crying with fear, my heart was pounding and I was shaking. We were very, very shaken.
The dogs in Cha Am have become a problem and particularly on that little patch by the crossroads as far as we could tell. Late night is dog time down there, and, although we had a brilliant time and met brilliant people there, and the lovely lovely girls who took us to the hospital on their bikes and the blokes on the backs of pick ups who shout ‘hey! For en! For en!’ And salute you with bottles of beer from dustbins of ice.
And the ocean and the sand and the fruit and the coffee and pancakes and the four year old boy who sang happy birthday to us in the 7/11 shop. Even after all that, the dogs would make us think twice before going back and even then, despite the fact that the guesthouse was clean and comfortable and the aircon drowned out the sound of the disco opposite, happily, we would go to a different part of the town.
And so, yesterday morning we headed for the bus station where we were told the busses run every twenty minutes to Bangkok and waited over and hour and a half. When it arrived there was a seat between the driver and another man, where Nel sat and one on the back seat next to a Dutchman called something that is between Hoop and Hup, like hawp with an Indian family who I guessed were on holiday.
There was no room at all for our bags so the driver cheerfully crammed one in the four inch space behind the back seats and slammed the boot lid on it and some poor kid by the sliding door had the other in his face all the way back. Everybody beamed at us as I carefully stepped over the pile of bags in the aisle between the seats which was four inches wide.
The journey back to Bangkok is two hours. I chatted with Huup and Nel froze in the front where the aircon fans are.
We met K&J when we eventually realized we were at the exit about a hundred yards away from where they were waiting for us, having called three times, saying ‘Yes we’re not far from the bottom of the footbridge looking at big C! Why can’t we see you!’
Had dinner in food planet, did shopping for Christmas dinner and took Nel to the hospital.
Hospitals back home are places where you go when you’re ill, or injured. In Bangkok hospital you can also buy bread, play a piano and visit a shop that sells knives, in case you’d like to injure yourself there and not have so far to travel, I assume.
There are extremely beautiful women in green dresses who greet you with a smile at reception and an extremely slender and beautiful woman dressed as father Christmas in a short skirt, which raised conflicting emotions, I can tell you.
Nel was jabbed with the minimum of fuss and waiting while I had a pleasant chat with a Thai man about Leo beer.
We took the stairs back up to the car park, and, seeing an ashtray by the stairwell, me, Kevin and Jayne took out cigarettes for a refreshing smoke. A cleaner lady, with an extremely sour face for a Thai scowled at us. So, wondering if we’d offended her and why there would be an ashtray if it wasn’t a smoking area and looking around for signs, we watched her as she put a potted plant in the planter we’d assumed was an ashtray.
And so back to K&J’s for an evening laughing on the balcony listening to what sounded like whales breaching in the pond at the bottom of the garden, and a few bottles of Leo.
I woke early with a Gow wow bird on the pillow next to me it seemed.