It’s just gone seven in the morning, midnight back home, and last night we packed our bags ready to head off today.
After some research we’d decided on Koh Chang, Elephant Island. After some more research, we decided against that and went for Koh Samet, Samet island instead.
Nel was poking away at K and J’s iPad yesterday and found some rooms, which Jayne called for us and spoke in Thai, pretending that she was booking for herself.
I don’t know how we’re going to bluff this, Nel’s been learning but I don’t think the lady will believe that she woke up this morning, and, do you know, she’s completely forgotten how the speak Thai!
She managed to get us a months stay in an aircon room with it’s own bathroom for £130, which is bloody good, and no need to reserve it, she’ll keep it for us, so long as we promise we’re going to be there.
High season is ended in a couple of days and you can negotiate a better price for a longer stay, but Kev and Jayne were both surprised she got it so cheaply.
Thailand is the most expensive country in this part of the world, but, with all we’ve learned from Kev and Jayne, we should be able to eat for very little.
Cow pat moo, for example, is rice with pork and egg, and Jayne went out and bought some for breakfast yesterday from a lady by the side of the road, and it cost 20 bats each, about forty pence. Kev and Jayne ate it for a long time when they first came because it was all they could knew the name of, and, with such a beautiful and evocative name, I’m sure it will stick in my mind too.
Koh Samet isn’t a major western tourist destination like Phuket and they tell us its safe once you’ve got beyond an aggressive lady boy at the port who tries to sell you accommodation and gets quite pushy. Why do men get like that as soon as they put on a dress? I remember watching a programme about Liberace, and apparently he was a lovely gentle man until he was in drag, and then he’d get all arsey. He once tore the arms off a bell boy while wearing a flouncy floral print, I imagine.
Koh Samet is also a national park, and upon arrival you have to pay 200 bats each to a warden, which is cool. It’s only 14 square km so I expect we’ll get to know it pretty well in a month.
And so, with a lump in my heart and a heavy throat, we shall be getting a taxi from central to wherever the bus station is and heading off on what Kev tells us is about a four hour drive
to the ferry, so I expect it to be double that.
Yesterday I used Kev’s pc to shrink some pictures I’d taken and, if I can figure out how to, I’ll be posting pictures from now on. If I can figure out how to, I’ll go back and put some on past posts for you.
I took some good shots of the four foot lizards down the bottom of the garden, the many millions of Minah birds, pigeons and sparrows and the banana tree growing in the neighbours derelict garden but, although there’s a bloody Gow wow bird in the tree about forty feet from me right now, I still haven’t seen one.
This, I imagine, is a survival strategy developed because surely everyone would shoot the world’s most annoying bird on sight.
Monitor lizards watch everything you do
And so we drank our last few Leos on Kev and Jayne’s balcony last night with the sound of the world’s most out of tune singers drifting over the water like Barnes Wallace’s bouncing bombs.
They do that, the family just down the road, the other side of the lake. They set up massive speakers and sing karaoke to each other, and I can only imagine that they don’t realise how startlingly off key they are, or else why would they do it?
Well, I suppose it *is* the mysterious East.
So now we’re on Koh Samet, an island in the Rayong province, if that helps. We got the bus from Central, and, after ten minutes we crossed a
river, the road rising on a bridge that went on for 70 km and I’m not kidding.
There was a toll gate and from then onwards, the road was elevated on stilts for an hour, I reckoned between sixty and a hundred feet above south west Bangkok, or wherever we were.
We were in a Toyota commuter and the driver was a dangerous lunatic, even by the standards here, I’d say. Engine revved right up to red line in every gear, taking the hard shoulder, an inch from the two foot high concrete barrier with a drop onto the roof of a block of flats the other side. Never once did he let the engine idle, always full on the throttle and then hard on the brakes. Even some of the Thai people looked alarmed as we all gripped the seat in front when he braked, to avoid being slammed nose first into the headrest of the seat in front.
He stopped at a shop, only getting off the throttle to stand on the brakes a hundred feet from where he needed to stop.
I expected him to run out of the bus, hurtle round to the shop, pushing shoppers out the way. He was obviously a man with not a second to spare, but no, he sauntered out like a man who’s shoes weren’t on fire at all.
Not in a hurry then, just a lunatic.
Stig’s Thai cousin.
And so we got to Pattaya, where we needed to change busses down to Rayong. So The Stig’s Thai cousin dropped us at the bus station and we transferred to another Toyota commuter, driven by the Stig’s other Thai cousin.
Bearing in mind it’s probably just a little longer than a transit and has sixteen seats, and there were already people standing we tried to say we’d go later, but they were having none of it and took our rucksacks, and dumped them on the lap of some poor kid in the front row and gestured for us to get in. So. Another lunatic then.
Nel went first and I followed. Nel stood fine, being slightly under five feet but I was almost bent double, my face in a woman’s hair.
You might have expected him to pull away gently, being overloaded like that with five people standing. I couldn’t move my feet cos I was wedged between someone else’s feet and a seat leg.
But no. He took off like a scalded bat out of hell, me gripping the back of a seat with my head wedged between the roof liner and the woman’s head, and my feet stuck in one position, which was a wrong one. And, standing on the throttle and then brake and going through gaps between cars that made me wince, and then over to the middle lane because there was someone slower in the outside, then slewing over to the left, and then all the way back to the outside lane again, full throttle.
When the bus emptied a bit Nel made me take a seat, I was bent.
Before we left Kev and Jayne’s there was one last surprise. A snake skin on the path, about three or four feet long. Something obviously had eaten a snake and left the wrapper.
A dog, with an empty snake wrapper