We’ve met a bloke called Phil, who’s a taxi driver from Eastbourne, and he’s seeing a woman called Nitsa, or something like that. She’s very nice and she has a shop somewhere close to the Cambodian border, again knocking the stereotypes over, she has money see, and she’s here on holiday, so she’s picked up a bloke for a holiday romance. Or maybe he’s picked her up, and perhaps they will keep in touch after their holiday, I don’t know.
Anyway, it was Nitsa’s birthday yesterday and they were making an occasion of it.
We were saying we’d have a low key night because its all getting expensive here.
We had dinner at Romeo’s, a restaurant on the way into town run by a very nice Italian called Francesco, where the food is very good and cheap for this island. We went out late and only had one beer, then headed to the Island bar thinking we might meet up with Phil and Nitsa and Ian and Ange in there.
Well Nitsa and Phil were there and a friend of hers with a 12 inch waist from her hometown who’s name sounded like Cartoon, or something like that. She’d come for Nitsa’s birthday.
Well we said we’d come along, they are good company, so we had one in the Island bar and headed down to a bar on the beach where another one of these oriental bands were playing.
Some of them are very very good.
Phil studied music, he was telling us, and he is impressed by the musicianship too. Also, they just completely swap styles, Guns and Roses to disco tunes at the drop of a baseball cap, worn backwards.
We got a couple of just about half pint size, very expensive beers and Nitsa ordered a bottle of Thai whiskey which tastes a little like a cross between whiskey and rum, I think, but then I don’t know much about either to be honest but she got glasses for us all.
This whiskey stuff is about a fiver a bottle and it comes with a bucket of ice.
Phil had a bucket of whiskey and coke, literally, you can buy a small plastic bucket of it for about the same price as two bottles of beer.
The Thai girls were pouring this whiskey with a huge amount of ice, nam keng, hard water.
Most of the phrases I’ve learned are related to drinking or smoking.
I know how to ask for cigarettes, for example, and an ashtray. Beer is easy because it’s beer, and I know how to say no ice, thank you because why does anyone put ice in beer?
The girls in the 7/11 were laughing the other day because I asked for two packs of cigarettes properly, and this is difficult, because with a tonal language like Thai, the same word may have up to five meanings depending on the tone you use to say it.
The word for pack, for example, and the word for two are both song but said with different tones. This is what Jayne told me, and I had no reason to disbelieve her. I do however have many reasons for misunderstanding. Chiefly that I’m a westerner and it’s very difficult for us to get a handle on the language.
I’ve forgotten which tone is which but I took a stab at it anyway. Score daeng song song, kap. Two packets of score reds please.
They thought this was brilliant, or perhaps they thought I was a right knob, but they seemed very happy and repeated what I’d said, adding that I would soon be speaking Thai.
I think that’s what they said, and it’s surprising that sometimes you seem to be able to understand what’s being said, strangely.
Although they may have been calling me a knob, of course for singing the song wrong. Haha!
Anyway, we were in the bar and Nitsa and Cartoon were pouring whisky, and several times a minute, Chock Di! Good luck! And we’d all have to chink glasses, or plastic buckets.
Ange and Ian had arrived and they were drinking a bucket between them, sensibly.
A blond girl arrived who Nitsa introduced as her mum, I thought, though she was probably equipped to be both her parents, if you understand me.
By now we were all having a right old time. More whisky. Chock Di! More clinking buckets.
A very camp man was dancing on a table nearby, no idea where he was from, there are so many Chinese, Japanese, Thais, and all other ethnicities from the orient, and we were all having a lovely time!
The band were playing loud and Nitsa, Cartoon, Nitsa’s mum or whatever, and Nel were dancing and the table behind us was taken by some blokes, the big one looked like the baddie out of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Nitsa’s mum, Cartoon, Nitsa and Nel. The man is the one with the big knockers.
Nel, Cartoon and Nitsa. Nel’s the smallest.
It’s sometimes difficult to know where people are from. We all look the same to them too.
One of his mates didn’t seem happy, so I offered him a cigarette.
He declined but the huge bloke took one, smiling. He asked how long we were there and I told him three months.
‘WelcometoThailand’ he said, in an accent exactly like somebody mocking a Chinese accent, beaming at me.
I gave him the internationally recognised sign of hand on heart and then he slapped me good naturedly, very nearly knocking me over.
God knows what time this ended but half way through I’d got another bottle of whisky stuff and we’d finished that one too. A fiver!
Well yes, if you buy it from the 7/11, not quite so cheap here though, in a bar on an island, and with several bottles of soda, cost 13 quid.
Nitsa suggested going to the reggae bar and I thought this was probably a bad idea. Nel though thought it was an excellent idea, she’d got her dancing legs on now see, and she was rocking on down.
So we all walked on up to the Reggae Bar, except for Ange and Ian, who couldn’t, on account of Ange having broken her foot falling down a curb. She’s only little and it was a big curb.
At the Reggae Bar Nitsa ordered another bottle of whisky stuff, which we opted out of this time, sensibly.
Pretty soon we were all up the dance floor, me included this time, skanking like a good un, I imagine. I also imagine that I didn’t fall over very much at all, although I may well have.
At some point it started raining. Now, I have periodically checked the weather back there and it is horrible but the only other time I’ve ever seen rain like this was at Kev and Jayne’s a few weeks ago.
To call it rain is like to call the Everest a rock. I swear it’s possible to drown standing up. It’s like I imagine water boarding to be.
It gushed from a point around thirty feet above us, it seemed. Warm, hard and massive, rain not to be messed with.
Rain back home wears you down, nagging you, annoying you, getting right on your nerves sometimes for a year at a time.
This rain however, stands in front of you shouting abuse, calling you a tosser and saying it’s going to smash your face in. You have a big row with it and it’s over.
I’ll bring some back to show you.
I think we may have walked home through the ocean. Happily the dingos were hiding from the rain
This isn’t what it looks like. You might eat horses in England but don’t try tar these people with the same brush.