I don’t mean to moan but I’ve got a cold! A bloody cold!
I reckon it must have come with the deluge a couple of nights ago. I know I know, you are back there in England and would be happy to change places, but I’ve got a bloody cold!
The weather here has cooled down to the more comfortable part of the 30s, and, according to my fifteen day weather forecast, is set to fall to the low twenties in the early mornings.
A stiff breeze has set in from the north east, which gave me another drenching on the way back from Ban Phe yesterday.
Nobody could tell us whether there was a clinic near to the pier where you have to clamber over the boats to disembark and we had to get Nel’s last jab jabbed. The clinic on the island, like the food, the beer and the fruit juice, is three times more expensive, well, twice, ok, twice more expensive.
We’d been to ask when we got here and a jab was 1400 bats. That was four hundred more than the hospital in Bang Pon, and they had a piano there, and a bakery, and a knife shop! And lovely girls in green dresses to say hello and be sympathetic. And it’s a thousand more than the clinic at Cha Am!
We have no choice but to pay island prices here, but that’s a lot of money. Anyway, we’d decided that we’d go to the mainland and find a clinic, and nobody could say where there was one so I put my faith in Google maps, typed in Ban Phe clinic, and it asked me if I really meant Ban Phe bookshop.
Why would anyone type clinic when they really meant to say bookshop? Eh?
ARE YOU LISTENING GOOGLE!
When has anyone found themselves in Waterstones explaining to an embarrassed bookish looking twenty year old that they’d had a one night stand a couple of nights ago and now there’s a worrying discharge?
NO! I MEANT CLINIC. THAT’S WHY I WROTE CLINIC!
So, it turns out there was a clinic about a ten minute walk down the road, where a very nice elderly lady said to wait five minutes and went out somewhere to get the jab, we think, and stuck it in Nel’s arm.
On reflection, she may not have been a doctor at all, she could have been the cleaner and injected her with floor polish for all we knew.
She spoke very little English, unlike what Kev had said, that everyone here speaks English. No Kev, it’s Thai they’re speaking, and you understand it because you speak Thai. It’s not English.
She told us that her daughter wanted to study engineering in Britain but I couldn’t understand the reason she told us that she couldn’t, and then she put her arm around Nel, and her hand over where she’d jabbed her arm and squeezed her and said it was very nice to meet us. And then she went off to find where she’d left her mop and bucket.
The online stuff, which really you should ignore like it’s a lonely planet guide said that Ban Phe is not worth visiting and someone had described it as dirty and uninteresting.
Well, one man’s floor cleaner is another man’s rabies vaccine, and we went a walk around and found it was a small Thai town. What do you expect, internet? A Grand Palace at every intersection? Monkeys playing on the rooftops? It’s just as much of a strange and wonderful experience to see an ordinary Thai town with its shops and people and drains and men welding frames for bike taxis as it is to take a trip down the Kwai in a long tailed boat.
A Ban Phe road
We went to get a drink and were charged forty bats, ten for a coke and thirty for watermelon smoothie, which is made using a watermelon and a blender. Half the price of on the island, and we were served by smiling people too, which was very nice.
We continued on down the street and a man cheerily offered to sell us a can of motor oil, which we cheerily declined, having no use for it at any time since arriving in Thailand and not anticipating needing any in the foreseeable future. He was happy with this.
And so went on down the street and came across an indoor market where big pointy fish were for sale in long plastic bags, and big bags of dried squiddy thingies, and big tubes of durian pulp. Oh good God, durian pulp! Could man conceive of a more inhuman way to pack foulness into a container? Imagine opening that! It must be like squeezing a turd out of a condom.
We were the only white men around and it was nice to feel like a visitor rather than a tourist again briefly.
They like packaging in Thailand
And so we sauntered on down to the pier to get a ferry at about five ish because they stop running at about six ish so this seemed prudent.
The ferry was pitching about at its mooring with the breeze and it was a while before we left.
But then the captain maneuvered back, and that’s not easy, and I know seeing as how we live on a boat. Somebody had just missed and was left at the pier so the captain just went back for him. I can’t even imagine a bus driver waiting for ten seconds if there’s a sweaty running man just feet from the bus stop, let alone going back for him. This seemed to irritate the woman sat next to us, who shouted a bit about it, as far as we could tell.
Ban Phe ferry
Soon as we were out of the shelter of the, well, it’s not a harbour, but there is a wall keeping the waves away, the boat started to pitch and roll and the waves built.
Soon we started to slap the ocean, sending water up, which was then blown right back onto the boat because there was a bit of a breeze.
And guess who was windward, right at the front? yes, I was, and I got drenched, saving Nel and several people behind me from getting wet. People were laughing at me and grabbing their bags of shopping to save them from the seawater. It was like in a comedy show when there’s a sketch set on a boat and a man in the wings throwing buckets of water.
And just as soon as it started the boy who works on the boat scampered right up the stem to be out of the way and laughed at me, suggesting I might as well swim, I think. I’m a hero, me.
This morning Ian and Ange are leaving the island for Kanchanaburi, where the bridge by where the bridge over the river Kwai used to be is. Phil is going with them and we’re sorry to see them go. We’ve all exchanged numbers and perhaps we’ll meet up again. Next time we go to Scotland, or Brighton.
So perhaps we can now let our livers recover for a while and stop spending so much money, we hope.
We got a message to say they were having a quiet night sat by their room drinking beer outside if we wanted to join them. And we did, after nicking into the 7/11 on the way for a couple of beers.
Ian and Ange have both left good careers to come on this jaunt for three months, they both work in the travel industry and Ian was telling us the other night about their holiday in Cancun, when hurricane Wilma came in.
I looked it up and it’s among the top five most destructive hurricanes ever. Ian told us that their hotel, which was very nice, them both being in senior management in the travel business, was blown down and they spent five days in a shelter, fixing the vents with whatever they could find when they were blown out.
He told us that he’d been in Israel when he was younger, and seventeen people were shot dead in a market place where he and his mate were, bullets bouncing around them. He told us stories that we really had no chance at all of topping. But he said that in that hurricane shelter, for five days, with Mexicans who had more than likely lost their homes and families, rationed to a few sips of water per day, he thought they were going to die.
The stories you hear from people who’ve done so much more with their lives than we have are incredible.
We thought we are pretty intrepid coming out here for how ever many months we can last but everyone we’ve met has done so much more, so many more stories to tell.
Last night we went to Romeo’s, the Italian restaurant that sells the best food we’ve found here, though I’ve not tried the Italian food, only the Thai.
We have to ask for it Thai spicy. Most farang don’t like the food hot, see, and Francesco, the manager has had to ask the cook to go easy on the chilli and make it what is known as farang spicy.
Francesco has a lovely little Thai wife, who has a lovely little Chihuahua called Romeo, after who the restaurant is named. His wife is called Tom, well she’s not, but that’s close enough for her, there is maybe a letter missing that would make it unpronounceable to us anyway.
We met her before, and she works in Pattaya during the week and only usually gets to come to Samet at weekends but she’d taken time off to get a rabies jab. It seems it’s not only farang that get bitten by dingos.
Tom and the little waiter who works there, called Ny were looking at us and talking and Francesco told us that they thought we are actors they’ve seen on tv (television), although they couldn’t say who, but he was in Star Wars and rode a motorbike round the world.
The thing is, we all look similar to them. But tonight we’ve agreed to have a picture taken for their Facebook as the bloke who looks a bit like the bloke who was in Star Wars and rode a motorbike round the world and the woman who looks a little bit like an actress they can’t think of. If I’d thought to bring a Jedi robe and lightsaber we could probably dine out on it for free