I know I’m not going to get any sympathy from you, but there’s been an unseasonable bout of rain here for five days or so. It started last Thursday, but don’t hold me to that because I am very unreliably informed about what day of the week it is lately, and what time of the day, come to that.
The rain came down. Not so hard and fierce as it did on Nitsa’s birthday, but hard and fierce as it ever gets in Britain. Bad enough to keep us in our room with nothing to eat and only bottled water until after midday when it eased off enough for us to go out for breakfast.
Much of this island slopes up to the hills more or less right from the edge of the beach. I’ve probably mentioned this before but it’s a national park. Did I?
Well, the rain washed down soil and sand onto the road, ramping up the treacherousness to the point where I was loath to ride the little Honda. Nel, however, prefers the prospect of a bit of gravel rash to that of being attacked by dingos, and I understand that.
More than once the wheels slid under us, which is frightening even when you’re doing under 20kph cos hitting the concrete with your teeth at the speed of gravity alone is definitely worse than not hitting it at all. And there was a really sloppy thick black oozing mud patch for which I slowed even further. It’s not just that the mud is slippery, but also it’s impossible to see the pot holes, and, even though we’ve been riding this road for three weeks now, they’re far too many to memorize.
In the places where the potholes aren’t obscured by the mud, the rain has scoured away the dirt and stones that had accumulated in them, leaving them deeper than they were the day before, and the cracks wider. Yep, the roads got even worse.
We got down to the main street uninjured but lightly muddied, and it was under water, about two or three inches of it.
Back from the main street there is a temple, as there is in any Thai community, numerous as the village churches back home I suppose. In front of this temple is a sizeable pond, and it was flooding. One of the side streets was more than ankle deep, and I know this because we saw people walking through it, and it was up to their ankles.
There were pumps running, and big blue flexible hoses moving the water from the pond straight into the main street, where there are drains.
It was quite beautiful really because the street was running with water weeds, tiny green leaves floating down the road.
I have no idea whether there are any authorities organizing this transfer of water from one place to another, or whether it happened spontaneously, it seemed to be. People were just dealing with it, and men had the covers off the drains and were pulling out big nets full of the pond weeds which were clogging them up, and other men were sorting out more hoses. It seemed like they were quite practiced at it, and I’m sure they are, in a country which has a six month long wet season.
We parked the little Honda up and walked down to get breakfast at the cafe club, above the Irish bar, – yes there’s even an Irish bar here, O’Malleys, or something – where we sat eating omelettes and drinking coffee and watching the store owners clear up.
One of the men who was fishing around in the drain, clearing the weed away fished out a fish, quite a big one. Well, I say big, it was plobly about six inches long, but he seemed surprised, showing it to the other men, so apparently that wasn’t normal.
More normal than a fish walking into a bar, mind, as far as I’m concerned. That doesn’t happen back home. Not even at The Barge.
So it’s wet, so what. The roads further on are worse. They were worse before the rain, the ones with the spiky granitey rocks, and so we’ve not even thought about going to any of the farther beaches for the last few days.
We looked, and it’s thick, sloppy, brown orangey oomscah once you’re through the gates to the national park, so we’ve stayed nearer. I’m bored of white sand beaches anyway.
There’s a beach nearer, with no bitey sand flies this side of town which no-one goes to. Yesterday there were two western girls lying on it a but today there was no-one but us.
It’s been cooler, but that’s good, I’m happier at twenty seven degree than thirty five anyway.
Down on this beach, there are no resorts, but there is a wooden pier, and half way down it there’s a wooden gazebo, with bench seats, where we sat and read for three hours or so.
Oh how I hate not having a job.
The ocean is so clear and blue, we watched the fish, and, when we wished to take a breather from reading, when we felt like we needed some exercise, we turned our heads to look at the trees, and the rocks, and the ocean, and the Thai kids with fishing rods catching dinner.
After a couple of hours of strenuous reading, and periods of strenuous lookin around a bit, I did get up off my arse to walk away and see what bird it was singing on the roof of the gazebo thing we were bumming in.
Well, it was an hilarious mynah bird, who walked down the steeply shingled roof and stood on the very lowest point it could get to, and then, putting its head between it’s legs, it peered in at Nel, wondering what manner of creature it is, sitting there. Or maybe it was curious to know what she was reading. It looked that way to me anyway.
Last night we came back early. I’d bought a couple of beers from the ladyboy at the 7/11, but the landlady here was still up so I bought a beer from her too, still trying to make friends.
Nel went inside to read and I sat out here smoking and drinking beer and listening to the ocean, and the fridge, and some kids at the hotel opposite playing ukuleles, and singing. Unusually, for Thais, they sounded good, and I wasn’t ready for bye byes yet, so after I’d finished my beer I went over to listen. I *did* ask Nel to come with me but she wanted to read.
I sidled over there with a new beer, smiled at them and sat down.
This caused a bit of a stir but I just sat, listening, and clapped quietly, to let them know I appreciated it.
One of the girls, who was more gregarious than the others went to the big polystyrene box that they’d bought with them, and filled a half pint wobbly plastic glass with ice and whiskey, mostly ice, and handed it to me, smiling, and gestured that I should join them.
By now they’d figured out that I speak English, and we all clinked our wobbly plastic glasses together, as best you can, and they said ‘shears!’ And I said ‘chock di’, and we all laughed, because we’re strangers, and don’t speak each other’s language.
I ate seafood with them. I never eat seafood, I hate seafood but one of the blokes pulled little meaty things from shells and gave it to me. He probably thought I’d make a meal of it. I don’t know if you’re supposed to dip them in chilli, but I did.
I picked up a ukulele and tried to work out how to play a leprechaun guitar with only four strings when each finger covers most of the strings and one of the blokes gave me a song sheet with the chords drawn on it. The words were in Thai of course, and a girl called Mimi sat down by my side and sang along as I strummed. One of the few people I’ve come across in Thailand who can sing in tune!
Well, they took pictures and I showed them pictures of where I live, and we drank more whisky and after an hour or so Nel came across, but by now the party was breaking up anyway