Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sundays from Singapore: Last part of Thailand or the one where I run out of photos!


Well, I didn't exactly shop til I dropped that second day, but we needed to get on the shuttle back to the hotel. Our Tuk Tuk raced us back toward town, with me frantically trying to snap some pictures along the way. I got a few, but mostly blurry one.

Our ride back in the shuttle took us through some fairly rural area and past some local shopping venues. most of the local shops were in the front part of the shopkeeper's home. Sized like a one car garage, the merchandise was crammed every which way, hanging from the rafters. etc. Through a door in the back, you could glimpse the living quarters (more like living eighths!) There were many outdoor eating stalls that smelled wonderful, more hardware stores than we have in Singapore, and numerous scooter repair shops. Of greater interest to me was the gas station. This was a lean-to with 3 oil barrels of various grade gasoline and hand pumps jammed into the top of the barrel. They even had the glass bubble showing the color of the gas on top of the pump. Wished I could have gotten a picture of that!

The only non-blurry picture from the ride to the hotel!

The town had remnants of the Queen's birthday celebration still hanging. I don't know when her birthday was, but the shops and portraits of the Queen were draped in royal purple bunting. I understand that the King's color is royal blue.

The more industrious folk have converted their scooters into shops on wheels. Just add a sidecar, top it with a canopy and dangle merchandise off of everything. They must have perfected a way to secure their stuff, because piloting these shops around town at high speeds gets all the goods swinging frantically in the wind! I guess this way, you don't have to pay rent, and can take your business anywhere, and if the moods strikes, you can take your shop out to lunch too!

We made it back to the hotel just before the sky opened up and let go a torrent of rain. We cancelled plans to venture far for dinner and contented ourselves with dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was here that my lips fell off and I learned my first and only words of Thai.

The rain was still pelting the planet, so the lovely floor to ceiling glass doors were shut, unfortunately cutting off any air flow and increasing the humidity considerably. I passed on the seafood buffet and ordered a lamb curry dish that was indicated to be mild in spiciness. I had been forwarned by Almost Grown and Not Quite Grown, who had suffered from a highly spicy pasta dish the night before. I wasn't taking any chances with my taste buds or intestinal happiness. The green curry dish smelled wonderful, with a large hock of lamb in the center. My first bite confirmed my impression that this tasted really good!

As I was about to make such a comment to the rest of the dining party, a flush came over my face and chest. This was followed rapidly by the sensation that I had inadvertently swallowed a hot poker. I never got my rave review out. What followed was a frantic shoveling of rice and gulps of water into my face, fanning myself with my napkin, and the concerned queries of my dinner partners. Oblivious to the gushing rain, someone kindly opened a window as my clothes drooped with sweat. Driven by hunger and the unmistakable fact that the flavor of the meal was superb, even if it possessed flame-throwing capabilities, I persisted until I was reasonably sated, and I was in danger of sliding off of my chair.

It was that night that I learned my only words of Thai... Mei Pet (not spicy.) I used it liberally from then on. May I have some water, Mei Pet? How's the ice cream? Mei Pet? Please pass the Mei Pet bread and butter. So, I can't say hello or goodbye, have no response for a tradional greeting, but by God, I will be able to order a not spicy soda!

Sapphire ring for a Sweet Sixteen.

The remainder of the holiday was passed shopping for an appropriate birthday gift for Almost Grown, and floating in the pool. The nights were passed listening to the ocean crashing, swiping sand out of the bed, and creeping to the bathroom as quietly as possible. It was a wonderful little vacation and I look forward to going back. I never got around to trekking on elephant back, visiting the pearl farm, or hiring a boat to take us around to the unspoiled beaches where swimming was possible. There will be plenty for me to do on my next visit. I will remember to have the 500 baht departure tax due at the airport, and will practice saying Mei Pet most decisively!

Love to all,


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