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THAILAND | Sunday, 17 December 2006 | Views [1363] | Comments [1]

On my second night in Thailand, and about my 20th visit to my favourite vegetarian restaurant, I befriended one of the waitresses, named On, who had recently moved to Bangkok from the North-East. She asked me if I wanted to return the next morning and teach her English. I tried to explain that my grasp of my own language was shaky at best but she either didn't care or didn't understand what I was saying. Thankfully, the lessons she desired was more about friendship as she just seemed to want someone to hang out with, not having made many friends since arriving. She took me on a long boat ride to the north of the city to visit an old school friend, Sakorn, who had built a little garden oasis on top of his vet practice.

Apart from commuters, the Chao Phraya river and all the canals that lead off it, carried a large aquatic population, all in varying degrees of mortality. Those alive enough to move, did so through sludge so thick the borders between solid ground and water were severely blurred. The same could be said for the humidity and air pollution in that more often than not, you were unsure whether you were wading along the footpath or swallowing oxygen in a solid form.

At Sakorns' we dined on fresh fruit, including papaya picked straight from one of the trees there, engaged in persiflage, watched Thai karaoke on TV and dozed. Through broken sentences and the usual charades style of interaction, both On and Sakorn detailed what it was that the vet practice did. I didn't really understand any of it but as I started to form an opinion about the compassionate nature of Sakorn, he pulled out a sling shot and started taking pot shots at all the birds in the area. This wasn't all that surprising really as On was a vegetarian cook, knew I was a vegetarian yet still offered to fry up some of the frogs that swam in the pond, if such a delicacy should appeal to me.

That evening I decided to take in a quiet beer in the anything but quiet Khao San Road. On the way I aimlessly wandered down a dark alleyway, romantically mood lit to encourage burly strangers to grope my ass, and encountered a street vendor selling Phad Thai. Having eaten it so many times without dire consequences, I had long since given up worrying about the hygienic state of the cart I ordered from. Most vendors use their hands somewhat when cooking, but most don't continually lick their fingers as they prepare food for someone standing mouth agape right in front of them. After receiving a bowl of oil, garnished with undercooked noodles, I opted out of the traditional peanut topping when I noticed the jar contained more insects than peanuts. I took a seat nearby to pit my gallbladder against the oil slick and watched with despair as the vendor started washing the disposable foam plates in water every bit as hideous as the sludge found in the canals. That was the final straw so I ditched what was left and headed for a nearby restaurant for a chili grenade to counter all the organisms I had just eaten.

I ended up with a curry so hot that each mouthful was like a near death experience, without the white light. I tried to ease my burning taste buds with an iced chocolate shake but I consumed it so quickly it gave me a cold headache so intense frost developed in my hair and I was still twitching 2 days later. As is the norm when traveling on my own, 5 minutes after sitting down a kiwi girl hit upon me for some company. Apparently I looked like the sort who might be in possession of some weed. Having just read that being caught possessing even a tiny amount could score you free accommodation for a year in one of Bangkoks finest virginity-stealing prisons, not to mention a 50,000 baht withdrawal from my Nanas savings account, I was hoping to avoid it as much as possible. Settling for the legal and certainly no healthier option of beer, we spent the evening playing pool and exchanging traveling stories. Being an ex-prostitute, I was happy the night ended with my pants on and my wallet only (considerably) lighter for alcohol consumption.

The following day my head certainly didn't feel any lighter and choosing the cheaper of Thailands two main beer brands no longer seemed like a good idea. I hit On for my first coffee of the trip and was pleasantly surprised to discover that instant coffee, with milk, could taste so good once it was mixed to 90 percent sugar. Given the way I was feeling, battery acid would have been liquid gold if it did anything to restore well-being.

Another lady from the restaurant joined us and we took a trip to Wat Phra Keow. On was incredulous when I said I had never heard of it and insisted that we visit. If she had of just said The Grand Palace instead, I would have known exactly what she was talking about and declined having been there 7 years previous. Too late did I realise this, but the admission fee scared off both the ladies before I had a chance to state how I had no desire to see a place so overrun with tourists.

So it was off to Wat Po to marvel at the largest reclining Buddha I had ever seen. My own buddha image took pride of place on my shrine because its aura of peace and serenity engendered the state of being I aspire to. This massive reclining Buddha inspired me to a height of laziness that no religion could ever say was holy. Languidly strolling around the grounds of the temple for long enough to forget how long I was there, it made me think that I would be enlightened within the week if torpidity was the right path to nirvana.

The white beaches of the south were calling my name and it is to this call I was irresistably drawn. The island that contains 'the biggest beach party in the world' also contains some of the quietest and untouched as well, or so the guide book told me. And with that in mind, I left to continue my search for any sort of enlightenment in the South of Thailand. While I was convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that sloth will not lead to any insights, I decided to try it out for awhile anyway and see where it took me.

Tags: Friends

Comments

1

As always very entertaining Hazza!! Keep up the happy travelling and continue to update me. Stay safe and have a Christmas filled with joy xx

  Zoe Champion Dec 18, 2006 8:13 PM

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