I don’t golf, never have golfed. I have friends who golf. Surprising to me, traveling to golf in Thailand was a main topic of conversation overheard both in the Vancouver airport and aboard the plane while I was spending time stretching my legs in the galley a few rows behind me at the back of the Dreamliner flight. Dreamliner, a misnomer if there ever was one.
Before leaving on this trip, I spent a bit of time reading on how to lessen the potential effects of jet-lag. I didn’t like it the last time I had it. I have to say, I came out on top of it this time, feeling just fine after landing and beyond.
The two and a half hour flight from San Francisco to Vancouver, a 90-minute layover until 11 pm, PST, and then another 16 hours to Bangkok wasn’t the best time I’ve ever spent, but I did have some fine conversations throughout the night and into the next day with my seatmates. I had plenty of eyes-closed time as well, searching for some actual sleep, which I did find somewhere along the way. I watched no movies, no shows, and only did a bit of reading in my aisle seat. Windows are so over rated on long flights.
Getting into Bangkok on Wednesday, after leaving on Monday, living in the future so to speak, it was a breeze getting through customs. The Thai agent was pleasant, even cracking some joke or other that we both laughed at. Tim, my long-time friend from the UK, met me at the airport, having secured a room for the night before we were to leave for our next place, Hua Hin. Such the nice guy, he arrived the day before in order to meet me at the airport. He wasn’t holding a big sign, but we found each other straight off.
During the car ride from the airport to Casa Narinya, set in a working class neighborhood, the taxi’s clutch went out in the middle of a very crowded and fast paced local roadway, which rides a lot like a badly damaged highway. The car coasted to the inside lane and almost immediately, another taxi driver pulled up to help. That driver chatted with our driver and then just opened the door and pushed the car across two lanes of traffic to stop on the opposite side of the roadway, while I shook my head, laughing at the other cars racing by, none of which actually hit us.
Most all the roads here are one way. Crazy job to get to the other side of the road, with the use of many u-turn lanes. But I digress. Soon enough, the second cabbie moved us to his car and drove us the rest of the way to the hotel, Tim helping with directions. Addresses and such are often confused here.
“Just past the 7-11, No, not that one.” The driver continues.
“No, not that one, another block down the road, “No, not that one.” We were all laughing now.
I think we passed five 7-11’s before we got to our street. 7-11s are everywhere, along with a surprising number of KFCs. Yeah. Dan explains it this way: many Thai locals won’t each beef, another large group won’t eat pork, but everyone loves their chicken.
Along the roads in the neighborhood, you see gold icons on top of the street lamps and such. In doing a bit of research on the topic, I found a few big scandals in the country having to do with exorbitant prices being paid for these pet projects by the local politicians and business people, for a good reason, I am sure. They’re beautiful, though.
Even along a walking bridge over speeding traffic, we found a tall icon with a gift of blessing in tribute laid gently along the railing.
Our friend Dan moved here after retiring from his work in the States, built himself a beautiful house on a quiet street just outside of Hua Hin, and not conducive to walking to many places. His garden includes banana trees, many, many pots of herbs and and greens, as well as beautiful flowering trees, plants, and a wonderful pool. Which we will be in later this afternoon. The birdsongs in the neighborhood go straight to your heart; even the geckos here have loud conversations with each other.
Relaxing here is the word of the day. It’s a wonderful thing to be back here again and have some time reconnecting with each other, the three of us having met years ago through our couch-surfing group. Tim and Dan have both cooked up exquisite meals. I’ve made tea, and coffee and put out cheese, fruit and crackers for a light supper one night. And opened a bottle of Prosecco that Dan provided.
Dan drives us everywhere and Tim and I get to treat him to meals and such. Covid kept Dan in, as all of us suffered in that, and he tells us taking us around to all his favorite places is giving him a new look at the country he chooses to call home. We’ve been out to various shopping malls with amazing food courts, so many food choices with labels I can’t make heads or tails of. My fork always knows where to start, though.
Everything we’ve eaten here, fresh fruits from the food stalls were the sweetest we’ve ever tasted, in all my life, the workers more than pleasant and we generally take turns repeating NitNoi, which basically says, from me, “I speak very little Thai, and from the locals, “I speak very little English.” Lots of smiles, hands together with tiny bowing takes place. In my experience, the Thais are always eager to please, even if they don’t have a clue what we want.
A new shopping experience here in Thailand (surprise) is the availability of ganja products. Still in its infancy in Thailand, the industry already has a variety of items on sale, from fresh flower to cannabis water, gummies and more. I mention this fact for those who are interested. In the past, Thailand was NOT the place to be found with weed. That’s all changing in the land of pad thai, squid, fish and curry.
Yesterday, Dan drove us out to one of our favorite spots, a tiny squid fishing village that sports a fine open air kitchen and restaurant. We spent a good long time lingering at the table, people watching, chatting, mesmerized with the colorful boats bobbing up and down in the sea. We explored from the car all the changed neighborhoods that Dan has known for years. He repeatedly remarked, “that wasn’t here before, that’s new, that wasn’t here before.”
As we were leaving, along came the Thai version of the traveling salesman.
We know we all experienced changes over covid relating to shopping and such and it’s certainly the case here. Much building going on, along with much demolition of old buildings and small homes. High rises, condos, apartments, hotels, and that’s just the tiny bit I’ve seen in the past five days.
Dan is off today to a medical appointment in Bangkok, Tim and I have some time to write, to read and make some new travel plans. We leave for northern Thailand on Thursday, an overnight train to Udon Thani. Look it up. Tim’s brother and his family live there and we’ll be visiting with them before heading west to Chiang Mai and eventually south to Phnom Penh. Later.
Oh, yes, here’s your first temple.
Oh. And the weather. The weather. Absolutely perfect for me. Just hot and sticky enough to make my skin thank me for the journey.