Monday 29 October 2012

Location unknown: Somewhere in Thailand

I awoke in the morning and made it in good time to my new Thai friends place. There it was a very relaxed start, the train was due at 9:30am. We walked via the markets to the Ferry terminal. The ferry took us over the river and basically only 100 metres from the train station. By this time it was about 9:50 and me the silly westerner was fretting about having missed the train. When a train did arrive it was the 9:30 train - very delayed. Apparently this is normal.
Hard wooden seats. 3rd class train
What followed seemed like a couple of hours of bum crunching agony on a hard wooden seat. But we eventually made it to Lopburi. From there a mini van was hired and we were driven to a nearby lake. About 20 minutes drive all up. It was a pretty lake surrounded by low hills and had a large resort at one point. We checked out the resort, which was deserted. That is to say no customers, but there were staff around. However it was decided that we would move elsewhere.
The beach near the resort
Where we moved to was a series of restaurants along the roadside. On the lakeside of the road were pontoons and jetty's built out onto the lake. Narrow floating walkways allowed us to gain access to the pontoons which were set up as seating and eating areas. It was all very rustic and I was thrilled to be there. We spent the next several hours at one of the large tables eating, drinking and swimming. It was a lovely relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
Making our way out to the pontoons
The Thai women all swam fully clothed, whereas the two western men stripped off to bathers and showed their beer belly's and man boobs. Fortunately there were no mirrors.
I have no idea what I ate. I left the ordering to the locals and there was a steady procession of food brought out to us from one of the restaurants. All good, very tasty and very authentic Thai food. We drank Whiskey again, with soda. Lots of it.
Swimming and eating and drinking can all be done at the same time
I took a walk along the pontoons at one stage and met a couple of guys, I assumed from the ages father and son. They were very hospitable, offering me to sample their food, but I was too full from our other meal. I shared a drink with them instead and while we could not say much to each other I think that we all realised that the hand of friendship had been extended and accepted.
Effectively we went on a family picnic, of the type that I remember going on with my parents while I was a child. The difference was that the objective was to spend time in each others company. There were no distractions such as a radio with the cricket scores in the background. There were no games of rounders, or french cricket or frisbees or kicking the footy. Other than swimming there was just eating, drinking and socialising. I noticed when I was in Vietnam with my girlfriend's family the same thing. We went on a family outing, walked a little way and then stopped. I wanted to explore the area, but the family just sat and drank and ate and talked. On that occasion I could tell from the sideways glances that I was the butt of several jokes. That didn't distress me, as the foreigner I expected it. I am trying to draw a contrast with my Australian life style where an outing like that would be quite planned, require games and someone organising "things" and I would be off for a walk, part exercise, part exploring.
Nearby hills
I am trying to say that in some ways we are missing something beautiful out of life. Just talking and creating friendships with little distractions.
Eventually our drivers of the minivan started getting agitated and it was obviously time to head back to the train station to catch the train. Despite the large quantity of whiskey inside us all, no one fell off the walkways and we made it back to dry land in one piece.
The trip back was uneventful but contributed to the callouses on my bum.
It was a lovely day.
However our day was not finished. If you are eating and drinking too much throughout the day you may as well carry on into the night.
I should point out at this stage that my Thai friends were either on holiday, retired, not working or had flexibility to not work if they so chose. That meant that it was not a problem for them to be partying on a "school night".
We reconvened at one of their places and continued drinking, it was then decided that we would go out for dinner. We went to a restaurant with an unpronounceable name. Something like "mon ger ria" which I called Mongolia. This was a lovely place on the banks of one of the rivers in Ayutthaya. It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere but I later learned that it was actually not far away from the Historical Park. We continued drinking, continued eating and added dancing to the mix.
Mongereia - much better inside, don't judge a book by its cover
After a day with the family there was no further pretense. Pa, who is a lovely lady, was obviously quite attracted to me and I had to dance with her, pay her way and generally be the supporting man. I played along, she is nice and it was no hardship holding hands and being supportive. To be honest I quite liked her too, but for me it takes more than a couple of days to start falling in love, especially when you do not speak each others language.
The night ended. We all had too much to drink, and ate far too much. Pa fell asleep on the way home and disappeared as I was paying the Tuk Tuk driver. I had been a little confused about whether I needed to "perform" that night, but that question was quickly answered by her disappearance.
The Bludger went to bed weary, slightly drunk and with a big day ahead of him the next day. I was leaving Ayutthaya.

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