The one thing we’ve learned about the Thai language so far is that it isn’t what you say but the way that you say it. It is a tonal language, so the same word can have a completely different meaning depending on your inflection of voice.
We know this to be true because we happened to mention that we loved ‘Thai food’ the other day, but the ever helpful Thais must have heard us say ‘typhoon’ because they have obliged us with on and off torrential downpours ever since.
But I’m getting ahead of myself and I should start with an apology to anyone who has been visiting Shooting Parrots for updates on our Asian trip promised by Mrs P because there haven’t been any so far due to a hectic travel schedule, hectic doing things and even more frantic catching up on lost sleep.
The journey here was long and uneventful for the most part, made up of long periods of watching films, interspersed with one meal after another. One of these was an uacknowledged introduction to Asian cuisine when we were served with breaded pangasius with basil thyme sauce. What I didn’t know then but do now is that pangasius is an Asian catfish and very nice it was too.
Miss P met us at Bangkok Airport which we were grateful for. Our brains were blunter than ever having traveled for close on eighteen hours and leaping six hours into the future in the process and I’m not sure we would have been up to making ourselves understood to the taxi driver.
As it was we did a circular tour of the Banglamphu area of Phra Nakhon in search of the Chillax Hotel because the Thais don’t do the letter X and it was only when he heard it pronounced as Chillac that the driver got the gist of where we wanted to go.
Strange that there should be this aversion to X when the Thais are happy to name places such as Paradox and Index that all need a hard C. It demonstrates a fine sense of irony that I find quite appealing.
The day was spent catching up on a little sleep (I hadn’t slept at all during the journey) and in the evening we ventured on to the infamous Khao San Road which was pretty much as advertised – a heaving throng of humanity and a market that sold everything from knock-off designer clothes, to deep fried insects, fake IDs and tattoos, permanent and temporary.
But the over-riding sensation if you ignore the noise and the bustle is the smell of street food is there wherever you go in Bangkok. What with that, the crumbling old-style buildings and alien chatter, it felt a little like walking through the set of Blade Runner, but for the absence of hover cars, floating neon signs and terminated replicants.
On Sunday we visited the Wat Pho temple, home of the giant reclining Buddha (above) and the other photos in this post. I hope to go back there again before we leave, so I’ll write more about it then.
Having got our dose of culture we got ready for the drive to Rayong, but only after a bite to eat. Perhaps it was here that our love of Thai food comment was misunderstood because it pretty much monsooned for most of the journey till we arrived at the rather swish Kameo Hotel in the evening.
The plan was to stop over before making our way to Ban Phe to catch a boat to Ko Samet, but things look decidedly iffy on Monday morning with the Thai Meteorological Department warning of a fully fledged typhoon in the Gulf of Thailand and advising that small boats should not put to see.
Maybe we should have rethought our plan, but there was something oddly romantic and appealing about witnessing a typhoon at first hand which is probably spoken as someone who has no first hand idea of what a typhoon is actually like.
Nevertheless, we stuck to our guns and opted for one the speedboats to make the twenty minute crossing, rather than the hour it takes the ferry and even though it was a bumpy and damp ride, we made it here mid-afternoon, pitching up on the beach and wondering which way to go.
The strange thing is, despite all this heavy rain, we haven’t been caught in it once. We’ve either already been indoors or in a vehicle of some sort whenever the heavens have opened, so perhaps Buddha is smiling on us.
He certainly should after we were mugged by a monk today, but I’ll leave that particular story for another time.