EXPOSED! Thailand’s biggest secret
WTF! Get on your side (that’s your left in case you weren’t sure!!
If phase one of our latest Thailand adventure was pretending to be backpackers, phase two has been pretending to be ex-pats. We have house and a car. We know where to get a banana pancake at 2am, a decent fry up or find a jar of marmite. There are a couple of places where, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say everyone knows our name, we certainly get a vague nod of semi-recognition when we show up. We’ve settled right in.
Driving is a white knuckle ride. The trick seems to be to just pull out, on the nervous assumption that everyone else will avoid you. Bikes swerve round you from all angles. They drive at you down the wrong side of the road if its more convenient to their route. They undercut you at junctions and swerve across you at will. I don’t mind it; although suspect the skills I’m learning here won’t translate well at home. What I hate though is having an automatic car. If people recognise the superiority of a manually operated camera in terms of performance, why build the equivalent of a point and click car??
The only slight fly in the ointment has been pretty regular backache for both of us. But of course there is a vast prevalence of massage places nearby. But this has led me to uncover what I believe is Thailand’s biggest, and most cynical secret. They make the beds so cripplingly uncomfortable on purpose. If they didn’t, half the population would be out of a job.
Yesterday I stopped at a sign ‘massages by the blinds people’. Half wondering if it’s just blinds or whether they do curtains too, or indeed whether these credentials are necessarily the most relevant, I was shown to a silent room with 10 low beds lined up on both sides of the room. Now there seem to be 2 conditions I need to satisfy in order to have a massage on any given day. One is to have very stubbly legs; the other is to be dressed inappropriately. As I lay on the bed I glanced around at the other bodies silently contorted around me. Then my masseur was guided in, and his hand rested on my ankle. Once he had figured out which part of me was what, he too silently got to work. I did find it particularly soothing being worked on by someone who couldn’t actually see me, I don’t know why. And I’m glad that at least 50% of the people in that room managed to avoid repeated flashes of my knickers.
One of the many market options….Crabs anyone!
We’re loving the fresh food markets; I’m making it a habit to buy at least one vegetable I don’t recognise per trip. The markets are a welcome contrast from the supermarkets strictly aimed for a western audience, where I suspect even the staff would be wrapped in plastic if they kept still long enough. The proud slogan for this one store proclaims ‘flown in freshness!’ something of a contrast to the growing popularity of ‘locally sourced produce’ at home.
The vegetarian festival this month was an interesting experience although my eager forays into street food produced disappointing results. A yellow flag signified that the stall was ‘vegetarian friendly’. Strangely, the food tended to taste anything but. I think it’s pretty likely I consumed my first chipolata in nearly 20 years. We managed to miss the worst examples of self mutilation which for some reason go hand in hand with this particular festival (committed carnivores may recognise more of a link than I do!) The only thing we did witness were a few semi naked individuals staggering amongst the processions, swaying their heads from side to side, oblivious to the relentless din and thick smoke of the firecracker bombardment accompanying their every step. I was uncharitably reminded of the zombies from the film ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Apparently it’s the meditative state they need to induce to perform said acts of self mutilation. I think I’m glad we left it there.
Vegetarian Festival, Phuket
Another big difference of this trip to our many others is how many meet ups we have had with other digital nomads/ travellers/ bloggers. Shall I shamelessly name names? We’ve played numerous games of pool with @undolifetstyle; hosted a last minute random pool BBQ attended by Location 180’s, @seanogle; invented a new cocktail with @moleculeclothes ; eaten a random selection of unappetising vegetarian goodies with @breezyskies; nearly met up with (and still working on it!) Matt from @travelwithamate; and not forgetting the highlight of a long weekend with Thrilling Heroics @codymckibb and co which included hours of playing the highly irritating ‘would you rather’ game (e.g. have one eye or one ear? be able to dance or swim? have 11 fingers or 11 toes?) etc. Very high brow. Thanks to all of you (and those of you who incomprehensibly don’t have twitter accounts!) for making this part of the trip a lot more sociable than it would otherwise have been.
Our Phuket Villa was a great party venue
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