Sunday, 15 July 2012

Dances with buffaloes and toads

Another morning at Bophut, same breakfast looking out over the bay. We spent another morning laying by the pool again before going to explore another beach to the north on Mae Nam. I can describe it the best I can, but if you weren't in Nam you don't know what it's like, man. This was the beach I said previously was reputedly frequented by scummy backpackers but it's also supposed to have the best beach. We set off walking after completing the usual rituals of liberally dousing ourselves in sunblock and DEET. Especially the latter, since I got two absolute peaches of bites the day before on my forearm which made me look a little like Popeye (also go one on my bum which made me look like Beyonce. Imagine that: the love child of Beyonce and Popeye "Got me lookin' for spinach right now"). We passed a few resorts and eventually decided to walk through one to get to the beach. The beach was awful. No more than a couple metres across at this point and lots of construction going on nearby on this first stretch. However, once we got past that we were met with a wider tract of sand with some very attractive and rustic looking beach huts with very little development. We ate some food in a small cafe (they did a pretty good tom yam goong) which was cheap. After this we headed further up the beach, and became aware of some very ominous looking cloud heading our way. It started raining almost instantaneously as if a switch had been flicked, but we made it to a beach bar just in time and had a beer as we watched the rain move out to see and over to Koh Phangan that could be seen rising up from the sea in the distance. In all it would actually have been a good place to spend some relaxing time, very basic but peaceful. Not sure if there is enough here to keep us occupied for more than a couple of nights, however.

 Mae Nam Beach hut
Every baech bum should have one

The rain that almost caught us headed off to Koh Panghan

Oh God, not more of this bull
This buffalo was in a field we passed on the way back from Mae Nam

We headed back to the main road to return to our hotel, spotting a captive water buffalo in a field as we went on our way. Once back, we relaxed whilst watching telly.

It's worth mentioning on TV channels you can get in these far away places. They had a good selection of channels in English at our place, from the sublime BBCWorld to the ridiculous Fox News from the US. I've come to the conclusion that BBC World is a pretty lousy source of news because they tend to repeat the same stories and features several times throughout the day, and a lot of their stories are nothing but fluff. Things about (and these are genuine examples they had on whilst we were here) how a school in Chinatown, NY is producing some really good chess players or the fact that some zoo in Eastern Europe has had two albino lion cubs born. It's not that you want to be brought down by depressing stories, or even that the BBC doesn't cover them, but they don't really give a huge amount of depth or analysis and follow serious news up with utterly trivial items. A superior alternative is actually Al Jazeera, wrongly maligned in some parts of the western world as nothing less than the mouthpiece of Islamic extremists, but this couldn't be further from the truth as they broadcast high quality, informative and largely impartial news so much better than the BBC. Still, at least the BBC isn't Fox News which is news for morons who think Barack Obama is a socialist infiltrator from al Qaeda.

Rant over with. We undertook our usual freshening up routine followed by the dousing in DEET encore and were about to head out when it started raining quite heavily so we sat this out in our room, but decided that our need for alcohol was gnawing at our very souls so we put up umbrellas and headed out to once again sample the delights of Bophut, having a cocktail at somewhere on the beach (literally, ending up with sand between toes as we drank) and decided on a fairly posh restaurant in one of the classier hotels for dinner, mainly because they had on a Thai music and dance show. The food was excellent if pricey. This is another thing about this sort of holiday. You kind of get used to paying a certain price for food and if you come across somwhere like this restaurant which charges more than double the going rate you kind of baulk at paying this. The thing is the price difference is that between £2 at an earthier place or £5 at this sort of classy place, so in no way expensive by European standards so you need to keep a sense of proportion. I had a musamen curry which was subtly spiced and tasted truly fantastic. We ordered mixed drinks, Bacardi and Coke for Jane and gin and tonic for me. I'm sure they had used lemonade rather than tonic water so I sent it back and it was returned tasting definitely more bitter. The Thai entertainment was colourful and added some (slightly tacky) local ambience to the meal. We chatted to the restaurant manager/head chef who was a German chap who had married a Thai girl he'd met when they were both working in Dubai and complimented him on the wonderful food. My kind of way to earn a living. Get up of a morning, start cooking in your kitchen in tropical Thailand, meander around the restaurant at night chatting to the custom, do beach stuff when you get days off. Remind me again why I live in the UK.

 Thai dancing over dinner
Gaudy but pleasant

 It's a 15 minute walk back to our hotel. 
We've got B1000 on us and need a beer on the way back. 
It's dark and I'm wearing sunglasses. 

So tell me, Mr Pickles, you think your coalition government is doing a good job?

My mistake. Please accept my apologies, Mr Toad

We stopped off at some other bar on the beach where thought we spotted John Prescott out for a beer bet thenvrealsied it was actually a toad climbing over some of the rocks by the beach so I had to take a snap. We walked back along the beach to our accommodation but discovered we'd overshot and entered the next hotel along. Not really our fault as everywhere was in pitch darkness even though it was relatively early, before 11. All that was left was to return to our room and have a swift whiskey and Coke as a nightcap

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