Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Impounded motorbike in Trang. Poker. New girlfriend.

Happy

I am loving Trang - really loving it. I like my job. I like all my new friends. I like the town. I have no complaints at all. In hindsight I'm glad the Chinese Embassy in KL was such a pain in the arse because I doubt living in China would be as pleasant as being here. It feels like everything has dropped into place perfectly - life is great right now.

When not working I'm hanging around various Trang watering holes drinking either coffee during the week or copious amounts of beer at the weekends. I have not spent much time in my room recently hence the lack of posts - no time!


Poker

Stefan (Eng), Mac (Can), Conrad (RSA), Mike (Eng) and his son Ben enjoying a highly illegal game of poker with beer. Gambling is illegal here but industrious Farangs always find ways around these things. Even the movie 'The King and I' is banned here. I actually won the first hand which must have been beginner's luck since I didn't know what was going on! I left only 100Bt down which was a bonus. It was an excellent night and I'm looking forward to the next game.

Police

Talking of law, I experienced my first brush with the Thai Police recently. I have heard all kinds of nightmare stories about corrupt police officers but my encounter was a very positive one. I had parked my scooter in a stupid place one day. I went to see my mate for a few hours and had the shock of my life when I returned for my bike - it wasn't there. My initial thought was "Shit, some bastard's stolen my motorbike". I was panicking because I'm only renting this bike and I'd be liable to pay for a replacement. It would probably cost me 1 month's salary.

Anyway, a Thai moto-taxi bloke came over. He could see I was in a spin. He calmed me down by informing me "No ploblem, police take". I was reassured because I now knew it hadn't been stolen. However, now I had to deal with the police to try and get my bike returned. My friend Marty came with me since he is fluent in Thai and he has dealt with this kind of thing before. The police were very nice and I had my bike back within 30mins. I was expecting to have to hand over some cash but, unbelievably, they never asked. I played the dumb Farang tourist very well. The police were polite, courteous and constantly smiling. They were even ribbing me about NUFC being so crap!

Jai Dee - good heart.

This goes to show that most Thai people are wonderful. I am tired of hearing jaded Farangs complaining about living here. They bring me down. I think Thailand rocks! The people I have encountered in Trang are excellent. They are friendly, generous and always smiling - it warms my heart every time someone smiles at me when going about my daily business. If you don't like it here........f*ck off home! Don't stay and whinge about it.

Sure, Thailand has some issues but we often forget it's still a developing country. These issues pale into insignificance when weighing up the pros and cons of living here. Thailand v England? No brainer I'm afraid.

Luxury

Mike's massive house on a gorgeous estate in Trang. This is where a few Farangs and well-heeled Thais live. It could be yours for about £50,000. I was gob-smacked when I visited here. I had no idea such places existed in Trang. This place reminds me of a sunnier, cheaper and happier Darras Hall estate in Ponteland.

Nice!
However, here's a reminder that you're still in Asia. Look at the bamboo scaffolding. I think it looks great. Better for the environment too although I doubt Thailand's Health and Safety legislation is up to England's standards! Bamboo is an incredibly strong resource as thousands of Asians over millenia will testify. Like in China, it can be seen everywhere here too. These structures always look flimsy to me but they are actually very strong.

Crazy characters

I had a great weekend with these two. Marty is originally from Liverpool but has been in Thailand 9 years. Lynn was visiting him from London. They were awesome. Totally mental and totally hilarious. Man, can these two drink!

Marty's a great lad. I bumped into him on his second night here in Sam's bar and did a double-take when I noticed he was wearing a skirt! It turns out he's as camp as a row of tents - hehe. We both headed to Trang's sole disco going by the name 'Say Yes' (or 'Say No' to give it its nickname). It was a mint night. Marty was the centre of attention as he did some outrageous dancing on an elevated platform in his skirt. I'm not sure what the locals made of him! We drank until sunrise in a garden. Many folk regretted not joining us since we had a riot. What a bloke!

This is Su who runs 'Yoo Ni' bar. She's a good laugh. She helps me learn Thai and for some reason always enquires how many wanks I've had each day:

"Wan nee chuk wow gee tee?"

I return the question with another question:

"Wan nee kun mee nom yai tammai?"
(Why do your tits look big today?)

And the conversations seem to carry on at gutter level for the remainder of the evenings - hehe.

This is Dam. He is Dum's husband. These two cook meals in their little cafe. They invited me to a karaoke one night for a few beers. I agreed to sing a song but they only had one English song: 'Hello' by Lionel Richie. Needless to say I made a right arse of it - hehe. Conversely, Dam and Dum sang superbly.

Work

Teacher Steve preparing Maths course books in accordance with the Thai curriculum. These curriculum books are written in Thai (obviously) so it's quite a challenge deciphering what needs to be taught. I received my timetable yesterday and discovered I'll be teaching 14hrs of maths to 12-15 year olds, 4hrs of English to 18 year olds and a 1 hr activity period of which I'm not sure what I'll be doing - any ideas?

Here's my desk right next to Ian's. Ian is the Maths teacher for the 16-18year olds. Luckily, this room has AC as it's boiling here most days.

I had meal with Bao the other day. He's from Henan province in China and teaches Chinese language. There seems to be a push to learn Chinese in Asian countries right now as China's economy continues to gather momentum. I asked if I could sit in on a few of his lessons as I am keen to refresh my 中文 language skills. He was impressed at how much Chinese bollicks I could remember, as were the new Filipino teachers as I blurted out a few Tagalog phrases - hehe.

I got paid last week. The princely sum of 30,000baht (£600) was deposited on time into my new Thai bank account. It felt good to get a monthly salary again after 1 year of abstinence. I need to go to Penang next weekend to obtain a Non-Imm-B visa at the Thai consulate. I'm praying to Buddha that this will be a painless procedure since my recent luck with officialdom has not been too good.

On the piss

This is myself, Rin, Brown and Joe enjoying some Leo beer, Regency brandy with soda and the spiciest of Isaan food. Just an average Sunday in Trang.

Can you see the cat-fish? I think the food is just an excuse to get drunk. Rin is just about to eat some rocket fuel (or som tam) - I call him Wayne Rooney since he's Thailand's look-a-like answer to England's enigmatic striker - hehe.

After a particularly gruelling pub-crawl we ended up in another karaoke where this 'Henna' tattoo somehow manifested itself on my left thigh. Pretty arty I reckon: An erect penis emerging from testicles that appear to spell LOVE. What would the Tate Modern make of this?

Get that bloody elephant out of my bar! Here's Russel and Pat feeding a behemoth. Worryingly, that's my motorbike on the left - I hope the big lad is sober.

Another day, another motorbike crash. This one is just outside Stefan's cafe. A rope came lose on a pick up truck and somehow ended up almost garroting a guy behind on a motorbike. The scooter was flung onto the pavement and missed some people by inches. How nobody died is a mystery. Perhaps karma had a role to play here. The noise of the crash was terrifying. The motorbike guy's neck was bleeding and he was lucky to still have his napper attached.

I don't know why Asians like to eat Grandma's hands? These are chicken feet a local delicacy. I eat these but I can't see the point - there's no meat on them and you end up spitting out all the tiny bones.

Podcasts, Cheese and Massages.

I downloaded some free learn Thai podcasts. They are very helpful and I can now say things like:

Pum cor ber torasap dai mai? Can I have your number?
Rao ja jer gan gee mong? Where will we meet?
Pum ruu suk mai sabai. I feel sick.
Pum gliet kun. I hate you.
Keun nee kun wang mai? Are you free tonight.
Keun nee mee arai tam bang? What's happening tonight?

Jeez, I ate some cheese on Sunday night. It was outstanding. I think I even got a buzz off it. In Sam's, Russel stuck a plate of cheese and crackers on the bar. I thought I had won the lottery! I love cheese but haven't had any in over a year. It was sublime, exquisite, delicious, masarap (Phi), aroy (Thai), Hao chi (Chi). Mmmmmmm.

You should come to Thailand for the massages alone. You can get a 1hr sensual oil massage from a gorgeous woman for 300bt (£6). I go to a local hotel most sundays for one - mint.

Girlfriend?

Remember that lass a while back? Well, since meeting about 1 month ago things have been ticking along slowly. However, we seem to be getting closer, albeit slowly. Pat's a canny lass. She spent most of last year sailing the Andaman coast in this yacht. Class or what? My kinda girl! We have even been talking of acquiring one ourselves for some kind of global odyssey. We'll see.

Sway mai? Beautiful?

She's off to Bangkok tomorrow for another meeting with clients. She works very hard. We even like the same things. We watched 'The Last Emporer' last night and 'Nanking' the night before. A nice bit of 20th century Chinese history to keep the spark alive.

Yeah, I think she must be pissed too!

Perhaps I can no longer claim the "Trang's only 'kun diew' (single) Farang" trophy. Not sure, I'll let you know.

NUFCThailand is football mad. Good for me. Many people laugh when they ask:

"Kun ma jak nai?" Where are you from?

"Newcastle, Praset Angkrit" Newcastle, England.

"Newcastle mai dee! Pee tee liao Championship, hehe" They are shit! Next year Championship

"Pum roo, ngieb" I know, shutup.
"Liverpool sam Newcastle suun" LFC 3 - 0 NUFC

"Awk Bai" Piss off.

Unfortunately, last month's predictions appear to be coming to fruition. The not so mighty mags could well be going down. Mike's a Spurs fan and invited me to watch the game with him but I bottled it. I'm pleased I didn't watch it since reading how easy we made it for them.

How much do Scunthorpe charge for tickets these days?

Rain


OK, One small whine. I know this is a very cliched English comment but the rain here is awful just now. I have the day off (another Buddhist holiday) and I was planning to drive up to Huai Yot for a look around. It was a glorious morning but in my short experience here, I guessed that it'll probably rain in a while. I was right. I was just about to leave when the deluge started. Instead, I cleaned my room and washed all my clothes. I figured I now have a good opportunity to do this overdue post.

You do end up with some fantastic sunsets though, like this one from Russel's bar.

This weekend I have Friday and Monday off. Why is life so challenging?

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