Tuesday, 20 October 2015

UFO's off the coast of Thailand?

From our balcony
Some very special friends have given us access to a beautiful apartment overlooking the Bay of Thailand, south of Hua Hin. It’s their winter here, so temperatures have dropped to the high 80’s at night, not a cloud in the sky, and you still melt during the day. It’s dark now, and the fishing boats are dotted around outside, their green fluorescent lights like some UFO invasion staring in on us. These little boats are fishing for squid that are attracted nearer the surface by the lights. The green glow from thousands of vessels around the coast of Thailand can be seen at night from the International Space Station.

I could easily live here, it’s much smaller than Bangkok, the town running off just one main road makes finding and remembering places far easier.

A strange phenomena that was apparent also in Bangkok, but is far more 'in your face' here, the vast amount of older men from Europe and the States, with very young Thai women. OK, I’ve been out with girls far younger than me, 10 or 20 years is cool, but this age gap is massive, as much as 50/60 years. It looks strange, but I guess it wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t something to be gained by both sides. When I go out alone in Bangkok I’m often approached by women asking if I’m looking for a wife. I make light of it, saying, “No, certainly not, one is all I can cope with”.

I’ve certainly fallen in love with this country and moving outside Bangkok for the first time has confirmed this. Why? That’s very difficult to quantify. Respect for older people has to be the 'big one', similar to South Africa in that way. I’ve said it before, but in the UK we treat older folk as an inconvenience, but here you are more of an icon, someone to be listened to. Am I old? I think of myself now as one of the younger ‘old people’, a more comfortable position than one of the older ‘middle aged’. 
What else? This is a respectful society here, it’s completely unacceptable to be anti-social, so people rarely are. We think we live in a freer society in England, because it’s ok to fall out of a bar, get sick in the street and your mates think you’re a hero. Family matters here and you wouldn't want to disgrace them, however, the family unit is very weak in the UK, and as such, society as a whole suffers. There was a time when children could be chastised by any adult if they were found misbehaving, but now we offer a ‘no rules’ package which leaves our kids floundering as they enter adulthood.
Then there’s the obvious, the price of almost everything is cheaper. We fill our car up with £18, food is generally half price, though a nice piece of cheese is double the UK price. Eating out is silly money, with lunch around £1.50 and dinner maybe £3 in most small Thai eateries. You can pay more at upmarket places but why bother when you can get authenticity by the bucket load.
NHS? Well everyone in Thailand has access to some sort of hospital, the main difference, if your poorer you wait a bit longer and your hospital isn’t as nice. Many hospitals here are like 5 star hotels and offer world-class treatment, but at a price. Taxis are ridiculously cheap, as are the busses and trains. A 3 mile taxi ride, maybe £0-80, a 3 mile train ride £0-20, a 3 mile boat ride £0-30 or a bus or motor bike taxi at £0-15.
Are there any downsides to living here? Yes, if you’re a twat, you could find life constantly ‘uncomfortable’ because society will view and treat you as such. 

I continue to enjoy life here and ever week gets better and better. I can imagine the day I leave Thailand will be the unhappiest day ever.

So now it's morning and I thought we'd try and find where these little UFO's park up during the day. The little fishing port was just around the headland, with dozens of boats tied up after the night at sea. Nothing fancy here, just hard working, rugged little ships that look like they'd been around for a very long time. Nobody minded as we strolled along the harbour, amazed at everything we saw. 'Sawadikap' (hello) was all it took for people to warm to us, and they were happy to show what they were working at. Squid in abundance, all sizes, but also a variety of crabs, fish, prawns and even things we'd never seen before. The processing was going on all round us, the whole family involved in gutting, cleaning or repairing nets.
I love fruit

What do monkeys eat? Bananas of course! Not around here! Crabs, and they love'em. Do monkeys dive and swim in the sea? Of course not! Oh yes, they do here and they're in and out of the water just for fun, dive bombing each other.
We had a mixed seafood lunch in a little place across from the boats, £3 fed us both, including the tip. This little port/fish market was the highlight of my time in Thailand to date, and we'll definitely visit again before we go back.

Crab lunch? Well, on the table next to us.

Squid, out to dry

Fresh today

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