Bangkok: Baby, it’s cold outside

Ade & Jos Adventure Continues : Baby it’s cold outside

Well, i’m back… I’ve not blogged for a few days being as Me and Jo went away for little trip to Krabi (a place in southern Thailand close to Phuket) i’ve also had to ditch the day count on the blogs being as I honestly have no idea where I am in regards to days and I do have a bit of a hangover (the reason for the hangover will become apparent as you read)…

I usually write these blogs the day after the events i’m blogging about (writing them the day BEFORE the events would make me either a fortune teller or a fiction writer.. And as you can see, I am NO writer) anyway, due to this being a multi day blog and the fact that so much happened while we were away, this blog will not go the usual Monday I did this, Tuesday I did that route… Instead, it will be a big jumbled mess of days, events, thoughts…. Basically a mess… A big jumbled mess…. Normal service will resume… Eventually…. I think.

The day before we flew out to Krabi went as all days do here in Bangkok, heat, traffic and insanity.. I walked Jo to work as I always do, the traffic was insane, the food sellers were out in force and the heat was.. Well…. Hot. Jo got her iced coffee from the nice little coffee shop and I left her as she walked into her office building as I always do, walking away from the building I walked past the food sellers on the corner and walked toward the bridge to get back to my apartment, on these walks i’ve begun to notice people that I see every day, certain food sellers, certain scooter taxi riders, certain people walking to their place of work.. Today I notice a new person.. For all the wrong reasons.

There’s an old(ish) man walking down the steps of the bridge toward me, alongside him is a younger man, the younger man is a mess, he’s dirty, only partially dressed, he’s randomly shouting stuff at the older man, waving his arms about, generally being aggressive, the older man is ignoring him, but in a weird sort of (you know when you’ve got that one person that has a certain way of trying to get attention by starting arguments, but you just let them get on with it knowing they’ll eventually shut up and go away) way.. So the older man walks past me, the messy, shouty man walks beside him, still shouting, still waving his arms about… I look behind me as they pass by, the street is busy but EVERYONE is ignoring the shouty man, it’s as tho they all know him.. Maybe he’s a regular thing here…And they all know that ignoring is the best policy.

When I was younger, as in when I was young, living as a child on a council estate in Dudley we had people like this every where, four or five of them come to mind, the local (please pardon the terminology i’ll use here) nutters. Mental health issues (even tho they existed) back in those days (Christ, I sound old) we’re never thought of, folks like this were just classed as mad, or nutters… They had nick names, terms that described them, names that years later certain people will refer to those names and the memories of those particular people will just come flooding back.. A sort of fame in a way…. But in reality just some poor soul suffering from mental illness, reduced to being a joke… A nickname… I’m now guessing this shouty man is pretty much the same here in Bangkok. I cross the bridge, as I’m stood above the traffic I look back toward shouty man, the older man has now walked off up the road, shouty man is now randomly shouting at the traffic…..

As I say i’m writing this blog a few days after events, so pardon me for skipping parts, I remember meeting Jo for lunch on that day, I also remember shouty man sitting on some steps a short distance from where Jo works, randomly standing up to shout at some invisible person or to shout at traffic… Christ it must be tiring… I also notice he’s drinking something out of a bottle… Yeah, that’ll help mate. Jo leaves work for lunch.. I think we end up having Thai food…. Noodles and soup I think…. Jo goes back to work and I head off back to the apartment.

When Jo finishes work we wander round the supermarket for a while and ended up having roast chicken (cooked in the halogen cooker) for dinner…. And early night tonight as we have to get up early for our flight out to Krabbi.

We were up at 4:00 am to get a taxi to the airport, a nice taxi ride through the city (hardly any traffic.. Yay!) and we arrive at Don Mueang airport with plenty of time to check in and get ready for our flight… Or so we thought.

We arrive at the airport, we go to the automatic check in machine, Jo scans here bar code, we get our passes.. A young girl at the terminal tells us to go and join a queue to check in our luggage, we join the queue and wait. There is a lack of urgency in Thailand, things get done… Eventually… There are quite a few people in the queue, amongst those people are families… Large families… Large families who seem to be taking everything they own with them on the plane… Suit cases, cardboard boxes, more cardboard boxes… Trolleys full of stuff! There are maybe five or six check in desks… Only three are working… Out of those three, one is manned by a young man in a checked shirt who keeps looking at his mobile phone then taking it to the other desks to show whats on his phone to the other two check in staff…. Time is ticking by.. Jo is getting angry… The family with all their worldy possessions are at the desk…. There seems to be a problem… They get told to go to the next desk… Check shirt mobile phone man is dealing with them… slowly… The girl that was dealing with hem doesn’t call the next passenger up to her desk… Instead, she goes for a wander round the terminal… Jo is getting angrier… I’m checking my watch…. Tic toc… Tic toc…. Eventually the family with the boxes move on…. Walkabout girl returns…. Only for mobile phone man to show her some more brilliant, must see stuff on his phone….. Jo is now fuming. Eventually we get to the check in desk… Jo shows our passports and passes.. The man behind the desk says something to Jo, she says “Oh no” and pretty much runs off leaving me standing there with our luggage wondering what exactly is going on.. At this point I go into “British survival mode” which basically means “follow the wife.. She’ll know what to do” .. SO i’m rushing through an airport, dragging two cases trying to get Jos attention (she appears to have forgotten i’m here) I eventually catch up with her at another desk.. A desk with NO QUEUE… Turns out the girl at the automatic check in machine had sent us to the wrong desks…. Finally we were checked in and on our way to the security checks… And then onto our plane ready for our trip to Krabi.

The flight was with Air Asia.. A budget airline… Pretty much the Asia version of EasyJet.. The seats were nice and comfortable, the staff were nice… We even had a meal (which on a 90 minute flight is a bit of a rush job).. well I had two meals… Jo had pre-ordered a meal for me but had forgotten to cancel the meal that was included… So I ended up being served chicken and rice AND a curry dish (a dish I didn’t eat as it contained fish)… We landed in Krabbi (the flight was nice.. Jo had no panic attacks.. I honestly think she’s well on her way to beating her fear of flying) Krabbi airport is the smallest airport I think i’ve ever seen… Maybe i’be been spoilt by the likes of Birmingham international and Heathrow….

We were met at the airport by a man holding a sign with Jos name on it, we were taken by minibus to a small harbour where we got on a dragon boat, which took us to a small jetty, where we were met by a tuk tuk and taken to our destination, Islanda Hideaway Resort…. As we arrived I was taken back by how green everything was, living in Bangkok i’d not realised how much i’d missed trees and greenery….. We checked in at reception and were invited to get some breakfast… I, at this point was a little underwhelmed by the choices on offer… Maybe I really have been spoiled? A quick walk around the resort and we were shown to our room….

Our apartment in Bangkok is a thing of beauty, it’s stylish, it’s modern… This place was not.. It was basic… It perfectly fitted the resort, it was clean, it was tidy.. it was adequate.. But I hate to say it, i’ve become spoiled by the material things our new life has bought us….Something I have to say, i’m not exactly proud of.. My roots aren’t luxury.. Something I could do with remembering more often.

The resort itself was beautiful, it had a private beach, an amazing infinity pool (possibly the nicest swimming pool i’ve ever seen) which overlooked the sea, with the Phi Phi islands in the distance and and amazing sun sets… It was beautiful.. The resort had lots of wildlife too…. There was a cat who’d come along for some fuss whenever you were in the bar/restaurant.. Rabbits hopping around all over the place… Birds of all manner of colours flying around.. It was beautiful… The staff were lovely too.. It was a really nice place.

One day we decided to walk up the beach into the main part of the town (if you can call it a town) to have a bit of an explore… This plan changed when Jo decide we’d borrow a couple of bikes and cycle instead… I had a mini strop… But soon became more adult when actually, I quite like riding a bike… A few minutes away from the resort and we were stood with our bikes on top of a small bridge, watching a large bird circle overhead, I tried to focus on it with my camera, but even tho I could see the bird.. I just couldn’t get my camera to focus on it properly in order to take it’s photograph.. We did however discover that it was a Sea Eagle.. I’d never seen an eagle in the wild before.. I’ve seen them being displayed or in a zoo.. But to actually see one in it’s natural habitat was really something quite special.. Beautiful. We continued our ride and came to a small village, where there were stalls and a small shop set up… Jo went inside with a nice lady she met there, I was standing at the roadside looking out at the water buffalo.. I love cows… I think they have really beautiful faces… And buffalo are really quite beautiful too… So i’m standing there looking out over a water logged field, looking at the buffalo when one of them turns and seems to look right at me… As you do I say “alright mate” (Yes I know he’s a buffalo and won’t speak English… Maybe he speaks Thai..) I kid you not, the buffalo nods his head.. I smile (who wouldn’t?).. The buffalo nods his head again and makes a noise.. It wasn’t a “moo” as you expect…. I think the closest I could possibly get to describing it would be “Mew”.. Of course I have to continue conversing with my new friend “you alright mate?” “mew” “Bit hot isn’t it?” “mew” “erm…. i’ve been riding a bike” “Mew”.. One has not experienced joy till one has had a conversation with a buffalo about cycling in Asia.

Mr Buffalo returns to his day to day buffalo business as Jo leaves the shop, she’s bought a sarong and is promising we’ll pop back in on our way back… “Just had a chat with a buffalo”.

We continue to ride through the villages, the sun by now is beating down and we’re both getting really hot… Jo decides we should turn back and go back to the village with the shop….. A short while later we get back, Sonia (the Thai lady Jo was chatting to) shows us how to paint on fabric, we spend a while sitting in the shade, painting, watching the villagers go about there daily life, listening to the buffalo eating some grass.. Painting finished we leave, the village women offer some food but we say we’ve got to head back… We ride back to the resort.. Passing buffalo, cats, chickens, goats, ponds full of crabs.. The eagle still soars above us as we approach the resort… Sunburned, tired.. but very happy…. What a brilliant day.

At this point I have to mention Barry and Paul.

At breakfast and at various points during the day we’d encounter two Myna birds…. Two very clever but very naughty birds who’d spend their day hatching plans to get food.. If a guest got up from their table to get a drink.. Barry or Paul (Barry doing the deed as Paul stood watch) would be up on the table stealing bits of food… Yes.. Unhygienic I know.. But bloody funny.. Watching this little comedy duo was a real experience.. They were so naughty.. But really clever with their plans and schemes… Barry and Paul, i’ll miss you when i’ve gone home.

Next day Jo decided she wanted to do one of the resorts planned excursions…She wanted to do island hopping, I said no due to the inclusion of the planned snorkling activities (I’m not a great swimmer) and the fact I would get sea sick….. The village tour was a no, being as we’d pretty much done that on bike yesterday.. So Jo decided to do the mangrove boat trip instead.. I have to admit I wasn’t too keen.. But As you should know by now.. What Jo wants… Jo pretty much gets…. SO.. Mangrove trip it was then!

A short tuk tuk ride to the jetty where we met by a little Thai man called Bau (I think that’s how it’s spelt) a really friendly little man who was to be our boatman and guide for the day.. We set off from the jetty and he asked if i’d like to steer the boat, I declined (as I didn’t want to be the reason we died) Jo on the other hand jumped at the chance…. We were expecting her to steer the boat for a minute or two as Bau supervised… No. After showing her what to do, Bau let Jo control the boat for a good five to ten minutes, Jo loved it… And we didn’t die.. Bonus! As we approached the mangroves Bau pointed out kingfishers to us as I tried to take photographs (A camera that takes an age to focus and a boat bobbing up and down does not make for great photographs).. After a while Bua pointed to the mangrove and said “monkey”.. Again, i’d seen macaque monkeys at safari parks and in a zoo… I’d never seen one out in the wild before… And here one was, sitting by the water.. Beautiful… Bau said something about a monkey getting on his boat and then we continued on our journey… We saw more birds….. A group of sea eagles circling overhead hunting… Something I thought i’d never see in my life…. We then pulled into a small jetty into the only part of the tour i’d change.. The fish farm. Fish farming is a thing… Sea food is HUGE here in Thailand, so fish farms of course would be here…. The thing I wasn’t expecting (now here’s where it gets odd… because I was appalled yet fascinated at the same time) was the Puffer fish. I’d seen them on television programmes… I’d read about them in books… I’d never expected to see one swimming about in a fish farm.. But here he was.. A puffer fish. Had he been swimming around (all be it ready to be killed and eaten at some restaurant) I probably would have just gone with the flow, accepted and carried on with the tour… But the man at the fish farm kept aggravating the fish to make him puff up… I know it’s done for the sake of the tourists… I know 99% of tourists would just love to see the puffer fish puff up… But for me it was exploitative…. A part of the tour I didn’t enjoy. Back on the boat and Bau points out more monkeys… A family of them all by the water side… It was amazing… They hear the boat and come closer to the water (obviously used to visitors I think).. Then Bau stops the boat and produces a bad full of fruit.. The monkeys (who by now I realise must now Bau pretty well) run along the shoreline.. Across a fallen tree and into our boat! Bau tell sus to keep tight hold of our bags…. Just as the largest of the monkeys grabs Baus food bag and runs off with it… I have no idea how many monkeys were there… It was well over twenty, all sizes, all ages… I felt there was no exploitation here… They weren’t forced to get on the boat, they chose to. They were being fed (and even at one point being given a drink of water) and Bau seemed to have a genuine love for them.. It was scary but also very beautiful.. And experience i’ll never forget… After a while Bau told the monkeys to go… They left and we carried on our journey… Along the banks we saw more birds and an otter…. We were loving the trip.. We pulled into another jetty to visit some caves, the caves were full of bats and had some artwork displayed in them… It was a little cooler in the cave which gave us a break from from the heat.. There was a Japanese family in the cave, taking photographs and talking loudly… I got the impression Bau was not a huge fan of the Japanese….

Back on the boat and we saw more beautiful scenery and birds… Before pulling into another jetty at Krabi town to see the giant crab statue….We saw fiddler crabs (tiny crabs with one giant claw) again, something i’ve seen on television but not in real life before….. We headed back to the resort, a truly amazing day… Followed by one of the most amazing sun sets i’ve ever seen… amazing.

Krabi, as does Thailand in general has a huge Muslim population. There is a mosque close to the resort and at various times of the day you can hear the muslim call to prayer in the distance….. I am not religious… I have beliefs but i’d never class myself as religious…But this sound… This call to prayer was beautiful… As were the muslim people we encountered here in Krabi… Every little village we passed, every scooter that goes by, every person we saw (a huge percentage of which were muslim) greeted us with smiles and a wave… Beautiful, friendly people.. I mention this becasue one morning laying in bed as Jo slept beside me I was scrolling through facebook (as you do) on my phone and was looking at a page called idiot drivers (or something like that) its a page dedicated to videos of bad driving… Anyway, there was a video of a cyclist, picking his son up from school (this is leading somewhere, trust me) who was being told by a policeman to remove his face mask as it was bothering the children.. The video itself was nothing to be bothered about…. The comments section however really was. Amongst the standard comments of “Oh the cyclist should take his mask off” and “well, the cyclist is actually doing nothing wrong” comments were loads of anti Islamic comments… “If it was a burkha he wouldn’t be told to take it off”… “They should all be unmasked” …”He should have said he was Muslim and they’d be too scared to bother him” blah blah blah.. I lay there reading this rubbish as the call to prayer fills the air.. A beautiful sound… Peaceful.

At breakfast i’m chatting to Jo about life (as I do) and the subject of Britain and it’s joy of hatred comes up…. “Imagine if this was a council estate” I say “And the call to prayer is heard every day”… There would be outrage…. Britain’s just love to be outraged… It’s as if we have a love for hatred.. Why can’t we all just get along? Just accept that we have differences and just get along with living together…. Mark Almond posted on twitter that he loves the Christmas song “fairy tale of New York”.. even tho it has the word “Faggot” in it… A proud gay man having to publicly say he likes a song despite it having a certain word in it’s lyrics.. I’m left wondering why he had to do this.. Then it dawns on me.. Someone was outraged weren’t they? Someone, somewhere took it upon themselves to be outraged on behalf of the gay community…”Baby it’s cold outside” is currently having the same problem.. Someone felt the need to be outraged by it… Why do we as a species feel the need to be so bloody angry all the time?… For the record “Fairy tale of New York” is the greatest Christmas song of all time.

Me and Jo are sun burned. The sun has defeated our sun protection and cooked our skin. We are sore. Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated at this difficult time.

ON our last full day here in Krabbi we decide to get a boat into Krabbi town, the ride was short but fun (no driving from Jo this time) Krabbi town is a nice place, lots of shops and traffic… We had a lovely coconut slushi served in a coconut.. Delicious! A wander round the shops and then we found ourselves an a bar by the pier… Black Crab I think it was called… It had a small stage set up (looks like a rock bar).. with a free pool table.. Cold beer.. A really friendly owner and the cutest kitten ever!.. Oh yeah, the owner really likes Michael Bolton… SO we’re drinking beer, playing pool, playing with a kitten and listening to Michael Bolton… Awesome! Another couple come into the bar… European.. I can’t make out the language but it’s definitely European… They sit.. They order food… The owner leaves us to our own devices as she cooks the food… She brings the food out, me and Jo order more beer… The female of the couple says something to the owner about her food, the owner takes her plate into the kitchen, i’m guessing there’s some food item on the plate the girl doesn’t like… Her partner is not eating.. he’s just sat there…. The owner comes back into the bar… After awhile the male of the couple picks his plate up, mumbles something to the owner, gives her his plate and the couple walk out without paying… The owner walks toward the kitchen with the plate “Rude” says Jo, the owner just looks confused “He said something about there being something under the plate?” says the owner.. The plate looked spotless… Nothing wrong with it…. Turns out some Europeans are just rude. We finish our beers, say goodbye to the owner and her kitten…Pay our bill and leave a tip…. And leave, two happy customers… Bloody Hell Chang beer is a bit strong.

Our last day and flight back were nice… No drama (food and drink bill at the resort was a bit high though) …. We were both looking forward to getting back to our apartment.. Would we visit Krabi again? I think we would.

Back in Bangkok… Off the plane into the departures lounge… Here’s a tip, if you get off a plane and someone asks if you need a taxi.. Keep walking…. We were quoted 900 baht by one company… A short walk to the airport taxi rank and we got home for about 300 baht… Don’t get ripped off.

Back home I decided we’d go out for food and a few drinks…. So off to the Queen Bee bar we went! Queen Bee is a cool music bar, good food and live music every night.. It’s a real chilled place not mad like the prostitute filled madness that is Ottobar… We order steak and Guinness pie with mashed potato… Lovely! A real taste of England here in Bangkok… We had a quick chat with the American bloke who was playing here tonight, there’s a real sense of community here at Queen Bee… We love the place… There’s a white haired American guy with a young Thai woman sat near to us… He’s soon joined by another Thai woman and a very over the top Lady Boy (God she’s noisy)… Jo drinks Gin while I enjoy the Chang…. A few glasses in and I fancy a whisky (I just found out Jack Daniels isn’t bourbon it’s actually whiskey.. My mind is blown)… A quick look at the menu and we find cheap Thai whiskey…. Black Cock Whiskey…. Now, the joy of Black Cock (a phrase I felt i’d never type in my life) is that it’s cheap, it’s delicious, it’s strong… And it makes a waitress giggle when you say “more black cock please” …. Turns out Jo likes Black Cock too.

We go home drunk. Very drunk.

Night night.

A working-class man from The Black Country, plucked from the factory and now living the best life in Bangkok