I feel like my own little corner of the world is gradually returning to normal… Things are not by any stretch of the imagination as they were, but things are very slowly returning to as they used to be… There will, of course, be a new definition of normal in a post COVID world, but let’s look on the bright side here, at least there will BE a post COVID world.
The curfew here in Thailand has been reduced to a 11 pm to 3 am curfew… Which is better than a 10 pm to 4 am curfew which was previously in place… We can now buy alcohol from the shops, malls and shops have re-opened with new safety measures in place, parks are once again opened and beaches around the country are slowly opening… Facemasks are the new norm, temperature checks are happening everywhere and we have to check-in and check out of shops… These measures will hopefully ensure the COVID numbers here in Thailand remain low and more importantly remain manageable.
There is light at the tunnel… Cinemas have opened, and soon, we hope every other business here will open too… Our weekly webcam meetups with friends will be replaced by ACTUALLY meeting up… Hopefully, the rest of the world will be able to enjoy some level of normality soon too.
As restrictions to visiting other provinces began to lift, Jo decided she wanted us to visit Hua Hin (Seaside town a three-hour drive from Bangkok) initially I wasn’t keen on the idea, I love being by the sea but I feared I’d be bored, being as all the bars are closed… But as things go when you’re married to a woman like Jo, she (almost) always gets her own way, so a trip to Hua Hin was indeed arranged… A couple of friends decided they’d also come along so we booked a small villa with a private pool just for the four of us… We knew the bars were closed, but we planned to go, visit the beach, and drink at the villa… We all just needed to get out of Bangkok, Jo was going stir crazy being locked up in the apartment and our friends were also feeling the strain of being stuck in the city.
Our maid, Daa’s husband is a taxi driver, the Bangkok taxi drivers have really been struggling during the pandemic due to the fact that no tourists are allowed to visit Thailand, so we asked him to take us to Hua Hin, the drive was uneventful, we weren’t stopped at any checkpoints or hindered in any way, Ton (Daa’s husband) offered to show us some of the sites along the way but sadly due to pandemic, almost everything was closed.
We arrived at the villa a short time before our friends, the villa was small but big enough for the four of us, it had a nice garden with lots of trees and a nice sized swimming pool… A swimming pool I decided I was NOT going to be swimming in… I’ll explain.
Body confidence issues. I’ve always had body confidence issues. I’ve been fat. I’ve been (well, for me anyway) thinner. I’ve been somewhere in the middle. I hate how I look. I feel I’ll always hate the way I look. If the villa had just been for me and Jo? Then I’d have been looking forward to getting in the pool… However, we were being joined by friends… And NO WAY am I getting semi-naked with other people around… When we go away, If we stay at a hotel with a pool, Jo tends to annoy me by constantly trying to get me to swim in the pool… I know she doesn’t quite see why I’m so self-conscious… I wish I wasn’t the way I am… It’s just me.
So… We have a pool.
Our friends arrive and we set about getting enjoying our time away from Bangkok.
As night falls Jo and our friends are swimming in the pool… I was sitting alone watching them splash around… Hearing them laughing… When suddenly I thought “fuck it”… And got into the pool… Ok, it was dark… Nobody was actually LOOKING at me… But still, I did it… I got in the pool… Yay me.
What followed was a few days sunshine, drinking, and playing in the pool… Our villa was a very short walk from the beach, the beach at Hua Hin was beautiful… And pretty much empty… One positive side effect of a global pandemic.
One evening we were walking along the beach when we saw a group of people playing volleyball… A mix of men and women… There were other people sitting close by on plastic chairs drinking… Could it be?… BEER! We’d discovered an illegal beach bar… The sale of alcohol from bars is still prohibited here in Thailand… The bar itself was just some beach chairs set out on the beach, each group of chairs spaced away from other people sitting together drinking… Social distancing being observed in such a way as you could sit with your friends but not mix with others… The volleyball game was still in full flow, we watched the game for a while… Western men playing volleyball with bikini-clad Thai girls… Giggling Ladyboys and one woman who we were all certain was not wearing any underwear… Other bikini-clad Thai girls and ladyboys were hanging around the beach bar too… Could it be? An illegal bar AND an illegal beachside gogo bar too? Fair play folks… Fair play.
The next day we had a beer at the beach bar… A nice cold bottle of Chang while watching the world go by… It felt “Normal”… It felt amazing.
All too soon our time in Hua Hin came to an end… Ton picked us up and we headed back to Bangkok… As I said earlier, life seems to be getting back to normal here, which was proven to be true as we drove past the Starbucks at the top of Sukhumvit road, a group of young women all stood there, taking selfies… I swear there must have been about twenty of them!
We got back to find that a package was waiting for us at the post office… We’d ordered something online which had been shipped from Hong Kong, due to its weight we’d have to pay customs duty on it, we decided to get a taxi the next day and collect it.
We arrived at the post office at about 11 am to collect our parcel, we spoke to the lady at reception, were handed a number and waited in the waiting area… Being as business is slow in Bangkok, our taxi driver offered to wait for us outside the post office, which was nice of him… So, we waited for a while, and then at twelve O’clock, we were told the post office closes for an hour for lunch. We went to the taxi driver to explain It’d be better for him to head back to the city but he said he’d wait… As I said, It’s really quiet for the taxi drivers in Bangkok at the moment.
Eventually, the post office reopened and we finally got our parcel from Hong Kong, a metal reproduction of Captain America's shield… What can I say? I’m a nerd…Seriously tho… The shield looks awesome.
We’d enjoyed our time away from Bangkok… We all wanted to go back to Hua Hin… Our friends had booked an apartment so we decided we’d book another villa and go back too, Jo is able to work from home, soon she’ll be back in the office so why not make the best of the situation?
Jo found a villa in a different part of Hua Hin, a beautiful little villa which was part of a larger house, there was a pool and lots of greenery… It looked ideal.
Ton drove us once again, the villa was even nicer than it looked in the pictures… It was ideal for relaxing.
After an amazing nights sleep we sat outside in the sunshine, Jo was working, I was sat, with my laptop, typing out sentences that would become the last blog I posted.
We heard a struggle in the tree, a bird was flapping around in the branches, making a terrible noise… Suddenly something fell from the tree, we heard a thud… Looked around… And there was a snake looking at us.
A big green snake… His head was swaying from side to side… He didn’t look like a happy snake… I went inside to grab my camera but by the time I’d got back outside he’d slithered off, probably off for another adventure.
The sounds of wildlife were amazing… Birds… Insects… Lizards… and yes, a snake… I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed wildlife.
The owners of the house were really nice people, they took us for a drive around the village to show us where to find things… We ended up at a beautiful beachside complex close by to where we were staying… I had no idea we were so close to the beach.
We had a lovely lunch and headed back to the villa, we weren’t too far away so we decided to walk…
I said earlier that the quiet beach was a plus side to the pandemic… Nature in general has benefited from not having people around… The beaches are cleaner… The air is cleaner… One downside here in Thailand is the soi dogs.
Soi dogs are stray dogs… Every town has them, they are everywhere… We’ve encountered them in every place we’ve visited and up till now, we’ve had no issues with them.
I read reports a few months back of packs of soi dogs causing issues in the seaside towns… Packs of dogs that had been placid were becoming aggressive… No tourists, no food being dropped… No food being dropped equals hungry soi dogs.
We walked from the beachside place and headed back toward the villa, we remembered the route so getting back shouldn’t be an issue… We headed toward where we knew the villa was when we saw a pack of dogs… There were about four or five dogs, running together and barking, due to what I’d heard about the dogs in other places I said I wanted to walk a different route… We turned back and walked away from the dogs toward a more residential area, we passed a house where chickens were running around outside, as we passed the house we heard a dog bark from behind the house, we continued to walk but the barking got louder, we became aware that the dog was right behind us, we kept on walking but he carried on following, barking, being aggressive… I was worried… I was waiting for him to bite… I knew that if he did bite, the other dogs close by could become aware and get involved too…Overthinking is a curse… It doesn’t help at all… We carried on walking… I was getting tenser… The bloody dog would not back off… Suddenly an old Thai lady appeared and started shouting at the dog, sending him off on his way… Jo thanked her and we carried on toward our villa… I was shaken… The dog incident had ruined my day… I was pissed.
Later on, after we had failed miserably to order food online, Jo decided we’d walk to the local store and get some food… It was still light outside as we left the villa and walked a kilometer or so to the local store… As we neared the store I became aware of a dog standing at the roadside ahead of us… As we got closer he was joined by another dog… Then another… By the time the pack had reached about five members, I recognized them as the pack we’d avoided earlier.
I wanted to turn back… I was freaked out… Jo said if we just paid them no attention we’d be alright… We continued to walk.
It was the same pack we’d avoided earlier. It was the same pack that had made me change our route and put us in the vicinity of the vicious dog that had barked at us. The very same pack.
A pack… That it turned out… Was made up of five dogs who actually didn’t mean any harm at all… Five laid back dogs who were just happy to watch the world go by… Five dogs I judged harshly… I still fucking hate the dog that barked at us tho.
Fuck you barking dog.
Jo spent the daytimes working, I spent the daytimes reading comic books…We booked some sunbeds by the sea for Saturday, our friends were going to join us for a day at the beach.
The sun was shining, the beach was beautiful, we sat in the sunshine listening to the sea lapping against the shore… It was perfect… Jo was reading her book as I watched the people enjoying the beach… Children playing, swimming in the sea, couples walking hand in hand… Wannabe models taking selfies and posing for Instagram shots.
Bloody Instagram (says me who’s finally started putting pictures on there too)… So many people were here just for a photo opportunity… I hate vanity… But I found something that I think I hate more than vanity… False memories…. I’ll try to explain.
I have no issue with a person walking along the beach, seeing a beautiful shell, bending down to pick it as there partner pulls out a camera or a phone and takes a picture… THAT is a memory.
However, I do have an issue with what I saw on Saturday… A couple taking photos of each other… Then the man poses multiple times as if he’s found something on the beach… Bend down, look at the shell(?) wife takes picture… He gets up, looks at the picture, decides it’s not right, goes back to looking at the shell again, repeat… False memories.
“Here’s me pretending I’ve just found a beautiful shell”
It’s fake… It’s false.
There is one plus side to this vanity tho… And it’s not the wannabe model posing by the sea… It’s the kid taking the picture… There is a renewed interest in the art form that is photography… So yeah, maybe it’s not all bad after all.
Jo and our friends head off to the pool at the complex, I stay on the sunbed watching the world go by (body confidence and all that) a group of high society Thais (Hi-SO’s) has appeared on the beach… Young pretty types with more money than sense and enough vanity to overdose a Kardashian. They all take to the beach, posing for photographs… In turn, they go through the motions, each one following a routine to get the perfect picture… Back to the camera, hand in hair, pointing toes, fake smiles to the camera, 360 turns, wind in hair… Soon they all head to the waters edge to get the perfect “Laying in the surf” shot… In turn, they lay in the water… One after the other they lay down and pose…One of the girls lays in the surf, she hits the sand a little too hard and her breasts fall out of her swimsuit.
She screams (which of course makes everyone turn around to see why she’s screaming) Her friend screams… The girl scoops herself back into her swimsuit and runs out of the water back to the beach…
I wonder if she’ll ever live it down… Or will her friends remind her for the rest of time about the day she flashed everyone at the beach.
The skies darkened and the coming storm bought an end to our time at the beach, we moved to the complex, ordered drinks, chatted and played pool as the rain lashed down and the thunderstorm raged on… We asked if they had room for us to have dinner but we were told they were fully booked, we decided to go to a nearby restaurant that the owners of our villa had recommended.
A short taxi ride later and we arrived at the restaurant (I’ll not name it… All will be explained) The restaurant was lovely, there was a dog called George who sat with us (being fed bits of food by Jo by the way) despite there being an alcohol ban the restaurant served us beer hidden in teapots (genius or what!) the food was lovely, the service was great… And George was a superstar.
We had drinks with the owners of the villa when we got back, just a chilled conversation, talking about Thailand and our experiences here…
Another good night's sleep… I awoke with a strange feeling in my eye… My eye ached… I feared I’d been bitten by a bug in my sleep and that I’d had an allergic reaction… Jo awoke and got out of bed… “Ade!” she shouted… My immediate thought was “shit! My eye HAS swollen up”… “Snake!” she shouts while pointing toward the window… There on the curtain was a snake, curled up, looking at us… I jumped out of bed, I’m not afraid of snakes but I didn’t know if he was venomous or not… I wasn’t taking any chances.
After unsuccessfully trying to get him to leave, we eventually got the owner to remove him from the house… Our time in Hua Hin had been amazing… We were sad to leave, but Bangkok was calling… Ton arrived at 10 am and we headed back home, as we approached our apartment we were greeted by a large group of girls all posing for pictures outside Starbucks… Good old Bangkok… Don’t you ever change.
Until next time!