HOT INFO On The Road

Ben van den Anker
SE Asia: REPORT #4

Aug 15, Y2K Hat Yai, Thailand

Paradise Resort

The police took one man out of the Mae Sot - Bangkok bus; he was visibly not amused to continue his journey in a police car. At the southern bus terminal in Bangkok I met a Canadian who has been working in Bangkok for the last five years. His English changed during the years; "When I say, no can, no have, the people understand me at once." The latest Thai English variation was "I am boring"; then get lost!

Chumphon was good from the first moment; I hired a motorbike and drove to some beaches and small fishing villages. Fishing is still the main source of income here. People looked at me as if I was from outer space; children just continued looking at me without turning their eyes away.

In the local disco "Papa 2000" some girls took the seats next to me and the girl next to me asked me where I came from. "I'm from Norway", she said. "You expect me to believe that?" But it was true, she was born in Chiang Mai and left Thailand 10 years ago with her mother to live with mum's new husband in Norway. She has been here now for three weeks and really looked forward to go back again to Norway. She liked the people, the food but couldn't dress here like she dresses back home. Thailand is still a traditional country. She speaks better Norwegian than Thai she said. The owner of my guesthouse came in and ordered a beer for 70 baht, my room costs 100 baht. I guess having a good time here is more important than earning money! I had bought a ticket for the night train to Trang and wanted to walk to the train station but he insisted on bringing me there with his 30 years old Volkswagen.

In Trang I bought a book at the 2nd hand bookshop and spend the rest of the afternoon there. Anii and her Dutch boyfriend started the business this year. He was here on a tourist visa. "You see, I visit Malaysia every month, get a new free 30 days visa when I head back immediately and so as tourist I don't have to pay taxes". I asked him if he was insured for health and hospital costs; "I've been to the hospital three times by now, even had x-rays and it's so cheap, drinking beer really is the worst thing you can do in Thailand!". And indeed, for one beer you can often have two meals.

In the local internet-shop a student invited me to visit her parents and chat in English with them. They invited me for dinner, I was amazed. "We're not poor and we're not rich", her mother said. She taught in High School and thought it was that important that her daughter get to know the Internet that she sends her there three times a week.

The next day I met Dew again, I have been thinking a lot about this upcoming weekend. It's kind of special, I know her now for two and a half-year and we mailed quit a lot. I used to think of her as a kind of "soul-sister". For some reason we get along very well. We took the boat to the "Paradise Resort" at Ko Ngai; it's part of a national park and one of the most beautiful and original islands. I'm not the beach kind of person but enjoyed this day and the next days so much. Swimming, snorkeling, getting the unavoidable sunburn. When having dinner the waiter insisted that I spoke Thai to him, it's deeply appreciated if foreigners try to speak some words Thai.

The Amsterdam guesthouse in Songkla was overcharging, the Thai woman were talking to each other there, "I think he's Dutch", not knowing that Dew was Thai, she could be Japanese too and speaks English fluently, due to her study days in America and Canada. These days were a kind of holiday during my traveling, I never knew I could relax this much.

We drove to the Hat Yai airport three days later; she has to work again with Thai Airways next morning. "All good things end", people sometimes say, for me, I could have continued traveling with Dew. Traveling on my own again will be different. The taxi back to the center of Hat Yai was overcharging with so much fantasy that I decided to hitchhike back, and it wasn't any problem of all. I'm thinking about what next, probably Malaysia but I could head straight on to Indonesia.

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