Letters from Thailand

…and submitted this site to a blogroll of bloggers (try saying that after a few martinis!) in Thailand. At the moment, I’m waiting for my application to be approved.

This is worse than internet dating – I have all kinds of reservations about this. First of all, will they like me? I’ve had a look at some of the blogs on the site and they’re all finding so much more interesting stuff to write about (looking at my page it seems to mainly consist of personal nostalgia and/or slagging people off – not particularly likeable!)

Then, there’s the writing. Wow – it never ceases to amaze me how many great writers there are out there – even those whose native language isn’t English have writing skills that put mine to shame. I’m hoping it’s because they’ve had more practice and that I will improve, eventually!

Finally, there’s the knowledge. They all seem to have made the time and effort to learn enought about the country they now call home to be able to form intelligent opinions about the serious issues of the place – politics, corruption and all that jazz. Issues I would love to know more about, but can never articulate myself.

So what can Kosmogal bring to the site? Well, if you look at it as a menu, the bloggers mentioned above are the hearty main courses, while I’m happy to be a sweet, frothy dessert of no substance whatsoever, but finishes a meal nicely!


{June 25, 2007}   I Want My Mummy!

I have just spent a day lying in bed with a nasty cold & stomach bug.  Why is it that no matter how old and independent I am, illnesses – even the most minor ones – make me feel like I want to be tucked up in my childhood bed with mummy mopping my brow and bringing me Lucozade & Heinz Cream of Tomato soup?

Doesn’t help that this lurgy hit me on a Saturday night (why not a school night?!) which meant I couldn’t go out to play, and on the Sunday morning one of my closest neighbours (Kosmo Mansions is situated in a tower block, so all neighbours are close!)  chose to start banging nails into his wall at 8:00 am, and was obviously trying to re-create a bombed-out mode of decor as the banging did not stop until 4:00 pm.  Eight hours!!!!

It is now Monday morning, and am feeling a little better.  Well enough to leave Kosmo Mansions, anyway.  The building management have decided that today’s the day when some unnecessary work is carried out which means switching off the electricity for 6 hours.  Not the best time or place to be ill at the moment, but it’s back to work tomorrow, which means, naturally, my nose will no longer be stuffed up and everything else will be back to normal.  Bloody typical!

I’ve just got back to civilization after 3 days in the Northeast of Thailand (Isaan) on a work trip. I’d never visited this part of the country before, and it was quite an experience. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was intensely hot & humid and the kids I was working with were brilliant. Despite living in what most westerners would consider abject poverty, they were well-mannered, took pride in every achievement they made and had an amazingly positive outlook on life that it puts their western contemporaries to shame. And, they treated us like superstars! I was even signing autographs on the last day!

The trip wasn’t without its less glamourous side, though! The accommodation certainly was not up to diva-standard. I should have known. A couple of days before departure, I decided to see if I could find the hotel on the internet. I searched for (and I have no qualms about naming & shaming!) the White Orchid Hotel in Korat. Nothing. Once we reached and subsequently drove right through Korat, I realised my error. I should have been looking for the White Orchid Hotel in the Arse-end of Nowhere. Of the two hotels in town, this was, apparently, the better one (I dread to think what the not-so-better one was like.)

Firstly, our welcome. I’m not sure if she was the owner of the hotel, or someone who was employed to sit behind a desk doing nothing all day but get pissed off whenever a customer walked through the door (something, I doubt, that happened very often). Whoever she was, she had mastered to perfection the art of service with a snarl. Our room keys and TV remote-controls were chucked on the front desk while she returned to the more urgent task of watching TV ads.

Secondly, the room itself. Smelt as if the last occupant had died in there ten years ago, but his corpse only removed the day before. Lying on the bed was like trying to sleep on an ironing board. No top-sheet, just an old, scratchy blanket they probably acquired when the local prison was having a clear-out. No sign of insect-life as yet though, which was a bonus. Anyway, no sooner had we checked in, when it was off to visit the school for a visit with the principal. Unfortunately, we had all spent 6 hours in a van and hadn’t time to freshen up when we were whisked off. Not that I had anything to worry about. It was clear that this man had no time for women (and I don’t mean in a gay sense, I mean in a Victorian, should be tied to the kitchen sink, where’s my dinner bitch? sense) so completely avoided 9 out of the 10 people gathered in the meeting.

Finally this ‘meeting’ came to an end and I could go back to the hotel hovel and have a shower! Hoorah! And this is when I discovered that the insect-life I missed earlier had just been playing hide & sink. My ‘bathroom’ was teeming with ants (in fact the following morning I feared they had carted of my toothbrush, but luckily I’d just hidden it in my washbag!) I also discovered that the door didn’t fit in the doorway, and that the bedroom window gave a wonderful view from outside – which made me very popular with the local boys.

Then it was on to dinner. Found a restaurant that did a hotpot/bbq thing which is so popular here. Not my favourite kind of eatery, it has to be said. I mean, if you’re paying for dinner, why should you be the one who has to bloody cook it! Still, I consumed more than my fair share – just to be polite. A couple of beers helped to wash it down. Then back to the hotel as there were no bars to be seen. By this stage it was only 8pm. Couldn’t really go to bed, so decided to hang out with my colleagues and learnt a new skill (a card game, called Bok Deng.) I had to go back to my room pretty soon after though as the hotpot was about to make a prompt reappearance. Made it to the bathroom just in time and realised that toilet paper had yet to be invented here. Brilliant.

The following night passed in much the same way, except we did stop off for ice-cream on the way back to the hotel, and it was thanks to this treat that my ant population increased dramatically. I’d forgotten that while eating my cornetto, one of the chocolate-chips had fallen into my cleavage. When I went to bed, I chucked my bra in the suitcase and found a whole ant colony living on it the next morning.

Despite all of this (and what would I have to write about otherwise?) the trip was a huge success and I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Can’t wait for the next stage of the tour in Kon Kaen next month!

God, this mellow-stuff is getting worse.  I thought at one point last night I had been cured as I met someone annoying enough to incur my bitter wrath, but then random  quote generator sends me this litte gem from Oscar Wilde today.

Having been away from my gang for a couple of years, it’s perfectly natural that others will have come and gone.  I’ve been fortunate enough to reacquaint myself with most of them, and have met a few new people as well, who have generally been pretty cool.  There is, of course, an exception.  I had been told about this person from others and was actually looking forward to our introduction – apparently this person was another ‘me’, we’d get on like a house on fire!  Boy, was I disappointed! 

I think (hope) that what people meant by our being alike was our role within the group as opposed to our personalities, hence the aversion.  Anyway, I confess to spending a little time bitching and making spiteful (but witty!) comments behind their back at dinner, but this person isn’t going to go away however much I wish it, so I have to not let their presence bother me.  And I’m going to take Oscar’s advice here and save my enmity for one who has the intellect and class to be worthy of it!

{June 17, 2007}   Never, ever…

mix wine with vodka.  Ever.  It’s bad.

Good job I didn’t waste my time cleaning the toilet yesterday.

That’s all I have to say on the matter.

Until the next time (i.e. tonight).

{June 15, 2007}   A Big Thank You

Since I got here and started my new job, there has been precious little time for catching up on this blog that’s barely even started.  And, as the workplace was my only access to a computer it looked for a while as if Letters from Thailand would be returned to sender, as it were.  So, I would like to say a big thank you to my favourite couple here (you know who you are!) for assisting me with all the technical requirements that would enable me to blog from home.  Words cannot express how grateful I am.  Love you!

And loving every minute of it.  The great thing about returning to a country is that you are aware of all the quirks and foibles of a place, and this means that you can be mellow about all the things that used to piss you off.  Believe me, there were things here that  pissed me off big time, but now I find myself shrugging my shoulders and, my god, even laughing about them!  I never dreamed I’d become mellow in my old-age.  In fact, I’ve always hated mellow.  Give me a firey temperament any day – you know where you are with firey.  Mellow, to me, was only one step away from death.  No more do I slam taxi doors in the faces of their drivers when they refuse to take me to a destination because of ‘traffic’.  Now I smile sweetly, laugh to myself that he’s (and it’s always a he) lost a fare and skip in my high heels towards the next one.  Whereas before I would feel uncomfortable passing a security guard saluting me and clicking his heels, wanting to shake him and tell him in no uncertain terms that I didn’t deserve that kind of obsequious treatment, I now treat him to a beaming smile, give the ole butt a bit of a wiggle and wave at him.  In fact, I have not felt the slightest bit of anger towards the biggest incompetencies here, not one iota. 

What the hell is wrong with me?

{June 1, 2007}   The Last Post…

…from Blighty.  I’m finally off tomorrow.  It’s now nearly midnight on Friday, not a time when I am usually in front of a screen.  Have just had my last meal with the parents and am now totally knackered.  I don’t really have a great deal to write, other than I felt the occasion should be marked.  Am now going to sleep in preparation for the long journey ahead.  Goodnight.

et cetera