Letters from Thailand

{June 22, 2007}   Tales of the Provinces – Ironing Boards, Hotpot & A Bra-ful of Ants

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!


OMG, this was hilarious, can’t wait for the next trip either! Any picture taken?

Kosmo says:

I did actually take a couple of pics of the room, but it didn’t look as bad on camera. Posting them here would make me look uber-precious, as opposed to merely being a diva!

englishgirlisaan says:

I’ve been to Korat twice and had bad experiences both times. Your hotel def beats mine, though.

Just found your site and it’s great. All those expats filling their blogs with loads of facts and figures about Thailand bore me. I want to read something that makes me laugh and say “That happended to me too!”

kosmogal says:

So true! It’s also good to know that not all expats out here are gone-to-seed blokes biding their time until the bars open!

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