Recovery Day 3 – Alarm Mistake
April 8, 2018 § Leave a comment
When you are 12 hours East of your normal timezone, I suppose it can be easy to make a mistake. My intention was to arise at 430 in the am, and be on the road by 445 so that I could make the 6am ride in Cheong Thele. What I got however, was a realization that light was pouring through the windows, and I was still in bed. Bolting up right, and grabbing my phone, I could clearly discern it was well past the time I wanted to get up. Hell, the sun appeared to be up. I checked the alarm. 4:30 was still set with the indicator showing “I will wake you!”, however, further concentration revealed I was to awake by 4:30 PM. A major blow. Too late to leave, I resigned myself to another rest day.
Plans were already made for the day. While I was riding Tuesday morning, Corinne (a.k.a. D2) negotiated the bus transportation system and spent the morning in Old Phuket. All the things she did, are distant wisps of semi-temporary neural synapse firings, meaning, “I haven’t a clue”, but it was enough to pique our collective curiosities and make a go of it ourselves.
We had had much larger plans for the day. The previous night, at dinner we had agreed/decided that we would hire a taxi for the day to drive us where ever we wanted to go, the idea being that we would explore some of the sights in the Northern parts of the island. After dinner, while walking to the tailors, we came across a taxi dude sitting there, (I never saw a taxi dudette while I was there) and in the minimal amount of overlapping English, that centered on money, we negotiated a deal for him to meet us at our hotel on the morrow at some specified time that I am pretty sure now, was after 10 in the AM.
Susan and I found our way to breakfast, and were eventually joined by the girls and the subject of our hire came up and how we planned to use it. If we were hiring this guy all day, then we should take every advantage of having him, and see what we could see. D2 and her “Thailand Today” guide were helpful, but the more we discussed options, the less interested in acting on those options we became. I don’t really know what happened, but what it seemed like, was, there just wasn’t anything in the North, that it seemed like it would be that thrilling to drive all the way there to see, and then have to drive a lot more to see other things. I think we just didn’t really feel like spending all that much time in a taxi, and so the subject of simply all of us going into Old Phuket came up, and more specifically, the subject of delicious Roti in Old Phuket kept coming up over and over, and soon, we had convinced ourselves that all we really wanted to do was to spend the day in Old Phuket.
It was still early, and we reasoned that if we called the guy now, this instant, or rather if we had the front desk call him, we could free him up, and he could still go out and compete for rides with everyone else like a normal day. It just didn’t make sense to hire him for the day if we were only going to spend most of the day in Old Phuket. So, with the aid of the concierge, we were able to establish communications, and lavish the apologies that our plans had changed and he was free to earn his Baht elsewhere that day.
Filled with buffet, and coffee, dressed in our coolest wear, and shod in our easiest going footwear, we walked out to the main road, and hired a taxi into Old Phuket. No one was feeling energetic enough to utilize the bus system, and really to call it a bus system is a stretch, to utilize the larger mass transportation system, was not a priority. Within a half hour, we were downtown in Old Phuket.
Historically, Thailand claims, and this could be true, that they were never colonized. They have almost never been subjugated to foreign overseers, and certainly not European imperialists. But that doesn’t mean there are no European influences. Old Phuket has a section of downtown where Portuguese traders used to come often, and in many cases settled and brought their conventions, and their architecture. There were a lot of eye level cute buildings that housed much of the vibrant business district of Old Phuket. In the center of this is where our taxi driver dropped us off, well in sight of a collection area of cab drivers that we could hire to get back to our resort.
The reality of the day is that geographically, we never ventured more than 1/2 a mile from the spot we were dropped off at. Old town, may just not be all that big. We didn’t walk 20 yards before we found ourselves in a small shop, that for all intents and purposes, seemed like a retail sales store. Of interest here, were these sculptures made from folded paper squares. The paper was some kind of refuse from a common product in Thailand, and some old guys would spend days assembling these things into containers. Well these containers caught the eye of one daughter number 2, and soon she was forking over Baht for the purchase of three said items. She also managed to secure storage for them in the shop while we kept shopping around. We noted the location of the shop, and strolled further down the road.
The heat of the day was getting on at this point, and I do believe our next stop was Gallery Cafe Phuket, where we sat among the works of a local artist who painted the local architecture. I think we all had something cool to consume, and moved further up Bangkok Road (at the time I had no idea what road we were on). We stopped in a studio called Art Room Phuket, and took in all the first floor art. I think only Alyson was daring enough to climb the metal spiral stairs to the second floor. The back wall was a door and a large window with a view into a “artist sweat shop?”. Question mark, because I really didn’t know what I was looking at other than it was a large room filled with young men who all looked to be working at various aspects of various art projects. I could see comics, drawing, painting, fabrics etc. Though the glass was two way, no one on the inside gaf about us on the outside.
Further up the road (3 of 4 buildings) we found Ban Boran Textiles where all the women I was with entered for a long period of time. I found a place near the door outside to sit and relax. A whole Phuket block in my legs, with a cool drink in my tummy, and I was exhausted. Aware I became of a developing scene. Two young persons dressed in their wedding attire, with a couple of photogs and grabbing intimate photos on a busy street in Old Phuket City. I looked around hard and tried hard discern just what it was that the photog was trying to capture. There had to be SOMETHING that made THIS location on THIS street special. Well, to my, what I think of as a reasonably highly trained eye, all I could see was a partially ugly street with some brightly painted buildings. One advantage that I did observe is that while many streets in many parts of Phuket had poles of wiregeddon (picture all the wires behind you entertainment system, and then raise that to the nth power), this street was devoid of that nonsense. I know I shouldn’t cast stones, because certainly here in the good ol You Ess of Ey, we have plenty of fugliness represented by strands of wire of all types that destroy the tranquil beauty of the place, here in Thailand, it just seems like it has to be a miracle that anything works at all. Yet, here on this street, in the traffic lapses, out into the street the couple ventured, with the photog and his assistant setting them up, and clicking away grabbing the memories that they will look back on twenty years from now as “the time of their lives”.
At the corner with Thalang Road, we turned East. A lot more colorful was this road, and the wiring seemed under control here. This may have been THE street to own property, or have your business anchored in, because it really was a pretty nice street with buildings, though old, that were well kept and presented well. Retail and other shops in every building as you walked along on both sides of the street. That street, one way West, had parking on each side of the road, and a single land of traffic down the middle. Traffic wasn’t that heavy this time of the day, both in the street and on the sidewalks. We were on the South side of the street which at least offered shade from the sun. I believe that accounted for most of the foot traffic. I can’t say how many shops we stopped in along the way, it seemed somewhere between “Really? In here” and “Holy Fug! Here too?”, and soon I became separated from the rest. A single street, it seemed pretty straight forward that we should be able to keep track of each other, but what I wasn’t privy to was the Roti place. Corinne had found this on her journey, and messaged us she was eating a great meal for something like $2.25. So we were working our way there, but I didn’t know where there was. So, I wandered back and forth along the street, not seeing them inside, and them not seeing me go past at least 2 or 3 times. I was about to give up and go look for a wi-fi place when Corinne finally came out to the street and located me, and guided me to the shop. Food was ordered already, so I ordered a beer, and then we feasted on some delicious cheap food.
Background, emigrants from India fanned out where ever there was some opportunity. When you come from a country that has such competition for limited resources, branching out for a better life becomes a necessity, and here in Thailand, over the course of generations, Indians found their way into Thailand where they established themselves, and raised families, and through the generations lost touch with their Indian roots per se. Many must certainly have distant family in India, but many of those ties are long broken, and what is left are Thai Indians who maintain some semblance of the old culture, in their ways, and their foods, while also being Thai. Many of the families had married outside the community, and so internally and externally they were Thai, but they had certain customs and recipes that were definitely Indian. This was as much true for the Roti women, as it was for many of the tailors, including our tailor from the night previous. If clicking the link above brings you to a street level view of this Roti shop, you will see their living quarters on the second floor.
With roti in our tummies we ventured back out into the rising heat of the day. We wandered around some more, eventually hitting an intersection where I suddenly recognized my own Old Town journey from Tuesday where I came into the old area down Yaowarat Road, and I had been on a two-way street that ended head-on into a one-way against street. I said “Hey!, I was here the other day!”. That gave me some immediate orientation. I hadn’t paid that much attention to where I was, but, I am cursed with a memory for places I have been, and soon, I had a map in my head of where I was, and how to get back to the resort.
We covered a lot of the same ground, because as soon as you ventured just a little bit outside of the main old area, nothing looked all that attractive, and we found ourselves back where we started. Not ready to return to the resort we explored the South side a little bit where we did find another set of shops, and then an old rundown mansion right in the middle of town. One of those “fixer-upper” places, that would take a lot of uppers to get all that fixer going, but you could see the potential in the place. It really had some nice architectural features, large windows, arched doorways, tiled roof, two stories, verandas, and a lot of room. With all the cars on the property, it appeared to be an active location, but the place needed a lot of love.
Toward the end of the afternoon, we decided it was time to find the original shop where D2 had cached her purchase, and we walked single-minded-ly back in that direction, passing many places for the umpteenth time. Then and interesting thing happened. I was pretty sure that the place of interest was only two shops in from the Suryadij traffic circle, but the street side presentation of the building looked nothing like what I was remembering, so I kept walking past it until I came to the Cafe which I KNEW was too far, and I KNEW that the circle was too far. Finally it was Corinne that figured out that what we had stopped in earlier was a food place, that until they started serving food, put out tables, and these products. She recognized the old woman, and the cash counter, and her cached bag was still sitting where we had left it four hours previously.
Back at the circle, we found a taxi easily, and then embarked on the longer journey back to Karon Beach. It was rush hour, and there was a lot more traffic on the road, and there was still that bottleneck where the 402 by-pass met all the other roads, and it was a major cluster F. Once through, up and over the hill we went, and soon we were dropped at our resort.
We had snacked a lot, but we pulled up to the poolside bar and began ordering happy hour specials. Both Susan and I had appointments for test fittings of one product that we had ordered the day prior. Until then we relaxed at the pool bar. I think this is when Corinne’s next international incident occurred. We were sitting at the bar, the music playing, the water spouts continuously pouring laminar flow water into the pool from all the corner supports of the structure, when a rather large man of Chinese origins comes up to the bar to place an order, his wife and family clear across the pool lounging in the pool deck chairs. He was there for happy hour drinks. I wasn’t paying attention much, but he asked Bee some questions, and then at the top of his lungs in Mandarin shouted unintelligible speech across the pool “DO YOU WANT MANGO JUICE OR PINEAPPLE JUICE IN YOUR MAI TAI!”. After a brief pause his wife replied “I WANT THE PINEAPPLE JUICE!” in equally unintelligible Mandarin. Unintelligible to me, but not to Corinne. The dude, relays this to Bee, and when she goes for the Pineapple juice, it is all gone, and informs the rather large man of Chinese origin of the problem. He turns again across the pool and shouts unintelligibly “THEY ARE ALL OUT OF PINEAPPLE JUICE! YOU WILL HAVE TO HAVE THE MANGO JUICE!”, and not surprisingly his wife shouts back “THAT IS FINE!”, and the dude informs Bee to go ahead with the Mango Juice. He asks her some more questions, and then again turns and shouts Mandarin across the pool, which at this point was as much as Corinne was willing to tolerate. She turned to him and in perfect Mandarin shouted at him that he was being rude, and he should take care of his business quietly. Now, I don’t think the man of Chinese origin had any comprehension that he had just been told in perfect Mandarin that he was being a rude son-of-a-bitch, because he immediately changed his demeanor and almost whispered to Corinne in English, that he was sorry. After that the man of Chinese origin was no longer a pain in the ass disturbance. Yeah Corinne!
We had walked a lot today, and Susan’s shoes were bothering her. We decided that I would walk over at my normal speed, and she would mosey along at her hobbled speed, and by the time she arrived, I would be done, and then it is kind of like multi-tasking, except really, I await her transaction, but she doesn’t have to await mine.
I arrived to an empty shop to find my tailor hosts there waiting for all the customers to come by and try try on their sample products. For me they had one shirt sewn up. Not just partially sewn, but fully complete. All the button holes, up the front to the collar, and in the sleeves. I tried it on and I could tell that this was almost perfect. Never in my life have I ever worn a shirt that fit that well. Neck? Perfect! Sleeve length? Ideal! Body length? The Best! Body length is an important one. So many shirts simply become un-tucked in because there is insufficient fabric to tuck in properly, and over time, the shirt pulls out. Long-Tall is better, but these were perfect. I felt like the waist was a wee bit tight that I knew, a little kilogram loss, and it would be fine, but since I was spending the money, I might as well add another half inch just to be on the safe side.
Before I took off the shirt, the main guy, says “How about you pick 6 more shirts. I charge you just the cost of material, no labor charges.” to which I asked, “Well, what does that exactly mean? What does that amount to?” I was thinking 500 Baht a shirt or less, not really sure what part of the shirt cost was material, and what part was labor. I guess labor is cheap, because he first quoted me 5000 Baht for 6 additional shirts, or just less than 900 Baht per shirt. If you recall from yesterday, I bought 5 shirts about 750 Baht to 800 Baht, so 900 didn’t seem right. I turn away, and said, I would just sit and wait for my wife, when he said, “4000 Baht, any fabric you want”. So I picked out 6 difference fabrics than the ones I had picked the day prior, and I left another deposit, and then I sat down to await Susan. Another family had walked in, Russian, who had one daughter that had been measured for a couple of gowns, and the mother also been measured for a few things. Being a small store, I found some catalogs to embed myself in, thus keeping my wandering eyes from invading their transaction space, and I ignored them as best I could until they were done and Susan arrived.
Susan’t fitting went fine, and by this time we were done for the day. A simple walk back to the resort, we would turn on the TV, or simply listen to Game of Thrones that Susan had the Audible version of. I would try to get some rest and make sure I did not fail to set alarm correctly this time and thereby stand a chance of making the 6am ride. Turns out there were other factors to consider.