She starts off by forgetting she already had a Part Eight (it's Part Nine now, by the way) and goes downhill from there:
We’re retracing our steps, now. We've left the bustle of Ao Nang and are now at a swanky spot just across from Karon Beach on Phuket Island. (Or Koh Phuket - pronounced "Goh Phuket". Whot fun!) There were few places able to accommodate 3 people for 4 nights at the same place, this being Chinese New Year and all, so we're ruffing it at a place where the pool goes right up to your room - no nude bathing allowed, which is a good thing. The clientele is Russian for the most part and the shapes are North American... not good viewing before breakfast.
[Image = Poolside of resort complex]
Before leaving Ao Nang, we went to a Thai boxing match at the local arena. A free van takes you there but first you ride it up and down the street picking up patrons as the loud speaker blares out messages about the matches, the stars, and the time of entry. The arena was spacious and hot. Lane got us executive seats on long leather couches next to the ring. The executive seats were on 3 sides of the ring, the 4th left for a throng of family, fans, and wagerers. A loud bell and 2 fighters emerged to a crash of cymbals, drums, and the tuneless wailing of what we called a "snake charmers flute". The fighters bob and gesture, screw up their faces, and almost dance as they work to psyche out the rival. Then the fight begins. It's over fast as the kicking is hard and the punches are deadly. The winner is declared to the shouts and waving of the rabble on the side. Despite the din, I found it hard to stay awake. Kate too was OK to pass up the last 2 rounds, so we left Lane to enjoy the rest of the matches on his own. Been there done that! HOO, was it noisy!
This morning, Kate has gone to a Thai cooking class and we are keeping cool in one of the many internet shops. It's morning and by 8:30 it's already steamy hot.
The Thai custom of leaving shoes outside is getting to be familiar, although many places are too dirty for us to comply. Massage places have rows of shoes outside as do many private shops and even the hotel rooms have shoes outside the doors. People are easy going and accept the fact that the foreigners have their own customs. Everything seems to be tolerated. Girls in modest dress and hijabs walk past tourists with bare bulges flapping in the wind. Speedos leave little to the imagination. Boys who for all the world are girls (breast implants and shapely curves) give tourist info. to Harley riders in chains bearing tattoos of skulls and other gruesome imagery.
[Image = Rubber Tree]
The hillsides here are fewer and less imposing and, between the cliffs, the countryside levels into wide, flat farmland. Rubber trees are planted in great rows. Small coconut cups fastened to the sides collect the sticky, white, smelly sap which when dry is like an elastic band. There are pineapple plantations, bananas of course, and some fruits and veggies we have never even heard of. Dragon fruit, for example is like a huge red turnip with curly red leaves coming out of it. The fruit inside is white, full of tiny black seeds and tastes to me like a mix of potato and watermelon! Breadfruit, mango, papaya, and the strangest citrus fruits are all so tempting. This is what makes the markets such a joy to explore. Interestingly, you can give a banana as an offering at the temple, but it has to be unpeeled. A peeled one is… an insult.
The music here sounds very western. We hear little of the traditional stuff. They have a karaoke style of entertainment here where a single singer wails out the Thai equivalent of "Thriller" to the recorded din of synthesized accompaniment. Most restaurants play the North American hit parade. After awhile, you get pretty tired of Celine and Shania.
I asked about varmints and the most dangerous thing in the area is the cobra. We were told that cobras don't like bug spray, so it's worn when tramping through the woods with a dual purpose. I see a marketing opportunity for "OFF" here. Note: elephants really do have flat feet and don’t leave much of a footprint. I looked… not even the toes make much of an impression… everything just gets pretty flat. Elephants used to play a serious role in both logging and agriculture, but machinery and worldwide pressure have changed their lot. Now they are paraded for tourists and kept as pets. They appear in much of the local artwork and are considered very good luck.
Good luck is a big thing here and many things are done to generate it. The first sale in the morning must be followed by a prayer and then the money given to the vendor is wiped across the merchandise. This encourages further good luck. If you can score the first sale, you might get a bargain or you might be one of many “first sales” which makes for a good pitch at the doorway.
[Image = Interior, Buddhist Temple]
In the big temple, boys line up to take part in a religious ceremony. They are required to enter the monastery as rite of passage. Some stay 10 days, some several months, and some for a lifetime. One of our guides told us he enjoyed his life in the monastery; he learned from it to be humble, caring, and grateful. Maybe this should be required in other countries.
[Image: Distant view of Buddha statue]
On the crest of the highest hill in the town of Phuket, a giant Buddha is being built - it can be seen for miles. The “Big Buddha” signs lead you up a winding road to a large newly constructed landing and the marble base of this huge monument. Because indentured servitude can’t supply free labor, the costs escalated and now there’s an effort to complete the project with the help of grants, donations, and volunteers. We bought marble tiles and autographed them, to be placed alongside thousands of others which will soon become part of the towering form. Someday we’ll come back to see it finished, knowing we have played a minute role in its completion.
[Image = Closer view of same statue]
- Lynn's inability and/or refusal to get Thai names right strikes again. Whot a vulgarity.
- Next, she takes another nasty swipe at people who aren't crippled by anorectic thinking.
- Her description of Muay Thai boxing leaves quite a lot to be desired; that's because she lets her animosity towards sports and sports fans shine through. Rabble, indeed!!!
- Lane seems to have been stuck baby-sitting her for a lot of the day and she didn't like it.
- I also don't much care for her looking down at local customs or her sniffing about offensive imagery; anyone capable of producing CHOMP-CHEW-GLUT-SLOP-SLURP and "I HAVE NO HOOOOOME!!" hasn't a leg to stand on on THAT score.
- We should have expected that she had never heard of some of the more 'exotic' fruit; this bothers me because it shows how out of it she is.
- We next head to a long, dull section about local "varmints", a plug for Off and a confusing and inaccurate description of the role of the elephant in Thai culture.
- This leads us to the meat in this rancid stew: her paternalistic view-point; when she isn't condemning the Thai people for adopting Western customs and music, she gushes about how swell it would be to ship children off to monasteries to learn them some manners. Insert angry comment "You first, crazy woman" here.
- Her incoherent ramblings about the construction of a huge Buddha are the least anyone who can read at a fifth-grade level or above could produce....which is entirely the problem.
- This becomes especially annoying when you realize that she's provided us a date for all this; Lunar New Year, to be exact. Since she's had a month to get this up to code and hasn't, you start to wonder about her dedication to craft.