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just telling it as I see it...

  • RiK

Roving Rant Day 5 - Ban Khlong Yai border country

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

Going to sleep & waking up to the deafening sound of cicadas is something I’d forgotten - they simply don’t get that loud in New Zealand. I find it comforting, as the ever present sound of my childhood. (I did a little video outside our room just to record the sound - not sure if it will load in the blog, but it should do). The nice thing about having a day to simply hang around is that there was no pressure to do very much. We stopped at another little Wat where we were greeted by the monks, holding out a small bottle of water for each of us. Gracious & smiling, it was wonderful to spend a bit of time in that serene place. There was a tree in the grounds (pictures of it & its flowers are in the gallery) which was quite extraordinary - never come across it before. Thin branches were sprouting from the lower trunk, producing flowers & big heavy fruit, a bit like coconuts.

The lack of gps and communication was driving me mad, so I stopped at a local hardware store - couldn’t find a telephone store, despite the fact that everyone, literally everyone has a mobile phone - & picked up a bit of used twisted wire that was exactly right to get my Cambodian SIM card out. As language was an issue, I offered the guy 10 baht for it (50c) & went outside. About a minute later, he came rushing out to give me my baht back, indicating that they couldn’t take any money for it. I refused & he returned to the shop, only to emerge a minute later with 5 baht change. I accepted gracefully & everyone was happy! :) At last, I could get my NZ Sim back in & connect to the world again.

We meandered our way to a local lake which we’d spotted on my now revived Google maps! There we came across a local cafe with decks overlooking the lake. As it was the middle of the day & baking hot, we decided to lunch & siesta there, staying at least 3 hours; eating, drinking, reading, writing. I did struggle a bit trying to upload as I was reliant on the local 3G network, but managed at least to say hi to my wife & upload a small bit of client work & a few quotes. A nice relaxing afternoon.

As we decided it was getting time to leave, it started to thunder in the distance, so we stayed a while longer. A phone call to Bern to say our new bike should be with us later that evening spurred us into getting to a hotel so we could give him an address.

We didn’t have to drive far. About 3 minutes up the road was a rather dilapidated ‘estate’ advertising rooms for rent. We rode in & had a nose around but it appeared to be deserted & was certainly crumbling. As we were leaving, the owner returned. Pierre has been in Thailand over 40 years & running the ‘estate’ for nearly 28 years. We didn’t get close enough for me to ask him why he was allowing it to go to rack & ruin. A charming Frenchman, he took a bit of negotiating down, but this was partly because he was trying to decide whether he had any accommodation that was actually functional, as we later discovered.

As we wanted air conditioning, the only option he could offer was a ‘folly’ at the top of the land. This turned out to be a sort of Hansel & Grettel abode, built in a rather haphazard way between 4 water tanks that I thought were to supply water to the estate. As we discovered once we handed our cash over, the tanks were empty. The main tap was turned & one started to fill, but as it was going to be hours before we could use it, Pierre showed us to the bathroom of a room that couldn’t be used because the wiring for the air conditioning was unsafe. Well, looking at the rest of the estate, I’m not sure there was such a thing as ‘safe’ anywhere!

Our ‘folly’ for the night. Charming, quirky, different & totally falling apart!
Our ‘folly’ for the night. Charming, quirky, different & totally falling apart!

The saga continued because even once the tank was full, there was no water. A pump on the roof which pumped water out of the tank into the bathrooms had to be turned on, and then patched up with several plastic bags as it was determined to throw more water off the roof terrace than into the bathrooms. Yes, it had a roof terrace. Sounds grand... no. However, if you didn’t look too closely, which once the sun went down wasn’t a problem as the lights were very dim, it was fantastic & magical - I mean that, especially when a full moon rose up!

The drama for the evening wasn’t over. We were waiting for Simon’s replacement motorbike which eventually arrived around 10:15pm. I had fallen asleep, but was woken up to help manhandle the bike out of the van. All well and good, until I volunteered to fetch Simon’s pack to see if it fitted on the back of the new bike. I had forgotten I’d closed the french doors to keep the mosquitos out & still being half asleep & in the dim light, I marched straight into the glass door! Luckily, it held, but I did have a small headache for a while! All I could think of to say, because I felt it was, “I feel so stupid!” The packs fitted, just, so we loaded up the old bike & retired to our comfortable beds for the night. When I say ‘comfortable’, if you have ever slept on a sheet over a concrete slab, you have probably only just had less comfort than us! It seems that everyone in this part of the world likes solid beds, but these ones took the biscuit. As it happens, I slept well, but only because I knew I couldn’t turn over without potentially breaking a limb :)

As I said yesterday, I have started processing the pictures I take as I go, using Adobe’s recently upgraded mobile LightRoom on the iPad. So I am creating an online gallery of images from this Rove & will add to it every day. Connectivity allowing (and I know it didn’t quite manage to load fully yesterday), RiKsRovingRant Gallery should be live now.

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