Thursday, 21 November 2013

A long update and a bit about beetles!

I am sorry for the delay in posting, with no access to the internet and a very slow connection when we do find it, pictures are hard to come by. So here is our journal from the last few days. It is a big bit of blocky text, but there is some fun stuff in here too. Love from us.

Sunday 17th November

I will admit to some sadness to be leaving the rain forest, but most of all to be leaving behond the friends that we have made here in Mr Bao and his team. When we settled up our bill, we gave a five hiundred Baht tip to Sih and Min to thank them for all of their hard work. Sih took the note and gave us some thanks, when really we needed to thank her and Min was a little shy and Bashful. They are a lovely couple and both of them work so hard, I hope that our little token gave them something a little extra. 

Mr Bao dropped us at the bus stop and then went to speak to his friends. Once again we could see the sausage factory that is the leisure industry rolling on as Mr Bao awaited the arrival of his next guests. However with it being a bank holiday the coaches had been cancelled. So that left us crammed into the back of a mini bus with a group of very nice German tourists and a good natured driver who drove like an absolute maniac. 

At the end of that particular journey we climbed out of the van grateful to be alive even though we had arrived in a dump of a bus station. Being desperate for the toilet I paid the required three Baht and wandered into a pissoir from hell's suburbs. The smell was ripe and the floor thick with grot. The only toilets in the place were the Thai squat 'n' drops and so needs must and all that, but trying not to piddle in my trousers was a nightmare that almost had me topple over backwards into the bowl! As I serenely walked back out of the toilet (following the mad dash to get in there!) and found Carol in a state of agitation as she hunted through her purse and then her bag and then every pocket on every thing she owned. It transpired that the main card that we have used to pay for everything, a sort of Pre-Pay credit if you will, had been lost. This left us with no money and no access to money. I tried to use my personal bank card in the ATM and was refused twice and told to refer to Bank for details. I am now expecting to get home and discover several letter telling me that my card has been used abroad and I should contact them immediately! Bastards...

With our worries far from over, we had to find our bus to the next stop and it was only by chance that I noticed a bus slowly allowing people to board. A quick check with the bus station office and it was confirmed that the bus was ours and we needed to get on it pronto! So we loaded our kit and then in typical Thai style, the driver went for a fag, stopped at the fried chicken stand and then had another fag. With our connection waiting at the other end our time was running out. Finally and fifteen minutes later than he should have, he started the bus engine and then hooted the horn a couple of times. A few minutes later he sounded the horn again and then put the bus into gear and began to drive away. 

So cue another tedious journey by coach, the advantage of Thai coaches though is that they treat the passengers as responsible adults and thus you can have a window open if you so wish or you can stand in the open doorway, your choice and your fault if you fall out. There is something about Thai culture that makes me realise that our own culture has lost something vital that has curtailed our freedom. The freedom to take a risk has been stopped by the Nanny state. Carol films some of the journey and I gently doze or smile and wave at the baby being held in the seat in front of me. There is something so precious and beautiful about the smile of a child, so innocent and free of the corruption that adult life brings. I would still not want to be a child again though. 

Suddenly and with out warning the bust stop and the driver gets off. A policeman gets on and starts talking loudly to the two teenagers on the back of the bus, typical anti establishment types, with spikey hair and a punk rock snear, they chat away quite affably with the Rozzer and then we realise that we are at the bus stop. The driver though has parked the bus on a verge next to a drainage ditch that has a perilous four foot drop to a concrete ditch filled with god knows what! 

As we escape from the coach and walk the tight rope of the curb stones, we were greeted by another jolly taxi driver who tells us that he is Mr Chui's representative and that we need to put our bags in his truck. A fellow traveller is sat in the back on the tail gate and so we have to chuck our heavy bags over the side of the truck. The journey to the quayside is short which is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing in that the journey is over and curse because the truck was air conditioned, if cramped. So we disembark and face the next stage, the stage I have been dreading.


My initial thoughts on seeing what we are about to put to sea in are "WTF!"
We climb aboard what to me looks like a wooden baking tray with a cement mixer jerry rigged to the back. Carol is in her element and her sea legs are obvious! I however am what those sailor types call a land lubber. If evolution had meant for me to float on water I would have been born able to float! As my first foot touches the boat, it tips alarmingly and the fear gland in my bowels decided to unleash a full bucket load of buttock clenching scaredy pants! 

Carol sits at the front of the boat, a smile on her face as broad of that of Lord Nelson on a warm sunny day of peaceful sailing. I grip the plank seat with my arsehole and we start the perilous journey down the green estuary. Yet as the boat chugs up the river I am reminded of that scene in Apocalypse Now with Martin Sheen, I too could be on my way to face my renegade Col. Kurtz and my inner dialogue starts putting a narrative to the faces and views I am seeing. The only thing though is that the chap driving the boat ( I don't know what the technical term is, so driving will have to do!) is clearly not not more than a biscuit older than me and would have been a baby or at maybe a young child during the conflict in Vietnam and Laos, a conflict that is still claiming casualties to this day through the huge amount of unexploded ordnance dropped by the Americans that lies rotting and dangerous in the forests of those countries. It is darkly funny to think that Carol and I are holidaying in a part of the world that has seen such terrible human suffering. The atrocities of Cambodia are the first thing that I remember of world politics from my childhood, that and Thatcher gaining power, both of these were things that later in life I would campaign against happening again. 

So the boat noisily chugged up the river, the heat was intense, the sweat was stood on my face in a sheen of my own when suddenly the driver (you know why I call him this) cuts the engine. Fearing the worst and trying to work out if I can swim as far as the opposite bank I turn to see the man answer his phone in rapid Thai. After he puts the phone back in his pocket the engine roars once again and once again I am deafened and am unable to focus on anything other than the plank in front of me. Suddenly our fellow traveller leaps across the boat front with his camera in hand to snap some photos, the boat dips perilously close to the water and I shriek in fear and try to lean the boat in the opposite direction. Carol too has her camera in her hand and is snapping away at what I can only guess is something interesting as I stare intently at that plank! I hate boats...

Finally we land (dock?) at another concrete quay and the smell of human activity hits my nose like a cement mixer to the head, that odour of rotting rubbish and discarded fish heads that hangs on the air like a poisonous plume from a volcano spitting out vast tectonic farts. Carol steps ashore with the grace and poise of a Sea Captain and turns to see me still holding on to that plank with my arsehole, the concern on her face is genuine as she helps me ashore as I wibble and shake with fright, did I mention that I hate boats?

At the top of the quay we were met by a Thai man of indeterminate age, who has a bandanna tied around his head that holds down a well kept pony tail, his whole disposition says biker, Carol has found a kindred spirit once again and immediately strikes up that friendly chat that she is so easy with and so good at. The man is Mr Chui and he tells us to dump our bags into the side car of his battered CG125. He rides up the quay following us on the tatty old machine, but its Honda CG character shines through and it just rumbles away happily enough. At the top of the quay he tells us to climb on and so begins our journey into the unknown. 

My writer brain once again starts compiling a narrative as we traverse the narrow concrete roadway, Mr Chui rides with the deliberate finesse of a man who has made the journey many many times. As I see the road way I can imagine a Japanese army, equipped with jeeps and motorbikes, generals shouting orders and local people being forced to construct the road. Yet this is based on entirely my inner story teller and is probably no where near actuality.

When we arrive at the site, Mr Chui drips our kit at our hut and then rides off leaving us to settle in. Exhausted from the days travel I find the bed and to my utter delight it is soft and comfortable. Everything feels good with the world until dinner time. The food is indescribably awful!

Monday 18th November

I awoke early today absolutely crippled by pain and swallowed my usual indelicate pile of pain killers to little effect and spent the next few hours drifting in and out of sleep. The hut has a bamboo floor and as Carol gently moves about the hut the floor bounces with ever step. It takes a little while to get used to and after a while the movement becomes strangely comforting. 

When I finally get up and brave the shower I discover to my horror that it is a cold tap with a hose and shower head attached. The water is shocking to my delicate Western disposition and to me feels like glacial melt water! The facilities here are basic and just like the rain forest the toilet flush is a bucket of water next to the loo, other than the shock of the shower all is normal and nice. The lack of power though is annoying to a spoiled Westerner like me, with no power there is no power shower, no pop up toaster and where to plug my lap top to charge. Talking of the Lap top, Carol and I were dismayed to discover that the Chromebook is in fact a pile of bollocks. Due to lack of internet it refuses to start up and let us log in. We were assure when we bought it that it worked off line, but this turns out to be false and it is now nothing more than an expensive battery for my inexpensive MP3 player. 

The sticky heat in the hut feels horrible to my aching and sore body, all I want is to lay down on a soft air conditioned bed, yet with no power here such luxuries are not going to happen. As it is, the site does get power in the evening for a couple of hours as Mr Chui runs his bar and lights up the place a little with eco bulbs. Basic and pretty, but annoying to an overly pampered Westerner like me! I crave the cooling air of a fan, nut again such luxuries are not going to be powered by a small generator just like we have at home. I have fears that our stay here is going to be bleak. Carol though seems to thrive here, she has a level of peace about her that is not only gratifying but lovely. 

Breakfast at Mr Chui though is another feat of endurance and as my omelette is delivered it smells funny, also the toast is clearly not toasted,why cannot Thai people make proper toast? Toast with blackening on it where it has just started to burn, but not enough to make it inedible is beyond Thai people it seems, they prefer to taste the bread and not the carbon. The omelette on initial taste is rank, it is a mix of off fish, rotten eggs and a huge amount of salt. Given that Mr Chui has ducks here I can only assume that the eggs used are from these birds and the local diet has tainted them somewhat. Despite the vile taste I finish the food because I was so hungry after giving dinner last night a miss due to it being horrid.

As I eat what passes as toast I happened to glance into the kitchen just as I put the last bit of food into my mouth. The work side is covered in chickens. Live chickens! Live chickens that are slowly eating their way through the loaf of bread that our toast has just come from. As I point this out to Carol she hopes that such things are because the animals have got in the kitchen by accident. The sad truth though is that this is clearly not the case. I am now worried about our continued eating here and what potential diseases we could pick up. 

Our plan for the day is to try out our snorkel gear and again I am hesitant about such activities due to my fear of water. The beach though breaks my heart when we leave the forest that borders it. The view is achingly beautiful, but the litter on the edge of the tide line shows just how much rubbish and garbage we as humans simply chuck into the sea. As we wander along the sand I find broken bottles left by tourists, old water bottle left behind with no thought as to who will clear them away. The damage to this beautiful beach by human beings is enough to make one cry. When later we find a Hermit Crab with a shell that is  in reality a discarded pill bottle I could weep at the state of this paradise which if you look at the ragged edges is being decimated by the people who come here to see the beauty. I am ashamed to be human when I see this.

The view out to sea in contrast to this is utterly perfect in its beauty, this is the Indian Ocean and I am about to swim in it. My fear was gone in an instant and the water is like that of a cool refreshing bath, with its glass like clarity I can see the sea bed almost forever and to be in the water suddenly feels like the most natural thing in the world. I dipped my head below the surface, breathing slightly more rapidly than normal due to my fear and came face to face with a large fish! There were so many beautiful fish that I could not count them, there were small patched of coral growing on the rocks and fish of so many colours, yet my fear changed track and instead of concentrating on the beauty all I could think of was the dangers of meeting an angered Lion fish, swimming into the fronds of a Jelly fish or even brushing against one of the horrific local snails with a sting so potent that it kills local swimmers every year.

Carol though swims through the water with the grace of a sea mammal, she seems at home here in a way that I envy and with her comforting looks and signals I started to relax until we swam together hand in hand pointing to wild life and sharing the moment together. At that moment my only feelings were of the bliss of the instant, the shared love between us and the calm of swimming in the Indian Ocean. Yet with every up comes the inevitable down and my damaged shoulder soon let me know when it had had enough with a jolt of pain causing me to have to leave the water and sit on the beach with my dear Carol. The view out over the ocean was magnificent and as we sat there sheltering from the glare of the sun under our towels the utter peace of our position was ingrained on our souls. 

Eventually we returned to the hut and the shock of the shower which has now mellowed into a cool comfort from the heat of the day. My dread moment though was returning to the bar and having to eat there. This proved to be founded as the food we were served was inedible and our fears over food poisoning caused us to leave the majority of the food on our plates. The rice served to us was of an unknown vintage and was not only cold and sticky, but contaminated with the grains used to feed the chicken and ducks. I tried to eat the main dish, but the meat was tainted with something and after a couple of mouthfuls I gagged and was nearly sick. Once again I returned to hut hungry and starting to feel the hunger pangs turning to depression. 

Despite the incredible beauty here, the small things that grate on us are starting to make me hate it here and a late night walk along the beach confirms my views of the people who have visited this place before or who have thrown their trash over board from a ship. The delicate beach, with all of its splendid life is being destroyed with the litter of the thousands of people who just do not care about the consequences to their actions. We as humans are destroying these places, the last places of nature in her natural beauty and we are destroying them with our filth.

Tuesday 19th November

Today we faced a catastrophe, if we cannot find a place to eat clean food we are going to have to move away from this island that is in almost every other way just what we were looking for, despite the horrible things I have seen as a direct result of other human beings. I feel exhausted and even after a morning of rest I am still exhausted, but then I am once again running on empty and my fears of going back to Bangkok are starting to feel real.

Carol and I decided to go for a walk at lunchtime and the plan was that we had to find a better place to eat that Mr Chui. Our first stop was at the Dive school and the woman there was genuinely surprised at our comments about the kitchen hygiene. It seems that Mr Chui has a reputation for good food, if this is the case then our fears of what the other places would be like were darkening. Fortunately we found that the bar at the dive school also served basic food and it was fairly well priced too. However there was another place that we wanted to check out too and the walk along the beautiful coastline was also calling to us both. 

The climb up the the hill on the headland was both exhilarating and pleasant. The views more than made up for the effort it took to get there and suddenly I felt at home in my environment as I wandered along cliff edges with the ease of the experienced climber. Carol though appeared to be a little like a sea lion out of water, she could do it but it took effort and I could see that she was not comfortable on some of the sheer drops, even if they were only seventy feet or so to the rocks of the beach. My reassurances that such falls would most likely result in broken limbs rather than actual death unless she was very unlucky did not seem to reassure her at all much to my surprise. However, we make a good team. She is fantastic in the water and I am good on the rock, so we support each other through what feels alien to us both.

We stopped at the next bar and to my delight discovered that it is a Pizza bar, they prepare and cook the food right there in front of the customer. I noticed that every time the lads working there went to handle a fresh pizza base they washed their hands, there were no fags being smoked while these are being cooked. We had a couple of drinks and asked if there was anywhere else around that had food and maybe even WiFi. The damn Chromebook has all but failed us now and with out any form of net access it simply refuses to do anything and we cannot even use it to transfer the photos from Carols cameras to the hard drive, the main reason why we brought the damn thing in the first place. I was at this point thinking of throwing it in the sea, to see if I could use it as a float to aid my swimming, but decided that there was enough junk in the sea already. 

The lads at the pizza bar directed us to the next restaurant along the beach which was roughly a thousand metres away. so we headed off and took the path past Monkey hill, at the end of the track we seemed lost and in the end asked a German tourist if we were on the right track to a decent restaurant. He took us around a corner and there on the beach front was an oasis in marble and wood. The food was exquisite, we dined like the British ruling classes during the Empire and enjoyed every tiny luxury like the fans above us and clean food. We also found a WiFi connection and restarted the Chromebook which is how I am able to type this now and update our blog from my hand written notes. With the Chrome book now working again we managed to transfer enough data to actually be able to use the cameras again and then started to head back along the beach. 

Walking along a golden beach, my heart filled with the love of my partner and my tummy filled with glorious food was one of the most beautiful moments of this trip so far. With waves crashing on the golden sand just metres away from our feet and our being almost completely alone on this beach that stretches away to the far horizon I commented to Carol just how romantic a moment this was and then she farted! The pair of us giggled like school children as we made the long walk back to our hut along beaches that both break and fill the heart. The sunset was spectacular with deep blues and pinks that went on forever, walking hand in hand with my best friend, my wife and my muse I do not think that I could have been happier. 

As we wandered along the beach we avoided the deep river that had caught us out on our walk up the beach and crossed it where it joined the sea as a shallow trickle and then rounded the corner onto another section of glorious beach where we found the large glob that makes up a Jelly fish. These things here can cause serious harm to a swimmer and leave them needing hospital treatment providing that they do not drown before getting to shore. We took a couple of pictures and carried on our way back to our hut. 

Back home we discovered that our water supply has failed and so we reported this to Mr Chui who in his typical biker way (a way well known to us all, be it a biker here or in the UK) wandered off to fix it. AS he left the bar, a large brown rat crept cautiously from the kitchen and as Mr Chui turned a corner the rat pelted along the bar edge where it joins the sand and vanished into the undergrowth. When Mr Chui returned we helped him to fix a knackered gasket and then we retired to bed where we are now. Carol is asleep and I am sat here as naked as the day I was born typing this crap into this infernal machine. With no shower though Carol and I were forced to pour water on each other from the large bog bucket to wash off the sand. The water was freezing cold and each scoop full poured on me made me squeal like a school girl! I have no shame in admitting this, I am after all used to finer things in life, this is why I live in Weston Super Mare! 

Wednesday 20th November

We have eight days until we fly home and face the harsh realities back there, part of me wants to stay here and escape from that reality but with our money starting to run low, such a plan will only lead us into poverty and legal problems with the Thai authorities. It is funny, but at the start of this trip I did not think that I would fall in love with the Thai people as much as I have, their gentle polite natures are so peaceful and it is all thanks to their culture. Mind you, we have only seen one side of the society here, that of the Westerner visiting the place and having money to spend. If things were different, if we were out of money and trying to find work I can imagine that life here in Thailand is somewhat harder. 

This morning I awoke to the sounds of the sea crashing on the beach and Carol's more gentle snoring. As I type this, she is fast asleep with her face almost angelic. As she slowly breaths in and out there is a look of peace about her too. I can see that she loves this place, Thailand is her spiritual home and I know that she too will be sad to leave this place even though we will be returning to our precious family.

In the more real day to day order of things, I can report that due to a lack of a shower last night, our bed is now full of sand and feels like a soft comfortable sand paper. Mr Chui is no doubt working on the water problem as we speak and hopefully will have the issue sorted very soon, especially as I am starting to smell! Parts of my more intimate aspects are starting to smell like Bangkok which cannot be a good thing, although having now identified what the smell over Bangkok is, I am a little shocked! 

Thankfully the water is now back on and I enjoyed a great ice cold shower this morning, although enjoy is a relative term, lets say that I enjoyed it more than I would enjoy walking naked into a nest of red ants. Washing my hair in cold water is not an experience I truly enjoy first thing in the morning. However after a long hot day that shower becomes a golden palace of pleasure. The cool glacial water soothes and cleans away the days sweat and grime. What I dread in the morning, I crave in the evening, thus proving once and for all the theory of relativity. 

Our day was spent having fun on two wheels, the bike we hired from Mr Chui was something spectacular in its horrendous condition. First off the front brake has no friction material left on the pads and is now running on the bare backing plates. The throttle cable is rusted and only opens a third of what it should making pulling away a difficult proposition. The spokes of both wheels resemble Victorian metal work that has been left on the coast for a hundred years and has rusted through. The seat has been recovered in thick black plastic, the foot pegs have been removed and rear sets from a sports bike have been bodged into place raising and pushing the pegs back into a most uncomfortable position. The rear brake has worn through the back plates of the pads and has now locked the worn pads together around the disk, which is a good thing because this is what keeps the rear wheel straight in the frame given that the bearings have worn out and been ground to dust. The clutch feels like it is pulling on the springs of a Kenworth road train and it bites suddenly making the bike jerk away. Riding it is utterly hilarious because nothing works and yet it just keeps going, good old Honda. With me piloting and Carol filming from the pillion, we toured the island and even found a shop, a real actual shop!

Shopping on Ko Phra Thong was an interesting experience for us because despite our best efforts, the woman who ran the shop refused to speak to us. We greeted her in Thai, asked for things as best as we could in Thai and even thanked her in Thai. She however merely grunted at us as she stared at us both with a mixture of incredulity and cold murderous incomprehension. I can only imagine that her store gets a lot of very annoying Westerners who refuse to make an effort to communicate. 

Once we had stocked up on supplies and I had a big pile of sweets we perused the doughnuts, freshly made and glazed with shiny crystals of sugar... They looked lovely. Carol though found something else on display in the shop on a shelf just next to the doughnuts, a tray of some kind of glue or poison that had the bloody corpse of a mouse and several cockroaches. The urge to eat fresh doughnuts left me as she pointed it out and then she commented that she wondered if said dead things were for sale! Thai shops do it differently to English ones, I cannot imagine a small village store in the remote parts of Britain having a tray of decomposing vermin on display next to the stock.

So we paid for our things and put our shoes back on and climbed back on the bike, it was time to explore some of the other roads on Ko phra thong and this is exactly what we did, we explored the other roads, which took a few minutes as we quickly discovered that they went nowhere. One road stopped at the school and given what one very famous British Traveller came to this region looking for we decided not to hang out there so took another road which lead to a large lump of concrete resting over the road way next to the Islands water tower. The other road passed down through the town to the town hall. Now remember that these roads are concrete slabs laid on the sand and with a five to six inch drop at each side, the slabs them selves are roughly the width of a car wide and seem rather good as road ways. Again this is not something that you would see in Britain and is unique as far as I know to Thailand. 

So it was time to get on the only road that led out of town and over to the other side of the island, so with the bike roaring along at close to twenty KM/H we left town and once again followed the road less travelled, bumping into only a couple of people on the small bike and side car outfits. Now given that there were no public toilets and it was still a long way to Mr Chui's Bar, there is only one place that one can go for a wee if it is desperate enough to need to stop. So as I squatted there and asked Carol not to film me as I passed water, she got out the camera and stated that I had not asked her not to take pictures and she snapped me right there! I promptly fell backwards laughing and squirted wee down my leg! 

Now a road laid on sand would suffer from some kind of subsidence you would think, but to be honest there were less pot holes on the whole island road than there are on the three hundred meters of our street! However when you do find one, it is not so much a pot hole as a crater! There are two sections of damaged road, one is a hole in the road about two feet across and half a foot deep. The other piece of damaged road is where half of the road has fallen in the swamp! It has just broken off and fallen in the swamp, a big chunk of road, just like that, as if it has been stepped on by a huge foot and had one edge broken off. 

Now with out turning this blog into a list of my bowel problems, we had to race back to Mr Chui's bar fairly rapidly and then after ten minutes or so of my agonised ablutions, we set off again to explore a cross road that had looked promising. We navigated the off road sections once again on our battered little Honda clearing through the soft sand with greater and greater ease, although we did manage to pick up a few nasty red ants and Carol got bitten a few times by the vicious little bastards. Once back out on the concrete road we found the cross road, or rather cross slab and headed into the unknown. 

Tracks in the soft sand that had blown across the road showed that several motor vehicles had used the road fairly recently and then in the distance came a Toyota Hilux pick up crammed full of people and what ever junk they happened to have with them. So we carried on and then suddenly the road stopped. At the end of the road was a ten metre stretch of swamp and the road resumed again in pristine concrete. The swamp had a set of planks nailed to wooden beams similar in design to a railway line and this was obviously how the section was crossed by the bike and side car outfits. A bike on its own was going to find this section a little trickier. The mountain biker in me though relished the challenge and with a twist of the throttle as far as it would go, I dropped off the road and mounted the narrow plank. The wheels stayed true to the planks despite the rear wheel steering effect of the worn out and ruined rear bearings and then as I hit the third plank in the line of five I realised that it has split in half down its length and that one side of it had broken and dropped right into the swamp, so with the pathway now even narrower I kept the bike going along the wooden road of doom! Which ended abruptly as I mounted the concrete road once again. 

The road stretched and twisted into the distance and with both of us back on the bike we set off at the steady speed of twenty KM/P once again and enjoyed the sweeping corners on a bike with no brakes until once again the road stopped. This time it stopped because we had found the family who were busy laying the road in the first place. Again Thailand does things in a strange way at times and having a family of road builders laying a road on their own seems most odd to us Westerners, but I suppose that if your family business is road building then so be it. The family working on this project though were using a bike and side car to ferry reinforcing steel to the site of the next layer of concrete and the concrete was mixed by hand in situ. I cannot imagine a more gentle way of spending a day than building a stretch of road with my wife and family! 

So with another bowel emergency on the horizen for me, we headed back to Mr Chui's bar and just in time. After a few minutes of gut aching squirts I washed myself down with the hose pipe and Carol joined me once more on our fabulous death machine. It was at this point that Carol joked about how it would be if we took this bike to our dear friends at Bridge Motor Services for a standard British MOT. Given the level and number of faults with the bike we thought that Steve would either tell us to scrap the bike or get out and never darken his door step again!

Riding to the beach on the bike was again another hilarious act of silliness, the brakeless wonder traversed the soft sand with the grace and poise of an ice skating rhino and with it weaving and bucking all over the place we managed to, get it to the edge of the beach. From this point, firm damp sand made our roadway and with our destination on the end of the next bay, we set off as intrepid desert explorers  across the endless sands. OK, endless is a slight exaggeration, across the half a KM of damp sand crossed by a few tiny streams, it was then through the very soft sand of the point and out on to the beach where we had gone swimming only a few days before. This bay stretched for a KM of golden brown sand crossed by some tiny streams and one deep stream.

The bike leapt forwards like a drunk gazelle on morphine and with us both laughing we sped along the sands. Old Burt Monroe would have been proud of us as we splashed through the streams, but then came to the deep fast stream that had worried us. Here the sand got soft and the wheels dug in deep, Carol jumped off the back and I revved the engine and nothing happened, the bike was sat on the swing arm in sand. I wiggled it forwards slightly, revved it again and this time the smooth road tyres bit into the sand and the bike wobbled forwards picking up speed, sending out a wall of spray on each side of the bike, the water got deeper and for a brief moment I had fears of it stopping in the middle of a river, the engine flooded with river water, bears approaching from the woods to eat this poor lonely biker. Luckily the other bank was only a couple of metres away and as the bike rode up the bank, it slithered to a stop next to the Pizza bar. We had survived our epic journey and we ordered our Pizza with the proud voice of a British conqueror. The lad running the pizza bar pointed out to us that had we crossed the river lower down the quiet beach where the sand was firmer and the water less deep we would not have looked quite like such a pair of ferang idiots! The Pizza though was fantastic and after a little while of just enjoying where we were, I had to once again head back to Mr Chui's bar for... you guessed it, another bottom emergency. 

Damn I love Thailand, although I would never dream of riding my precious Sylvie across such a beach or through streams filled with soft sand, the potential damage to her delicate precise parts would fill me with horror, so I would need another battered old wreck like the brakeless wonder to do it all again.

On another note, as I was preparing to go to bed last night I had to pop down to the bar for for something and found Mr Chui and one of his employees catching the large beetles that fly around here. These bugs are about an inch and a half long and will sit quite happily on your hand for a while before flying off, they are rather sweet. I asked the lad why they were collecting the bugs and then wished I had not. 

"For the curry." he stated happily, "they go in the curry." 

"Do they taste good?" I asked.

"Very good." he replied happily before looking at a bug that was just out of his reach. My being taller I reached up and picked the bug off ceiling of the bar and handed it to him. He beamed a smile at me and thanked me and then went off with his bugs, as for me I swear that I am not going to eat curry ever again!