How to even explain this one? Near our old agency there’s a coffee shop run by a (Thai) guy named Tommy, who speaks a bit of English and whose daughter was one of Wayne’s students when we were working with the old agency. The whole family is very warm and friendly, and there’s Wi-Fi at the shop. (Though we have moved right into the 1990s and got Internet at home recently, this was a definite perk back when we were living in the Stone Age.) In any case, we’ve been known to frequent this venue.
It’s not uncommon, in places such as this, to find yourself nearly bombarded by interested Thais who either want to practice their English, attempt to score some English lessons for themselves or their children, or simply pick your brain (in Thai, regardless of how much Thai you actually appear to know) as to what the heck a farang such as yourself is doing in a place like Thung Song. If you read that with any negative tone please let me assure you that these interactions are generally quite welcome, and often prove to be humorous and even a way to make Thai friends. One of the things I always said I wished I’d done differently in China was actually interact more with the everyday Chinese people that surrounded me, and it’s nice to actually be making that happen in my current setting, especially now that my Thai has graduated from “Terrible” to “That of a Toddler, on a Good Day.”
The most noteworthy friend we’ve made at Tommy’s is P’Aek, a man who’s proud to be the owner of JIT, the computer shop across the street. Our first interaction occurred a few months ago. Thai people have a penchant for making elaborate invitations within seconds of meeting strangers, and P’Aek was no exception. Particularly on account of Wayne’s friendliness (no one really believes me when I say that I’m shy, but I swear that I am. I’m starting to understand you, Dad!!), we’d earned ourselves (and Ollie!) an invitation to Krabi in P’Aek’s truck on any weekend we desired. The problem is that we’re never exactly sure how to respond to these offers; we certainly don’t feel comfortable picking up the phone and saying, “Yo, Thai-dude-with-whom-I-can-only-communicate-on-the-basest-of-levels, tryna take us to Krabi this weekend?” And so there are many hypothetical trips that have yet to be taken.
But P’Aek was different. We got to know him a bit better, first over coffees, then over beers (Once in the back of his computer shop, and once Wayne met him at Tommy’s– yes, the coffee shop– where he allegedly was kicking it with the mayor and some of his comrades? Feel like it’s fine?), and before we knew it we had a real invitation on a real trip that was really happening that very weekend: The JIT Company Trip.
Alas, there was no room for Ollie, and there was scarcely room for the two of us– we squeezed four in the back of one car, and others rode in the bed of a double-cab pickup truck. This is a very common practice in Thailand, but unfortunately it began to rain about 20 minutes into the trip, forcing them to squeeze four into the back of the double-cab, which made us feel a bit bad. But before we knew it we were at a restaurant just outside Krabi, where we had a nice lunch and got to know everyone a little better.
P’Aek (and P’Lek who was either his wife or his mistress… the word “mistress” definitely got thrown around a lot, in her and everyone else’s presence, but they both had rings and talked about wanting kids so I think it was a joke?) informed us that that afternoon we’d be going to the Susaan Hoi, and Wayne and I had no idea what that meant but expressed interest as best we could. After spending a few hours watching Al-Jazeera (one of two English stations on TV) and teaching P’Aek how to play poker, it was time to set off. One of the things that has always caught my eye on the drive to Krabi has been the intermittent signs you’ll see for the “Gastropod Fossil Beach,” and I said, half-jokingly, to Wayne that I really hoped that’s where we were going. To the surprise and delight of the half of me that wasn’t joking, guess where we ended up! It would seem Susaan Hoi translates to “Seashell Graveyard,” and that’s where we found ourselves, in all its glory.
Then it was time for dinner. They happened to take us to the same restaurant that we went to with Mel and Kung almost exactly a year before. Crazy!
The next day we were to go on a five-island tour. We we excited, because it seemed as though the weather might really hold up for us. It did… for a bit.
We stopped at a snorkeling spot but… had neglected to bring snorkels. And ten minutes after our arrival, this happened:
But we waited it out and eventually were able to make it to the sea beach, which connects two smaller islands and is only present at a very specific time in the afternoon. Unfortunately this means longtail boats flock there by the dozens during that small window of time…
Then we made our way back and I saw this graffiti that I took a picture of:
Then it was home again, home again! A very fun, funny, and interesting trip all thanks to our generous new friend. Kap koon ka, P’Aek!