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Extended factual observations

March 18, 2007

Day 7. Sunday 11.03.2007
Breakfast, swim, checkout. No speedboat back to the mainland (we’re not made of money – we couldn’t swallow the fleecing we were offered on that kind of extravagance, so we opted to be swindled on a ferry ride instead, only paying more than 6 times what any local would pay!) A nice slow sedate trip, quite pleasant except for the vile boorish (Dutch? That would make him Boerish, almost, I guess) tourist standing and smoking on the front of the boat like he owned it, throwing his butts into the water. After days of almost 100% unadulterated Thai comestibles, we stepped into the first little place to hand, catering to Europeans as it turned out, and had a cleansing ale and some chips with tomato sauce. It felt good. So we wandered back to the fleecy touty shop where we were to rendezvous with the minibus back to Bangkok. We were offered a taxi instead for the paltry (it seemed – we were getting well used to the idea of two price scales by now) sum of 600 Baht extra to cover the 180-odd kilometres. The prospect of private transport (air-conditioned!) which could get us back to Bangkok at least an hour earlier, and accommodate any personal gastrointestinal requirements, which was a very real and forceful consideration, was one we couldn’t resist. We didn’t get the driver’s name, sadly, but he was VERY keen to make good time back to town. With 2 clocks on the dashboard, and the radio on, he kept checking his watch, weaving through the (heavy and occasionally very competitive) traffic like a pro. I heard the rattle of a bottle of pills at one point, washed down with a can of coffee, and followed up with a few snorts on his menthol inhaler (very popular in Thailand, it seems). No seat-belts in the back, so it was fairly entertaining to be witness to and part of. We all enjoyed making good time, despite the terrible traffic. Turns out it was the end of a religious holiday and everyone was trying to get back to Bangkok before work on Monday.
Ban Phe to Bangkok
Back at the Trang we were greeted, not quite as old friends, more like yet another chore in a long line of indistinguishable farang to be processed (there’s one to google). Ring the front desk for a power adapter to plug in, recharge camera batteries, etc. as on previous stay. get sent the wrong one that won’t accept Australian plugs. Ring again, we’re told that they don’t have such a thing, so mention previous stay. Go to front desk with plug in question. Ah, they do have one. Excellent (didn’t say ‘I told you so’).
We want to go to the Chattachak weekend markets, so ask the desk what time they’re open until – 7pm, apparently. Once again, excellent, it’s almost 6 by now, so we lurch back outside into the warmth, and flag a tuk-tuk driver, determined to strike a bargain, or at least some price not criminally extortionate, but he says the market closes at 6. Bugger. So we walk off into the sunset, thinking vaguely of dinner, but not keen on more Thai food (it all gets a bit, hmm, Thai after a while) and decide to go to Chinatown, this being the closest either of us have ever been to China, it seems like a good idea. Tuk-tuk time, again. We drive a hard bargain, and for what may be the first time we feel as though a local hasn’t just dipped his (or her) hand into our pockets at will, or at our request, even.
Dinner, after scoping out some local establishments, was at a place we think was called Canton House, a dimsum place mostly, but with lots of other really good (and surprisingly cheap) things on the menu. Many varied dimsum were eaten, followed by ‘4 Vegetable’, one of which was actually a fungus, and the medium sized roast duck, which we would happily have called large. Delicious, though accusations of MSG assistance were levelled.
Hotel. Sleep.

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