The words below represent my very first post on this blog, which started off just being an online diary for friends and family back home in Australia. The early posts reflect this experimental stage and are more along the line of public emails rather than specifically for general reading. I had also never used a blog before and was updating it using an iPad, not the ideal, so these initial entries are a bit basic. I thought about deleting some of them but they do record my history of being here from day one, so I have left them alone.
I am writing this introduction on 26 Aug 2018 – so well over 5 years later and the blog along with my circumstances have changed a lot. The blog has developed into a huge resource and represents the best day to day record of life in the northeast of Thailand, a region called Isaan, that you will find. I am happily married and have been for over four years and we have built a beautiful house and planted an outstanding tropical garden in a small rural village outside a town called Si Bun Ruang, which gives me a wonderful base to explore life here.
In the blog you will find my writing on the early days in Phuket, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai before we move to live in Isaan permanently. With around 350 posts it is a very detailed record of one person’s journey of settling into a new country.
Am writing this to you while sitting by the pool after my morning swim. Louisa/Richard – Something you experience every day of course but its a bit of a novelty for us non-Milton/Sydney heights types.
I had a terrible time getting here which quite tested my rather fragile state. The flight from Canberra on saturday was delayed and I missed my international connection in Sydney. The next available flight from Sydney was on Monday, which means I would miss two days and Qantas would only put me up for one night. I thought because I flew Qantas Canberra Sydney and then was going Jetstar to Phuket that Qantas would just put me on another flight. Not so. I booked the Canberra flight through frequent flyers and then the Jetstar separately. Qantas refused to pick up the responsibility to get me to my destination. Jetstar were totally disinterested. Monday was the next flight what’s your problem! A helpful bloke at Qantas suggested there was a flight out of Melbourne with Jetstar leaving the next day and flying onto Bangkok. He was prepared to fly me down there, put me up for the night and pay for all meals. So I took that option. It meant I lost one day instead of two but would have to try and get a flight from Bangkok to Phuket when I arrived at night otherwise I’d have to spend a night in Bangkok.
All went well and I was the second person lining up to get on the flight in Melbourne, even before they had opened. I wasn’t missing this one!
The flight over went quickly. I’m getting used to this international flying thing. We arrived in Bangkok around 7.30 pm. What a huge airport. With 10 million people I guess it’s justified.
The other slight stress was that because of my missed flight my bag had got lost. I am now the proud owner of Qantas badged PJs as a result of receiving their emergency travel pack. Very sexy. I was told that Qantas had found the bag and had sent it to Bangkok separately. It arrived well before me. But where to find it in this endless airport. After travelling for miles almost literally I arrived at the baggage collection place and there was my first good news story. My bag was sitting outside the luggage collection place. A miracle.
So with all my luggage I managed to find domestic and booked the last flight out of Bangkok to Phuket leaving 10.40 pm arriving midnight. Had a gelato ice cream to celebrate.
Picked up my jeep at Phuket and due to my having rubbish maps then spent 2 1/2 hours finding my villa, a trip that would normally take 45 minutes. So at around 3 am Monday morning I had finally arrived having left Canberra 10 am on the Saturday. I felt that at this stage I had earned my travel stripes and definitely earned the holiday.
My jeep is huge. You climb into it and look down on inferior vehicles. It’s about 100 years old and painted a bright green. I call it the jolly green giant and we get along pretty well. You do get respect which on the roads here is useful.
I tried to get into the first tour I had booked, which left the Monday but it had already left. Luckily they have come to the party and booked me into another one leaving Saturday. Travel insurance would have picked up the cost but I was keen to do the trip with this company.
The villa is magnificent. Lush tropical gardens and very peaceful. It made me realise that I was here on my own and I could see another of those silent holidays coming up, which is a state I spend too much time in at home.
That evening I went looking for a bar to have a drink and ended up at a little place close to the villa. Being off season and a Monday I was the only person there, which I thought was typical. However the three bar staff who were sitting out the front drinking invited me to join them and my holiday started from that point.
The bar manager is a young girl called Om who is waiting for her Australian boyfriend to come back to Thailand. There was an older lady called Pom, who is full of life and a ladyboy Ning. Ladyboys are such a part of Thai life here. Some of them are more beautiful than the real women.
The end result is that I have some very enjoyable and fun female company it the form of Pom, who has shown me lots of places I’m never would have seen as she has friends everywhere. The bar has adopted me as part of the family and I get food cooked for me and share whatever they are buying from the street venders.
Yesterday Pom was making me a tuna sandwich Thai style making it behind the bar while a drop in ladyboy was having her hair straightened. Not quite what I was expecting from my holiday but how wonderful to be so surprised.
Life here is lived on the streets where shops and homes are melded so it’s hard to tell which bit is which. There is constant movement and activity. Street vendors have little carts attached to their motorbikes so that fresh vegetables or cooked foods of all types arrived to be purchased at your front door. Meals are based on whoever turns up that day. Children are totally incorporated into adult life. Kids propped up on the front of motor bikes late at night doing whatever mum or dad is doing or picking up a freshly made pancake from the vendor next to the bar.
I have been bar hopping at night and experiencing the extraordinary friendliness of the Thai people who seem to enjoy life despite not having a lot in material things ( a huge generalisation I know). This is helped by being with Pom who provides instant acceptance into the scene.
We made our first visit to Phuket town yesterday to buy some clothes and the jolly green giant carved its way through some exciting traffic with great ease. I must say I love this type of focused driving. It’s like Sydney on steroids.
Today I have my walking tour of Phuket heritage sites, which sounds very interesting. All I have to do is find the place they are meeting in Phuket, which will be a challenge.
I had a great Thai massage yesterday suggested by Om. It’s a place where people with a disability are trained under a scheme organised by the King to do massage and earn a living. One of the women there was blind. I never would have found it as it was a little place hidden away in the back streets. They only charge $5 for one hour of the best massage. I doubled it. Why should we take such advantage of the mad discrepancy in our relative earning abilities?
The weather has been very kind to me. Sunny most mornings while the clouds build up in the afternoon. Very little rain (tempting fate as I head off for my first tour). Temperatures around 30 and a little humid but not too bad.
Talk later in my next newsletter from Thailand.