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Published: December 29th 2006
One of Songkhla's beaches.
Ok, maybe not so much like Aberdeen.
Today was a pretty exciting one, even if that wasn't the way I planned it at all. I'm staying at a really friendly guesthouse called the ABC (it used to be the Arbitus) in a town in the south of Thailand called Songkhla. Songkhla is a pretty interesting place for me. Because it's quite limited beachwise it's not very touristy (it hs two but they don't comprare to the big resort beaches). In addition, there has been problems with security here in the south, with seperatists waging a campaign against the government. There is occasionly bombings; teachers and monks have been killed. further south. It's all very sad and too-familiar somehow. For me however, Songkhla reminds me a lot of Aberdeen, with the choppers flying overhead taking workers to the rigs in the Gulf of Thailland. Consequently, there is a relatively small (and getting smaller) number of oil workers who stay here. Also Songkhla is some sort of educational centre. There are loads of schools, and the guest house I'm staying is right next door to a very large one. So, every morning I get woken up by the sounds of 2000 kids who seem to have a lot to shout
Ning and The Mermaid
This is Ning. She's the one who is not metal. A local story is that a mermaid was seen here, but was frightened away by a fisherman.
Today I woke up with morning with little bit of a hangover, courtesy of an evening spent in the company of Ronald (an english teacher here in SongKhla) and Christoph (a swimming instructor from Indonisia). Christoph was French, Johan was Dutch, and they both spoke Indonisian. I felt very underqualified on the language front, as usual.
I wanted to get some laundry done, but I was again adopted by another Thai called Ning. She lives in Songkhla, but has also stayed in Bangkok and Malaysia. She is very funny, with a great laugh and she seems to know loads of very diverse people. I think she's also a bit crazy, more of which later. As usual, Ning found me and my shoes very very amusing. It's nice to be able to make so many people happy just by being a big galoot.
After showing me where the laundy was, Ning suggested we have a walk along the beach, which was quite rough (it's rainy season here). I liked it, because again it reminded me of Aberdeen. I said that I was hungry, fancying a 50p noodle soup. Ning however brought me to one of the beachfront restraunts
for which SongKhla is famed. The prices were high (for me, my share costing me half my daily budget. I was later told that it was a very good price. However, I could hardly run out, and I was starving). I don't know much about seafood, so it was a bit embarassing being asked to choose, even when the choices are flopping or crawling around in front of me. So, after much um-ing and hmm-ing, I went for Horseshoe crab, mussels (safe) and king prawns. We also had non-horseshoe crab, salad, a big Tom Yung Song (spicy seafood soup), I think Barbequed Grouper, and fried rice. It was very good. It turned out that Ning's little sister was a waitress there, and she joined us. Also waiting were two lady-boys, who Ning delighted in making jokes about. We were also later joined by Ning's daughter Lot from school. It was a really relaxing, and enjoyable meal (even when Lot tricked me into eating the tail of the fish. I quite liked it though). I didn't do a lot of speaking, but I was quite happy to sit, eat and enjoy the view.
When we finally left, Ning
They seemed really good people, and I felt very welcolmed.
and I went to wander round the park, and fed some fish. We bumped into some friends of Ning's, who were having a picnic. They were very kind and offered me lot's of food. So, I know realise that I'm quite partial to fried bugs. After sitting with them for about 45 minutes, we left and ended up at the foot of one of the two hills which sit in the middle of the town. It was feeding time for the many monkeys who live there.
It was lots of fun feeding the monkeys, but as we were doing that (they were eating bananas and monkey nuts... such a cliche!) there was an almighty bang. The monkeys start going bezerk, and I turned to see that a motorbike had crashed into a car. Two people are walking and one is sitting on the ground. A crowd quickly develops, all not seeming to be doing very much. After a few seconds, Ning yells out "Baby" and runs over, and I realise that the people on the bike were her sister, and the two lady-boy waiters from the restraunt. Ning's sister is ok (just some scratches) and the other
How the monkeys manage to clamber around buzzing power cables and not get fried I don't know
lady-boy is ok, but the one sitting on the ground seemed to have hurt his leg. It later turned out that he had broken it in two places, but he must have been in shock because he did not appear in pain. Ning was of course very concerned, but the ambulance soon turned up, along with the police.
The bike belonged to Ning, and needed to be taken to the police station, but Ning could not drive. So, it fell on me to drive the bike, and Ning. The policeman, very natty in his figure hugging uniform (Thai police seem to like to wear their threads tight. All well and good if you're in shape, not so much if you're not!) seemed to want me to follow him, but soon disappeared from view. I was pretty worried, the bike was pretty wrecked, and I seemed to be the only person worried about a bit of the busted bodywork falling into the wheels and bringing our jaunt to a quick end. Also, there was no fuel, so we also had to find a petrol station. By now, Ning seemed to have developed a case of the giggles, and was
It turned out that this lady-boy was an orphan. Ning, however, was later able to help.
merrily chuckling around behind me. We finally found the station after dark, dropped off the bike, and made it back to the guesthouse, and a well deserved cup of coffee for me.
P.S. Apologies if this blog entry is a little distracted sounding. After school finishes all the internet cafes in Songkhla are full of shrieking, over-stimulated urchins playing online games, peering over your shoulder to see what you're doing, and the keyboards are buggered due to frantic attempts to kill the giant and free the princess.
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