EPISODE TWENTY-THREE – TOMB RAIDERS
“Every time one laughs a nail is removed from one’s coffin”. (Honduran Proverb)
I had to wait until today for the photo shoot and then I was mobbed by the room service girls Oh, Oi and Teow. Oi and Teow look the same as they usually do but Oh was showing off her Saturday best make-up and jewellery. I was camera ready while she organized the poses. I became the main subject in every shot which wasn’t supposed to be. As I was eating my breakfast fruit on the veranda dressed in minor casual attire, Oh suggested, in her unfamiliar Thai way, that I should dress more appropriately. ‘Do you want me to take everything off?’ with appropriate sign language went down pretty well with the giggling Oi and Teow; but not Oh, who was pretty serious about the shoot; so I put on some shorts and tee shirt.
As usual most of my day was taken up with business, research and writing. My early morning walk and swim was, as usual, invigorating and I feel fit, healthy, still overweight but not out of control, yet! I dropped in on Carlo’s place this morning; he owns the little Italian coffee and ice cream shop I found last week. He told me he was a chef who had a restaurant somewhere in Italy before moving here three years ago simply because he enjoys the lifestyle. He didn’t work for a year but got fed up of doing nothing and so he opened up the new shop in Kata. He seems to be pulling the local Italian contingent who love their coffee shops. They seemed most impressed when I bid everyone ‘arrivaderce’. I quite like these two news articles in the local weekly rag, the Phuket Gazette, I picked up at Carlo’s place which give an idea of some of the weird things that go on here.
Patong extortion gang busted.
Police arrested five men posing as government officers in a bid to extort money from a construction company. The five claimed to be part of a ‘Special Branch’ of the Narcotic Control Board tasked with suppressing Burmese labourers in Thailand. There are many illegal Burmese immigrants working in Thailand in construction. In exchange for 150,000 baht cash they agreed to allow the company a year’s grace to sort out any problems with illegal workers. As Mr Somyot knew all his workers were legal he agreed to pay them the cash later that day but when they returned to collect they found the police waiting to arrest them. As it turns out they had been doing this for some time and were doing quite nicely, thank you. A bridge too far?
Police hunt for Tsunami coffin thieves
Wanted Dead or Alive? – (That seems a bit extreme. This isn’t the Wild West) Takuapa District Police are on the lookout for two former cemetery workers who allegedly confessed to stealing eleven aluminium coffins which were intended for Tsunami victims. The coffins were stored at Bang Maruan Cemetery. The coffins are worth 400,000 Baht but unlikely to be bought as coffins. As scrap aluminium, which currently fetches 70 Baht a kilogram, they would be worth 50,000 Baht. The coffins were bought by the Thailand Tsunami Victim Identification centre out of the 88 million baht joint donation from countries whose nationals perished in the disaster.
After my morning walk I decided to bike it back via the other end of Kata beach. As I turned the corner into Karon I spotted a rustic little restaurant next to the road, in amongst the trees. ‘That looks a nice spot’, I thought, so I turned into the driveway. Behind the restaurant the driveway led to a dozen or so basic bungalows and rooms to rent. I stopped and was greeted by a stocky fresh faced man who introduced himself as Stefan. His English was excellent but I could tell he wasn’t an Englishman. ‘I’m from Denmark.’ He said.
I decided to stay for a cappuccino and we must have talked for nearly two hours about everything under the sun. Stefan, a spiritual man and former psychotherapist said he decided to get away from a stressful life, at the age of 50, and do something completely different. His Thai wife took over the premises with some bungalows and they have added more. They would now like to sell the restaurant and just keep the bungalows for letting. He told me they have a very basic house north of Bangkok where they escape to from time to time. He is a frustrated writer, aren’t we all, whose ex-wife is an author but he never got to write which he really wanted to do soon. The 2.25 rai (3500 square metre) of land had so many different kinds of trees, from bananas, cashews, pomelo to coconuts and was teeming with butterflies which are so varied here. Stefan told me they had a sizeable King Cobra living in the garden which was a little too close for comfort, so his wife sat and talked to it. She said, in Thai ‘You go your way and I’ll go mine’. With that the snake disappeared into the bushes and they haven’t seen it again. Imagine that a Thai speaking snake!