Just a quick entry before I set off for my scuba diving tomorrow and bore you with bubbles. I've just been sitting talking to a cat.
Yes, odd that this should tempt me to write.
This morning I went to breakfast at the little Halal, plastic chair eating place near the rooms over the diving shop. I like it in there. The food is cheap, the ladies smile, and the iced coffee is perfect. I then set off for the beach before it got too hot.
It was already too hot of course. It was 36 degrees today but it feels hotter on my English extremities. I didn't take a camera and wished I had, because I went past the jetty where the longtail boats head off for the islands and found a small slice of paradise. The tide was just right for getting to a small tidal island, and I was, perhaps for the first time on this trip, completely happy. I really like Thailand, and I really like this beach.
As I walked back from the island and toward the jetty I was accosted by a group of schoolchildren, all smiling nervously and giggling. They were about 10 years old and formed a fuzzy group of about 15 kids in green uniforms. One of them was pushed forward and hesitantly said that they were learning English, and did I have time to answer some questions. Yes! I said. They asked me where I was from in uncertain, slightly garbled English, and seemed suspicious when I said England. I don't think they were expecting to have found someone from exactly the right place. Bullseye. Brownie points.
They asked me numerous grammatically incorrect questions. Did I like Thailand, did I like Thai food, did I like Thai people, what did I do in my spare time. One boy then asked if I like....something. I didn't know the word. He said it again. Still nothing. They all said it. Nope. Then the leader, a girl holding an iPhone, spelled it for me. T...O...W...E...L. Do I like towel.
Do I? Yes, I suppose I do. I told them I have a blue one, of which I am very fond. I imagined their school using The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as an English textbook.
Then they took a photo with me in the middle, and it was very sweet and wonderful. As I walked along the sand I saw lots of little groups of kids all having conversations with the tourists, and some had teachers with them. My group had clearly struck off, fearless, in search of educational opportunities.
I like Thailand. It's not at all what I expected.
Later I went to change up some Euros and the exchange rate had gone up since the quote of yesterday, resulting in a theoretically free breakfast. When I got back I read for a while, wrote for a while, then went out for dinner. I sat and calculated that I could live in this room and eat at the Halal plastic chair smiling lady eatery every day for the rest of my life without having to work. That's an interesting concept isn't it. Thailand is still fairly cheap. This room, which has everything a man could need, costs 12 euros a day. All of my food and water and nibbles (I seem to have developed a passion for oreo biscuits) come to 10 euros a day. I get more than 22 euros a day for doing nothing, so I could live by the beach and, well, do nothing. I'd be good at it.
I sat outside as the muezzin from the local mosque sang out the evening call to prayer. It's a sound I've only come to hear since travelling in South East Asia and in the hot evening air when everything seems to have quietened down, it's something I enjoy listening to. For some odd reason, I always end up with Roberta Flack's "The First time Ever I Saw Your Face," in my head. That's not a bad thing to have inside your head.
The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
With the sound of a single human voice drifting toward me, a single white cat drifted toward me too, rubbed itself against my leg and lay down beside me. I am an animal person, enjoying their company more even than towels, and it's the first "pet" that's come to talk to me since I left England. It was a day of communication, and when travelling alone, those moments are important.
Moving with my dog to Slovenia.