Friday, 24 December 2010

'Been done like a kipper' day

Friday 24th December 2010

MP3 track of the day: One more sleep til' Christmas - muppets

Weather: Beautiful, if a little hot. The sun has been shinning all day and the sky has been a lovely light blue colour.

Waking up at 10:00am had meant that I had slept solidly for thirteen hours, well apart from having to get up at midnight to find some paracetamol tablets (as my headache was keeping me up). Apart from feeling very light headed all way okay, my stomach felt normal, I didn't have a temperature and due to the extremely comfortable bed I've got (In my top three of comfortable beds along with my own and the hotel in Brussels where I stayed for the Spa GP) my back felt fine … all was looking rosy.

It was 11pm when I finally emerged from my guesthouse; yet again I was greeted by the lovely smile of the receptionist and yet again she was trying to get me out of here before my nine nights were up. Being 11am it's another annoying time where it's too late for breakfast and too early for lunch; I therefore decided to have a look around town.

Town consists of one very long road, hugging the coast, with resorts on the beach-side of the road and shops on the other. As I walked leisurely through town I stopped off to get quotes for a bus to Ko Phan Ngan, for half day elephant trekking and to see how much souvenirs cost … oh and if there is a post office. I won't bore you with the details just yet, I'll just say that as you read through this post keep in mind that every time I moved from one area to another I would probably have stopped in two or three outlets.

By now it was around 12:30pm and so I headed for lunch. Throughout the morning I had been trying to answer the question 'why did I feel so ill yesterday and why did I still feel light headed?'. Ultimately this lead to another question: 'what was I missing from my diet?'. Racking my brain for a while the only thing I could think of was salt; Thai food has plenty of vegetables in it but no salt. Going back through what I had been doing over the past few days (climbing a mountain, hiking etc) I had sweat a lot (nice) meaning that I have probably lost quite a few important minerals, including salt. I therefore decided to go to McDonalds and have a large meal for almost 200 baht. It wasn't until I had sat down that I realized just how much 200 baht is (£4) … normally a meal would only cost me 100 baht maximum. From the time I walked into said McDonald's, placed my order, paid for it and sat down I must have taken my brain out of my head and only put it back in at the table … I had been done like a kipper.

McDonalds food isn't even that nice, however strangely enough I did feel a little better afterwards (which is the first time I can say that after a McDonalds). I then went in search of a post office. After asking a few locals I found one and so I headed back into town stopping at souvenir stores to get the best price. Bartering is becoming easier, the key is to look at the response of the shop assistant. The first price is always massively inflated and so they ask you what would you like to pay. Once you've responded with an amount comes the interesting part; if they say yes quickly then you are still paying over the amount the goods are worth, however if they look worried or puzzled and quote you a higher price then your bid was to low. This happened to me with a model of a Thai house thing that I wanted, the lady said it cost 450 baht where as I said that I was only willing to pay 200 baht … she said yes quite quickly. With that response I left that souvenir shop and tried to get the same product, three times for 175 baht. None of the others would accept that amount, therefore I was quite sure that the souvenir was worth somewhere in the region of 175 – 200 baht. I decided to go back to the first souvenir shop and purchased said house.

As I looked at said house I was a little worried that it wouldn't survive the trip (due to being made of wood) it was about to take, I therefore decided to purchase a Buddha as a back-up as that was made out of stone … another 150 baht. I made it to the post office where I had to present my gifts for packaging. Once I had shown the Buddha I was immediately told that it could not be sent through the post within Thailand (Thai immigration would confiscate it). What's more the post office didn't sell bubble wrap. As I walked out of the post office I was slightly annoyed that I was stuck with this statue (that I shall call 'Stan') until I left Thailand; I then began the hunt around town for bubble wrap. After thirty minutes I gave up and just bought a Thai newspaper for packaging … that will have to do.

Once back at the post office I purchased a box, wrapped up my souvenir and shook it a lot; whilst doing so I listened to see if I could here things moving inside … I couldn't. The parcel was then weighted and I was told the cheapest amount was 900 Baht ... £18 to send a parcel!!! I couldn't believe it, it's never cost me that much to send stuff home from abroad, and this parcel is as light as a feather. I argued for a while to see if there was a cheaper price (I had been quoted for airmail ... 'seamail' was 50 baht more … how I don't know). Carrying a reasonable size box around with me for a couple of weeks until I made it to Bangkok wasn't an option and so I reluctantly paid the amount asked … I had been done like a kipper twice in one day!

Feeling a little 'light legged' I was desperate to do something for free. I went back to my hostel, picked up my book and headed to the beach. On the way I picked up a liter bottle of water for 15 baht (30p … much better). Yesterday, once I had made it to the beach, I had headed left in the direction of my guesthouse. Today I headed right and after ten minutes of walking I was presented with beautiful white sands. I sat down, opened my book and started to read. As the sun was setting there was little shade, I erected my umbrella to give me a little bit of cover … it may have looked odd but if it stops me from getting sun burnt so be it.

This was certainly the highlight of my day, very few people around, a beautiful sea with the sun setting and only the sounds of the crashing of the waves onto the shore could be herd … bliss. I read for around two hours before the sun had almost set.

It was around 7pm when I returned to my guesthouse. I dropped my stuff off and then went back into town for tea. It was at this point that I met the manager of the guesthouse and we agreed that I would pay up until the night of the 26th December … if I wanted to stay any longer I could. I have to pay tomorrow as it looks like the reception lady is off to Krabi tomorrow and the manager is off the day after … therefore I'm on my own (even the tambourine and Penguin have checked out).

After having something to eat I came back to my guesthouse for a shower and a reasonably early night. As I walked back fireworks were being shot into the sky and I watched them for a minute or two. Having spend £41 today Christmas day will have to be cheap. I think a combination of having a chilled out morning in my room, watching TV, followed by reading my book on the beach sounds like heaven. Now £41 doesn't sound a lot, however that is three days worth of money. To put it another way, its like spending £180.00 in Canada in one day … not good.

Having said all that I want to do some elephant trekking on Boxing Day and so I will need to book that (900 baht is the cheapest I have found) plus my bus ride to Ko Phang Ngan is another 950 baht … it's all very expensive at the moment however I'm now back to my normal self. No light headed feelings, no stomach pains nothing. Not sure if it was the long sleep, McDonald's or the paracetamol … maybe a combination of the three.

Toodle Pip!

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