22 Apr

Another few days of ups and downs…the major down was when Craig, Mathias and Frederik went off on their bikes whilst I was at work. As soon as Craig had parked up, a Thai guy started screaming at him that he’d scratched his van. Craig was pretty sure he hadn’t even touched it, but the guy was insistent he had put the tiny scratch on the plastic bumper and didn’t let it go. He wanted 10,000 baht from Craig for “repairs” as Koh Samui doesn’t have a Hyundai dealership where “special paint” needed to be bought so he had to take the ferry to the next island and take three days off work. Craig refused as it seemed very expensive, and he was sure he didn’t scratch it in the first place. The guy (lets call him SLB, or Scamming Little B….) said he’d ring the police, which Craig agreed to as he still wasn’t going to pay that much.

So SLB rang the police who turned up pretty quickly. They both explained the situation and Craig thought the policeman (let’s call him SLP, or Scamming Little Policeman) would be on his side once he’d seen the tiny scratch, and given that Craig, Mathias and Frederik were all sure it wasn’t anything to do with them anyway. But no, SLP said he must pay SLB something or he’d arrest Craig (didn’t help that Craig hasn’t got a Thai licence) and he’d have to pay SLB 10,000 AND SLP money to release him. Craig spent an hour and a half arguing but it was no good…he ended up paying 7,000 baht (£140) for something that wasn’t his fault and will not be fixed in the first place. It is very likely that SLP got a kickback later on from SLB. The SLB.

We have spoken to many expats here and they have all said either the same thing has happened to them (20,000 baht for a scratched underside of a van!) or that there was nothing else that could be done except pay. Many of them speak Thai or have Thai wives and they all said it’s fairly common here and nothing short of blackmail but that if Craig had got cross or jumped on the bike and left, it would have caused him much more trouble and money than it’s worth.

Having just finished The Damage Done by the Australian Warren Fellows, about his 12 years in Thai prisons, I am very glad it didn’t get out of hand. I’d recommend anyone even thinking of doing anything bad in Thailand reads that book first! I read a bit out to Mathias and Frederik yesterday as they hate Marmite, having tried it with us in Sri Lanka. Warren was served a “soup” of dirty water, dirty, partially cooked rice and a fish head. Pretty much everything had live maggots in it. The prison guard kept walking past, spitting pumpkin seeds in Warren’s soup, and after a couple of times, one hit him on the face. Warren snapped and threw the soup at him, so the guard went to get a package that had arrived for his best friend, which contained food from Oz like tinned pineapple, sardines and Vegemite. The guard made them both sit down and watch him eat the entire contents of the package. He left the Vegemite til last and dipped his whole finger in and licked it. Warren and his friend Paul then had the intense pleasure of watching the guard run off to be violently sick :)

Sadly, the monetary loss has meant that the benefit of volunteering here has been greatly reduced as £140 would be a big chunk of our accommodation bill, not including the money that was robbed on the ferry. Koh Samui has not endeared us much to be honest.

Having said that, our hotel is lovely, the owner is really nice, it’s great to see Mathias and Frederik again and Tom and Sarah cooked us a delicious meal last night to try and save us a bit of cash, which was very kind of them. So it’s not all bad here, it’s just that losing the odd dollar here and there to police in Cambodia was annoying, but losing £140 in one hit is pretty distressing.

The owners, Andy and Oh, came back with a whole roasted chicken yesterday, still warm from the rotisserie, for £3, which made us feel much better. It was the first time I’ve had a roast (albeit one smashed into random mangles of flesh, skin and bone, and eaten with the fingers!) since I’ve been away and it was so gorgeous. I think we’re going to get another today, some fresh bread and have roast chicken and mayonnaise sandwiches. Yum.

DOG UPDATE: Goldie seems to have had her nose put out of joint by the arrival of the puppy so has disappeared :( but the puppy, Fanta (???), is very sweet. I woke up the other night to find her in our bed – Craig had sneaked her in. I was less impressed at this in the morning when our sheets were spotted with her blood where she’d been lying from whatever ferocious insects were eating her during the night. Gross.

More pool games have been invented, involving complicated underwater obstacle games where you have to put on clothes, goggles, fetch the dog toy and put more googles on over your shoulder whilst swimming a lap of the pool, and shark vs odd searabbitdogfishdragon thing that Craig bought yesterday

We have occasionally managed to leave the pool…we went back to the Thursday night market with the boys and watched a Thai reggae band and an amazing 10 year old doing beatboxing. He should be on Thailand’s Got Talent as I swear he didn’t breathe for 15 minutes! We went off to get pad thai and barbecqued ribs and moquitos and came back to find a German couple in their sixties dancing in the street to the band. They were great and loads of people joined in after that. Our best find has been takeaway chicken noodle soup from a little stand near the traffic lights by our hotel…you get a bag of broth, a bag of chicken, vegetables and noodles, a bag of chilli and sachets of sugar (they put it on everything) and chilli flakes. You assemble it all at home but that way it all stays hot.

So now we’re going to have to think about what to do next…Thailand is exactly asking to be further explored to be honest. Our visas will need to be extended so we can keep working, but after that we will either go on to Malaysia and Indonesia or take the plunge and go straight to Oz. However, Craig mentioned going back to Vietnam last night…so who knows??? Bit weird to think our travelling might be almost over before we have to go to do Proper Work.

But Mathias and Frederik have given us plenty of opportunities to cheer up – I dyed Craig’s hair red again the other day and Frederik decided he wanted his beard doing too. All of us had had a few drinks by then and this seemed the best idea in the history of the universe. This is how they ended up.

In the cold light of the next day, however, Frederik had somehow become less enamoured with his day-go beard. I am not sure why, it still looks awesome to me. He decided that it had to go, and set about shaving it off a bit at a time:

How can you not smile back at that oddly-tinted face??


2 Responses to “Swimming/scamming/bearding”

  1. kelsgonebush 23 April 2012 at 3:38 am #

    Im supposed to be heading over there for my 30th next year .. Thank s for the heads up , I wont be parking anywhere near another vehicle ! ;D

    • toaustraliathelongway 23 April 2012 at 3:57 am #

      I think it’s most forms of transport – it’s been known to happen when renting jet skis and cars too. Insurance doesn’t seem to exist here either. Just be very, very careful and park in a space you could fit a boat in :)

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