Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This is the creepy thing that bit me yesterday. It's a centipede for those of you who've never seen one.

This thing wasn't the one that bit me though. I took this picture about a year or so ago when I saw it crawling around outside the back window of my kitchen.

I swore I'd never be bitten by one of these things in the first place, then about two months ago, while I was talking on my mobile phone outside late one night, I saw one wriggling towards the house from the road and decided to step on it and kill it. I knew better too, since I've tried killing these things with a hoe, and you've gotta cut them up into tiny, tiny pieces in order for the thing to die. Chop em' in half, and both pieces will go wriggling away in different directions...chop em' into four pieces and...well, you get the idea.

Anyway, cellphone in hand, I walked over to it and stamped on it. In a lightning flash, the thing whipped over and bit me on the little toe of my right foot (my 'stamping' foot). The pain wasn't bad initially, just like a regular bug bite. But, that changed about ten minutes later. Excruciating pain, for at least twenty-four hours.

So, to say I was prepared for yesterday's bite is an understatement and a misleading one. I swore I'd never be bitten by one again!

It's rainy season.

The rain sort of creeps up on you here. One week will be dry and then the deluge will come. Now it's raining in the mornings and the afternoons. Yesterday it rained all day and part of the night. I've got a large water tower to the right, as you face the cottage. Up top are six, large, blue plastic barrels to hold rain water, with an electric switch to control the reserve water from the well. The barrels are connected to a convoluted PVC piping system with a water pump at ground level. If the pump gets wet...well, it won't work. And if the pump doesn't work, I don't have water...

The pump is surrounded in a concrete "bin" of sorts, that was basically made to hold back flood water. I climbed into the bin and was readjusting the tarps, corrugated roofing material and spent umbrellas that cover the pump, to ensure the pump remained dry, since a big thunderstorm was definitely on it's way.

That's when it happened. I only saw the tail end of the thing as it shot away and under the leaves covering the ground.

Then I waited for the pain to come.

It's bad, but not as bad as last time. Last time the pain was so unbearably bad I couldn't even sleep, and was eating Paracetamol (Tylenol) like it was going out of style. This time the pain is bad, but bearable. Shouldn't be long and the pain will subside. Believe me, I'm watching the clock.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

When I was in my mid to late teens, I began getting in trouble with the law.

In my junior and senior year of high school I took a shop class called Automotive Electronics, which taught engine analyzing. Within the first couple of months I lost interest in learning about engine analyzing, so my teacher, a Mr. Tony Diaz, took me aside and told me if I wanted to stay in his class and not fail, I would have to do something. So, I brought in this old clunker I’d bought at a used car dealership and began working on it.

I ended up building a powerful street machine out of a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS. I took the 327 short block out and replaced it with a 396 big block bored .30 over to a 402.

Four-bolt main, dome pistons, roller cam, tunnel ram with dual Holley elephant quads, Muncie rock crusher transmission, a new set of radical rear end gears, Mallory 50,000 volt coil, Zoom clutch and pressure plate, Mickey Thompson black ribbed valve covers and Hooker headers...fully uncapped and very loud. I bankrolled the whole project through my job working at Big 8 supermarket.

Besides the street drags, I’d occasionally sneak out around my neighborhood, and leave long, black tire marks in the road, burning rubber and showing off for the girls.

People began complaining and the cops were called, landing me in lockup a couple times for street racing. Eventually I got good at evading the cops. They knew where I lived, so I'd just park my car at somebody's house and throw a tarp over it.

Can't bust me if there's no evidence!

There was such an adrenaline rush in pulling the wool over the cop's eyes.

Well, yesterday morning I got a taste of the old times. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I don't have a driver's license or registration for my motorcycle. Not a biggy really, as nobody else around here does either. Well, maybe they’ve got a driver’s license, but they sure as hell don’t have their motorcycles registered. Most just can’t afford it.

Yesterday morning I had to go meet a friend in Ban Phrue and before taking off, I realized I was running low on petrol. I check my gas often now, since my gas gauge doesn’t work. So, I took the back way from my cottage in Klong Tong Nûea and circled back around to the petrol station in Thung Lung on route 4. They’ve got a little hotty working there now, aged somewhere in her late twenties who likes me, and whenever I show up for gas, I enjoy flirting with her a bit.

I pulled up to one of the pumps and saw she was busy with a customer, but she was looking over my way and smiling, so like a showoff I paid for the gas and buzzed out of there in a roar, crossing two lanes and into the far lane headed for the turn-around. Looking back over my shoulder at Miss Hotty as I did so…and drove right straight into a police barricade.

The cop looks at me as I'm passing him and I act like I don't see him...

“You!” He says…the typical Thai who doesn’t speak English greeting.

I swerve into the slow lane and by then he’s blowing his whistle. Then I can hear the cops across the street blowing their whistles…so, I made a lazy, wide left turn down a side street, then once out of their sight, made a quick right onto another side street, down an alley way, and back up by a little kids park, where I cross through the park and off onto a dead-end road...and well, you get the idea.

I backtracked all the way down as far as I could go past the center of town, then turned onto the main road and took off south, heading for Ban Phrue.

Eventually I had to come back, so once in town I dipped into yet another side street I knew, and snaked around the back of Patong School by the park, crossed the railroad tracks and headed for the big rubber tree plantation and back to my cottage the back way.

I haven’t seen any cops since. No doubt they forgot about it, or probably more accurately didn’t really know what to do about it.

Just like the old day’s man! Awesome.

I know damn well the cops know where I live, but I'm guessing they just blew it off...at least I hope they did. Oh sure...I've got a good story/excuse, but what I don't have is a driver's license or a valid registration....oh, and did I mention no helmet?

Gotta love it.

Something neat about eluding the cops, but eluding the cops in a foreign country?

Even better!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jeeez...almost every nite for the past three days there's been a party going on somewhere around here. The sounds of terrible Karaoke music keep drifting into my bedroom, which sits relatively high since I'm on sort of a hill.

The later it gets, the more terrible the sing-along gets.

Ah-blah, mala, tonie, Saba....at least that's what it sounds like.

Most of them drunk off their posteriors, grabbing the microphone and slurring their words while trying to peer at a tiny little television screen.

This one tonight is a ways away, probably around a kilometer or so, but it doesn't matter...

Have you ever seen one of these parties being set up? Well I have. I'm an old pro at it. First the truck arrives with about a billion blue and red plastic chairs in the back, rope strung all around them. They get out of the truck and within seconds all the chairs are stacked by the side of the road (This occasionally occurs directly across from my cottage, on the takraw court).

The truck leaves and then another takes it's place. This one is seriously laden down with metal poles and heavy blue tarps.

The tent.

I can never tell if these guys are always the same, or if every truck load of them are different. They drop all the poles and tarps next to the plastic chairs, not bothering to set the tent up yet. Somebody will likely let them know where it is to be set.

Then another truck...or is that the same one as before? This is the sound equipment. Speakers that rival those at a rock concert. Huge things...always black. Why is that? Why don't they paint speakers...uh, pink? Or green.

They drop off the sound equipment but they leave a guy there. Most likely since that stuff is wicked expensive and if they were to just drop it there, somebody could just pick it up and drive off. Finally somebody arrives in yet another truck. They get out and stand around pointing.

The dreaded pointing Thai.

Thai's love to point. You see it on the news all the time. Pan the camera to the man on the side of the road...somethings there in the grass...I'm not sure what because, well, everything's in Thai...but, the guy is pointing. Arm extended out, index finger rigid...not moving, just pointing and occasionally looking at the camera as if saying, "It's right there."

About ninety-nine percent of the time you can't see anything, or it's digitalized out. When that happens, you know it's a body...and blood. But, the camera always moves too quickly for the digitalizing guy, and you get a momentary glimpse of an intestine hanging out, or something.

Anyway, the pointing Thai's have finally figured out where the tent is going....they begin. It goes up rather quickly. They must have done this before. Once it's up, everybody stands under the tent and then there is more pointing. Probably sound equipment pointing, or stage pointing. Out of nowhere comes the Thai whiskey bottle...or maybe it was always there...I just didn't notice. Everybody takes a swig.

The plastic chairs get picked up and plopped down under the tent, still stacked. That job is for the women and kids. Then they attend to the sound equipment. Those speakers stand at least four feet tall, and there are four of them. Damn. I'm not going to sleep tonight.

The rest of the afternoon, for the men anyway, begins to deteriorate into a heavy drinking session. Most of these guys will be passed out before the damn party even starts. Tables are set up and chairs are arranged. The women descend on the place and begin preparing the food. Thai women love doing that stuff.

It isn't like in the West, when you start seeing people arrive...no, Thais seem to just appear. One minute you turn around and there's forty more people under the tent than when you last glanced over there. When darkness begins to descend on the place, the music starts. Then the singing.

I've yet to hear any Thai at one of these outside parties who can sing on key. Most are terrible and it just gets worse as the night bears on...

My bed is moving. The sound from the speakers is actually vibrating the bed...and walls. Heavy sigh...I turn over and flop my pillow over my head. It doesn't work. I know the music will die down around midnight, when most of the party goers are passed out or too drunk to hold the mike. Somebody gets up and starts talking into the mike. He's slurring his words. I'd love to know what he's saying but I can only catch a few words...nothing that really makes sense. But then, I don't suspect he's making sense anyway, even if I could understand everything he was saying.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

The classic Asian Wet Market.

This picture above isn't quite what I just stumbled upon this afternoon, but it certainly served it's purpose.

As you all know, I live in the tiny village of Klong Tong Nûea, where there are only two small Mom & Pop stores to the right and left of me.

The one on the left is Took's store, about one kilometer from my cottage.

It's usually swarmed with people and is on the wrong side of the road. Saturday's at this time are bad since all the local men are at her store betting on the Muai Thai boxing matches. So, trying to get groceries there at this time is damn near impossible.

To the right of me, past the bridge over the Tong River, is the other Mom & Pop store, which is just too basic, and way, way overpriced.

So, this afternoon, I decided to go exploring and once I got to the main road, instead of heading right to Took's store, I turned left and headed toward Ban Khuang Niang, where Mam and I originally got the motorbike blessed several years ago, at a popular Buddhist Temple there.

I hadn't been down that way for a long, long time. Possibly three years. I don't know why, but I just haven't.

Nothing on my motorcycle works.

The speedometer doesn't work, the odometer doesn't work, the gas gauge doesn't work...so, I'm only guessing.

I was traveling probably fifty to sixty kilometers per hour, and passed mostly jungle and a few rubber factories along the way, on both sides of the road. It was probably four or five minutes when I began approaching a small village. But I can't remember the name...Kinang something...I'll have to check it again.

I slowed, and saw a store to my left, which looked promising and once I stopped it appeared I hit pay dirt!

The store was more a market than a Mom & Pop store. It was small, but compact and deceiving in size, since in the front of the store was roughly six large freezers and coolers containing a goldmine of meats, vegetables, and other goodies, which I'd yet to discover.

I initially parked my motorbike and walked up to the first counter, arousing quite a bit of interest I might add.

Places like this don't see farangs on motorcycles very often...let alone farangs period.

I wandered up and began perusing their wares.

Nice tomatoes! Small, like all Thai tomatoes, but not the typical withered pieces of crap you get at other markets. I began picking a few and a rather attractive Thai woman around forty to fifty years old, smelling delightfully of a rather seductive perfume, showed up and offered me a bag.

I put about six nice tomatoes in the bag and heard somebody in the background say, "Tomato!" Thai's practicing their English.

So, I began looking for a Kumquat. Ha! No, just kidding...

I scoured the area picking up nice veggies here and there, and heard the perfume woman say something to me.

"Alai?" I asked...

However rude that sounded, I don't know, but it was my best Thai given the circumstance.

She answered, saying something I just didn't understand, which isn't odd, but it's certainly frustrating. She might have been speaking Southern dialect, which of course I don't understand, nor recognize.

"Pom poot Thai, neet noi." I exclaimed, which is pretty universal for "I only speak a little Thai," which I hate saying, since at this point in my life I can pretty well get by with speaking Thai, but I cannot speak the Southern dialect.

"Ah...pom poot Thai neet noi, salapat." I'm not exactly sure what "Salapat," means, but it's exactly what she said. So, I just nodded and kept moving.

Perhaps it meant, "I would like to have crazy sex with you on a chandelier," but then I just can't be sure. Besides that, I'm not really into chandelier's.

I'm one of those people, you know, as a kid when I'd visit your house and you'd let me inside your bedroom, I would explore....

Certainly you know the type.

I'd begin opening your drawers, boxes, envelopes...I just couldn't seem to control myself. I suddenly became this invasive little monster. Once I was bored with your bedroom, I'd move to your bathroom, or your mother's bedroom...better yet, your SISTERS bedroom....

You can tell a lot about a person or family by looking in their medicine chest.

I can't explain this obsession, but I do know I'm not alone. There are other "Sherlocke's" out there...I know, I've met them.

Some kids were greatly bothered by my prying. Others couldn't care less.

Think about it...who would you want to befriend? The secretive ones, or the laid back ones? For the life of me I can't remember which one's I befriended.

So, here I was at this roadside market-of-sorts in Ban Khuang Niang, and I was once again exercising my exploring rights. I began opening freezer and cooler doors left and right, and as a result, I found a goldmine!

A mere five to eight minutes from my cottage was a mini-market that not only had fresh vegetables, but also had frozen meats...

Chicken, whole and cut-up...pork, basically fresh, but some pretty weird cuts.

I picked up a small chunk of pork wrapped in plastic that didn't have a lot of fat on it, and asked the woman...

"Tao Rai?" (How much?)

"Jet sip hok baht," Seventy-six baht. Not bad for the huge chunk I was holding in my hand. Well, at least that's what I thought due to my vast knowledge of Thai meats...

In my brain, as I was walking around looking at the various vegetables and meats, and creating a recipe in my mind...

Kow phat moo (Pork fried rice) ...duay gung? (with shrimp?)

No, I didn't have enough money to throw to the gods of seafood.

Gung in Thai is Shrimp.

But, here in Southeast Asia, due to the Australian influence, the English vernacular is not "shrimp," but "Prawns."

I'm not sure where that term came from, but my take is a prawn is larger than a shrimp...of course nobody furnishes measurements for these weird words...

So, I finished my shopping and thanked the sweet-smelling lady, who gave me a great smile as she was bent over supplying my eyes with a lot of candy....eye candy that is...

"Cleavage" as you call it in the West.

Gotta love it!

So, now I've discovered a new place to shop.

Replete with cleavage!

It's along the lines of getting a new apartment in town and finally figuring out where the Extra-mart is...

Life is good.


Friday, June 18, 2010

This is a picture of the new frog / toad that has invaded my bathroom.

I know, I know...you're all thinking, "Not another stupid frog posting on Jim's Quiet Musings..." But I'm telling you, this is really odd!

You all know about Teddy. Well, Teddy is big now and lives in the washing machine's outflow hose. Then, another frog / toad just like him appeared one day. That was it. Two frogs.

Now, it's like a virtual two-lane highway into and out of my bathroom. I opened the front door one morning to let the dogs in, and when it was open, both dogs were sitting there, in front of the door, and wouldn't move. Finally I saw why. There was a frog sitting in front of them, waiting for me to open the door. The dogs wouldn't budge because these little babies have poison glands near their heads that squirt or exude a terrible tasting fluid the dogs don't particularly like.

So, once the door was open, here comes this frog...bing, bing, bing. He/she jumps up on the door stop, plops down in the living room, and slowly but surely makes a bee-line for the bathroom.

Damn-est thing I've ever seen.

Now, at all times of the day I'll be downstairs and will see some little frog bouncing around in the foyer, either coming out of the bathroom, or going in. One night I got up to go to the bathroom, turned on the light, and beheld six frogs sitting in various places in the bathroom.

I don't know what the attraction is, but it's humorous to say the least.

Handy too, actually....

From time-to-time I get these flying ant swarms happening at night. I don't know if they are hatching or what, but as soon as the lights come on in the evening, the upstairs and downstairs are overcome with these little guys. All over the place. They don't live very long, as their lifespans are similar to a damsel fly or a mayfly. Just a few hours and then they kick the bucket. Or, here in Thailand, they succumb to geckos, or as in my case...frogs.

Except for the T.V. upstairs, I try to keep all the lights off, since that keeps the flying ant numbers down. I was watching a football game one night and gulping down the beers, which seem to go hand-in-hand with football, and had to hit the bathroom. I got downstairs and turned on the bathroom light and there was three frogs on the floor feasting on flying ants!

Sitting there doing my business, I was quite entertained watching those long tongues zapping those ants.

It was great! No, I'm not going to quit my day job.

But, all good things must come to an end. As careful as I've been walking around downstairs, trying not to step on one of the little guys/gals, it was inevitable. Then, yesterday morning I opened the door and ended up crushing one little frog in the door casing. Another was found floating in my bucket of floor cleaner, dead.

But, that's not going to stop them.

I hear reinforcements are coming South from Bangkok!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

In my dreams...

Just wanted to let you all know that if I die, it's going to be on my motorcycle, on Route 4 running from Malaysia to the Gulf of Thailand. Somewhere on that road you'll find me squished like a bug on a windshield...

I love riding my motorbike at high speeds to other small villages around my area. The rules of the road here in Southern Thailand are not from some motor vehicle rule book...nosiree...It's just the rule of the road...at the time.

Motorcycles travel in the breakdown lane.

Yep. However, if driving your motorbike peacefully along the breakdown lane, one must realize that the breakdown lane, although there are not any painted lines in the middle, is a two way street. This means you are highly likely to meet oncoming traffic driving against the grain. I like to pretend I'm oblivious of the oncoming traffic. Kinda like playing chicken.

Scares the shit outta the drivers going in the wrong direction. But, I don't think it's going to change anything.

Driving a motorbike in Thailand is cool. You have the right-of-way. Forget those silly pedestrians! Just hop on your bike and bump up on the sidewalk, buzzing down the path trying to hit those old people whose reactions are blunted. Ah! Got one! Two points. Old people are only worth two points. It's the young ones, ages two through six, that racks up the big time points.

Hit two kids and you've got a whopping twenty points!

God I love driving in Thailand!

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