The Weather: Well, all I can say is, I love Thailand. I like hot weather, and Thailand has an abundance of scorching, balmy, sunny days, and nary a snowflake or down parka is to be spied in the Land of Smiles. I hate the cold weather here in New England during the winter months, to the point of suicidal depression, and seriously considered thoughts of serial killing people with "Think Snow" bumper stickers and ski racks on their yuppie Saab and Volvo all wheel drive snowmobile-like autos. As far as I'm concerned if I need more than two wheel drive on my auto to make it get anywhere then we need to build more, and better, roads, or the Dept. of Public Works guys need to be plowing and sanding the streets more often, and drinking less coffee in the donut shop.
I hate snow, and ice, and any temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. So this is one, yes one, of the reasons I love Thailand. I love beautiful beaches, palm trees rustling and the smell of tropical flowers wafting through the balmy breezes, as the salty waves caress the seashore in a rhythmic wash of sound, which lulls my senses, until all thoughts of winter cold are banished from my brain. This is relaxing. This is vacationing. This is WARM!
I've been to Thailand during every month of the year. The only time I've felt cold was when I returned from the swimming pool once or twice and had left the A/C in my hotel room on full blast for hours. This isn’t a problem. I just open the sliding glass door to the balcony, and within two minutes the room is nice, and warm, though my lady will be turning blue during those two minutes, and bitching like a bare-assed Eskimo in a blizzard. Someday hopefully I'm going to get a chance to throw her bare-assed into a snow bank head first, and see which is colder.
Although Thailand is basically hot, humid and muggy, I like it. Once some friends of mine who live in Bangkok year round were bitching to me about how cold it was, and how they needed to get some sweaters, or jackets, as it was soooooooooooo cold. Please fellas, get a frigging grip. You guys need a serious reality check here. I showed up a few days later, prepared for these long cold days and nights with a pair of jeans and a sweat shirt. Never had to use them, and wasted the space of a few more shorts and tank tops in my luggage. It was WONDERFUL weather that trip! Shorts and a t-shirt could be worn at night, and the weather was refreshingly mild, maybe seventy or seventy five at night. COLD? NOT!!!! These gentlemen have had their blood thinned too much from the formaldehyde in the Singha beers I think.
Now there is one problem with the weather in Thailand, well two if you don't like the heat as I do.
Number one: it is frikking hot sometimes. Seriously hot.
Number two: sometimes it rains, and brother, does it rain! But it isn't a cold rain at least.
Being from New England though there is a mindset we New Englanders have about rain. It goes something like this. "Wow, it's been raining all damned day!" (week, month, whatever) says someone. "Yeah, well at least it's not frigging snowing!" comes the reply. Where I'm from rain means its above freezing. This is good. Plus you don't have to shovel rain to get your car out of the driveway. Rain isn't a problem. Well most of the time anyway.
A rainy day in Pattaya. A story.
One September/early October I was in Pattaya for a few weeks. Most of the trip had been sunny, and I had spent most of my time at Jomtien Beach and the hotel swimming pool, soaking up the sunshine and storing it in me to keep the coming winter months blues up at bay until my late December return to the Land of Sunny Smiles. This day I woke up and it was raining, hard, harder than I think I've ever seen it rain, and believe me, I've see it rain pretty damned hard during my 47 years. This was monsoon type rain, I’m talking buckets of water.
My lady and I lazed around, relaxing and continuing intimacies started the evening before, later watching TV and goofing off, after getting breakfast sent up from room service, which is always a joy isn‘t it? This is when she still had her small restaurant in Pattaya, with her sister and daughter living there, while she stayed with me at the hotel when I'd visit every 6 or 8 weeks. She would have to leave on some days if she couldn't get one of her other sisters to spend a week or two helping her sister out with the restaurant, which was open 24/7.
Her sister would work the nights, and my lady would work the days and early afternoons while her sister slept. Many times I've spent the day there with her, talking to the customers, learning some Thai while they tested their English out on me. My lady’s old Papa would come by the restaurant every day, as he lived just down the street with my lady's other older sister. He came from the village to the city to watch the sister's kids while she worked, or at least that was his excuse, as he couldn't put up with Mama's bullshit much anymore in the village. Older sister runs/manages a beer bar owned by a couple of English brothers. So I'd get to see him, Papa, and chat a bit while he got breakfast or lunch from my lady. I'd buy him a beer or two, and we'd sit about drinking and smoking American cigarettes. Him reading a Thai newspaper, while I perused the Pattaya Mail, Nation, or Bangkok Post.
Later my friend would show up with his lady and they'd eat lunch with me, and we'd leave my lady at the restaurant and go to the beach for the day.
This day, this really rainy day, bored with sitting around in the restaurant, and my friend having already gone back to the states, I decided to go hang around in my favorite beer bar on beach road for a while and chat up my friends that work there and drink a few beers. I told my lady where I was off to, and told her to come meet me there when she was finished working the restaurant.
"No problem, darling." she chirped. (God I love that phrase coming from the lips of a woman!)
Grabbing my Pattaya Mail newspaper for cover I dodged the raindrops, there was a bit of a lull in the downpour at the time, and made a dash for Pattaya Klang road to grab a baht bus the few blocks down to the beachside bar. Ten minutes later I was at the bar and seated on a strategic stool where I could watch the passing falangs and bar cuties while sipping my beer, which was in hand almost immediately after my ass hit the stool.
"Ah, this is the life!" I sighed to myself, downing a large portion of my brew, and starting a game of Jenga with one of the bar lasses. I love this game, and can hold my own with the best of the ladies, winning quite often. Actually, the more I drink, the better I get at it. Or at least so it seems in my mind. There I sat, listening to the steady rhythm of the raindrops beat a lively tattoo on the roof of the bar, grabbing the occasional cool whiff of a breeze off the seashore, while quaffing my ice cold beer, and catching a glimpse now and then of a cute darling puying (Thai for woman.) scurrying by with her wet clothes plastered tight to her lovely form. Eye candy for the relaxing man with a life-time hobby of doing so. And no, looking is not cheating.
It doesn't get any better than this really, and I can spend hours this way on an early afternoon just kicking back and literally feeling the stress of everyday working life slowly ebb from my soul. God bless Thailand I say!
After a couple hours of this charming and soothing interlude in this rat race called life a baht bus (A baht bus is a pick-up truck form of roaming taxi cab.) stops out front of the bar and I spy my lass in the back of it. Flashing me a brilliant smile, she jumps out of the bus, and hurriedly pays the driver as the rain douses her thoroughly in the few seconds this took. Laughing like a child, she jumps the growing puddle in the gutter, and teasingly shakes her long mane of raven hair, splashing me with droplets of water, and chattering away to me and the ladies behind the bar. One of the ladies produces a small clean towel from somewhere behind the bar and we spend a few moments drying her as much as is possible. She chats with the ladies and me some, and after a while goes next door where there is a small Thai food stall, a wooden shanty really, which has great food, although you wouldn't probably eat from there looking at the place if you didn't know this. She buys some food for both of us, hers so damned spicy it would seem this stuff would peel a couple of layers of skin off the inside of your mouth and gullet on the way down to your gut. I take a bite here and there from her plate, small bites, which raise a few beads of sweat almost instantaneously on my brow and upper lip. It’s a bit like placing already burning napalm in your mouth really.
The skies continue pouring their plague of monsoon rains down upon us, and the winds pick up and start blowing heavily. Man is it raining! Ark building comes to mind, with measurements of cubits, and creatures marching two at a time up a bamboo ramp. I go behind the bar, and ask the ladies if they'd mind me selecting some music more to my taste to listen to. They don't mind as I've liberally supplied them with lady drinks and alcohol during my visit, and also l bought the ladies some victuals when my lass and I got our food. It pays to be kind and generous to your present and future bartenders really. On previous trips I had stocked the bar with some c.d.'s and tapes of falang music more to my tastes. Had to really, or they'd drive me insane with the disco type music they all seem to like to play constantly. I've stocked some Pink Floyd, Santana, Doors, Chris Isaak, Scorpions, Moody Blues, Hendrix, Joe Satriani, some blues and jazz, etc. for just such slow early afternoons when there aren't any customers besides myself, and I can indulge myself with my own music and relax.
Actually the music tends to bring in customers who like certain songs they hear as they're passing by, and I've met a few nice guys who have stopped and chatted about the music.
I put on some Doors and cranked it up a bit so I could hear it over the almost deafening cacophony of the rain beating on the bar roof. I figured "Riders On The Storm" would fit the mood here perfectly. The deluge came down relentlessly and without pause. This was before Pattaya had the sewer drains replaced the past couple of years.
I noticed from my perch upon my stool that the waters along the streets had risen dramatically the past couple of hours. The street was almost under water completely now, and the waters were lapping over the curbs and onto the sidewalks, alarmingly so, with the passing of the occasional baht bus or car. Ark building was now taking on a more pressing place in my mind, And the rains continued unabated as we sat and chatted, and listened to the music, and drank our elixirs and medicinal agents.
The mood was pleasantly languid as we sat about, our senses lulled by the hypnotizing drone of the rainfall's staccato drumming on earth, pavement, and buildings.
We were momentarily brought back into another time, another world, a world outside the pale of everyday modern life. The music stopped as the c.d. playing came to an end. The ladies were quiet, their chatter ceasing for some moments. All was quiet but for the persistent patter of the falling rain, the rustle of the palm leaves hissing in the wind, in sync with the other sounds of nature's throaty voice. The muted surf lashing the sand on the shore inserted its own subdued strains of music into the symphonic song of the earth. In my mind I drifted, imagining Pattaya as it would have been in times Paleolithic. Little bamboo and thatch huts scattered among the palms, naked children frolicking in the rain along the sandy shoreline, fishermen struggling to pull their small wooden boats ashore ahead of the coming stronger winds and waves, the women cooking over the smoky fires in the huts, readying a meal for their men and children. I was entranced with the moment, delightfully at peace in the daydream-like slice of time, mesmerized in this flash-frozen state of euphoria and ecstatic that God had granted me this glimpse of a simpler life, this ancient Eden on the sea.
All of a sudden a huge cracking roar of thunder shook the air, causing all the ladies to scream in fright, and me to damn near fall off my stool. My lady jumped about a foot in the air with a scream of terror, and grabbed me in a strong grasping hug and buried her face in my chest. I could feel her shivering against me, and I hugged her to me, inhaling the wonderful scent of her moist hair, and giving her a sniff kiss for reassurance. (Thais normally don't kiss. What they do is sniff you in what I call a "sniff kiss". It's quite charming actually.) Being the only male about I laughed a booming laugh, chided the girls about being so scared of a little thunder, ordered another beer, and promptly excused myself to go to the hong nam (toilet) to check my drawers to see if I had shit my pants.
Upon returning from the hong nam, thankfully unstained, I walked over to the edge of the street and noticed the water had risen even more. Holy shit! There must be a foot of water almost now, covering the street and running over the sidewalks. Jesus. This is getting seriously deep! The water flowed by, yellow with silt from the dirt and sand, and with a strong current to it now too. There was no traffic to be seen on the street now. How the hell were we going to get home? Swim?
In the swirling yellow muddy waters could be seen coconuts bobbing along in the currents, fallen off the palms from the strong winds, looking like the green heads of some poor guillotined Martians, their silent screaming faces contorted in surprise at their plight as they twirled and danced in the flowing stream that was once the street. The palms were swaying in the gusts, and dancing a jig to the whim of the ever changing howling winds, and palm leaves blew past like big green bats chasing down their evening meal of bugs. The sky was red with sunset, and black angry clouds scurried across the sky in fast forward, in a hurry to release their moisture on their next distant unlucky victims. Seabirds struggled against the winds, seeming motionless in the sky, almost as if painted onto the scenery. Flashes of sheet lightning lit the skies over the ocean, as if auditioning for an old black and white horror movie picture. Thunder growled and grumbled through the firmament, sounding like a hundred hungry god’s stomach complaints after a year long fasting. It was beautiful, it was wild, it was exciting and moving, and I was getting wet dammit! I moved myself back under the shelter of the roof of the beer bar, and ordered another beer.
The sun sank slowly into the sea as the water rose to fully cover the sidewalks and began encroaching on the establishments lining the street. Hmmmm, I wonder if these bars carry flood insurance? Time to split. But how?
In the darkening watery gloom I spied salvation in the distance in the form of headlights. Braving the elements and deepening waters of the street a baht bus made it's way down the street towards the bar. I leaped to the street, and wading into the yellow waters I flagged the looney bastard down, while yelling to my lady to grab our things and let's go darling. Hurry, hurry! Saints be praised, the baht bus stopped, and it was empty! Will wonders never cease? I told the driver where we were headed, he nodded his head in agreement, and I went over to my lass and picked her up and carried her to the back of the bus, to the laughter, cheers, and catcalls of the bar staff.
Yes, chivalry is not dead folks, it just smells funny! The current was strong enough so that I damned near dropped her ass in the muddy waters, but luckily just barely made it to the bus and deposited her inside.
"Damn darling, you've been putting on some kilo's lately it seems." I muttered to her, puffing a little as I climbed dripping wet into the bus myself.
I don't think she caught that one.
The driver pulled away slowly, creating a wake in the water which splashed over the sidewalks and threatened to wash away my favorite watering hole. As we floated down the street I could see much damage from the storm. Coconuts and palm fronds were scattered about everywhere, with pieces of blown away metal and boards thrown in for good measure. A few palm trees tilted crazily, their shallow root substructure no match for mother nature's recent abuse. One tree was fallen over entirely into the street, partially blocking it. The driver expertly skirted the tree and plowed ahead like Captain Ahab in his single minded pursuit of the great white whale, who was now sitting in the back of the bus trying to keep dry.
As darkness finally settled firmly over the litter strewn landscape I gazed about from the open back of the baht bus. Colored lights of the multitudes of beer bars glistened off the watery sidewalks, making wavy multi-colored rainbows, which shifted and danced with the tide. People waded about from bar to bar, dodging wind blown debris, determined not to let this little inconvenience deter them from their rounds of sanook (means fun) and partying. Water be damned, full speed ahead ensign! Damn the torpedoes! Or coconuts, as the case may be.
As we were sailing down the street, now a minor river, a huge explosion ripped the evening air right beside the truck. A transformer on a pole right next to us burst into a shower of golden, and red, and blue, and green sparks, which arced over us in a shower of color, and falling, landed sizzling and sputtering into the waters around the baht bus. Damn! We're going to get freaking electrocuted!
My lady once again jumped a foot off her seat, and, landing squarely in my lap, grabbed on for dear life, and buried her head in my chest with a little squeak of fright. I muttered words of reassurance into her wonderfully scented hair as I hugged her tightly, and sat there in awe of this night. I loved it, all of it, and never wanted to leave.
I had survived yet another plague, and lived to tell of it. The plague of wild and wooly watery weather! I held on tight to my lady until we made it safely home. It was the only gentlemanly thing to do of course.
The next day the sun was out, the rain was gone, and I went to the beach and got a vicious sunburn.
(The Central Scrutinizer)
Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved by the author.