Friday, February 19, 2010

This bird has flown.

Alas, the landlord of the swift house next door doesn't want a herd of foreign women touring the place and possibly stealing his proprietary swift-luring technologies.

I have been more aware of the swift houses around me though. The other day I was at TESCO at sunset, and watched dozens of swifts flittering about, silhouetted against the brilliant orange sky as they darted after insects and swooped in and out of a swift house entrance, far and high on the only inhabited building on the block.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In the middle of our street

When I was little I lived in the woods, which was fantastic for tromping around and discovering old abandoned cabins with hot bowls of porridge in them, but it lacked other things. Like sidewalks. On the television, children walk along sidewalks to their friends houses after school. But I had to drive to a friend's house just to go Trick-or-Treating. It was very traumatic, I tell you.

So I've always kind of loved the idea of neighborhoods where you can borrow a cup of sugar or a landscaping implement from your neighbor, and hang out and have barbecues and things.

Oliver's Bar looks like this now

And he's moved some 100 yards or so up the street toward me and Annie and Ryan and Swedish Mike. I realized a few days ago that what I've got now here is a lot like Sesame Street.

One afternoon I was eating at Sa's with Autumn, which is right about in the middle, south of TEFL, across the street from Swedish Mike, and just north of Annie and Ryan. I was telling Autumn about how lovely our little community of neighbors is, and I saw Oliver walking over to Swedish Mike with a small pink plastic container, and I fancied that he was asking for a cup of sugar or something, because that's just the kind of thing these folks will do for one another.

But this was in that pink container

Oliver found it in his bathroom, and his wife insisted on keeping it as a pet! She hasn't named it yet, but she'll let everyone know. Isn't it cute? Still no sidewalks, but this is just as good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Just a spoonful of sugar

A Welshman, an Englishman and an American were having a drink.

At first they talked about cars and farms, and true to form, the American had the swankiest car and the biggest farm. Then they got to talking about children's names.

'My son was born on St David's Day', remarked the Welshman, 'So - look you, we obviously Christened him David.'

'That's a real coincidence', observed the Englishman', My son was born on Michaelmas Day, 29th of September, so we decided to call him Michael.'

'That's remarkable', piped up the American, 'Exactly the same thing happened with my son Pancake.'

Being generally oblivious, and also (unrelatedly) from America, I thought this joke was hilarious before I learned from my lovely British ambassador Annie that there is actually a Pancake Day in Britain! I realized, of course, that it must be the best holiday ever.

And it coincides with our Mardi Gras. And so after being reminded that it was actually pancake day by the other Brit in my office, the lovely Bec, I went all the way to Tesco to buy pancake ingredients, and Tim made us pancakes and we ate them and it was the best pancake day ever!

First we mixed up an ancient pancake day recipe. I can't relay the whole thing, but it involves handfuls and dashes and so forth, so you can tell it's authentic.


And we had an assortment of toppings, including lime juice and sugar, marmalade, strawberry jam, and real maple flavoured syrup (with a U in it and everything.)


We presently persuaded Bert to partake in our Pancake Day provender.


A bit, anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen

Before visiting Oliver's Bar for his last night, I met up with Autumn, Annie and Bec for a girly night of hair and wine.

Annie needed to have her hair done, and Autumn stepped up and took it on.

The bathroom drain was clogged with spider legs, but we perservered.

But after the great achievement that was rinsing out the conditioner, the rest of the night was just silly.



Monday, February 15, 2010

One bourbon, one scotch


Diggery Doggery
Good Monsieur Oliver
Shouts in the morning hours,
"This bar is closed!"

Your people thank you for
So sympathetically
Not just reopening
Armed with a hose.

Higgledy Piggledy
Good Monsieur Oliver
When ladies visit they
Drink just a few

And it goes well until
Just when you've paid you hear
"Not kissing you!"

Bubbly bubbly
Good Monsieur Oliver
Sure we'll all miss your old
Waterfront bar

All we've got left is that
Now that you're finished you'll
Have a cigar!

Oliver's Bar opened for the last time on Friday. I really, really enjoyed myself.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green

Sometimes there are schools of hovering pufferfish in small knitted hats.


Sometimes you walk on a sidewalk in Ban Phe and then you are suddenly in a tunnel of tiny seashells that goes on as far as you can see.


If you turn at any point within this tunnel, you'll be in one of seven identical shops whose walls are lined with magic seashell mirrors, reflecting exotic candies and dried seastuffs.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Woke up, got out of bed

I haven't updated this week because, even though it all takes place within spitting distance of the gulf of Thailand and that's very romantic, my life is pretty mundane.

Almost every morning I eat breakfast with Autumn at Sa's place down the street. I have tea (Lipton yellow label with sugar and milk) and a fruit place (a banana, and banana-sized portions of watermelon and pineapple; occasionally there is apple or papaya or something, which I'll taste and then shun) and toast. They usually have fantastic jam that's lemon or pineapple maybe... it's yellow, and it tastes like yellow. But for the last two days they've only had strawberry jam. It might be enough to make me order a pancake or egg or something tomorrow. We shall see.


Then I shower and get ready for work.

And then I go to work. Work changes. Two months ago I was doing immersion English and a couple of online classes. Now I'm not doing any of that. I'm working on curriculum stuff and test stuff and teaching Advanced Beginners.

I get off work around 8 usually. Then I have dinner and maybe visit Oliver's for a bit or watch a movie or something.

I came in early all this week so that I could leave early today and go to market. Here's Ban Phe on the way to market, just before sunset.


At the market there are curry fish cupcakes!


And then I counted twenty-five dogs between TESCO and here, which is only a kilometer. The end.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

She's got the devil in her heart.

This is why I call Naughtiness Restaurant Naughtiness Restaurant. I've never ordered its signature dish, on account of I am one of those weird people who eats seafood but not meat that comes from land animals, and it's hard to say, but I would imagine that "naughtiness" involves meat.


That's just because the ham is mischievous, which is close to naughty. And similar things often go together on menus.

But I went to the restaurant this weekend, for breakfast no less, with a meat eater! I was very excited to see what naughtiness entails, and after she ordered spicy cashew salad and I ordered toast and jam I tried to order naughtiness. But the waitress spoke those dreaded words...

"No have."


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Butter pie?

I hitched a ride to Rayong yesterday with this month's TEFL students.

I stumbled into a dancing cookoff, and fortunately had my camera to take some video of this spectacle:

And then there was the market, which offered an assortment of beautiful foodstuffs, including tentacles on sticks,


cheerful pancakes on sticks,


deep-fried chromosomes


and these, possibly the most beautiful thing I've seen in Thailand ever. They look like candy-coated sugar. They taste of egg.


My disappointment, she burns.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Strange apparition

There usually aren't cows on my street, until there are.


They appear on the road and graze in vacant lots and front yards, dragging their tethers behind them.


They are generally unmanned and well-behaved. They do their best not to disrupt traffic. On more than one occasion they have disappeared while I briefly looked away.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sky of blue and sea of green

Almost every weekend, it's "Dear Diary: I went to Magical Crystal Island and and frolicked in turquoise water and slept in a rustic bungalow." If each time wasn't so special and magical and different, I would have nothing to write about.

This weekend I went with Autumn.

We went in a speedboat hired by the current batch of i-to-i volunteers, and we got to ride in one of those fancy motorbike sidecar taxis. Here I am in a sidecar, wearing my favorite beach uniform.


And Autumn, in hers.


There was turquoise water.


And sometimes mermaids get seaweed in their hair.


In the evening, we didn't go out dancing but played in the water while the full moon rose. It was huge and orange and fantastic. The water was warm and calm. The banana roti pancake was crispy and buttery.

Because late at night, when you're having deep conversations on the beach about boys, the best food to share is a banana chocolate roti pancake. It's fried in butter, slathered in butter and condensed milk, and kind of the best thing ever. This fella made one for us. He is from Burma.


Also, Autumn was impressed that I so quickly translated "owentin" to "ovaltine."

After our pancake and conversation we went back to our bungalow, where there was a huge toad in the bathroom. We* scooped him into the toilet-flush-bucket and dumped him outside and went to bed.

Autumn talks in her sleep.

The End.

*We is mostly Autumn. I tried first but he hopped out of the scoop before I could get him anywhere.