Today is our seventh day in Thailand and we have covered a crazy amount of distance up and down the country and with more than the occasional numb bum from third class seats. This morning that showed in my sleeping all the way through the night and waking up pasted to my pillow. I had barely moved and the sheets were still tucked in to the end of the bed. It had been a good sleep. It was quickly apparent that we were both travel weary after days of moving every night. We took the lift down to breakfast and lazily started to look to see if there was somewhere else worth staying whilst eating our choice of noodles or rice. I tried an egg on toast but the bread was so sweet that it was unpleasant, some kind of sliced brioche loaf. Back to the fried noodles for me. We flick through other places in the area. It would mean packing, moving, unpacking... In truth we couldn't be bothered. Another great sign that it was time to enjoy a second night and a lazy day. We paid for it on the way back up to the room and collected the breakfast vouchers for tomorrow.
It was still pretty early and the plan had been for a little snooze-ette. I'm a big fan of the power nap. Whilst determined not to let leukaemia stop me from doing the things I want, it's important to listen to your body and when it really needs it, roll over and pull the duvet over your head. Today was one of those days. I finished doing some writing and then I rolled over to wake about an hour later with my face stuck to the pillow and after I had dusted the sleep from my eyes, I felt great. Time to top up on the tan, which after my shower last night, I think was mostly train dust that had become ingrained into my skin or potentially just stuck to the sun lotion I had applied in the morning.
Slapping on the factor 50 and grabbing my hat, we head off towards town. We check out the neighbouring fresh 'day market' mostly herbs, spices and veg with the occasional fish vendor. The heat under the tin roof is like an oven and oppressive. Walking through to the other side of the market we pass a butcher who had two whole pigs heads on silver trays. They sit on the end of the stall and look out, eyelessly, to the passers by. We burst back in to the sunlight and stroll through the sun. I'm trying to shoot images of people going about their daily lives but here we stand out so much that everyone notices you as you walk past. Time to try shooting from the hip!
It's time to talk about mosquitoes. I remember them being more prevalent when I was here last and it's possible that there are less of them due to the recent blowy cold spell and the remaining occasional gust of wind that feels really pleasant, or that not being in the jungle North, they're just not such an issue but I have had a few crackers since getting here. The mozzi that bit into my behind must have had TEETH. I still consider myself to have gotten off lightly so far.
We walk to what looks like the edge of town and turn back heading for a guest house, café and tourist information centre called 'F@me'. Having looked online earlier at the hotel room, it looked like we would time out on being able to get across to any of the islands due to the advanced time required to book transport on the ferries. It had to be worth checking this out. We sit down at the information desk and explain that we want to go to Koh Tao tomorrow. She simply smiles and says 'Okay', pulls out two ticket books, one for the ferry and one for the taxi to the ferry port and takes the money off us. That was easy. Really easy. Unsettlingly easy. We will be picked up from our hotel at 11:30 tomorrow. As we're in a cafe, we decide we should celebrate. An ice cold beer? Perfect! Two beers, a Pad Thai and some spring rolls in, it's time to go back to the hotel. We browse the Tesco Lotus on the way largely to allow us to buy some beers for later on and then crash out in the room. Another snooze-ette that leaves my face stuck to the pillow. It's an art form, okay.
It's growing cooler and darker when we get up. Time for a shower. One bar is run by a European called Ivor and it gets great reviews from everyone who has passed through as a guest or just for a drinks and dinner. This is the Farang bar. Farang is a dirty, horrible word and he has taken it and owned it in a playful way. It literally means Westerner and if someone is shouting it at you, it's either giggling school children who have learnt to swear or someone basically spitting it at you. I have only heard it used once since being here, on the train amidst the confusion about setting up our bunks and I was shocked that it came from the train official going 'Farang ticket..." Anyway, according to the reviews Ivor's Thai food is second to only one other place in the whole of Chumphong and it's a short walk from our hotel. As we cut down a tiny alley way that is technically a road open to traffic to get there, we have a great one liner; "I always have a fuzzy feeling on Bingha seer...'
We have the pick of the place. The food is great and some of the best we've had since being here. The bar is very quiet tonight. Whether it's because it's the weekend or there's some other event going on, we sit and enjoy our meal in peace, joined by a lovely ginger cat towards the end and slightly drawn in by Thai music videos, most of which concern a tragic break up and someone dying horribly at the end. I will be counting the flea bites in the morning.