Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 315: Nothing is quite as it seems .....

Something that I’ve learned about Thailand is that beneath the surface, seldom is anything as straightforward as it appears. People don’t say what they really think, they talk in strange riddles and in order to save friends and family from embarrassment, they’ll employ the art of the ‘Noble Lie‘. Thai’s fully understand this system but as a Westerner it’s still totally bemusing ….. mai pen rai

It looked and sounded like a Norton. But, it wasn’t. It was a single cylinder Yamaha SR, an import from Japan and sadly a bike that’s not readily available in the UK. The owner had modified the bike himself and I have to say, I liked it. Sure it’s a fake, but it’s a fun fake and that appeals to me. The ‘SR’ is just one example. There was the ‘Honda Dream’ dressed as a more modern ‘Wave’ and of course the more recent ‘Honda Cub’ that turned out to be a new Thai produced copy. But, this is not restricted to motorcycles. Posh watches that are not, designer clothing that isn’t and beautiful girls that were once, or perhaps still are, actually boys. The ’SR’ is clearly not a Norton, but nobody here will ever mention that fact. The owner and his friends are simply happy with exactly what it is ….. mai pen rai

This structure is the famous stupa from the ancient ruins at Phi Mai close to Nakhom Ratchasima. However, it’s actually the scale model at Muang Boran just outside of Bangkok. It looks and feels the same, until you try to walk upright through the entrance.

Last week Prime Minister Aphisit and the Red Shirt anti-government demonstrators reached an agreement. Everybody seemed relaxed, the atmosphere within the Red Camp was celebratory and the barriers were temporarily opened. As far as I’m aware, that agreement remains in place but the violence has erupted again. Angry young men are once again manning the barricades and a state of ugliness has returned ….. mai pen rai

Leaving Bangkok, I returned to Korat for my last few days in Thailand. I revisited my favourite restaurant, the place where I’d celebrated my birthday a few weeks earlier. That night there’d been more than twenty people, four of whom I actually knew. Everybody had feasted and most had ended the evening quite drunk. As the only Farang, I'd picked up the bill. Just less than 1,500 Baht. That's less than thirty pounds for more than twenty very good nights. The restaurant has a name but I’ve absolutely no idea what that name is. The food is quite delicious and the resident blind musician is really very good. He sings and plays guitar every night. Thai songs, so no confusion over western lyrics. At the end of his set, he milks the applause and receives the tips and free drinks with a smile.

This morning I met the singer at Klang Plaza, the local shopping centre. His Yamaha Fino scooter was parked next to my Honda Wave. Not so blind after all then. Thinking about it, nobody ever claimed that he was blind, it was just implied and nobody ever contradicted the perception ….. mai pen rai

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