In Thailand, our hotel, the Manathai Surin Beach boutique hotel, was situated in a quiet street, and directly across from the beach at Surin. The hotel reception area and restaurant were quite different from anything we had imagined.
Our room at the hotel was spacious, quite luxurious really, and had everything we needed and more besides… it even had fresh orchids scattered across the bed, amongst the fresh fruit in the bowl on the table in the little sitting area, and in a spray on the desk. A single orchid was carefully placed in the centre of the bath mat in front of the shower recess.
Every morning I enjoyed a long, cool shower, and then discovered we had a voyeur who was fascinated with my bathing. He was so sweet that I didn’t mind in the slightest. I was just as taken with watching him as he was in watching me. We tried as best we could to take his photo through our double-glazed bathroom window:
Our room had a lovely balcony that overlooked the pool area and the gardens.
On the same side of the road and to the left of the hotel is a short row of shops, massage parlours, and restaurants, as well as a couple of clubs and businesses, a few private houses, and the inevitable 7 Eleven grocery store (nearly always, no matter where you are in Thailand, you will see a 7 Eleven store).
The Manathai Surin Hotel adjoins the shops, and is on the extreme left of the first photo in the row above.
The other thing you see a lot of in this particular stretch, are statues. They sit in front of businesses and clubs, and in people’s front gardens. The statues are not so much used for decorative effect as to bring good luck to the household, club, or business.
Thailand is sometimes called the “Elephant Nation”; the elephant is Thailand’s national symbol, and generally thought by visitors to mean good luck. In actual fact, as the Thais explained it to me, the elephant stands for hard work, honesty, power, intelligence, memory, and is highly appreciated, valued, and revered. What is good luck, what brings one good luck, so the Thais say, is to walk under the belly of an elephant, and emerge from the other side. To my mind though, the good luck that stems from walking under the belly of an elephant would come from emerging on the other side in one piece and in the same shape as you were before you began to do something rather brave, or should I say plain dumb. Have you ever been up close to an elephant and noted the actual size of those things? To each his own, I suppose.
We walked past the row of shops to the left of the hotel, to the corner of the street and hung a left, and walked up into the town. There, we walked past many shops, several restaurants, massage parlours, and bars, a couple of private homes, and any number of laundries. These laundries are run from private residences, and are quite often in full view, sometimes up a side alley and visible from the street, and are often nothing more than an old washing machine and rinsing tub and clothes line in someone’s back or front yard as the case may be, and very a very hard-working family. Some shops also run similar laundries at the back of their premises. While we were in Thailand, our clothes were laundered by or through the hotels in which we stayed. Our laundry came back spotlessly clean, beautifully ironed, and neatly folded. No matter where we went in Thailand, one thing that particularly struck us was the absolute spotlessness of the people’s clothing. The Thais are very clean people in themselves.
After we had walked and walked and then walked some more, and had seen enough of the town to satisfy us for the time being, we retraced our steps, walked back to the crossroads, then crossed over to the shop on the opposite corner of the road that ran down to the hotel. We stood outside the shop looking at various types of four-wheeler tuk-tuks, and then drew some money from the ATM at the side of the shop. In Thailand, there are many, many ATM machines. They’re almost everywhere you look–turn around, and there’s an ATM lurking on the footpath, as it were. We counted at least two within 150 metres of the hotel.
Behind this shop, and at right angles to the beach, is a sports-field where they hold paint-ball tournaments and possibly other sports. We gained the impression that paint-balling is a big thing in Thailand.
Directly across the road from this shop and sports-field is King Rama VII’s Surin Beach holiday house and the remains of the royal house-gardens.
One thing we could not possibly miss out on doing, was taking photos of the telegraph poles with their tangled masses of overhead communication and electrical wires. As I see it, and I could be wrong here, safety measures are not high on the list of priorities in Thailand. From what we saw of the telegraph poles and the wires they carry, it would seem that if there is any wire left over when a job is being done, then it is just looped around into a bundle and tied up high in order to save it for the next time it might be needed, or it is just simply cut off, and left hanging where it is….
and how on earth the guys who work on the system can do so without any safety gear whatsoever, and without getting electrocuted, beats me. I don’t think Thailand has OH&S regulations. Bob didn’t think so either. His curiosity got the better of him. He simply had to go up to the crew working on the telegraph poles and overhead wires at Surin Beach and say, “How do you sort that mess out!” The workman didn’t say a great deal. He just looked at the great tangled heap, scratched his head, and said, “We work with what we got. Try do our best.”
Of course, Surin Beach is not alone in the electrical high-wire mess, you can see these great tangles almost everywhere you go, regardless of whether it is a city or a village, or a country place.
In Surin Beach, we walked back to the hotel along the road on the side nearest the beach, taking photos of the area that was once the former king’s (Rama VII) golf course and gardens, then back-tracked a little to walk past the small lake made by the tsunami, looked at the shed that housed the tsunami warning system, then crossed over the road to the hotel, and watched a different type of tuk-tuk go by–this was a private tuk-tuk for use only by the family, and for anything they might need to cart. But we did take a ride on motor-bike tuk-tuk that was a little similar in that it had three wheels. It was a bit of a bruising experience to say the least. But at least we can say we roughed it through Surin and around to Bangtoa Beach, which is very pretty, still rather countrified in the present day, and the next beach along from that of Surin. Bob and I are agreed: riding in a tuk-tuk is one experience we do not wish to repeat in a hurry, anyway, not through choice.