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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coffee, Breakfast, Thailand - more of the same

E@L was in a "coffee" shop in a place slightly to the left of the middle of nowhere, the town of Phrae, in the province of Phrae. E@L has been up in this area before: Phitsanulok, Nan. Driving here is mountain, valley and river, mountains, valley and river, etc... Not that impressed with the valleys. The mountain are fantastic except that E@L has slept through most of the drives.

E@L has essentially given up on Thai coffee, on coffee in general in fact, and he is drinking a 'jasmine' green tea as he drafts this post with the morning sun over his shoulder (left, or was it right?). The slim, fawning waitress had initially poured condensed milk into the mix of tea and hot water she offered, and he sent it back perfunctorily. He was in a perfunctorial mood again. She deferentially delivered (she was now in a typically Thai deferential mood) the fresh cup which on first taste seemed to contain no jasmine. It was mostly green tea. Not completely. About 40% of the cup was sugar syrup, streaky clear stuff that spiraled through the tea, slowly diffusing. This sucrose vortex would be enough to upset his endocrinologist no end, who was on a quest to stave off E@L from metabolic syndrome - i.e diabetes, if E@L ever told him.

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Coffee, tea, can they ever be right? Toast, breakfast in general, ditto.

Breakfast - the coffee was fine, breakfast coffee usually is because it's not espresso - was missing just a few things last week in the Sheraton Krabi Resort (closer to Ao Nang actually). E@L noticed the absence of a prepared fruit salad. He had to chop his fruit up on his plate at the table, clinkety clink, must annoy the people nearby. E@L is nothing if not considerate. And there were cinnamon bagels but no Philly cream cheese. WTF? Not that E@L should be eating bagels - see above re: metabolic syndrome. Wholemeal or whole grain toast with their low glycaemic indices are fair game, and they were both present, so OK.

Fecking idiots who put their bread onto the circling treads of the toaster's tray and then stand in front of the toaster, blocking other people from inserting their carbohydrates, those feckwets were ALSO milling, like litigious movie lawyers outside movie hospitals.

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But, Krabi? That was LAST week, this is THIS week. Having jumped (via taxi) from Suvarbumi to Don Muaeng (the old international airport in Bangkok) E@L Nokked up to the Central/Northern provinces of Thailand. Two demos, two deals, but who is one to puff oneself up?

Uttaradit, Phrae (see above), and now Phitsanulok. E@L mused that you know you've been in some shitholes* of late when you consider Phitsanulok a respite, a haven of sophistication, a safe port in the northern storms which have flooded heavily and stirred up Dengue fever epidemics in the previous few weeks (Google it). No-one's ever heard of any of these places, have they? No-one of any importance E@L means, of course.

Breakfast in Phitsanulok is a different story to the Sheraton's minor glitches (and aren't all unhappy breakfast stories unique?) Even before E@L arrived from his room, a plate had been placed for him at his assumed chair, opposite his more punctual colleague. On the plate was the plaster imitation of a circular fried egg, two precisely aligned steamed sausages of uncertain - perhaps porcine - provenance, two slices of white bread glued together with butter substitute, and two triangles of long-simmered (now cold) "ham". E@L was fortunate and foresightful enough to bring with him two bananas, two tubs of yoghurt and an apple. E@L eschewed the chilled still life and passed his coupon to another colleague, one who had slept elsewhere. (500Bht was excessive, he felt.)

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Five THOUSAND Bht a night at the Sheraton, with cable internet an extra 530Bht for 24hrs. Last night in Phitsanulok, a reasonable room (OK, the toilet door kept locking whenever it closed, but so does Izzy's old one at E@LGHQ - you learn to live with it, or she did anyway) was 500Bht, and yet the WiFi was free.

The internet seems to get cheaper the lower you go in hotel stars. Weird.

E@L will be writing a note of severe castigation to the Sheraton HQ, where heads will asymmetrically roll (as heads are wont to do - anyone remember Polanski's McB... Scottish Play?).

It is totally indefensible to charge the amount they do. There is no excuse he will accept, nothing they can say that will convince him that such a charge in necessary. He will never accept this insulting financial infringement again!

Exception: tonight. E@L is paying 600Bht to present you with this electronic missive in a 3,300Bht room at The Landmark - awesome breakfast BTW!

Life can be weird and E@L is not always consistent.

E@L

* not that E@L cannot tell these small(ish) Thai towns apart anymore; they all look desperate, distant, hungry and the same.

(Does this post make ANY sense?)

5 comments:

DanPloy said...

'No-one's ever heard of any of these places, have they? No-one of any importance E@L means, of course.'

I think you have rather succinctly summed up my life so far.

expat@large said...

Dan: don't think you weren't ironically on my mind as I typed that. By Darwin, I expected that comment! No offense intended of course, purely rhetorical.

I was offered a recently built house on 3 rai (that's a bit over an acre, people) up past Phrae (near Phayao?), for USD$10,000. Should I take it? Good investment for retirement? Ludicrously overpriced? Never going to use it?

You want it?

expat@large said...

p.s. re your problems with a work visa, would it be easier if you set YOURSELF up as a company, as a colleague of mine in Chiang Mai has done? He's been doing this seamlessly for at least ten years, mind you he's not starting a real business, just cruising like me....

DanPloy said...

I don't know if I am flattered or worried that I was on your mind.

Oh, the work permit will work itself out. Yesterday Ploy couldn't send some money to Singapore, (to pay a supplier), because apparently we now need a bank's IBAN number instead of their SWIFT code. The Singapore company have no idea what an IBAN number is so stalemate. Thailand live and die by complex and forever changing bureaucracy. You get used to it.

Thanks for the offer of a house. We have only just off-loaded some land Ploy had. If we do move it seems likely to be Bangkok or Ayutthaya, hopefully neither!

dh said...

Finally some recognition. I've been stuck in P'lok several times. (Note vernacular abbreviation)

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