I was only in Thailand a few days before my birthday came to pass. I didn’t have a plan and didn’t really know anyone, but I was determined to have fun regardless.
I started by going ot the restaurant on the corner for some french fries – potatoes are not grown in southern Thailand (they rot), so potato products are quite a delicacy. Sure, you can find potato chips in the 7-11, but good luck finding a whole intact potato.
Because I am allergic to shellfish, I had to be very careful about what I ate when in Asia – fish sauce goes on everything! Very quickly I learned how to tell people I can’t eat fish. I learned two ways and would repeat both until I was understood. In English phonetics;
‘Pa ay ahan talay!’
‘Mai kin pblah!’
Every day was an active struggle for food. Every day I had to hunt and gather with the rest of the locals, only my options were much more limited.
I was too afraid to eat fish at all, just in case. I didn’t want to risk an aneurism in a foreign country where very few people spoke English (including the doctors).
So, french fries became my favourite, and I had a super large (yes, unusually North American sized!) plate to celebrate.
I was invited by fellow teachers to play a few hands of poker, a game I was not too familiar with. As you can see from the above photo, I had a decent round of beginners luck! After winning almost everything at the table (a fluke, I promise!), I left with quite a nice birthday gift!
Surprisingly (or not), I was never invited back to join in on their weekly games.
My Thai host called some friends and took me out to a popular night spot. By Canadian standards, it was an odd mix of youthful nightclub, live Vegas style acts, and adult entertainment. Very unusual, and very over the top. This wouldn’t be the last time I would be brought to this location – more stories for later!
I had to take my obligatory birthday bathroom shot. I don’t know why, but I feel it is very important to have a photo of each of my birthdays – even if I take it myself.
About a decade ago, I started the ‘Birthday Bathroom Selfie’ tradition. Juvenile? Yes, but aren’t you supposed to enjoy your birthday in some juvenile manner?
Someday I will have a whole album of myself aging through the years in various bathrooms around the globe. Yes, this is one of my goals (?!).
And just for good measure, I had to take a photo of the toilet too. A brand new Thai squatter, complete with permanently flowing water. Bathrooms are a very wet experience in southern Thailand.
This particular set up requires that you squat with your shoes on the warble-y rim of the commode, do your business, wash your parts off, and when finished use the full (of water!) blue bucket (in the black bucket) to flush it all down.
If for any reason you decide to use paper, it goes in the blue basket behind the water set up.
Paper is really just for blowing your nose though. And even then, what comes out of your nose is great fertilizer for the jungle (I am told), and so the best way to deal with that, is by blowing directing into nature.
Another reason I didn’t venture into the jungle – ever!! Ick!
I did spend an exorbitant amount to purchase single rolls of toilet paper from one of the few places in town that sold it, and I always carried tissues in my purse.
I learned very quickly that the septic system in this region of Thailand is simply not made to deal with paper. Not at all. So I too complied with the Thai standard – though I did use the waste basket.
When I got home (at about 4am!), the locals were drinking beer at a table on the side walk. They started singing me a fantastic song that I had to record. It makes me smile every time I listen to it.
On the left is a young boy (17 at the time) named ‘Farm’. His parents were teachers in the Thai school system. I wanted to adopt him and bring him back to Canada. I really did.
In the middle is the local musician. His band played at the corner bar every night. On the right is a young boy from Laos, and that is what they called him – ‘Laos’.
The primary singer of the aforementioned ditty, was the bar/restaurant host. He was always happy and welcoming – and full of beans as you can see by the video (linked above and below).
Keep in mind, these guys speak almost zero English. A great effort on their parts, and hilarious!
You can watch all three clips below. I have not yet mastered taking good video – 16 seconds? Why break it into three parts? I have no answers. I am working on it!