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Beds I've slept in this year...

Not had chance to finish this today...
so will add to it slowly...
Please be patient. It might take weeks.

Had another lazy day surfing the net, and struggling to get through a Thai book a friend lent me (so far, 4 hours and counting but I'm not giving in. As they say in Thai สู้สู้...)

I saw this earlier. For anyone who can't be arsed to open the link, the blogger writes about 15 places, and beds that she's slept in.

I liked the fact that its quite poetic. It made me think back to some of the places I've travelled to, and some of the beds I've slept in this year. Here's 10 of the best. Not just the beds and how comfy, or uncomfy they were, but the people, the places and the journeys...

1. Rented Room in Pinklao
This is the place where I normally spend the night. My room is tiny. There's a double bed, table, wardrobe, fridge TV, DVD player, mountain bike and very little space. What room is left is crammed full of clothes, books, DVD's, bags, travel souveneirs, and stuff I just seem to acquire from people as ,and when they leave Bangkok.

I've lived in my room for 2 years now and it shows. There are posters and photos on every wall, the fridge door has magnet upon magnet stuck to the front. There are books everywhere, even on the floor - a bit of a cultural taboo in Thailand, but I don't really have anywhere else where I can put them. There's always a pile of newly washed clothes on my bed (they will be put in the wardrobe soon... promise...) and a heap of shoes next to the door - another Thai thing... you need to take your shoes off when you enter a room (or a house) here.

Think of a typical English student room from around 15 years ago, just before the days of IKEA when the idea that students should have cool, trendy, minimalistic, well designed rooms took hold. Grubby, dingy, with paint starting to peel from the walls. That's my room now. It's messy and cluttered. Every poster, photograph and book steeped in memories and meaning. Sometimes there's a reason why it must be there, but, more often than not, a reason why it can't be binned or given away.

Sometimes I feel a bit ashamed of the fact that I haven't managed to 'grow up' and shake off the student lifestyle. Other times I like the fact that I still have my freedom to live like a 20 something. Refusing to grow up has both good and bad sides.

My bed is quite large. It's probably the biggest thing in my room. At times I wish I had a single bed. It would make my room seem bigger (maybe I could add a couch so friends could stay over ???), give me more space, and be much more convenient. But then what would I do with the extra space... It would just give me the excuse to hoard more stuff.


2. Pick up truck - Bangkok to Surin
Picture the scene. It's the day before new years eve. We're heading off to Issan, the 'we' being Pin, the cleaner from my old work, her husband, 6 year old son, elder brother and her elder brothers wife. They'd already told me we had to travel by pick up. No problem, I'd thought. We're to leave at 9pm. 9 becomes 9.30, and 9.30 quickly becomes 10. We load the pick up. Pin's brother drives. Her husband and son, and her brother's wife sit up front. Pin and I are in the back. I'd never spent a night in a pick up before. I knew it would be cold so I'd brought along a fleece - the thickest coat like thing I had and an extra jumper. Pin had. She'd got 2 quilts. We set off around 10.30, crawling down Samsen road. The traffic was horrendous. The air hot and sticky. Hopes of a nice breeze quickly faded as the van barely reached 20km per hour. It's 11.30 at night and we're still in Bangkok. We've not even reached Don Meaung, the old international airport. The traffics chok a block. 4 lanes of highway crammed full of cars, pick ups, buses, coaches, trucks and motorbikes. If its got 4 wheels and its not a rot kaen (food cart) or a tuk-tuk, chances are its on that road. At New Year everyone goes home. It's one of the few times that Thai workers get one or two days off in a row. Most workers in poor, low paid, low skilled jobs in the city come from outside of Bangkok. It's migrants from the north east that keep the city ticking over. Long hours, low pay. Sometimes 2 or even 3 different jobs to do each day. New year's their chance to escape, and boy, do they take it. The whole of Bangkok seems to be Issan bound.

Pin feels carsick. She hasn't been home for 2 years, mainly because she gets carsick whenever she's on a long journey. She's a cleaner in Bangkok but a country girl at heart. She hands me her quilt. There's 4 more in a large plastic bag. I refuse. I'm not cold. Yet. I wrap my fleece around me, rest my head against a beer box full of clothes and try to sleep. A couple of hours later, I wake up. We've stopped. I look around. I think we've pulled into a gas station. Its 3.30 am but its heaving. It's full of pick ups like ours, their backs chock full of people. Some sleeping, some sat upright,blankets wrapped tight around their shoulders. Its cold. very cold, probably the first time I've ever felt cold in Thailand. I look around. There are motorbikes everywhere. Those unable to afford a pick up, or scrounge a ride in the back of one are going home by bike. I pity them. It must take hours. I can smell BBQ chicken, and see people eating som-tam and sticky rice. Issan staples. Even in the small hours. Luk Tung music, another Issan essential, is blaring out from loudspeakers. People are off home. Even after a long night stuck in traffic, they want to celebrate.

Pins other half comes back to the van. He asks whether I want anything. I take a quick toilet trip, get a coffee and some meatballs, snuggle into my quilt and go back to sleep.

When I wake up again, the suns shining. I say sawatdee - thai for hello, good morning, any kind of greeting really - to Pin and ask where we are. Maybe Buriram, she says. Its 6.30. I look at the road and see signs for Korat. I recognise the slope, and the buddah perched half way up a nearbyhillside. We're no where near. A couple of minutes later Lan Ta Kong Dam comes into view. We've been on the move for 8 hours. We haven't even reached Korat, normally no more than a 4 hour drive away from Bangkok.

We're speeding along the dual carriage way now. I'm grateful that we've picked up some speed but shivering with cold. The faster we go, the colder the wind feels. I've 2 quilts wrapped around me and am wearing a fleece and jumper and a T-shirt but its not enough. There's no escape from the cold. Pin's shivering too, and now really carsick.

We take the turn off for Pak Chong Chai and Chokchai (a place I know well), I close my eyes. I'm not sleepy, I just need to think of something other than the wind and feeling cold. I drift off. When I awake we've stopped again. Another gas station. Small groups of people huddled around som-tam stalls, or sat in small circles on mats on the floor. Food, sticky rice, somtam and BBQ chicken in the middle. More Luk Toong music. This is our breakfast stop. I buy a coffee from the gas station, ears ringing from the sound of 'farang, farang, farang.' Everywhere I walk someone says it. People chuckle as one person tells them that I've just got out of the back of a pick up. 'frang yaak jon' (poor, skint farang) they say, laughing.

Our group stand around the van eating BBQ chicken. Its 9am. We've been on the road for hours and we haven't even got as far as Buriram yet. Boot (Pin's kid, a chubby faced 6 year old who hasn't been upcountry for 2 years) is telling me about his grandmother's house and what I would be able to see there. You can see rice fields and buffaloes and crabs, he says. Lots of buffaloes. He wants to see a buffalo. "What about elephants?" I ask. "Are there any?" Surin's famous for its elephants. Backpackers like to visit the elephant village and see special elephant shows. "No" he tells me, as if I'm really stupid. "No elephants. Just Buffaloes."

Boot wants to sit in the back. Its dangerous, cold and windy and will make him ill, his mum tells him. They reach a compromise. He sits in the back for a while, giggles as he's wrapped up in the quilt, then goes back up front, to be with his dad.

The suns up. My neck's freezing, but my face is burning. The Issan countryside drifts by. Tapioca fields and factories, rice field after rice field after rice field. I stare, taking it all in. I'm not awake enough to think of or speak any Thai. It doesn't matter. Pin can't hear anyway. We're only a few meters away from each other, on opposite sides of the pick up but, now we've got some speed up, the wind is incredible. The airs cold, the noise deafening.

It's gone 11 o'clock when we reach Surin. We go past the train station and stop at a chinese style shophouse. Pin's husband get out. He soon returns with another man. They're both carrying 2 boxes. The little space was left in the back of the pickup is now filled with boxes of beer. We skirt around the edge of the town, take the main Surin - Roi Et road and, a few turn offs later arrive at Pin's village. The scenery's changed completely now. Rice fields, buffaloes, men walking alongside Rot-Tais, and small thai houses on concrete stilts. It's picture postcard rural Thailand. We stop in front of a small house. Pin's adopted daughter Preeyow goes crazy when she sees we finally made it. It's an 8 hour ride from Bangkok but its taken us almost 14. Back, shoulder and neck pains disappear. There are people to greet, bags to move upstairs, food and beer to put in the kitchen, a house to explore. The sleepless night's soon forgotten. The new adventure's about to begin.


Here are the others.. OK there's more than 10. Will write the rest of them up as and when i get chance to...
3. Floor - Pin's house. Surin.
4. Floor - Radio Station, Wat in Udon
5. Bank's sister's bed - Naan
6. Tent - Tilosu Waterfall National Park
7. Matress - Karen Hilltribe house. Ko Ta
8. Little Home guest house - Doi Mae Salong
9. guest house, Lampang
10. Matress - P'Atips house.
11. Tent (and Oowans living room) Rayong.


Create Date : 02 กันยายน 2550
Last Update : 3 กันยายน 2550 19:44:55 น. 0 comments
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kerrie
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กรุงเทพ Thailand

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