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สิงหาคม 2550
12 สิงหาคม 2550
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I just wanna ride my bike OK ?

I'd planned to go out on my bike on Saturday morning. I wasn't quite sure where to, but was thinking of heading out towards Talinchan or Non again or maybe even trying to follow the Tonburi-Nakorn Pathom railway line to Salaya or Phuttamonton.

Then, a friend from my old work calls, asks if I'm free and invites me to come and chill out at his house in the afternoon. Sure, I say. I tell him I'm going to ride my bike.

I'm just finishing my breakfast when I one of my friends walks over, says good morning and asks me where I'm going this weekend.
"Non" I say.
"When" he asks.
"Now" I say.
"How will you go" he asks.
"Oh, I'm going to ride my bike" I say.
"Why" he asks "Its very far" (Non's not far at all - maybe 10kms, probably around 12 if you take the route that I took - maybe an hour and a half, 2 hours if you lose your way, at most....)
"I want to. I haven't been out on my bike for a couple of days."
"Why are you going to Non? Why don't you ride your bike around here ?"
"Oh, I'm going to my friends house"
"What time do you have to be there"
"12 o clock"
"I don't think you can do it. Its very far' (It's now almost 10.30am. I have an hour and a half to get there. Perfect timing.)
"Its fine. I went there last week. think it'll only take an hour an a half."
"But I think the boat... better. Why you don't take the boat ?"
"Because I want to ride my bike."
"You can take your bike on the boat and ride it in Non."
"No you can't. I asked already. You can't take it on the boats between Satorn and Non"
"But you are a foreigner, Maybe you can."
"I asked already. I know I can't. Anyway, I don't want to. I want to ride it"
"But its very dangerous. I think its better if you don't ride it. You can take a taxi"
"I don't want to take a taxi. I want to ride my bike"
"You can take you bike in the taxi and then ride your bike."
"No you can't. You have to take the wheels off. It's a pain in the a**e to do. Anyway I want to ride my bike. I like riding it. Its good exercise too."
"There are better ways to exercise"

The conversation kind of ended here, as I needed to go. I was worried that it was going to rain (there was a filthy black rain cloud hanging right over my apartment block) and wanted to get to my friend's house before the cloud caught up with me.

I easily made it to Non in time. The route, under Rama 8, Krungton and Rama 5 bridges and onto the boat, and over the river at baan see meuang (can't remember what you call the small market place opposite the main boat peir in Non.) is a great ride. Most of the time you pedal through small sois or on small roads though the country, with 90 degree bends and few cars. Once you've crossed Jalan Sanit Wong road and reached Baan Grooway, its easy, and not 'dangerous' at all.

The funny thing about what my friend S said (ride your bike in Non, don't ride it here, its too dangerous...) is that the scariest 2 parts of the journey are turning left by the clock tower in Non (too many buses, minivans and tuk tuks heading in all directions for my liking) followed by turning right at the end of the dual carriageway that follows.

I had a nice relaxing afternoon with my friends, and chased the rain back home, trying to get as far as Jalan Sanit Wong Road before it got dark. I got soaked but it was fun trying to beat the sunset.

I went out on my bike again on Sunday, this time just in the small sois near my house and over the river to see a friend in Banglampoo. I got back home, and, just as I was thinking of going for another ride - this time on the dirt track road between Jalan Sanit Wong road and Talingchan - S came in.

"You're going on your bike again?" he asked.
"Yeah I think so. Just want to finish my coffee first."
"You shouldn't go on your bike, its very dangerous."

"I'm going to play badminton. Want to come"
"Not really. I want to go on my bike"
"You have a bat, right"
"No - I gave it away to my friend's kid" (2 years ago when I first came here, I brought a cheap badminton set from Tescos. My neighbour and I used to play in the corridor of my old apartment block. I hadn't used it since I moved out of there, so I gave the rackets to Boot, my friends son.)
"Its OK. We can rent a bat."
"But I need to get changed" (delaying tactic. I didn't need to get changed at all. I was already in my t-shirt, shorts and sneakers.)
"OK. come on. I go in 10 minutes. It will be fun na."

10 minutes later I'm sat in his car heading towards the badminton court. There's 2 badminton courts near where I live. The first is near Pata, the 60's style department store about 10 minutes or so from my house. The other is tucked away in a soi behind Major Cineplex, an extra 5 minutes drive away.

We passed the first... Then the second. I asked where we were going. "To the badminton court."
"We've passed it already"
"No. no. We're going to a good court. I come to this court with my friends"
By this time we've passed the southern bus terminal and are heading out into the suburbs towards Nakorn Pathom. We've done miles. I see the size of the traffic jam on the other carriageway. We've been in the car almost 20 minutes, we haven't even got to where we're going yet, and I'm already dreading the journey back.

We finally arrive at some fitness centre. It looks quite posh, maybe too posh to let a girl in 3/4 length trews and muddy trainers in. S books the court, arranges for me to have a racket and we head to the court to play.

I last around 5 minutes. Its hot, I can't see the shuttle cock and, compared to my friend I'm really, really bad. Playing in the corridor of the apartment block, on the beach, or with my friend's kids in the park by my old work is fun. Being in that place wasn't.

After 10 minutes I've had enough. I'm already wanting to head home. Its about then that my friend says 'sanuk na ?' (having fun - right ???) If theres one word I hate the most in the Thai language its probably 'na.' Its used for loads of reasons, sometimes to sound cute, sometimes to sound polite, but one of the main reasons seems to be to force some one into confirming or agreeing with your opinion. The ironic thing is, whenever someone says it, the thing they want you to agree with is normally the total opposite of what you are thinking. Whenever you wince at the sight of a bowl of really greasy noodle soup, one of the people you're easting with, or even worse, the woman who cooked it for you, is bound to say 'aroy na' (It tastes good - right ???) and you struggle to think of a tactful reply.

I once went to see the guys from my old work play badminton. They went in a big group (2 carloads of people) and played doubles. The guys that weren't on the court cheered encouragement, or joked about the flukey or toally stupid shots. You didn't need to play to enjoy being there. They created a great atmosphere. Just listening to them tease each other was fun. I attempted to join in 1 game, and, when my friends realised I wasn't any good, they tried to teach me how to hit a backhand instead.

With S there was nothing to laugh about, just long silent rallies. Compared to being on a bike in the open air and dodging the potholes in the road and it was mind numbingly dull. I muttered something about not being good at badminton and preferring my bike. "But this is a good court" I was told. "We should come here again." I decided it was best not to reply.

An hour later, I managed to escape. S wanted another half an hour on the court. I needed to go back to meet my friend. I drank my bottle of water, went downstairs and asked for the bill. It was over 300 baht. Broken down I guess it wasn't so bad. It was 150 baht an hour for the court, but we had to pay extra, as we were fined for being 10 minutes late. We also had to hire a racket (50baht), and 'buy' 2 shuttlecocks. That pushed up the cost. My friend paid it, I gave him enough to cover the cost of the racket and 1/2 the court.

It took twice as long to get home as it had to get there. Whilst we headed back, the sun started to set. I'd already arranged to meet my friend, and her mum at 6.30. The bike ride was definitely out.

When we got back, S asked me if I enjoyed it. The dreaded 'na' was in there too. This time there was no holding back. "Not really I said, its boring."
"This time It wasn't so good. My friends weren't there."
"So next time, you go play with with your friends, and I'll go out on my bike."

Create Date : 12 สิงหาคม 2550
Last Update : 15 สิงหาคม 2550 0:31:31 น. 0 comments
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