Breaking Away to the Land of Smiles


Breaking Away to the Land of Smiles

You may have wondered why my online social media presence over the past 2 months dwindled down to almost nothing. I guess after a time online fully submersed in events it is necessary become unplugged and to just get away.

To those who know me understand that Thailand has over time become part of my DNA. My wife’s family lives in the northeastern region on the Korat Plateau called Esan in the town of Khon Kaen. When I first went to Thailand I was an 18 year old boy from Idaho and couldn’t have found the country formerly called Siam on a map.

Over the years I have made a number of trips back with family and friends. I’ve tried it on my own (don’t recommend it), traveled military space available, rode a bus, stood on the back of a farm tractor, ridden in a Thai truck, baht buses, samlars and thuk thuks (gasoline powered peticabs), rode motorcycles, rented cars and driven military trucks with each came a new experience.

You have to understand that driving in Thailand is like driving in England, but without any rules of the road. Bigger, faster and quicker are not always enough. Defensive driving on steroids is always a must, as anticipating the actions of others cannot be stressed enough.

Normally when I travel to Thailand I use a combination of charter vans with drivers and personal vehicle (mine is a Chevy Colorado pickup) that either I drive or a family member becomes our chauffer for the duration. We have covered quite a bit of ground from Bangkok north to Khon Kaen to Nong Khai and back. We have made trips around the northeastern perimeter of Thailand along the Mekong River through Nakhon Phanom (NKP) to Ubon and back to Korat to Bangkok and southwest to Cha Am in Petchaburi province that took several days.

So this time I wanted to get away from the grind and stay around the house doing absolutely nothing. It really an unattainable dream, but never the less it was mine and out of that dream often came new and unexpected experiences. I learned that whatever it is that you need, you can find it in chain stores, hardware stores or the mall.

Without the television it was customary for me to sit outside around 4 am, drinking coffee and listening to the sounds of wild creatures while swatting mosquitoes.

Since we had no television we decided to purchase a flat screen TV at the local Lotus’s grocery store, similar to Walmart but on a much smaller scale. The one we chose wasn’t in stalk but had to be delivered. That was a challenge because although we had a house number, we couldn’t find a street name in the small town of Cha Am. Nevertheless it was delivered 2 days later as promised.

Television programs are normally delivered through satellite, internet or a dedicated router with its own sim card. There is no “unlimited” package deal, although they advertise a 30 day package. What you may not realize up front is that there is a data limit that normally lasts 30 days.

My daughter’s Netflix account enabled us to watch movies when we chose and what happened real fast was the data plan was completed in 3 days. So that made it necessary to go back to the store and renew or purchase another sim card. In all it took still another trip to the store to insure we had data during our stay.

What I realized was why I don’t have a Netflix account. There were very few movies without bad language, sexual scenes or absolutely no plot. There were several movies based on true stories, events or lives of actual people.

Our house is about 2 miles from the Gulf of Thailand, so a walk on the beach is possible. What we didn’t expect was the overpass built over the railroad tracks at the village of Bon Bo Khaem. Due to its height and steepness it’s not possible to just walk over the tracks. If you don’t have transportation (bicycle won’t do either) it’s nearly impossible to get to the local market or nearby 7-11 store and going to the beach requires transportation.

It wasn’t long before the women wanted to go shopping. Our neighbor made her car available for those first few shopping trips to the City Marketplace mall in Hua Hin some 20 miles south. This mall had a Lotus’s grocery store, Home Pro hardware & furnishings store, various shops, movie theater, vendors, eateries (McDonalds, KFC and others) as well as banks and money exchange vendors, a food court along with hair, nails, massage and sporting goods, even a golf accessories store. It was truly a place to shop until you drop.

One of my favorite nearby stores was where you could find anything you needed in building supplies and home accessories, it was called Thai Watsado. Whether we needed paint, sealer, tools or pumps and solar lights, this store was similar to Lowes or Home Depot.

Like many Thai cities, towns and villages one of my favorites is the night-market open once a week where local merchants bring out their wares and cooks some amazing foods (I even saw a couple of soft ice cream machines dishing out ice cream).

We did manage to make it to the beach a couple of times and I even went swimming in the Bay. It was kind of funny to see Europeans looking like beached whales, while Thais would go in the water fully dressed, including hats and sunglasses. I on the other hand preferred the beached whale look.

Did I say the food was amazing? There were lots of seafood, shrimps and such, fish fresh catch every day and lots of spicy delicious foods that are found best only in Thailand. We only went to a beachside restaurant once and there were no left overs.

Soon it was time to prepare for our return to the bump and grind of same o, same o back in Colorado and I’ve been rather slow at diving headfirst into the social media pool. I encourage you to get unplugged, recharged and back on track and forget about the political landscape, horror stories and news events that keep you gripped by fear.

In fact it’s a great time to reconnect and dedicate oneself to the Almighty God who created you. After all He’s right there – just a pray away. – RTM

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