The big itinerary over the next ten weeks or so is Asia: I’ll be based in
The island Koh Samet is part of a national park in
A couple families of oriental-pied hornbills breakfasted above our villa on a fruit tree just before sunrise and were worth getting up to watch as they hop awkwardly around on the branches and click their bizarre beaks.
Food is overpriced by Thai standards but several menu items were rather good, especially the various healthy fruit juice blends made fresh on the beach and the grilled chicken which a woman hauled around in the hot sun using a long pole over her shoulder with two baskets balanced at either end. One of the baskets held a grill full of smoldering hot coals which smoked her out wherever she went all day. To avoid too much sun, she was almost completely covered to the wrist and knee and even a cloth over her cheeks beneath a wide brimmed hat. Her livelihood is to walk that beach, up and down, selling chopped up chicken meat all day. Anyone who thinks they work hard for a living should remember to keep some perspective.
Peung and I hiked along the shore, climbing over several rocky points that intervened between pleasant coves with more white sand beaches. It was too hot to do this for long and some of the coves offered very little shade. We returned to our beach for a great lunch.
When my brother and I were kids, my father claimed our “eyes were bigger than our stomachs” when we ordered at restaurants. He typically only ordered a cup of coffee and waited to bat clean up after our two massive orders went unfinished. Peung has very big eyes. I cringe when she orders 4 or 5 different plates as I hate to see food go wasted. Despite her petite size can do some pretty good damage on the feast. At any rate, she doesn’t seem to mind the extra money and food left behind. However, it’s a whole different ballgame with the ice cubes. Cokes come cold but with empty glasses. Ice costs maybe another 25 cents for a small bucket. Throughout the meal she grabs the tongs from the bucket and maneuvers more cubes into my glass as space becomes available. She is relentless and methodical about it. I tease her, of course, about the loads we spend on food for three extra people, what’s a small bucket of ice? As she wiggles a cube into a space and balances another on top of the glass pouring in more Coke to sort of melt it into place, she frowns at me and protests, “Hey, we pay for that!”
(Apparently a sign for the bathroom and not an ad for a surgical procedure that Bangkok specializes in.)
Here’s a message in a bottle. Nature recycles: a portable reef system.