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Highways and Thai Ways
Stealing six weeks away from the family business, a middle-aged couple takes a well-deserved, and long overdue, holiday.
With return tickets to Bangkok, a craving for an adventure, a change of clothing, and accommodation booked for the first night (or so they thought!), these intrepid, middle-aged, would-be backpackers boarded the plane.
Travelling by boats, trains, planes, motorcycles, jeeps, buses, elephants and Shank’s pony, they explored Thailand, and crossed the frontier into Burma. From the beaches to the densely forested mountainous regions, and from the Himalayas to the mighty Mekhong River, they had an adventure almost every day.
Nights were spent sleeping, or trying to, in scant bamboo huts in hill-tribe villages, backpackers’ hostels, cheap and not so cheap hotels, a rented jeep and a hospital ward. They found a home-away-from home in a bamboo beach hut on the idyllic Andaman Coast.
They had close encounters with elephants, monkeys, snakes, birds, crocodiles and spiders, but missed the egg-laying turtle and the small furry thing that feasted on their fruit.
They met such a diversity of people; Long Neck women, the Big Eared woman, tribal village chiefs, Mr. Happy, Terrible Tony, Dr. Doom, Supa the Silent One, the King President’s Nutter and Evan, the hungry monk.
Having had their fill of waterfalls and temples, caves and mountains, and overdosed on a surfeit of greenery, the author fell in love with potbelly bins.
They sweated in the cities, shivered in the mountains and survived a frenzied attack by giant hailstones.
They boiled eggs in the hot springs; ate dinner cooked by the opium-smoking village chief; grazed from night markets and roadside food carts and forgot all about sandwiches.
Thailand is where they discovered that distance means time; where tea means anything from boiled up tree bark to chocolate-flavoured coffee; where anything they ordered meant chicken fried rice, and where ‘yes’ could mean ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘I don’t know’, or anything else in between.
They saw a profusion of golden spires; gleaming white marble; smoky incense; dragons; Buddhas of every size, in gold, emerald, stone and plaster, and came across monks where they least expected them.
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