Hot on the Tourist Trail

While it is too hot to do much during the daytime, we feel obliged to take a few excursions, so an evening trip out to Bhoput, an alleged ‘fishing village’ seems manageable.

It is clear when we arrive that ‘fishing village’ is not such an accurate description for Bhoput, whose lanes are not only teeming with tourists but lined both sides of each and every street with stalls selling every kind of touristy object imaginable [plus many unimaginable items]. Amongst all of this rampant commerce there is little sign of the historic buildings and character we were promised, but we are not unhappy, since the broad sweep of bay is beautiful and the many restaurants offer a mouth-watering range of fish and seafood dishes, which is what we are after.

Towards the end of a food stall street, where stallholders are fanning their wares to ward off flies, an open air bar beckons. It’s flanked by a beautiful shrine adorned with shrubs and flowers.

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Shrines are everywhere-and sometimes in the middle of nowhere. Along one country lane many of them have ladders leading up to the platform and I’m curious as to why. Perhaps it’s ease of access? They are also decked with offerings-drinks, objects, flowers and food items

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Of course amongst the food stalls there are the customary deep-fried insects.

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While this may well be the future of protein for world nutrition we’re not tempted to snack on crunchy crustacea right this moment. Instead we peruse the plethora of fish and seafood restaurants that overlook the bay and I remember that it is, in fact Valentine’s Day. So as we settle into a table with a view over the sea, tables are filling up along the beach, too.

We choose a seafood starter to share, the calamari soft and not at all chewy [as it mostly is] then grilled fish with salad and corn. The sky grows dark as a boat with red sails glides out to sea, lit up, a Valentine’s party perhaps?

We decide we’ve probably done Bhoput and go to meet our taxi.

A walk around the backstreets of our area takes us through more market stalls and then we stumble upon a large Tesco department store. We’ve seen plenty of ‘Tesco Lotus Express’ outlets but this is the first large store we’ve spotted. Intrigued, we go inside [we’re still after coffee-making equipment after all]. In the entrance there are smaller shops with gifts and a lurid play area.

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The store is familiar and yet strange, but after an extensive search we find a coffee filter. It is disorientating to wander a supermarket that is so well-known to us at home and see the range of products so unfamiliar to us, like stepping into the bathtub and finding it full of Cherryade.

On the return we stop to look at the local temple, modestly situated on a corner at the top of town and a kind of oasis away from the teeming streets. We have yet to look at any more of Koh Samui but the weather feels too hot for traipsing around. There are, however a few days left before we return…

 

 

 

The Jones and their Phones

                Years ago, in my childhood [ie many years ago] a popular phrase was: ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’. Who were the Joneses? And what did ‘keeping up’ with them mean? Well in those days it meant the acquisition of new-fangled gadgets and appliances and labour-saving devices.

                My mother would scoff. “What would I do with one of those?” she would jeer, at the idea of a twin-tub washing machine. “I can get the washing much cleaner by hand”. And there she would be, sweating over an old ‘copper’ which she stirred with an ancient, bleached and tapered pole, boiling up the sheets, wringing them out in an aged mangle before taking them up the garden to the clothes line.

                Presumably some previous generation must have derided coppers and mangles as new-fangled fripperies, since these machines were not strictly doing it all by ‘hand’, but other than taking everything down to the river and dashing it on a stone, this was ‘hand washing’ to my Ma.

                It was the same story for all contraptions; vacuum cleaner, TV, electric cooker and later, video recorder and microwave oven. Once these items were installed they were deemed life savers and no mention was ever made of life before their arrival.

                Whilst the phrase, ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ has fallen out of use, the concept remains and is alive and kicking in these times of rampant technological development. I am proud of the way my mother responded to her neighbours’ purchases, although once she’d belatedly installed her own versions she became evangelistic about them, wondering what she ever did without them and spending hours watching the revolving tub of the automatic front loader or raving at length about the attributes of the video recorder.

                When someone recently described to me a gathering of friends who ridiculed her for her modest [non-apple] smartphone I was shocked. Indeed, of all those gathered, only one, apparently was appropriately equipped phone-wise-with an ‘iphone 5’. What does this say about the rest of us, those of us who have opted for a budget model with a supermarket contract? We are to be pitied. We have not ‘kept up’. Some of us [me] are even still using a plain, bog standard laptop with a keyboard. Imagine that!

                This is not a competition to see who is first to get a new, labour saving device; this is a shameless bid for admiration via one-up-man-ship. On my humble smartish phone that no one has ever heard of I am able to text, call, use Facebook [a debatable advantage], Google, take snaps and send them, email people, catch up with the news and find out where I am. There are also innumerable facilities which I have no interest in [such as games] and many more I know nothing about and am unlikely ever to avail myself of. I like my old fashioned laptop despite the fact that a visiting friend was unable to swipe on to the next photo I was showing her. So there!