(Part 2 of my ‘spaghetti western experience’. Part 1 is here.)
The next morning the young man at reception gave us similar problems to the lady of the afternoon before: he didn’t believe that we had paid for two night. We left anyway for our bus south to Takua Pa bemoaning the incompetence of the hotel administration..
It was an hour and a half later while we were waiting on the edge of town, a dusty vigil, surrounded by motorcycle taxi lads, that the young man from the hotel reappeared with a policeman wearing flip-flop sandals. However angrily, pedantically, we attempted to explain that we had paid for two nights, not one, the only recourse was to go to police arbitration and miss our bus.
This meant that Jamie and I had to hire a motorcycle taxi each. We set off, but I soon discovered that in swinging my heavy rucksack on my back my watch had been dragged off my wrist. We turned back, and I was glad to find it.
When I eventually arrived at the police station, I immediately thought that it resembled a sheriff’s office in an American frontier town. Behind the ‘reception desk’ were barred cells full of the previous night’s miscreants who were busy sulking or gesticulating though the bars: ooh look, another farang. Jamie wasn’t among them but was with the one English speaking officer who told us that he’d learned it from Kingston Trio version of the song Tom Dooley. How inapt, we hoped.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you’re bound to die
This time tomorrow
Reckon where I’ll be
Down in some lonesome valley
Hangin’ from a white oak tree.
An hour later, after prolonged pauses followed by a three-way conversation with the hotel lady, we shifted the area of blame onto the honesty of the bell-boy who had brought us registration forms and change when we first arrived.
Maybe this was unfair, but it got us out of the police station, and we all saved face.
The bus ride south was full of our pent up aggression and an inquest. Personally, I put the episode down to the incompetence of the administration. Stiil, given the seeking of an extra baht at every opportunity, perhaps we had indeed found more evidence of Ranong’s avarice.
Our frustrations were not yet over. At Takua Pa we discovered the first westerners we’d seen since two weeks previously in Bangkok. Having carefully visited small towns off the tourist trails, it felt strange, alien even, to be back amongst the breed of sun worshippers en route between the well-trodden cells of sybaritism, Koh Samui and Phuket.
Whatever, we were on our way to Thai Tuad, a town shown on our maps to be on the west coast. The people in the bus station didn’t know it. Strange. The bus conductor thought we meant a long beach. It was certainly superb, but there was nowhere to stay. Likewise the small forest park where he put us down. It was a pretty picnic spot, rocky and mosquito ridden, but 30 kilometres from anywhere. Still, our exit did impress the few tourists on the bus who figured we’d found a secret nirvana.
A hitch and a short bus ride later we arrived at Thai Muang, which is the last town before the island of Phuket. It’s (then) one hotel is generally for short-time visits, the other rooms being occupied by women from Chiang Mai working for the hotel pimp ….
We ended the day with a bottle of Maekong Whiskey (which “is actually a spiced rum“) and soda drunk at one of the town’s three bars (which we hadn’t seen anywhere else outside Bangkok). This was sufficient to fog the day’s issues and to explain brewer’s droop, in sign language, to our many night callers that all we wanted was to sleep in peace, please.