Just to the north of Chiang Mai is a large reservoir (Mae Ngat Somboon Chon – Google map it). On the far side of the lake there are some collections of floating restaurants and overnight chalets.
You need a car or a bike to get here and it’s quite a low key development. After parking the car, head down to the dock area and arrange a boat to your favoured restaurant (we went to Eakachai House Boat complex). The return fare per boat is about Bht500 (£10) and you arrange a collection time with the driver.
Activities vary by unit/ complex, and include things like jet ski hire, kayaking and those zorbing balls… or you could just swim – bring a towel etc. All t he places have food on offer.
We didn’t get to stay overnight this time, but it must be incredibly peaceful and the skies are apparently pitch black as there is little development in the area – wonderful place, highly recommended.
After many visits to Thailand and flirting with the dark side, it finally happened: a severe beating up in a darkened room – aka a Thai Massage…
I have a lot of massages here (£3-4 per hour, why wouldn’t you…), but being an occasional back pain sufferer have always opted for the safer and less intrusive Foot Massage; even this involves a lot of above the knee action and usually some sort of shoulder stretch at the end.
On a recent visit for a foot massage the masseuse was getting quite worked up about the state of my shoulder tension and recommended a full 2 hour session – this is what I gleaned anyway, because she is another one of those people who is convinced I speak Thai – see earlier post…
So, session was booked and the appointed hour came. After getting dressed in the favoured massage outfit of fisherman’s trousers and t shirt (optional) I attempted to convey my fears about the back trouble and due attention and concern was paid.
The massage then started and all that shit about bad backs went straight out the window. This woman is tiny, but I wouldn’t want to face her in a fight – bloody hell, I had no idea the human body had so many places to hurt. Apart from the probing, thumping and general gouging with elbows I was pulled in to positions that would make a whore blush, and certainly ones I have not been able to achieve for about 20 years.
After 2 hours – which went very quickly – I felt drained (no idea how they manage to do this several times a day) and had to just lie for a few minutes. The result? Brilliant, shoulders ache a bit, but I feel about a foot taller.
Whenever I’m asked if I speak Thai, my usual response is ‘I don’t know, I’ve never tried’…
However: I’m being asked this question a lot recently (part of the reason being that I am in Thailand, but nevertheless it does seem odd that anyone should assume I can), and I have become quite fluent in my denial. This of course does not work, and merely reinforces the impression that I do speak Thai, but am choosing to be difficult – so they press on, to a blank but apparently approachable face…
The English are famously poor at learning foreign languages, indeed many struggle with accents that are not their own, but I have been blessed with attunement to foreign sounds and can manage to get by in a few European languages without causing serious offence or international incidents.
However, Eastern languages are a whole different game, many being tonal, with this being crucial to the understanding and delivery. Bearing this in mind, I have been astonished that my cack handed attempts at Thai have not only been understood, but have elicited further conversation (you don’t get this with the French). I think some of this is because I have been taught a few pronunciation tricks (which I won’t cover here) and this seems to fool them in to thinking that I am indeed fluent – because believe me, no one else would enunciate like this…
Today alone I have been involved in translating details for a bus journey to a Danish woman from my Thai laundry lady, and a massage booking for five Chinese people (with some English) wishing to book at my regular foot place, where they only speak Thai; and all to the apparent satisfaction of those concerned.
It might seem odd, but I honestly believe that attunement to language is about being open to possibilities, understanding body language and then having a few key words, from there you can move forward and fill in more gaps: numbers are good, terms of address, please, thank you etc… It really is a joy to be able to communicate and it’s wonderful to share a moment with someone from a different background and culture.
It is sometimes said that the best way to learn a language is to get a lover – and this can be true, but that’s another story (several actually). Whatever your prefered learning method; give it a go, the rewards are fabulous!