March 26th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0
Val with her new friends

Val put our film in to be developed, then we had breakfast.  There are any number of small cafes along Kaosan, catering to the travellers’ trade, so once again we patronised one of them.  As usual we overheard – were forced to overhear –  various travellers’ conversations.  I don’t know why I don’t bother to switch off, when they annoy me so much, especially if they’re Brits or are talking about something I know as much or more about.  This morning a guy was both, + it was probably as well that I only caught snatches of what he was saying.  After he left, we chatted with his audience, another Brit, but one with more interesting stuff to talk about, in connection with the legal, quasi-legal, + illegal attempts to stay in Australia.  Tore ourselves away eventually, in order to collect our film.  A tense time, since we would now discover whether our camera was stuffed, hence hastening our departure to Hong Kong.  To our relief, it was alright, all 26 shots coming out.  Not as sparkling as some in the past have been – we still need to get the camera fixed so that we can operate it on its automatic setting, but in the meantime it’s still turning out the goods.

Next stop was equally successful.  We enquired about flights to Hong Kong, + discovered we could go for US$95 one way.  What was more, contrary to what we had heard elsewhere, there was no problem about getting a student card, so we handed over the photo + cash for that straight away.  The 2nd + 3rd pieces of good news.  Changed some money at the bank, then took a bus downtown to the Siam Centre – we wanted to check American Express for mail.  Unsurprisingly, there was none there, but the bad news, the first of the day, was that they only held mail for a month.  Not good, especially since we’d only sent off the post-cards to our mothers this morning, giving the new address.  Have to work out how to get around that one.

Went to the British Council just across the road, Val particularly wanted to read the Burgess Malayan Trilogy, which she was interrupted in half-way through.  Fortunately, they had a copy, so she was happy.  I buried myself in various newspapers from home, tho’ they weren’t as thrilling as usual, largely, I suppose, because I’ve been keeping up to date more with the news, so it wasn’t so exciting.  (I read the Times Educational Supplement, largely for old times’ sake, + I must say reading the jobs’ section gave me a severe memory jolt.  At one time, I used to live for the bloody thing.)

The bus back to our area at a little after 4 was ridiculously crowded, + the traffic was horrendous, but we squeezed + shoved our way thro’.  We did run into something too, but nobody seemed to pay much notice, so it can’t have been important – I think it was the kerb.  Called in to collect our student cards + book our flight.  The girl tried to get us to come back tomorrow for the latter, but we aim to head north to Chang Mai tomorrow, as early as possible, so we persuaded her to try for us then on her own.

Collected our kite, + then headed over to the park – the place was packed with kiters + spectators: just the most terrific atmosphere.  We soon had ours up there with the best of them (tho’ there was an early upset when it tangled with another + they both plummeted to earth in a great corkscrew spiral.  Soon up again however; I wanted it to fly higher than any other in the park.  We’d brought along some extra string, a reel of tough cotton that Val had, + with that added on it was way up.  Tops?  Maybe.  A short-lived triumph tho.  Eventually the inevitable happened – another kite sawed across + eventually thro’ ours, liberating our kite.  We had 4 young local girls sitting chatting with us, + 2 of them dashed off to the rescue, but returned to tell us our kite had ended its trip in a tree.  The girls, about 11 years old, were fun.  Giggly and silly, of course, but fun too.  They spoke a tiny amount of English, so there was some communication.  They took Val’s address, + promised to write, + we did the same.  When the time came to leave, they wouldn’t leave us (or, in fact, Val) so we had a giggling escort back to Kaosan.  Once there, I dived into a snooker hall, leaving Val to cope with them.  (They invited her home, apparently, but she was busy, + didn’t really cotton on until they wandered off.)

The snooker hall was a pleasant surprise, tho’ it shouldn’t have been – the guys running the Sydney one were Thai.  After watching for a while, I was finally able to get myself into a game, first a 4-sided, + for subsequent games a 3-sided affair, with 3 Thai students.  I acquitted myself reasonably well, too, tho’ I only won the 3rd game I played.  To celebrate, I had a banana split in a nearby café, expensive but enormous.  And then returned to the guest-house.

A reasonably successful day so far as business was concerned, plus the British Council for pleasure, as well as a return to the park for more kite-flying, my favourite activity at the time.

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