The south of Thailand is at present a troubled place. The Buddhists think that the Muslims are silly, and the Muslims think that the Buddhists are silly, and so they squabble. Actually I think that most don’t care, they just want to be happy and get along with their each other. Some are content to read press confirming their opinion that the other lot are a bunch of chumps, others like to make the occasional rude gesture behind the back of a monk or an imam. But alas a very few want to take things further, a lot further, and violence in the shape of shootings and bombings is not uncommon.
And so tourism is not as hot here as it is in other parts of Thailand, actually there are very few tourists and so those few who do turn up quickly find themselves overwhelmed with Thai hospitality and friendliness. As a result of this in a very short time I had been befriended by numerous well meaning Thais eager to give me advice regarding my onward travel. There were many different opinions as to what I should do and the likely outcome of my actions ranging from it being pretty certain that I would get shot, to “take great care” to ”no problem”.
Within half an hour of crossing into Thailand I had a little fat lad of around about 20 years of age pull up along side me on his little motorbike. He spoke some English. No sooner had the usual pleasantries been exchanged than he got down to the real point of his interest. He was, and I suspect still is, a homosexual. This he made rather apparent with a combination of verbal suggestions and rather graphic physical demonstrations of what he had in mind that we should do together. I have to say that considering that we were on the move and he was at the controls of a motor vehicle he was rather skilful in the way that he clearly portrayed the nature of his fantasies. I thanked him for the offers, for there were many, and explained that were he one of the many beautiful young ladies with their pretty faces, long shiny hair, and lovely trim figures, that I had just recently been admiring over breakfast then I might well be interested, but alas he was really not my cup of tea. He suggested something else, and, using the verb he had by now become rather fond of I conveyed rather firmly my desire for him to leave me in peace, off he did go.
Bloody typical I thought, all this top totty and the first advance I get is from a fat poof on a scooter.
checking for scooter bombs.
I immediately found the cycling in Thailand rather more pleasant that in Malaysia. Not that I have anything against Malaysia but in Thailand the roads seemed rather more meandering, the flora seemed more green, and all in all it all seemed more interesting.
There is also a definite difference in the people. In Malaysia the people are lovely and friendly, always waving and offering greetings. In Thailand it is the same, but there is more interaction too.
Military roadblocks were a regular occurrence during the course of today’s journey. Of course for the silly foreigner with his odd hair, funny coloured eyes, and shiny white bicycle this was no problem, just a wave and a hello and through I went. But the frequency of these and the density of military presence brought home the fact that there was for sure some bother afoot. And then I turned left. I was not the first time I have ever turned left, but this left turn was note worthy because it came up nine kilometres earlier than I had expected, and for a big duel carriageway it was astonishingly empty. There was barely a sole in sight, barely a living creature. ‘This’, I thought, ‘is odd’. “Don’t go on that road, they shoot everyone” The words of one well meaning old chap from last night came back to me. Maybe this is the road that he was talking about. But then again, if all that travelled along here got shot, then surely the road would be closed. A bit odd to leave a road open to folk if it is a sure fire certainty that all who travel along it will be shot, isn’t it? But what if each time a soldier goes to put up the ‘Road Closed’ sign he gets shot. But then again if that were the case there would be a big pile of dead soldiers and ‘Road Closed’ signs at the beginning of the road. And then a motorbike and sidecar passed. See, I thought to myself, all is well. But still if I were to be honest I would have to say that it was quite some road to cater for the odd passing foreign cyclist and local sidecar.
So I came to the conclusion that if I were shot then not to worry, I will for sure die some time, and if it were now it would save me the bother of finishing this journey and looking for whatever it may be that I am looking for, which could be a blessing as whatever it is either doesn’t exist, or I have passed it by which makes me a total ass. Ohh, and I would not have to endure another night of being force fed Karaoke in an Asian hotel bed when I am trying to get some sleep. What is it with Asians and karaoke?
But, there you go, no sooner had I accepted my fate than I came to a junction and the traffic grew in density.