Tales From Thailand: Best Laid Plans

Ben and Waan had a loose itinerary for the trip back to Thailand, but not a rigid one, Ben had learnt from past mistakes down the years about making detailed plans , especially in Thailand. Having said that and being the planner that Ben was, he’d always want some structure to the days. He liked structure as it kept him in control of his objectives and kept him for the most part, in control of time.

Waan’s planning was in-between non-existent and spasmodic at best. However though, when something needed to be done she’d get it done. It had to be important though and it would normally be done at the very last-minute. You know, just before the point of no return. If Waan had a plan it was usually based on which tasty Thai food stop to try out next.

Waan’s home is situated in Central Thailand in the town of Chainat. Ben liked Chainat and enjoyed staying there but the usual daily traipsing around the many relatives houses complete with smiling, nodding and floor sitting, could get a bit much. A few days of that could see Ben start to lose the will to live.

Both Ben and Waan had friends in Hua Hin that they wanted to visit, so they arranged to spend just the two days in Chainat and then head straight to the royal beach resort of Hua Hin.

Instead of taking the bus or train from Chainat to Hua Hin, Waan said that Da (the name of Waan’s niece) and her husband Suchart would take them in a nice spacious Toyota pick up wagon. How very nice of them Ben thought and the convenience of not having to carry the luggage about or should he say Waan’s luggage was a real blessing.

The next morning things had changed slightly and not only are Da and Suchart taking us, but they are also going to be staying a few days with us as well. Ben was still very much looking forward to the trip as Da, Suchart and Waan’s mother would be in the front of the pick up truck and Waan and Ben would be stretched out in the back.  It meant that Ben could catch up with some important revision work that had been on hold for a while… yes pleasant. It’s those small pleasures in life isn’t it Ben thought.  A wonderful trip catching up with some important task that had been on the back burner for a while, stretched out and enjoying a nice breeze in the land of smiles. What more could you want.

Loaded Up And Ready To Go

We are all loaded up, fuelled up and ready to go. After about 10 minutes we stop off at the house of Da’s friend Thip who is a work colleague of Da’s  and apparently has something to give Da in relation to work. As it turned out she actually had nothing to give Da, but instead complete with hand luggage made the traditional greeting of a wai and got in the back of the truck. Taking shoes off of course and leaving on the tail board.

Now this is about the time when Ben’s suspicions arise and alarm bells start to ring. Memories of previous experiences are called upon of being crammed in the back of a pick up truck like a sardine. Ben begins to ask Waan some questions about the trip to Hua Hin. This however must be done in a cautious way with precise but careful probing. It’s a battle of wills, craft and guile as Ben puts Waan slightly uncomfortably on the back foot; but not drastically uncomfortably.

  • Ben: Why has Da’s friend Thip got in the vehicle? Are we dropping her off somewhere?
  • Waan: Yes I think she has something work related to do for Da.
  • Ben: Oh, right (accepting the explanation, but doubting it very much)

 Thip’s brother arrives at the rear of the pick up truck performs a wai greeting, say’s sawat dii khrap and climbs aboard the truck with a suitcase and a fishing rod. Ben lets a small period of time pass by of about 2 minutes before asking Waan;

  • Ben: Where is Thip’s brother going?
  • Waan: Oh he is off to help Da as well, I think?
  • Ben: Is he….. (said in a slight sarcastic tone.) They must be staying a couple of days then as Thip’s brother has a suitcase and a fishing rod. (this is the art of perception tinged with sarcasm).
  • Waan: Stays silent feeling there is no need to respond to this as he’ll shut up in a while.

Thip’s  Mum and Dad approach the rear of the truck with a small boy (to wave them all off or so Ben thought), they perform a wai and a sawatdii greeting and climb aboard the pick up truck. However, this time the game has really been given away as the boy is carrying a bucket and spade.

Finally, they are off  but after about 20 minutes driving they are back in the centre of Chainat to pick up Waan’s sister and her husband. But this is not all, as along with them is a little boy who is dancing around excitedly with joy and does not look like someone on his way to watch his elders perform work related tasks. You just don’t display extraordinary amounts of excitement  about that. Within a couple of minutes two other little boys from goodness knows where arrive complete with buckets and spades. They then put on a play fight for the observing audience with the bucket as a shield and the spade as the attacking implement. Finally, the show is over and they hurl themselves into the back of the truck. Suitcases are tied to the tail board, visibility is nil and Ben already has the old feeling of a sardine packed in a tin once again.

Ben: Ben glances towards Waan, but she pretends not to notice him. She’s become good at this over the years when fearing one of Ben’s more uncomfortable questions. After a few seconds and a bit of throat clearing, Ben asks Waan a question, even though he already knows the answer. ” Are they all going to Hua Hin by any chance? ”

  • Waan: Yes, but I have only just been told by my niece Da. I did not know before.
  • Ben:  Of course you didn’t dear
  • Waan: Apparently they are going down to stay at an uncle’s place in Hua Hin.
  • Ben: What all of them? Does the uncle know?
  • Waan: No they are going to surprise him
  • Ben: More like severely shock him and give him a heart attack

Waan laughs knowing the beast has been tamed once again and all is well with the world. Now she can relax and it must be time to stop off for something to eat and drink again soon as well.

Ben say’s; ‘’It is at that point when you forget the disappointment of having space to carry out your best laid revision plans and you see the funny side of things. Firstly, could you imagine taking that many people to an uncle’s house in England all armed with luggage in order to stay for a few days. Not only that but he doesn’t know a thing about it. It’s pretty much a fact that he would have the door bolted in no time at all with the crowd of relatives on the outside of it.

Instead of reading revision, Ben is now teaching English to all in sundry in the back of a pick up truck with a bag of sticky rice in one hand and a greasy piece of chicken in the other. The refreshment stops were something else to witness, as a pack of sardines including one westerner (who’d mainly lost the use of his legs) unpacked and then repacked on each occasion.

Ben say’s; ‘’Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the way the whole family came with us. It’s just the pure element of surprise that throws me, because you never actually know a lot about things in Thailand until they are happening. At times this is all great fun, but if you’re a planner then you have been warned.’’

Now time for 100 relatives to descend upon a surprised uncle and the beach of Hua Hin.

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