M Y O B

The Life and Times of Bruce Bramson

SOUTH THAILAND III

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The hiatus in posts occasioned by a software glitch seems to be over, so I can resume my tale. When last heard from, I was in Chumphon about to depart for Ranong and Phuket.

Thailand Map 3d

The arrow points to Ranong

Friday, 10 October 1968

Sorry about the mix-up in days—it’s hard to keep track—but I noticed last nite this letter and my diary didn’t quite agree! Well, it’s Ranong, period! I left Chumphon before 7. The road was beautiful, twisting its way up into mountains rapidly. I soon got into a rather cool fog, which apparently is more or less perpetual at this time of year. But the jungle was lovely, the road fun. About half-way through, the road construction began, so it not to be pavement all the way. The construction ranged from almost impassable to fair. Roads under construction here tend to be worse than Canadian ones, and the process seems much the same, only longer. And, they tear up very long stretches at a time, rather than finishing it piece-meal. Kraburi was not much of a town, and of course Burma, across the river didn’t look any different from Thailand. From Kraburi on a ways the road was completed and excellent, until it reached a large river (I think the upper reaches of a dammed lake) where the concrete bridge is apparently collapsing, so a new one is being built beside it. From here on to Ranong the road was under construcion again, and not very good. Passed a beautiful waterfall, and many elephants, the latter being used extensively hereabouts in the timber industry. It was nearly 11 by the time I got to Ranong and after exploring a couple of side roads I arranged the hotel and, as it was beginning to rain, relaxed a couple of hours while that was in progress. Later, I explored some more side roads; it commenced raining again around 5:30 & did so until after dark; some of this is written during that period. After supper I arranged to have a Thai massage: this is more on the order of a visit to a chiropractor, since you get completely mauled and unhinged in the process. But is is relaxing, and cheap, and it felt good after about 6 hours of spring-breaking dirt roads on the Honda. Ranong is quite an up-to-date little place, lumber, fish & tin mines being the principal activities. Near the edge of town is a long stone wall, all over-grown by jungle that probably enclosed something worth excavating. What little of the wall you can see reveals excellent workmanship, and one gateway (or what remains) I would say shows chinese influence. I have no idea what all this was. No one has yet been able to tell me, though I have run into a couple of people here who speak english. Tomorrow off to Phuket. The map shows no town likely to have a hotel between here and there, and it is 311 Kayems away. The road is said to be good, but Shell Oil Co’s ideas & mine of an “all weather road” don’t seem to quite agree!

BACKSTORY: Ranong was one of the few places I failed to “make out”. It did not take long to spot the local procurer: they tend to hang around the hotels. Unfortunately, the language barrier being what it was, he brought me a succession of girls. Despite fairly graphic sign-language, I could not persuade him to fetch me a boy. Eventually I took care of things by myself. That’s the best way to meet someone you like, anyway!

River Crossing

Somewhere on the Isthmus of Kra, River crossing

Saturday, 11 October 1968

It is certainly going to be a “new me” you see whenever I get back: my face is peeling again!  Got an early start from Ranong this morning. It was cool, a bit misty and foggy here and there. The highway—some of it quite new—ranged from excellent to quite poor: apparently the original topping put down was only about an inch thick, and heavy trucking has beat this up pretty bad in places. The road passes inland for a ways, then goes along the coast for a while where very spectacular views of the shore-line and ocean are seen. There are myriad villages, but no towns of consequence. Many rubber plantations, some coconut groves, banana groves and so forth. Not much rice here—not enuf flat land. I arrived about noon at the bridge connecting the mainland with the island Phuket is on, and lazed along the road to Phuket [town] admiring first an immense unspoiled beach, then more rubber plantations, and tin mines. Saw some elephants earlier, and on Phuket island another of those huge lizards. They aren’t iguanas, but have that general shape. They can move quite swiftly when so inclined. They are probably eaten by the natives, who I have seen apparently catching them.

Thailand Map 3e

The arrow points to Phuket


Phuket (the “welcome” sign says Bhuket) is quite a large and obviously old city, with rather a “Virginia City”-ish flavor, situated in a valley rimmed with tin mines. It’s about 1 km inland from what I suspect was once a lovely beach, but which is now vast mud-flats, washings from the mines, which are all worked hydraulically. Tomorrow, off to Trang, where I meet a branch of the RSR and where (steam trains permitting) I hope to take another rail excursion, this time up (and across the isthmus again) to Nakorn Sri Thamarrat, the place I didn’t get to before. I’m going to seal this letter up tonight—tomorrow being Sunday, I shall probably not be able to mail it, though, as it has now grown to 10 pages!
Much love to all, of course,
Bruce
PS: Passed up what is surely a gourmet delight on the menu here tonight: “Fried crap and asparagus”!! (Crab, I think)

BACKSTORY: On the east side of Phuket was one of the most idyllic beaches I ever found anywhere. I went skinny-dipping with a charming fellow I had met who showed me around the island, riding behind me on the bike. There was no one at all on this lovely beach, perhaps three miles long, lined with palms. I regretted not having a bathing-suit with me, but my friend explained we really didn’t need them, and before long we were splashing around in the water. Once out of it, having no towels, we could only lie on the warm sand and let the sun dry us off. One thing led to another, and we ended up having sex right there on that beach! After another splash and dry, we eventually returned to town, where we dined with his wife and three charming kids (alas, all girls).

Forty years later, this was the very beach (and all the build-up which had occured on it) that was heavily damaged by the Tsunami.

More “train”ing in store! Stay with me.
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Written by Editor

January 21st, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Thailand