So, with my intended accommodation in no position to accommodate I had to look elsewhere. I had passed a couple of options that would have been fine but decided against retracing my steps (pedals?), and instead investigated a local house with a handwritten note on the gate reading “Rooms for rent”.
I was greeted by a Thai woman in her forties or fifties who offered to show me the room, for 350bht a night or 450bht if I intended to use the a/c. I took it. The room was on the top floor of a three-storey house a block from the beach, and had a king size bed, a couple of fans, and a balcony and a drying rack I could hang my wet clothes. It will do just fine.
And she had a cat called แตงโม, watermelon.
I showered and walked along the beach, and later enjoyed a yummy fish (which I watched being knocked out and prepared – photos to come) with mango and chilli sauce and a couple of longnecks watching the sun set.
The next day was something else. Instead of pressing on to the island of Ko Samed I accepted an invitation to join my landlady, Khvan Jai at a funeral for a very senior monk at the Ban Phe Wat
This involved hundreds of guests (it seemed like everybody was welcome), dressed in white (not black), free food (all you could eat and drink, non-alcoholic), lots of praying (hands together in a wai), Thai dancing (and live music and chanting monks), the presentation of gifts (including clothes from the king’s daughter), and a thunderstorm.
A big thunderstorm.
A really big thunderstorm, with heavy rain and high winds that uprooted pegs of the marquee we were sitting under causing panic as it started to collapse.
Lots of shrieking and pushing to get out. Not by yours truly, of course. My immediate reaction was disappointment I didn’t have the camera out ready to record the events as they unfolded. Still, I got some photos from where I was ushered to, and some more when the worst was over from under the rescued marquee.
As I might have said to Sam, should she have been there. T.E.P. Total excitement plus.
After perhaps forty-five minutes the rain stopped, and the formalities continued. We were each given a pawpaw flower, to throw into containers next to the coffin, placed at the top of the temporarily constructed pagoda.
After descending the rickety steps everyone was given a ‘show bag’ containing a glossy biography of the monk’s life, a Buddha pendant, and some sticky rice, before returning to the free food stalls set up in the wat to eat and drink some more.