A new life at 67.Can a woman start all over again?

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

A Good Read

There are some really positive things about being single.Especially if you are lucky enough like me to be to be living in a luxury apartment in Thailand until the UK throws off winters grips.

I “reside” in a two bedroom,two bathroom apartment.That means I don’t just have one cleaning lady,I have two.They come with the place.

Monday morning 0900  is my allocated time,which means anything  between nine and ten o’clock.That is the only thing in my agenda the whole week.

Invitations are all very last minute so there is no need to note those.

In this paradise I have time to call my own,and can read again without getting a bad conscience because I should be doing some household chore or cooking dinner.

Not that you can attempt any heavy literature in this heat, so I enjoy just a good book that can also accompany me to the beach or down to the pool.

I have now discovered Jeffrey Archer who fits my requirements perfectly.I know he has been around for quite a while but if you haven’t read anything by him and need a book for a long journey or holiday he is your man.

 

Last week I finished “Paths of Glory”,a story about George Mallory,the English mountaineer that led the first attempt to climb Everest.
Based on fact it poses the question of whether history should be rewritten.
It is exciting,interesting and yet most amusing reading, written in a W.Somerset Maugham style,and in fact at times it is difficult to say who the writer is.

Now I have advanced to a collection of short stories by Archer.”A Twist in the Tale” Just as entertaining but enabling you to get up and do things between them.

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A Touch of the Tropics

There is no escape.

Everyone travelling or staying in the tropics gets hit by it sooner or later.

The situation where your poor western stomach says,enough is enough of this eastern food.

You don’t really know whether it was the deep fried cockroaches you had for dinner the night before,or the cheddar cheese sandwich with Branston pickle which is also available here.But whatever it was you had better make sure a bathroom or bowl is in easy reach. Having established that they are near, you can lie back and wish to die.

You don’t of course, but it certainly feels like it,and in fact you will probably hope for  your passing at the acute stage.

Luckily it is usually something that takes at the most 48 hours to get over.Afterwards you will sleep and sleep,then greet the next day, a couple of pounds lighter and with a stomach that is now immune to the ‘joys’,of in my case,Asian cuisine.

A thought that went through my head while I was suffering was,

“now you are alone”

there is no family to accompany you on whatever journey this was going to take you,nobody to hold your hand,or make sure you got some fluids into you.It is all up to you.

But I managed it,and survived.

Although being alone when you are in need of care might be something that stops women doing what I did, this incident showed me we are all strong.It’s just fear that is the inhibitor.

Should I do Bali?

Here comes the difficult part of being alone again.
Diminished funds.
Forty years of not having to consider very much whether I could afford it or not gets to be a habit.
Of course if I had considered it then,I might not have had to consider it so much today, but that is beside the point now.

A friend of mine asked yesterday, if I would like to join her when she went to Bali in January,her husband would be away and she would enjoy the company.

A lovely idea I thought.It would also combine with my having to make a “visa run” (one of the rusty bits where staying in Thailand for more than a few months is concerned)

But now I can’t just say,yes,which I would have done before.
I now have to consider many things,the main one being,can I really afford this,even if I get the cheapest available flight,and basically I am a 5* girl.
Is Bali really worth it.

I suppose I could fast for a few weeks.
Cut out the gin and tonics,which of course I only take for their medicinal benefits in the tropics.
Not send Christmas cards,which I won’t get back anyway out here.
Not start my art classes again,which are an added luxury and I don’t practice enough.
Forget the hair dressers, even though it does only cost 100 Baht.

Yes,I will really have to think about it.

Thai Dawn

The dawn comes up early in Thailand.

The hills take on their misty silhouette and a cooling breeze pushes it’s way through the mosquito screens.

Then suddenly, as though observing a conductors baton the birds twitter and sing in unison,hundreds of them.

Depending on your mood and at what time you found sleep the night before you might call this early morning chorus a God awful din, or the most beautiful sound in the world.

It lasts perhaps eight minutes,then as suddenly as it began it stops.Silence.

A new day has begun.

Painting at Baan Sillipin

You won’t believe it but I am going to Art Lessons here in Thailand.

I had read about an art exhibition of Impressionist Paintings and Watercolour in the local paper.

By the time I got around to visiting it the actual exhibition was over,but one morning a friend and I drove over to see what the small Art Gallery where it had been held looked like.

Six Kilometers over a pot holed road full of gravel on the back of a motor bike wasn’t really fun,but the lovely woods and hillside overlooking the sea made up for it.

We eventually came to Baan Sillipin,which actually means Painter’s House in Thai.

It was idyllic.

Set back from the road, a large old traditionally built Teak house greeted us.

It stood alone in the wood ,surrounded by tall tropical trees,their hanging branches and liana giving shade and a feeling of tranquility. Orchids of various hues had been planted in baskets hanging from the tree trunks and on the pond a couple of ducks swam contentedly.

We spent a while looking at the paintings in the gallery. Many very vivid with Buddhist motives,others paintings of western scenes looking somehow out of place here.

My friend being naturally more inquisitive than I am, wondered what was down the wooden staircase leading round the back of the building. We went down and found a large hut,of which the openings for windows and door were covered with mosquito mesh so we could see quite clearly there were people in there painting.

“Lets go in” he said

“No we can’t do that” I answered,knowing how painters don’t like to be disturbed.

In we went.

And that’s how I found Nang,my Art Teacher.A wonderful lady who is teaching me to paint in Watercolour Thai style.

It’s a different technique to the wet in wet method that I had got used to. It’s very bold for water colour,and in the beginning I was a bit sceptical,but it seems to work,especially here.

Last week I finished my first painting at Nang’s,and if I do say it myself I think it’s brilliant.

The 18.11 from Hua Hin

It is stormy here in Thailand.

In Hua Hin,we don’t notice it much, except everybody seems to know somebody that is stuck at the International Airport in Bangkok.

I went with a friend to the Immigration Buro early this morning to make sure I wouldn’t have trouble leaving or getting back into the country again if I had to.

Afterwards we lashed out on breakfast western style in the beautiful grounds of the Hyatt Hotel,celebrating nothing except that he had managed to withdraw a large sum of money from his Thai bank account and changed it into gold in China Town.

That’s how it is here right now.

The train to Kuala Lumpur and beyond leaves Hua Hin daily at 18.11

Pour yourself another cup of tea, and let’s sit out the storm.

Full Moon Festival

One of the most beautiful festivals celebrated in Thailand is that of Loy Krathong.

It falls on the November full moon night.

Loy means float and Krathong leaf bowl or wreath.

All over Thailand people make these wonderfully decorated floats out of folded banana leaves and artistically arranged jasmine,orchids and chrysanthemum flowers. Candles and sticks of incense are placed in them as well as a few coins as offering to Buddha and they are then lit and placed in the canals and waterways where they float away,perhaps bringing the wished for happiness and appeasement to their makers.

My Thai friend invited me to the festival.She had been helping the children in her daughters school, to make their Krathongs and I had watched and even tried the complicated folding of the leaves myself. Obviously it would have been insulting to refuse her,even when she told me that the three of us would go of course in the national costume. Have you ever seen the national costume!?

I was taken along to a shop where the beautiful heavy silk dresses and ornamental jewelry and tiaras could be hired.They are very expensive so few people have their own. The chosen dresses were then fitted,the bodice so tight we could hardly breath,and the long narrow skirt definately not designed to walk quickly in. We were to return on the afternoon of the festival to be made up,and our dressed in the traditional styling.

It took three and a half hours for them to turn us, into unbelievable looking china dolls,with a flawless make up,not only on our faces but on our arms and shoulders as well. We hardly recognised ourselves afterwards. Our hair was sprayed until it was so stiff that the sea breezes couldn’t harm it, put up and crowned with a gold Tiara and Orchids. Gold Jewelry was fitted around our waists, arms, neck and ears.

At last we were ready. My friend in a dress of burgundy and gold,mine the colour of the moon with gold,and her seven year old daughter in a lovely peach.

I soon got used to the nudges and stares, smiles and thumbs up. We were the absolute center of attraction.Everyone wanted to take my photo and the flashing cameras of the hundreds of Thai who weren’t in a costume made me feel like a Hollywood star on Oscar night. It certainly isn’t usual for them to see a blond “Farang” in the costume of old Siam.

Carrying our Krathongs we finally arrived at the canal and lowered them into the water.Slowly they floated away,the candles flickering in the moonlight.Our wishes going with them.

Will they come true? I hope so.

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