Saturday, 26 July 2014

Monk-ey business at the Big Buddha Temple

Since there is no hot water at my hotel (common in SE Asia in cheaper accommodation) I was wide awake after my shower this morning and raring (ish!) to get going. The hesitation comes from battling the cringe-factor of dining alone, but I could hardly have a tattoo saying "Fortune Favours the Brave" in Latin emblazoned across my torso then cower in my room, too afraid to eat an anaemic hotdog on offer for breakfast in front of a few others Farang (foreigners) could I?

So I summoned up the courage to pass the family of Boden catalogue-perfect Scandinavians who had banged on my wall last night to turn my music off ( so the dulcet tones of their whining blonde brats could be heard instead) and strode into the dining area. Perhaps swerving the anaemic sausage would have been the better option, seeing as it's caused me no-end of porcelain God-worshipping ever since.
After this hearty (farty?) breakfast I grabbed a brolly from the lobby and set off for the Big Buddha the wrong direction. Despite taking a map and snapping away with my iPhone on each corner so I'd have picture evidence of my route (a photographic version of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, Hansel and Gretel style), I still managed a sweaty 45 mins in the opposite direction until I stopped to chat to a Thai tour rep who giggled when I told her where I was off to. As she was so sweet I booked a trip to Ang Thon Marine Park, a collection of 42 picturesque islands, for tomorrow.

Determined not to give in and hail a motorbike taxi, I guzzled water and swatted flies as I stomped along, before finally conceding and haggling with a moto-taxi over the price of a lift to the temple. After a lot of light-hearted banter and laughing we finally agreed a price and I made it to the temple-an enormous gold-painted Buddha which sits on it's on mini-island accessible by a pier. To be honest, it looked more impressive from a distance, as closer inspection revealed a bit of wear-and-tear of the big guy....but impressive nonetheless. Then came my very own 'Eat, Pray, Love' moment as I kicked off my flip-flops and made a small donation to the temple and ended up being blessed with holy water (aka toilet water probably) by a moon-faced, kindly monk, resplendent in full orange robes. We chatted a bit and he tied a friendship bracelet on my wrist and wished me good luck. He then kind of ruined the moment by retreating to a deck chair at the back and barking loudly into his iPhone as I walked off, but hey, even monks need to communicate and stuff I guess....
One green Thai curry later and I was ready to make the journey back to my hotel to chill before heading out for the evening.

Heading to The Fisherman's Market, I decided to kick-off the evening at the Irish bar before grabbing some dinner at a cool restaurant I'd spotted the day before. However, as is standard procedure amongst us alkies, once the Changs and convo flowed any thoughts of food went out the window, and instead I spent the entire night bantering away with Nick from Zimbabwe and Bill from Surrey, a couple of fifty-something guys here on business, investing in property (and possibly a couple of Thai brides methinks). Having ripped the piss out of each other satisfactorily, I bid my farewells before stumbling off along the beach to my hotel, pausing only to shake off the stray, flea-bitten mutt who took a shine to my ankle. It hurt but didn't break the skin, so I went to bed with the attitude that if I wasn't foaming at the mouth by the morning then I guess it's fine....

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