I met Mr. Long Porn three weeks ago through a mutual friend. Among other subjects, we came to talk about my tour around Thailand. When he heard I would pass Sichon, he told me he lives in the city, and there is no chance I could sleep in a hotel; I would have to be his guest.
As an invitation ought not to be refused – especially in this part of the world – I called him as soon as I entered the city. I was pretty sure he would not remember me but I insisted on following the protocol.
Mr. Long is a senior official in Nakhon Si Thammarat province. He wears an uniform decorated with many braids, has a huge office and 40 employees. He is powerful and well connected. He is a man with many qualities and only one flaw: he doesn’t speak English.
Imagine, then, that you get to a foreign city at noon, the sun melts your helmet on the skull, the hostile and noisy mopeds swarm around your saleng. Under these vicious circumstances, imagine you have to talk to a man who does not understand nor speak any word in any language familiar to you. Mutually you cannot speak any dialect he might understand. You have to explain to him that you arrived, what your current location is exactly and he has to tell you where to go, which way to take and what time to get to the meeting place.
After 10 phone conversations during which neither of us understood anything, the magic formula popped up in my head: the 7 Eleven store. I said 7 Eleven, he replied 7 Eleven. It worked like a magic charm! Ten minutes later we were shaking hands in front of the store, me feeling ridiculously guilty I spent an hour of this man’s precious time only because I can’t speak Thai.
Sichon is a small town with a large prefecture. It’s the only thing I noticed about it. In contrast, the surrounding beaches are beautiful. Fine golden sand, just like the one in Khanom and completely deserted. There are no tourist facilities, only small fishing huts. None would have bothered me if I just mounted my tent under a palm tree and lived into the wild for a few days. I went to the Sao Pao beach (20 minutes south of the city), and for two hours and many miles, I saw one man: the old man in the picture above, sieving the sand as gold searchers used to do.
I slept in Mr. Long Porn’s house (no other way, obviously), not before attending the party organized in honor of the journalist from Romania – Hagi-Hagi. We had pork barbeque and lots of Singha beers, and we sang “Yellow River” in karaoke.