In the mean time I discover a bit more of the culture and ways of the Thai people. Pictured is the “Big Budda” statue situated on a prominent hillside overlooking and between Jontiem and Pattaya. Many of the Buddhist places of worship are bedecked in gold and glittering shininess and the many statues are no exception. On visiting a monastery recently I was given 5 tiny pieces of gold leaf (about 1cm squared) held in carefully folded pieces of paper. This gold leaf was to stick on to the 5 Budda statues arranged in a small open room, each statue assuming a different position. You picked a part of each statue that hadn’t much gold covering and stuck your gold on for good luck- the effect was to have a golden patchwork covering the entire statue - though some of the leaf was either peeling off at the edges or not properly applied so it gave each statue a slightly shaggy appearance - a golden “woolly jumper” if you like - the golden fleece wafting gently in the afternoon breeze. This scene of quiet contemplation is very far removed from the hustle and bustle of down town Pattaya - late afternoon sees this vibrancy erupt onto the streets as people, who, whilst having been up and active in early morning (but then lying low during the heat of the middle of the day) regain the streets in a wild assortment of passenger carrying pickup trucks (Baht Buses), big 4x4 jeeps, lorries and cars of all shapes and sizes and sprinkled into the middle of it all, like so much oil meshing and lubricating between the cogs of some mighty ungainly noisy machine is a liberal helping of scooters and motorbikes constantly weaving and dodging through all the cracks in the slow moving traffic.
Braving the middle of this lot will be found the humble mobile shop mounted on an ancient motorbike and sidecar, a duo act where each component wholly relies on the other to maintain a (more or less) upright stance on the roadside. Often groaning under the strain of a wildly optimistically huge amount of stock (ready to sell door to door around the bars during the busy evening period), the driver quite often has to compromise his controlling view of the road for the sake of carrying more wares and makes do with a lesser, more “approximate” driving stance. One where the driving can “sort of” be accomplished with at least a view of “a bit” of the road ahead. As the whole shebang is tootling along at about 10 miles an hour (to save the ineffective lightweight scooter brakes no doubt) it doesn’t seem to matter that the mobile shop becomes a sort of mobile chicane for the other road traffic to negotiate around. You certainly wouldn’t want to run into one however, for just as some slow moving animals fear no predators - a porcupine with its secret quills or a poisonous toad for example - the motorbike shop would be a fearsome quarry to tackle, as it seems most of them are bedecked with either a fully lit barbeque pit or a gas fired rotary kebab spit working at full tilt as they drive along - why not “throw another 4X4 on the barbie” and see what happens!!
Many thanks for everyone’s continuing patience -
“Chok Dee” (Good Luck - Cheers) Norman