Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sand, suits, and more eggs

As planned, I slept in yesterday. My legs have been hurting and definitely needed a break.

Once I got up, the first thing on my agenda was to stop by the tailor. A friend in Memphis, Shawn, recommended a particular tailor in Phuket. I took a cab the 15 minutes to get there, where I was greeted by the friendly staff. I picked out one woman's suit in black with a blue pin stripe.

The staff took a lot of time to measure me for the suit, but they only measured my left leg. I asked the person with the tape measure to also measure my right leg, and he shrugged it off a bit. So, I asked the owner to measure both. He did it, but obviously thought I was over thinking things until he blurted out, "Oh my gawd! You're right leg is an entire INCH longer than the left one!!" I started to laugh and he immediately composed himself. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sound so shocked. It's not unusual to not match perfectly. How did you ever notice this?" he said. I explained that as I grew older, I had noticed issues with my hips, feet, and legs that led me to figure it out. That and my jeans only get torn up on one side at the bottoms.

After picking out a suit, I started picking out a winter coat. The final details on that will be chosen today when I go in for a fitting. The Thai new year festivities start tonight, so the store will have to ship everything to me. My understanding is that the new year is celebrated as a water festival where everyone dumps water on each other. I may put my phone in a plastic bag today, just in case.

The store gave me a ride back to my hotel. The driver was very interested to chat with me and I learned quite a bit. Originally from Bangkok, he's lived in Phuket a few times. First, he was a bartender. Then, he installed Internet wiring in a resort and now, he's a driver for the tailor. He said that people in Bangkok are more friendly and smile more and in Phuket, they tend to scowl more. This is the opposite of what I would have guessed. He also mentioned how bad tuk tuk drivers are. He said that they change their rates on you during the drive and that they won't stop when a honking car is driving at them. I wasn't planning to try one of these, but it's good to know.

During the drive, he noticed me spotting police with intimidating looking signs about not having weapons. Initially, he started to explain that people had died from bombs during the new year. Then, he switched to saying that people got drunk and drowned during the water festival. I suspect that both happen, but that he may have decided to scale back the violence for me a bit. When I looked up the festival on Wikipedia, it also mentioned bombs, so I suppose that part wasn't just lost in translation.

After returning from my hotel, I went to the beach. As expected, it was very pretty and very crowded. I took a long walk and saw all sorts of tourists wearing way too tight swimsuits. The beach itself seemed to be designed around excess. You could get a massage, a mixed drink, or a temporary tattoo all within a few feet of your beach chair.

The next task was dinner. I took a long and exhausting walk around looking for a karaoke bar that's voted as the best restaurant on the island. After not finding it right away, I opted for my second choice-- an upscale places called the Boathouse. They have a French chef there who makes both French and Thai food.

When I sat down, I felt a huge sigh of relief. The place was quiet with a view of the ocean. They had a live piano player who focused on songs Frank Sinatra once sang. Everything was super clean. Then it hit me-- nice places, especially European places, use raw eggs in their food. (If only I was content eating cheap fried food for every meal!)

I ordered a glass of Malbec from a vineyard called Catena that I visited a few years ago in Argentina-- and a 5-course Thai meal. I explained to the waiter that raw eggs make me ill and that it's important that I don't eat any. As the same as every place before, he started out by saying that "all of our food is cooked very well here." I think it's assumed that I think the eggs were mishandled or are old. I responded by asking, "what about the ice-cream in the dessert?" He thought for a second and said, "well that just uses egg whites." Of course I explained that these make me very ill. He checked with the kitchen on any other items that might contain eggs. Luckily, the ice-cream was it.

The wine and the food were amazing. I also got a glass of Thai Shiraz, but it wasn't the same as the Malbec. I was dehydrated from the day and probably had eight cups of water during dinner. My waiter asked at one point if the food was too hot for me. Since it had almost no heat, I was confused. Then I realized that all of the water must have made him think I thought the food was spicey. Below are photos of the meal.

On the way back to my resort, I asked for a cab. It was only two blocks, but it was dark. The streets were packed with tourists, salespeople, and unforgiving cars and motorcycles. The restaurant valet laughed at the thought of hailing me a cab and decided to take me himself for free. I would have to assume that he understood that it wasn't the best idea for me to be wandering alone by myself in the dark, even for a short distance.

This brings me to an overall assessment of Thailand. It's beautiful here and very inexpensive; I like it. But as a single woman, it's a bit uncomfortable. I can't blend in here like I was able to in Europe. People know I'm foreign and most know right away that I'm American. Even getting out of my car for a moment, I get comments like, "hey sexy lady" from women and men who are trying to sell something. I like it here, but I think I would like it more with friends.

No comments: