Saturday, January 27, 2007

Learning Thai on the Beach

This is the view from the balcony of the new wing of Amadeus Bungalows, completed just a month ago. Today I moved up to the second floor where my room has a better view of the beach and bay and, because it's on the corner, also of the main street of Lamai. I'm at the southern end and this is looking north. You can see a sign for the Coco Bar where I met Thim last Sunday night and you can also catch a glimpse of the 7-11 up the street.

Today was a lazy day. After a breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and coffee at the juice bar up the street, run by the Thai lady with glasses whose computer had a French keyboard ("It's my boyfriend's and he's French"), my guide and I headed to the beach. We've become regular's at Georgio's Bao Bob Restaurant ("The Best Pizzeria"), and the lounges and umbrellas are free for customers. Yesterday we ran into Georgio and his assistant buying supplies at the Tesco Lotus Mall. He said he closes down one day a month and that was it. But today he was open. I changed into my bathing suit in the restaurant bathroom and lay down on a lounge to contemplate the state of my world.

Instead of reading escapist mystery novels, I'm studying Thai. I had thought that it would be an impossible language for me to learn, because correct pronounciation requires the ability to hear five different tones, and my hearing sucks (certified by an exam a couple of months ago). But on the contrary, with the aid of my Lonely Planet phrase book and a new dictionary I bought, I'm finding it fairly easy to make myself understood. Of course practice makes perfect, and it helps to have a native speaker to correct one's mistakes. Thim, on her part, would like to learn English. She bought an instruction book at the book store in the mall yesterday and the two of us have been trying out phrases on each other. Jerry thinks I should try and get a job teaching English in Bangkok, and this is a way to try out the job to see if it fits.

I swam in the warm water of Lamai bay between lessons. The waves were a little less rough today and I've learned where to swim in order to avoid being pounded unexpectedly. This little corner of the south beach was crowded with tourists and the free lounges and umbrellas at Bao Bob and the two restaurants next door were full. Women trudged up and down the beach trying to interest the vacationeers in a massage. Other vendors displayed art works and jewelry to the captive audience. I listened to the broken English they used and tried to convert it to Thai. There are neither tenses nor articles in Thai which seems to make it simpler, but the pronounciation makes my mouth feel like it's full of mush.

Afterwards, from the balcony of my new room I watched the jet skis race up and down, and marveled at the courage of parasailors who hung high in the sky from a parachute pulled by a speed boat. Courageous or stupid, I couldn't decide. Dark clouds shifted over the mountains and a quick afternoon squall threatened the towels drying on the balcony.

Mai pen rai, which is Thai for: Who cares.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Try Speakeasy-Thai its a phonetic guide and works well for starters. You can get it at Bookazine or Seed in Thailand or from