Hmmmmmm sandwich #1

Welcome to the new feature on me blog, yo – “Hmmm… sandwich”: Because sometimes, spread in between two white-bread slices of everyday life something happens that’s… hmmmm… weird, or interesting, or eyebrow(s) raising.

Walking down the street. Need to find an ATM. Oh, look! Here, outside this restaurant, FOR NO REASON, there’s a bra on the floor. Now THAT’s an eeeeepy sort of welcome-mat. I also distinctly think that maybe it’s a covert sign this place is the kind where you might get a happy ending to your duck a’l’orange. However, mainly I am struck by the fact that when I walked past this place 5 minutes earlier, the bra wasn’t there, and instead there was a granddad, who had his toddler grandson’s tiddler out so he could answer nature’s call. ON THE VERY SAME SPOT. I have clearly found a mystic and ancient layline, where the distinction between public and private is seriously out of whack. Maybe I’ll go there tomorrow and try do a poo on a velvet cushion. See if anyone bats an eyelid.

Hmmmmm… brothely

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Stealing ritzy-glitzy fun in the Hawaii of China…

When visiting Sanya you really have two choices if you want that high-end, ritzy-tropical glamour experience. You can pay through the nose for it, or grow a pair and steal it! Here’s how *mischief ensues*…

Hang out on the beach at Yalong. Do beachy stuff till you’ve got sand wedged up each and every crevice. This beach really is beautiful and that’s partly why I wouldn’t recommend shelling out to stay – legitimately, anyway!- at one of the glitzy resorts. It’d be far too tempting to spend your time glued to a pool-side beach-lounger, in which case you’d miss these beautiful shores which are –in the words of my Antipodean travel buddy- better than those on Australia’s Gold Coast. High acclaim indeed!

So go comb for your shells. Build your castles (mine had a moat, natch). Sip your coconut juices through a straw. But THEN –when your feet and knees are sore from the rub of the shale and your sticky-sunscreeny skin is coated with sand that makes you look like a glasspaper model of yourself it’s time to treat yourself to a little luxury. Follow in my footsteps…

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1)      You’ve stored your stuff in the PADI locker-hut that’s about (in beachy-pirate speak) 50 paces to ye right as ye first entered the bay. Here, for 20 RMB you can rent a locker, thus avoiding someone running off with your bag full of treasures (read: passport/camera/money etc) as you pull your best beach-bum moves. Now, when you collect your stuff, exit the locker hut to the left, following a decked pathway up to the 4.5 out of five star “Aegean Conifer Resort, Sanya”. There’s a sign that says entrance is for guests only, but -meh- who’s checking? Time to throw caution to the wind like jetsam from a sinking ship (OK – enough maritimey lingo) and just walk on in. Step one accomplished!

2)      The main draw of the Aegean for me was the labyrinth of pools that twist and wind around the hotel gardens. Lined with sun-loungers and complete with swim-up bar I would have probably koshed a member of hotel staff on the head if they’d tried to stop me swimming. However, overactive imaginations aside, violence was completely unnecessary here as simply installing yourself poolside with enough confidence to assert your right to be there is plenty.

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Reccommended internal monologues to boost your blagging gusto:

“Prevet. I am Natascha. It is real shame in heart to be in tropical paradise without my husband. Boris so busy what with the cosmonauting and the oil tycooning and the international football team-managing. Peasant, please wipe my tears with this meagre 10 million rouble note. *sigh*”

“My mission (and I accept it) is to secretly grade the hotel for World Hotel Rating project. I am meant to feel shady, but in an oh-so-snooty way. Yes. I judge you, experience. I judge you hard.”

“This is the eighties and I AM Joan Collins, dahhhhling.” (This was my preferred.)

Or, for those lacking in near-pathological delusions simply try “I DO have a room in this hotel. I do, I do, I do… ”

3)      So you’re very happily butterfly stroking-along, mojito on the bar top and it hits you – “what’ll I do when I want to leave? My swimwear’s soaked and it’ll look very suspect if I make a dash for it dripping wet. Eeeeep!” Never fear. This is the beach, don’t forget. So you have towels. Dry yourself off poolside, all the while pretending that you don’t want to use the hotel towels (or pleb-rags, as you’re now calling them) because your towels are far more superior Egyptian cotton and kinder to your highly-strung skin. It’s not at all in order to avoid having to sign out hotel towels with the attendant who wants your invisible hotel keycard or anything. No. It’s my precious, precious skin. Once dry, slip on a casual overlayer (mine was a long linen shirt) and bundle your stuff in your beach bag. Then avoid the hoardes of potentially suspicious hotel staff swarming at the back entrance to the hotel by taking a path to the right which leads to the conference suite. Follow the unguarded path, which leads to the equally unguarded back entrance to the hotel – you’re on floor two! Wahey! Once inside the hotel, keep your sashay on. Think Joan from Mad Men.  Follow the corridor around until you hit the lobby, where you can fully dry-up and change in the bathroom. Step out from there looking fresh as a daisy and bam! You have the run of the hotel amenities. Drink at the bar, eat and the restaurant and generally live it up like Lord or Lady of the Manor! Cucumber sahhhhndwichis, anyone?

8 Before 8: Time On My Hands Early Morning Type Musings

It’s 7 AM. I’m leaving super-early to nab the 42 thousand props I need to teach today’s bunch of two year olds their class on the word “monkey”. However, in typical Disney-dysfunction the school is not open. Left with an hour to fill/kill I decide to take a walk to the park.

Now. Imagine what we’d find taking an early morning walk in the park in Leeds…

  1. Geriatric dog-walkers
  2. Joggers
  3. Flashers
  4. The recently flashed
  5. Crackheads and crackwhores
  6. Dog turds
  7. An occasional dead body
  8. More dog turds.

In Shanghai, it’s a whole ‘nutha ball-game. I saw…

  1. Old lady fan-dancers. All in velour tracksuits with HUGE fans in matching colours. Amaze.
  2. The most ever old people in one place since they filmed the last episode of Countdown. They were all doing yoga/tai chi, slowly making their way over the grass like a tide of zombies. Actually chilling.
  3. Three guys dressed as a Chinese dragon.*
  4. A ramshackle troupe of guys practicing their circus skills. Diablos, juggling, unicycling. Bloody mental.**
  5. A 28 piece (I counted) brass band. Just like the Black Dyke, but minus the Alan Titschmarsh affiliation. Home sweet home…
  6. Massive kites, jeweled in LEDs. At night I’ve seen these before. I did wonder if they were UFOs, but now I know it’s just geezers in the park.
  7. Some girl painting beautiful Chinese letters on the ground with what looked like a giant ear-bud. However, she was painting them with WATER. They were evaporating away seconds after she’d painted them. Life is just so….y’know…transient and….it all means, like…nothing in the end….y’know? Woah. Deep.
  8. Walking back to my school, I sit outside. Each Disney school has random letters outside the building. The letters outside my school are DIWAHJ. At first, I thought it said ‘Jihad’. Then I noticed the ‘W’. I toyed with the idea it might mean ‘White Jihad’ and that that’s Disney’s plan for Asia: fill it with Yanks and their culture is for the taking… But I thought it might actually stand for Walt Disney Is A Jew Hater. Or Walt Disney Had Anti-Jewish Inklings. I finally settled on Walt Disney Is A Jovial Holocaust Denier.

All this early morning thinking really drains a gal. No wonder I’m too tired to teach class now. Eeeurch.

* At this point I realize this list sounds a bit like one of the checklists on the back pages of a Where’s Wally? book. Not intentional, but I like it nonetheless.

** Sounds even more like a Where’s Wally? list now. Wow, Wally watchers.

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Hello world!

So here I am in Ban Phe in Thailand.

Some cultural observations:

  1. Dogs. They are bloody everywhere. They look more like hyenas; snarly and evil. My advice? Give them a very wide berth…walk on the road if necessary.
  2. Walking on roads. Deathwish?
  3. Toilet paper. Not used here! I wish someone would have told me… instead they have what can only be described as a “BUM GUN”. It is NOT a bidet. It’s handheld for a start. It’s basically a supersoaker for your ‘arris. Not pleasant.
  4. Mozzies. My blood must be well tasty because I am being eaten alive. My feet have swollen up in protest. Now, the home-medic in me says “elevate ’em!” …God I’d love to put my feet up on the table. However, apparently one of the rudest things you can do in this country is show the underside of your feet. The only faux pas worse is touching a Thai on the head or speaking ill of the King.

On the plus side though, Thailand has a really cool vibe about it. On Saturday I am going on a speedboat to the local island, called Ko Samet. Apparently this place is ‘party island’; white sandy beaches, postcard-blue sea and beach-hut bars dotted all along the coastline. I will take pictures for y’all to see!

We had a beach party on Sunday on our island and one of the locals told us that if we decided on a whim we wanted to go join the shenanigans on Ko Samet, we just need to call the ‘speedboat taxi’ (W.O.W!) and they’d have us there in 10 minutes for 200 Baht (about a fiver)! This country is coooooool…..

It’s rainy season at the moment but actually the wet has held off for most of the time I’ve been here. It’s raining pretty heavily right now, but I woke two days ago to the sound of tropical storm. The thunder was wild and the lightning orange! See? It’s cooooool here.

Oh – and I went to the nearest big city (Rayong) and they have a Tesco! Glad I brought my Clubcard….

I hope you are all well at home and elsewhere! Leave me a comment below, why dontcha?

Muchos love,

Hales

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