Headed to the tourist police station early hoping my bag had arrived. There was only one guy in and he said it should come at 9am so I went to get some breakfast at an outdoor restaurant, pointing at the curry I wanted. When I got back there was still no bag, it should have been here by now. Balls. The policeman on duty didn’t speak much English so he put me onto the main tourist police on the phone. The police chief (or just “Boss” as I call him), arrived. He told me to wait for Arron to come to work and started to make calls. Meanwhile more police arrived at the office and we chatted away. The guys were intent on embarrassing the intern girls working there and trying to set me up with them. Everyone in Thailand wants to get me a girl! The tourist police aren’t too busy with it being the low season, so a bunch of us were joking around. I caught up on some more diary entries too using their free wi-fi.
Arron arrived and explained that there had been a failure with the bus connections. Despite him telling the travel agents to put my bag on the Surat Thani bus, instead some idiot had sent it on a bus to Bangkok bus station. I groaned wondering how long it could survive there without getting raided. He had to sort this all out at 6am when they called him to inform him. He told them in no uncertain terms to get the bag on the next Surat bus. Unfortunately that wasn’t till tomorrow, so I’d need to stay another day in Surat Thani. Damn. Big Boss took us for breakfast mark II, I tried some sweet rice.
By now my clothes were getting a bit scummy (all the rest being in my missing bag!) so Arron said he’d lend me some for the day. Top chap. I continued taking advantage of the police wi-fi and then went to my hotel to book for another night. Back at the station I changed into clothes Arron lent me and he offered to take me shopping, as I needed a new bag. My shoulder bag was falling apart which I keep my tripod and all my valuables in when they need to be stored and when I’m changing site. He drove me to the nearby Tesco Lotus, which is like Tesco at home but with a bigger emphasis on clothes and household stuff. There were loads of fancy cars and trucks in the car park compared to your normal Thai transportation, and the shoppers inside seemed quite well-to-do. I found a bag but decided to shop around elsewhere tomorrow to find a better deal.
Arron drove us out to his sister’s house on the outskirts of town to collect a letter which he delivered to the nearby university where she works. The university was big with impressively well-kept grounds, full of flower-lined roads and big pictures of the royal family. Lots of uniformed students were going around on motorbikes and in buses. Then he offered to drive me up to a local viewpoint. It was in a national park up a forested hill. The car park in the jungle was filled with noise, cicadas and birds chirping away. The viewpoint overlooked Surat Thani city and to the sea beyond. The land was really flat and suddenly turned to jungle-covered hills in the far distance. Surat Thani sprawled below. Unfortunately I’d left my camera at the police station, not realising I’d come anywhere with a view!
I mentioned I hadn’t seen any animals walking around (aside from a guy peeing in the jungle!) and Arron led me down a path to some cages where monkeys swung around inside. When we approached one a gibbon, white with dark eye patches, swung down to meet us. He came down to eye level and he was sucking his thumb with one hand, and putting his other arm through the gaps, letting us shake hands with him and stroke him. He stared at us with very human eyes and I felt sorry for him, animals like this in the wild can have territories of over 50km, but his territory was about 5 meters – yet the freedom of the jungle was just outside. When we moved around the cage he followed us. We saw other types of monkeys in other cages, some afraid, some curious and some indifferent. A baby macaque grabbed my finger and pulled it towards its mouth. It may look like a sausage mate, but it’s not for eating!
In other cages were peacocks and a wild boar who was oinking away at us. I commented that at christmas we sometimes ate boar as a treat. That shut him up. We drove back to Surat Thani passing a bad road accident where a pickup had flipped upside-down off the road. The windscreen was smashed in on the drivers side and it looked like he probably wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. The police were already on the scene. Another example of the deadly driving over here!
I parted ways with Arron and caught up on some blogging at the hotel to rest. In the evening I caught a songthaew into the town centre. For some reason in the back was an old .50 calibre machine gun ammo box. I didn’t ask. I went around shops and department stores in the town center bag-hunting, but not buying anything. Then I went to the night food market which was really busy. Rows and rows of stalls offering foods of all kinds. From grilled meat to fried potato cakes, noodles to rice, sweet cakes to jellies, fruitshakes to iced coffee, the full range of Thai street food was here. I got a bit over-enthusiastic and bought 5 bags of different foods. Back at the hotel I got through three and was stuffed. Heroically I managed to finish it all off though, giving myself indigestion that night. What a fatty!