Laem Mae Phim

Grab yourself a bottle of wine, fill up the glass, sit down and settle in for a long read.

Flew with SAS from Copenhagen at midnight. No lines at the security control in Copenhagen, so we breezed right through. Direct flight which took around 10 hours. Good service, decent food and my husband even had some leg space. We slept a bit, but not a very relaxed or restful sleep. Once we arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport, we whipped right through customs there as well.

We were standing there waiting for the luggage, when my husband decided it was warm enough to take off his vest and placed it in his backpack, when I suddenly remembered, MY COAT. It was in the overhead luggage compartment above our seats on the plane. Because it was black and folded up, my husband didn’t see it when he got our hand luggage. Had I realized I forgot my coat before we went through customs, I would have gone back on board the plane and asked one of the stewards/stewardesses to get the coat for me. However, having passed through security, this was not possible. My husband tried to console me by telling me we would have to buy something in Thailand. I thought about it and decided I really was going to try to get that coat. So I walked up to one of the ground staff with a walky-talky and told him that I had forgotten my coat on the airplane. He just looked at me and then walked away. So, did he not understand or had he chosen to ignore me? This is Thailand, so I decided to wait him out and see what he would do. After he sallied about here and there, he talked to another airport employee and nodded my way. The second airport employee strolled over to me and just raised his eyebrow. Great, I thought, this guy doesn’t speak English. When I told him I had left my coat on the airplane, he opened his mouth in surprise and said, “Just a moment,” turned around and talked to three of the Thai girls who were checking the luggage. Then he came over to me and said, “Is that your coat hanging on that pole?” Yup, that was my coat alright. I think the only reason I probably got it back, is because no Thai wears a coat as large as mine and no Thai needs a coat in Thailand.

Got our luggage and headed for the arrival hall. Driver was waiting for us at the usual place and we headed for the pickup spot, while the driver went to get the car. 35° C but not unpleasant. I didn’t even break out in a sweat. Whipped right through Thailand and landed at our apartment in 2 hours flat. At least we didn’t get the slow driver this time. Apartment was clean, beds were made, towels set out and furniture out on the terrace. Unfortunately, the staff had forgotten to water the plants, so all of my orchids and other plants were just sticks in the pots. So, I guess our project this week will be to buy some new orchids and plants to add a little color and greenery to the living room and terrace.

We had a nice shower, changed our clothes and headed down the road to Buffalo Bill’s Steak House, the nearest restaurant to our apartment complex. I am always a little nervous walking along the road in the dark because of the crazy traffic here and because of the snakes in the overgrown vegetation. I kept pushing my husband farther and farther into the road. We did make it without snake attack and had our meal. I had a chicken burger and my husband had a steak sandwich with lots of vegetable salad on French bread. After trying to eat it with fork and knife, I got exasperated and told him, “Go ahead, be an American and eat the darn thing with your hands. Nobody know you here anyway“. Not quite true, actually, because the family that was sitting in front of us on the plane was sitting next to us at Buffalo Bill’s. After dinner, we hiked back to the apartment in the dark, with me pushing my husband toward the center of the road because I really am terrified of snakes. Oh, it was Karaoke night at Buffalo Bills with a Thai entertainer singing all the latest western hits plus a few from “old blue eyes” Frank Sinatra. Fortunately, none of the guests got up to show off their talents, despite the entertainer’s constant encouragement. So we were spared that form of entertainment.

Jet lag. Couldn’t sleep for ages and finally landed in dreamland around 4:00 a.m. Up early with a big program for the day. Food shopping and, of course, massage! I felt like I had died and gone to heaven after that massage. How blissful. I am always so amazed at how stressed my legs are! A couple of times when the masseuse hit a nerve in my leg, my feet cramped up. Now that was painful, but a relief afterwards. We went to the new Tesco/Lotus in Ban Krahm and got the essentials, including a bottle of scotch for Jensensan (husband number one). Can’t quite remember what other amazing events (sarcastically stated, by the way) we embarked upon, but we did go for Lunch at Lom Thalai and had our first wonderful Thail meal. Sat by the ocean, watched the waves roll in and enjoyed the ocean breeze and scrumptious meal. Some of the staff there remembered us from last year and met us with smiles. Always nice when you feel welcome. Of course, we went out for dinner in the evening. We always start off in Thailand by eating out a few times at the start.

Tuesday, October 23, was just the usual – laundry, tidying up, trying to remember we put/hid, personal and private effects and then headed for the market to buy some fruit – langsan, papaya, limes, apples, watermelon, mangoes etc. We eat a lot of tropical fruits while we are Thailand – have to make up for the lack of these fruit’s during the six months we spend in Denmark.

Met our Finish friends, chatted with our Swedish friend to get all the latest events. Both sets of friends had already been here three weeks which is enough time for us to get caught up on the news and events so vital to our lives here.

So what is new in Laem Mae Phim? Well, Tequila Gardens is finished. Talked the Dutch, Swedish,and Aussie owners, who indicated that the owner of the property decided to cancel the lease after seeing what great changes the Europeans had initiated – pool built, hotel rooms being built, the Spanish villa refurbished with new kitchen, pool table, and playroom for children, as well as establishing a garden, with Thai-style open rooms as part of the restaurant with walkways, pond, fish and small fountain. The owner of the property decided that this was a good deal and bought back the lease. As someone once hinted, “You can’t always win against a rich Thai.” So now, Tequila Sunrise at the ocean front has expanded – new kitchen and double size restaurant. The chef is back and the menu is expanded to provide both European (Swedish) and Thai food. There is a bar in the middle of the restaurant where drinks, desserts, coffee and tea are prepared. As usual, the owners of Tequila Sunrise keep the place in good repair. We had our usual Wednesday special – Schnitzel. I asked for no potatoes, but larger salad and was actually served the larger salad. My goodness, things are really picking up in Laem Mae Phim.

There was a little Thai lady who set up a shack next to our apartment complex and managed to snag a tremendous business with her Thai food. She was in tears when the owner of the land told her he would not renew her lease on the property. So, she had to abandon the shack – much to Buffalo Bill’s advaantage, I am sure – and move on. Well, apparently she either did very well or found a good investor, because she built quite a restaurant opposite the Crown Prince’s “beach-side residence”. My husband and I had dinner there. Wow, things are really picking up in Laem Mae Phim! There is a roof on the place, the fans on the poles are still clean (that’s how new the place is) and there is wonderful tropical landscaping consisting of shrubs, palms, flowering plants and a small stream running along the side of the restaurant. The frog(s) were chirping – good for the mosquito population – and the cicadas joined in, in great chorus. I hope there will be a stream with lots of fish to eat all the mosquitoes which continue to breed in the area. It is still a bit swampy around the vicinity of the restaurant. There appeared to be a chef, plus 4-5 helpers in a rather modern kitchen, and the hygiene seemed top grade. Staff was smiling, chatty and very pleasant. Like us, the expats always seem to find the latest servers of Thai cousiné.

Tuesday was a national holiday, so many Thais on the beaches. Would you believe Kassikorn Bank had no money in their ATM machines? None in Laem Mae Phim, none in Ban Krahm and non in Klaeng. If my husband had not kept a few Bhat in his wallet from when we were here in March, we would have been in real trouble. We finally got some money in Rayong (45-minute drive) from Laem Mae Phim. We had to do some major grocery shopping, plus other essentials, so the trip to Rayong was necessary anyway. We got a printer at the only shop in Laemtong and then went in search of a printer cartridge and printer paper which we finally found at Big-C, of all places. We checked in every book shop, got completely lost in the shopping center and after nearly giving up, found what we needed. Do you find printer cartridge and printer paper at the computer shop? Of course not, what do you think? Is there a plan to this shopping center? If there is, we can’t seem to figure it out, so we just wandered round and round and round. Needless to say, we did not need our 4 km walk along the beach at the end of the day. We did discover that the electrical shop had a selection of IT equipment as well as cartridges to printers. Live and learn.

We found a new restaurant near Novotel which serves delicious Thai food at very reasonable prices. Lots of MSG, of course, but I drink a lot of water with my meals; so far so good. Tomorrow (our 5th day here, I plan to cook at home) and then I think my cooking holiday is more limited. Actually, I quite like cooking at home. I just read quite a bit about Thai/Asian cooking in a magazine called Fine Cooking, which comes bi-monthly and to which I have subscribed, so I am quite enthusiastic about Asian cooking at home.

Oh, No. 1 Restaurant has closed down. We were sad, as this was the first restaurant on the beach and the first restaurant we visited on our first trip to Laem Mae Phim. The owner has sold everything in the restaurant and is looking to sell the spot itself.

I don’t think that the restaurant business along the waterfront is the biggest success these days, as we see old places closed down and new places open up. Big panic when we drove by Villa Bali and saw that the restaurant was closed. No more delicious stone-baked pizzas, home baked cakes (including a delicious lava cake with ice cream) or Illy coffee. We will have to check on the restaurant later this week – on our way to our next massage, of course!

Our Swedish friend seems to be in good form. We are planning to go up to her house at the Cape for a swim and, of course, head for the golf course. A couple of Finns have joined the entourage as well as a Swedish couple. We finally met our Finnish neighbors who were ecstatic about being back in the warmth and enjoying the view from their balcony. We welcomed them back over a bottle of wine. The apartment next to us has finally been sold to a family with two boys, so lots of action when they are home. We don’t mind, as the boys have fun, don’t fight and spend a lot of time in the pool or on the beach. They go to bed early (we surmise) after cavorting around the pool and in the ocean. Which reminds me, there are a few too many jelly fish in the water these days. One of our other neighbors said the temperature in the water in April was 41 C! No wonder the jelly fish are knocking themselves out with their breeding.

Despite the hundreds of people at the beaches, the place was quite clean. A lot of the Falangs and Thais have created quite a campaign to keep Mae Phim clean – think it should say, Clean Mae Phim. Still a few stray dogs around but not too bad. There appears to be a program for handling/taking care of the stray dogs. I notice some of the Thais have now adopted dogs as pets. I guess that is the fashion now.

Well, I think that’s about it for the time being. Hope I haven’t forgotten anything !?!?!?!?!?