I arrived in Khanom after a minivan ride from hell, with a spoiled little brat alternately pinching and kicking me; breaking out in screams of fury when I didn’t allow her to pull the glasses off my face. But it didn’t matter. I was glad to have arrived after what felt like a cross-desert trek. I jumped onto the back of a waiting scooter and let it ferry me off to the resort, not caring that it was away from the town, nor that the heavens opened and threatened to wash us off the road, nor that my first choice of accommodation—and only farang outlet—was closed.
I checked into a pink bungalow next door which had aircon and smelled of rose water and cost the same.
There was a shop with a small bar opposite where I got talking to some Germans. It turned out that most of the farang here are from south Germany, so I decided to dig out my neglected mothertongue and found that I would not regret it. The Germans had been coming here for four years and often saw the dolphins swim through the bay during late afternoons.
“But not if the sea is like this,” said one of them.
The sea was hidden by trees and buildings, so I asked the way to the beach but resolved to wait as the rain picked up again.
“Is the weather always like this?”
“Not usually. We can have sunshine, we can have rain. It will get better from mid-January.”
The other man cut in. “The best time to come here is June. It’s what we usually do.”
I pondered asking them why they were here now, but I was struggling to understand their heavy southern accents and so let it ride.
“Do you know why they keep those birds there?” his friend asked, by way of nothing in particular. He pointed to the cage hanging from the roof above us.
“Dunno. Good luck?’
“Not a bit of it. They’re weather prophets. See its backside? It’s rouge. Means the weather is bad. When the sun comes out, it turns greenish-blue.”
I don’t know whether he was having me on, but on that day all over Khanom the arses of the little birds remained a resolute ‘rouge’.
I made my way through a deserted resort and down the rough sloping sand to the beach. The place was as abandoned and desolate as Ampana. The sea was boiling. There was nothing on—or in—the water that I could see. No boats, no birds and sure as hell no dolphins. Far in the distance I could make out the pier where the fabled dolphins are said to congregate.
Maybe I should have bought a fake driving licence on Kao San Road so that I could rent a scooter, or maybe they won’t ask to see a licence since schoolchilodren are riding around on them. But then I remembered that the farang place that rented bikes was closed. As things stood, it was best to wait for calmer weather.
I went to get my binoculars and scanned the sea until the rain made me seek shelter in the deserted beach bar.