After a flight from Bangkok on Bangkok Air, I have been enjoying my 26 year-old daughter-in-law on quiet Khlong Muang Beach in Krabi Province the last couple of weeks while my son Doug is in Oregon. Luk’s English is delightful and I hesitate to puncture her enthusiasm by correcting her but alas she must learn correct English. She often helps her friend Cie manage some resort bungalows up the street and they spend down time in the office with a pile of Thai kareoke CDs…singing their hearts out together…nearly always innocent and young romantic fantasies proclaiming lifelong love…tears falling when hearts are broken.
I am staying in the same bungalow that Doug and Luk were living in when the tsunami hit their sliding glass doors…15 feet from the water and even closer at high tide when tsunami detritus gets washed up each day. This morning I shivered when I sat up in bed to look out at the beach covered with dingy colored beach towels and empty plastic water bottles.
The owners upstairs are members of a delightful extended Muslim family…they speak no English but when mom comes downstairs with an offer to share their dinner…a big steaming bowl of homemade Tam Yam with freshly caught fish…a special treat here in Krabi…I bow deeply with hands folded and I give them no other words except kwop kum kha…thank you. I thoroughly enjoy their broad smiles in acceptance of my eager gratitude.
Luk and I are both trying to lose our “poom pooy” (fat) tummies (not that Luk has a fat stomach) so we often only eat omelets for breakfast and delicious broth soup with vegetables and pork for dinner made by a friendly Thai lady up the street. She doesn’t want to eat after 4pm…”it’s poom pooy to eat at night” she says. However, once in awhile I ride behind Luk on the motorbike to Au Nong Beach, 20 minutes down the coast, to splurge on something special …like the fresh hot cinnamon rolls with big juicy raisins at Lavinia…an Italian restaurant. Before heading back to beat the rain, we buy a couple newspapers that will eventually get peed on by Luk’s dog, Ting Tong. I check email and maybe buy a couple pirated DVD movies….Cinderella for her and Hotel Rwanda for me.
On another day we motorbike to a nearby moving market. I like to buy mangosteens, mangos and small ripe tomatoes from one of the Muslim vendors to munch on when I get hungry…passing up the small custards with difficulty. Luk likes the chili chicken satay on a stick.
For bigger excitement we sometimes take the songthaow, a small covered pick-up with two benches in the back facing each other, to Krabi Town where we can buy almost anything we want…even KFC and Swanson’s Green Tea Ice Cream. On my last trip, an elderly Thai silversmith on the street made me a necklace to enclose my tiny little wooden image of Buddah that was given to me by a monk during a blessing at a wat (temple) north of Bangkok.
Then it’s back to our quiet little beach where we are becoming part of the neighborhood…waving to familiar motorbike riders…buying water from the same little market each day…greeting Bum Pom, a lean young Muslim boatman who has been working on his long-tail boat under the bridge during this rainy season, his broad smile showing a missing front tooth…dreadlocks pulled into a ponytail hanging down his back.
After more than a month, it’s back to Bangkok.