Finding peace of mind

There are just so many ways I can go right now, not sure where to start.

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Pork rib stew, soon to be changed into red curry pork stir fry.

First, I continued my local exploring tonight by going to an Indian restaurant a block away. I was the only customer, but it was after 8.

I’m not much on Indian fare but they had a variety of mutton options. I chose a mutton and lentil soup, which I envisioned as more fluid. This was like a heavy porridge, and very spicy, even though I asked for “just a little spice.” Just a little has always destroyed my taste buds.

It looks interesting, but half the mutton was fat and the prices are quite high. I understand lamb is going to be more expensive but most of the menu was 130 baht or more. You can get two meals for that at most Thai restaurants.

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With the red curry sauce

The real reason for my post, however, is a feeling I’ve been struggling with the past couple of days.

Frankly, it occurred to me that I had no obligations anymore. I owed no bills. There was no one or thing dictating my day. I get up when I want. Do what I want during the day. Go out sometimes at night. Take a walking tour with my camera.

I told my legal adviser that when I was granted the one-year residency that it took a huge weight off my shoulders. It did. The main reason I left Indonesia was because I had to do visa runs every 30 days, with no  guarantee I would be allowed back into the country.

Thailand’s more friendly foreigner visa options led me here.

For the first 7 months here, quite frankly, I wasn’t so sure about the decision. Now, having moved to a neighborhood with lots of Thais, I am feeling more like where I wanted to be, more at peace.

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Above are pictures from the Indian restaurant I went to tonight. Not much to look at outside but OK inside. The dinner was mutton and lentil soup, with rice on the side and a cold beer. The meal was disappointing and more expensive than other Thai food places.

Not that the neighbors make it peaceful. Apparently, there’s a tailor back room operation going on in the house opposite mine and on the right. There is constant motorcycle and foot traffic during the day, and in the early evening the apartment next door unleashes a bunch of kids that they are apparently taking care of for working mother.

I just sit outside on my patio, with my laptop, while the mayhem continues outside my gate. And I’m starting to love the new home. Oh, and the “new” washing machine was installed the other day.

It’s actually kind of peaceful now.

Anyway, I was trying to think of what makes me stressed out (because I noticed I hadn’t felt that way in some time) and all I could come up with was Thai immigration, American politics and women.

I’ve figured out the living expenses thing and I’m operating well within the budget. So, no stress. I’m buying what I want to eat and drink and still saving money.

My rent is less than what I was paying in Costa Rica six years ago. Local food costs are a bit higher than Indonesia, but still low. Also lots of western food options here. So the cost of living is not a problem, even remotely.

My goal is to become part of the community, if they actually reach out for such things. If not, it’s all good. Other than that, it appears the stress level is nil until 90-day immigration reporting time in a month.

 

 

A stroll to the beach

I’ve already mentioned that my recent move to more in the city center also meant I was moving away from the beach. I had previously taken a walk to City Beach, the closest to my new home, and was unimpressed by its raunchy touristy feel, not to mention the many tourists taking selfies on the beach.

Oh, and there are lots of horses to ride.

Now, since I’ve restructured my work day to post Hua Hin news in the morning, I basically have the afternoons to explore. So I decided today to take another crack at City Beach. It’s a Tuesday, and with the recent bombings, I didn’t think there would be too much foot traffic there. There wasn’t.

What I found might make me rethink not doing any more fishing. The beach is deeper, quicker, meaning better environment for fish. Lots of rocks, however, and a long haul with fishing gear. Also saw small fish is the surf.

Here are a few shots on the trip, which had me ending up in the Bintabaht bar area to have a beer at Diamond Bar before heading home. Turns out the bombing was on the corner that Diamond shares with four other bars. I was almost there.

I was almost at the beach when I passed an elaborately decorated tuk-tuk with maybe six women disembarking and changing into some kind of performance costume. I turned to take a picture and this one girl stopped and waited for me to shoot.

I was almost at the beach when I passed an elaborately decorated tuk-tuk with maybe six women disembarking and changing into some kind of performance costume. I turned to take a picture and this one girl stopped and waited for me to shoot.

Shots of the beach

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The Hilton

The Hilton

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palm tree

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Bet you'd like to be here sipping a fruit/rum drink or a cold beer.

Bet you’d like to be here sipping a fruit/rum drink or a cold beer.

 

Bintabaht was quiet but it was only 5 pm

Bintabaht was quiet but it was only 5 pm

Bad focus but this is An at Diamond Bar. She was working when the bombs went off 20 yards away. She hates it when I beat her at pool.

Bad focus but this is An at Diamond Bar. She was working when the bombs went off 20 yards away. She hates it when I beat her at pool.

A look back at terrorism

Thais are mostly Buddhist, and as such tend to be humble and peace-loving. Hence the nickname for the country as “The Land of Smiles.” They take great pride in traditions, especially family, and respect for others. And now they are embarrassed that their countrymen would stoop to the depths of evil, that a few ignorant individuals would ruin the pride and respect they had rightfully earned in the international community.


I’ve delayed writing this post for two days because, first, I wanted to accumulate as much information as possible, and also because I wasn’t quite sure how to describe the experience.

I mean, how many times are you part of a terrorist bombing story?

As discussed in my previous post, Thursday night for me was just another night playing pool in the bintabaht bar district. I was at the Papayita Bar when the woman I was playing said a bomb had gone off in the district. None of us heard anything.

Later, I would learn that two bombs went off, 20 minutes apart, a classic terrosist lure-em-in-and-then-blow-the-crowd-away strategy. A poor, innocent woman who was doing nothing more than selling food from a cart along the alleyways was killed.

I left the bar, heading for Diamond Bar, but it was cordoned off. I am probably lucky I was not arrested for not heeding the orders of police. The bomb blasts occurred very near Diamond Bar.

So I headed in the opposite direction, walking all the way back to my street, but stopping off for some pool first. I still did not know the severity of the night’s proceedings. There were a few Thai guys who wanted to test themselves and we were having a good time until the lights went out and the girls started scurrying around in a panic.

“We have to close. Police coming.”

Time to go home, where I saw the first reports of the bombing. Journalist Ken then kicked in, sending out a short alert through double vision before going to bed.

The next morning, I couldn’t sleep. This was a big deal, I thought. I can’t wait until this afternoon, as always, to send out my news post. This needs to get out now. So I got up a little early, assembled all the information I could find, and published before noon.

Funny thing is that even before I posted anything, my site (www.huahinexpatnews.com) was registering record page views. Web search had found the site as people searched for the bombing. By the end of the day, the site would see 10 times its normal traffic. Second-day traffic is down to four times normal.

For media reports, click here

By Day 2, this story was hitting newspapers and TV stations all over the world, including Associated Press coverage, BBC, CNN, and media in most European and Asian countries. It is big news.

As I continue to monitor ongoing news about the event, I’m also reading Facebook Hua Hin forum comments. There are dozens of such forums but for my purposes I mingle with 8-9. The comments can be illuminating, as well as infuriating.

The Thais are genuinely embarrassed by what has happened. Many are really scared. One friend told me she wouldn’t go out because “there are bombs everywhere.”

A similar sentiment is echoed by some Europeans in Hua Hin, who recommend cowering in your homes until the evil people are caught.

But the majority of Thais and expats in Hua Hin have a far stronger fighting spirit than the fearful. Streets starting filling again, and shops started opening again late Friday, only hours after the second bombing. Saturday looked like everything was mostly back to normal, with a few shops still closed.

The Bintabaht bar district will be open Saturday night, just two nights after the bombing. Life goes on.