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Holy crap its been three weeks (+ five days) part II. Stuff about Narathiwat.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Okay, the internet café is harder to get to than you realize (in other words, I was lazy), so at three weeks and five days, you get a part II.

Stuff about Narathiwat.

1) Fishing. I am sure enough said, so I will leave it at that. Still, 92.2% of why I am still here is contributed to the fishing part. “He’s got a bevy of hookers right down stairs and 92.2% is contributed to fishing, what a fag.” Well you know what buddy go Google “fish sex” or download some porn, I like fishing over whoring so shoot me.

2) The people. The locals running the place are okay enough, pretty much the same-same as all the other places that don’t speak English. They are jovial enough but don’t go out of their way to make involvements with you. The ladies downstairs are lovely people. Pretty much motherly more than anything. This isn’t a typical Farang love for sale city like Pattaya or Patong so it is not so in your face. Most of the ladies are just that, a bit on the older side, though there are a couple of younger ones, none of them were going to be making big bucks working the Farang circuit or perhaps used to but are a little past their prime. All of them you could tell were very good looking during their younger times and got into the business because they were pretty enough for men to give them money for their time. Only one speaks any English (Eam) so she relays any real important information between us “a soldier came in and said that they just defused a bomb by the internet café so you need to be careful”. Seriously, that happened. Otherwise, when I come back from the market (buying bait), I usually get some samplings of what they are cooking or eating, my bags are inspected to see what I am eating, or the request for some fish are given. Always with smiles and laughter. The whole situation is so low key and non-sleazy that it would be really unlikely the casual visitor would even realize what is going on.

So far there has only been four other foreigners to come to the hotel. Henry (Onri in French) is the long term resident that occupies the other fisherman friendly room on the opposite side (windows over look the water). He is Vietnamese French (escaped during the Vietnam War) and has been here for three months. He has been living in Thailand for about five years and is on the run from his Thai ex-wife. A personable fellow but physically is deteriorating before my eyes. Way too many market runs compounded by a bevy of other pre-ailments. I think he has almost doubled in size in the three weeks that I have been here.

Kevin aka. Riad is a French farang who had converted to Islam and had been in Narathiwat for four months staying in a nice $4US a day apartment that he rented. He was chased out of town after my week two when the husband of the girl he was romancing found out and told him that either he leaves or he gets shot. Henry got a phone call one morning and that day he was helping Riad to get to Indonesia.
Chamberland is another French working tourist who was passing through the south as he had just finished shooting some photos for his new book. You would never guess. Whoa- good guess. That’s right he is a cat photographer. Yea, fairly bizarre. He is not a cat portrait photographer that you can hire to come to your home to take a picture of your cat (you would be a nutter if you did need that), but rather cat’s are his photography niche. He takes exotic photos with cats in them or cat related subjects. For example in Indonesia Borneo there apparently are some cat statues or temples so he flew all the way from France to take photos of them. Same for Israel where he took photos of the Wailing wall with the Orthodox Jews and of course a cat. You scoff, right, cat photographer, well, this will be his second book that he has published as well as selling photos to other agencies. Like he said, everybody these days can take a photo, so in order to make a living at it you need to find a niche. He also is a pro-France anti-American fanatic. I guess for many American tourists who are easy targets they fall rather quickly. I used my patented “American is the only world Super power and you come from a second world country so of course you will never comprehend us.) After one evenings discussion we were back to talking cats and fishing. You can check out his website here.

The last tourist so far is Mario. Mario is the linguist extraordinaire who speaks fluently at least seven languages. He is Italian-Canadian and is a professional language instructor traveling the world and getting paid. Right now he is based in Indonesia teaching French and English to some Chinese-Indonesian students. Mario is the Energizer Rabbit and he is the perfect complement to Henry’s slothness. He is also very women oriented and will keep the ladies downstairs happily employed as well as the girls in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and all stops in between. He does however have this need to tell me that I am not fishing correctly although I don’t believe that he actually fishes. Getting pretty close to the fire on that one. He brings a lot of needed energy to our slow your roll environment.

3) Markets. Although markets are a majority part of traveling, this has really been the first time that I have had the opportunity to really get involved with the inner workings. Pretty much everything evolves around the food aspect. Although I am a “world traveler” and have no reserve to eating anything put in front of me, I have still really only sampled a small percentage of a regions fare primarily due to the fact that you only get to eat a couple of times a day and the risk of getting something gross somewhat high making risk taking more limited. Here in Narathiwat and also due to the close proximity to the central market and also due to the fact that I have watched every sunset and heard every call to prayer since I have been here (a positive due to fishing 22.5 hours a day). There are basically three standard markets with one in the morning and two others in the evening followed by the usual food vendors night market. The morning market is the largest and is almost right across the street. Talk about intense, it is over by 8:30am and it is fairly large. Along with the norms it has the best fish market that I have seen with all the fish having been caught that night and on display a few hours later. Like I said in an earlier post, it is a shot in the gut after a hard night fishing and not catching. It is however a good motivator knowing that these monsters are out there although they are catching them 10+kms out to sea (I just have to fine tune my balcony cast by around 9kms and 975m.) Interdispersed throughout are the food stall and food carts all displaying their daily delights. Henry likes to eat which is good for me as my usual is to eat what he had the day before. In the morning I see what he had gotten then I find out where he got it from so the next day I can get some. He knows all the little hole in the wall places. Narathiwat is blessed with a cross section and mix of foods. Beyond the normal Thai, there are Malay, Indonesian, Muslim, Indian, Chinese, and Southern Thai. Usually what I do is two favorites and then alternate to a new style. Everyone at the hotel has a hot plate and rice maker. The women down stairs are easily chef quality as every meal is something home made. There are three older ladies who are the main chefs who prepare the group meals and who I give the fish to. They are the ones making all the home cooked stuff that is even better than the market. Yes, I do delve into the eating downstairs. On top of the usual prepared foods there is a great selection of fruits and vegetables which Henry again plays an important role in that he knows about all of them and which gives me an opportunity to try things that I would not normally buy or even to know how to eat. Exotic fruits are outstanding here 90% of which I have never seen before. Price wise the food here is among the lowest in Thailand and the seafood definitely being the cheapest. A full meal at pretty much all the stalls cost 30B or around 85 cents. I have even gone out and purchased my own plate, fork, and spoon as diving into a plate of gourmet food on the balcony overlooking the river is better ambiance than any five star restaurant.

That pretty much covers Narathiwat in a nutshell. A lot of other info I have already covered in my other posts so that wraps things up pretty well. The fishing is definitely a huge draw, but still all the other aspects would probably have planted me for at least a week. Roughly I am spending about six dollars a day so you really can’t complain even without all the other amenities. It will definitely make my top five destinations.

So how long will I be staying. I’ll be moving along soon as the Visa and distance to travel are coming into play. I could easily drop my bags here for a few months without hesitation. If you like fishing, Narathiwat hotel, definitely.

Holy crap it’s been three weeks already.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

In actuality it is three weeks and three days but it takes a few days after realizing it’s been three weeks that if you don’t hurry up and write up something about holy crap it’s been three weeks already that you will be delving into having to write holy crap it’s been three weeks and holy crap it’s been three weeks part II.

I am still in Narathiwat and I am sure you can guess what I have been doing (no it is not having sex with my downstairs love counselors.) Approximately 22.5 hours a day I am fishing, or more specifically getting my line wet (no that does not mean having sex with the girls below). I mean 22.5 hours of every day for the last three weeks and three days including today which is only half over where by I have fished for approximately 12 hours. But Steve, how can that be? It doesn’t seem possible. To simplify the explanation, I will reverse the explanation and give you the calculations for the lesser time of when I am not fishing ie. getting my line wet. In fishing, it has firmly been established that you are much more likely to catch a fish when your line is in the water than when it is not (I put that in because I want to deflect a bit of the “damn, that guy is freaking fish insane). Well, the largest chunk of time comes from the cumulation of time that the line is out of the water when I am either changing/replacing bait, repairing lost tackle (snagged and broke the line or fish cut off), or changing tackle set-ups (yea- when you fish for 22.5 hours a day you need to vary it up a bit.) I was going to write up a bit about my fishing recommendations for Narathiwat, but it would be a bit cumbersome as I have been endlessly modifying my techniques (think Forest Gump and the guy explaining all the thing you can do with shrimp, in my case, weight on top, weight on bottom, sliding weight, pinned weight, heavy weight, light weight, no weight, etc. etc. etc.) Oh yea, taking a fish off the hook ranks kind of high up there to. The second and only other time that my line is not wet is when I am having sex with the prostitutes down stairs. Kidding, come on, why would I need to take my line out of the water to have sex. Nah, really, the second and only other time that I am not fishing is the time frame it took me to go from fishing at the hotel to fishing on the ocean jetty. That I did five times before I learned that it was fruitless (sandy shallow bottom and way over fished). Well there was that time I ran out of bait in the middle of the night but I ended up tying my lighter to the line and tossing it out (remember scientifically speaking… plus, there is a chance that some stupid fish will see a rectangular, fluorescent orange, hard shelled, chrome headed minnow lying perfectly still on the bottom with a big hook sticking out of it and will think hmmmm maybe it tastes good.)

Beyond that, my prior post about 24 hours of my day is still pretty accurate. I have cut out lunch as my caloric input rate has skyrocketed with three markets and the night market as well as fishing not being a huge cardiovascular workout. Although I like the fisherman lifestyle, I will prefer to not have the prototypical fishermans body ( belly bulging to the point that they can prop their can of Coors light on their stomach and it won’t fall over.)

24 hours in the life of fisherman Steve.

Monday, June 15th, 2009
dscn0664.JPG 00:00:01 – It’s been a long napless day. Time to hit the sack. Rig up the big pole with the largest grunt (type of perch) around 6”. Toss it out, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Response to comments.

Monday, June 15th, 2009
1. Tom Allemeier Hey thanks, Steve! I’ve been driving my old Minsk (looks exactly like yours) around Vietnam for the past 11 years. The thing’s been held together pretty much with duct tape and bailing wire for the past 5 years or ... [Continue reading this entry]

Photos: The trophy case.

Thursday, June 11th, 2009
dscn0644.JPG I don't even crave tv anymore. The power of the fish. dscn0652.JPG Counter-strike and fishing. I thought it didn't get any better. [Continue reading this entry]

Fishing, bombings, feeding hookers, shootings, curfews, suspicion… I’ve found an adventure.

Thursday, June 11th, 2009
dscn0642.JPG Where should I start? How about left to right, simple enough. I like fishing. Fishing to me is like a massage is to a non-fisherman. Fishing is like me, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Yea Thailand!

Thursday, June 11th, 2009
So, I hit the Malaysian border check point and it is pretty much chaos. There is a drive through aisle each for trucks, cars, and motorcycles. Surprisingly, there is also a road that bypasses the whole border checkpoint ... [Continue reading this entry]

What’s wrong with Malaysia?

Thursday, June 11th, 2009
Well, in all actuality there is really nothing wrong per say, and I do have to emphasize that I only spent around two weeks there and I only visited the northern east to west sections and I have been traveling ... [Continue reading this entry]

Amazing Malaysia

Friday, June 5th, 2009
dscn0634.JPG The original plan was to travel overland through the rarely foreigner visited border of Padang Besar but with the demise of Sasha I thought that it would be the over sea route ... [Continue reading this entry]