BootsnAll Travel Network

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


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, pure havoc and excitement at one point and borderline comatose the next.

Mary: Where’s Steve?
Sue: Oh he’s out trying to find a new route through Borneo…. Orrrrr, he’s taking a nap.

On the website they list the Nariwathat hotel as being called one of the best hotels in Thailand while some have called it the best. It didn’t take much to steer me to the place especially when rooms were $4US and people were calling it the best hotel in Thailand. It took a bit to find the place as I saw the sign out in front of a slightly worn out wood fronted restaurant. I thought it was possibly someone trying to cash in on the name so I headed all the way to the end of the river road. Nothing, that had to be it. I went back and the guy in the little café took me to check out the rooms. The website did state that the lower level happened to be a “short time” bordello, but having done my share of love shacks I wasn’t worried. The place was actually very large as it did extend all the way to the rivers edge and then with pilons hung out another fifteen feet. We walked upstairs to the long time rooms and he started to show me a room away from the balcony which hung out over the water. There was a guy sitting there at a table in the center of the two rows of rooms. He seemed to be a businessman reviewing a bunch of paperwork although he was in swim trunks and no shirt. He said something in Thai to the guy and he quickly showed me over to a room next to the balcony. The room was another of the old teak style wooden rooms with plenty of space and a windows facing two sides (good breezes for cool nights). All the rooms shared a bathroom but at least the room had a sink and being three times the size of the average Malaysian room I was pretty happy. While the guy was bringing in towels and water, I took a step over to the balcony and saw that it hung past the waters edge by about fifteen feet. I also noticed that it was built on a sort of levee so the water quickly dropped off and was probably a good ten feet deep where the balcony edge was. Looking down the river you could see where the river entered the sea, it was basically the river mouth to the ocean. Bells and whistles starting going off in my head when all I could think of was how great of a fishing spot this place was.

I had been teeter tottering with the whole carrying fishing equipment thing but was still hanging around 30-70 against. I talked to the guy who was at the table and he turned out to be French Vietnamese. He had been at the hotel for two months because he kind of fell in love with the hotels ambiance as well as the need to hide out from his ex-wife. He gave me the lowdown on the hotel and the city and told me of a nice, clean, and cheap restaurant just up the road. I headed down to the restaurant and it turned out to be excellent just like he said. Floor to ceiling tiles, freshly painted, hospital clean, with a double row of curries to pick from. I had found my eating place. Next when I got back I asked about a 7-11 as I hadn’t seen one coming into town. He told me where to find it and I scored again with both dispensers working, but they were the orange and berry, my top two favorites. I was on fire. After hanging out on the balcony talking a bit, I excused myself and headed off on my bike. I figured I would scout out the fishing tackle stores and get an idea of what all this stuff was going to entail. I drove around for an hour and nothing. In the other Thai towns there was fishing stuff in front of every shop store. Here, nothing. I thought my run was over. On a second pass through an area that seemed to have some boating equipment I spotted what looked to be like racks of plastic covered poles. I turned back and yup I had hit the mother load. It wasn’t a big store, but it was a corner nitched out from a hardware store. I started checking out the poles and they were all two piece sets but they were huge. In order to fit on my bike I would have to rig up something so that they stood up in the back. I kind of got it figured out how I might set it up, but it wasn’t going to be easy or convenient. The other thing was that the rods were okay priced, but the reels were way expensive. I noticed that they had some good combo sets hanging from the rafters. I found a couple of good likely candidates so I started checking those out. The people were trying to help me out but none of them spoke English so it was kind of difficult hashing things out. While I was examining those, I noticed a little satchel carrying a telescoping pole. Hmmmm, that would be perfect, but the ones that I had known in the past were cheap pieces of crap that would fall apart before you even got your line wet. The guy brought it down and set it up for me. It was pretty nice and well made. I was quite impressed. I started asking about a cheap reel as the ones in the showcase were around 50-100US. They got confused at that point but luckily a little girl in her cute school uniform ran by yelling for Grandma. She was followed by a really good looking mommy who saw me and started talking to me in perfect English. I was able to ask her about the reel and she quickly got on her I-phone and was chatting away with her husband. She pulled down the set that I was originally looking at and told me that I could have the reel for 600B. I told her I wanted to spend 1000B total so she got back on the phone and chatted away again. She told me that she and her husband really were happy to see a Japanese person in their town as very few come by. I hesitantly told her that I was American and she said no problem Americans are good to. Both of them had worked for a import export business that had dealings with Japan and America. Bam, I was set, rod and reel, I picked up the miscellaneous extras and I was beaming from ear to ear on the way back to the hotel. I had no bait, but I was so happy that I didn’t care as I would be happy just spending the evening playing with my toys and not even starting fishing. When I got back to the hotel the bellboy man started laughing when I walked in with my goodies. We went upstairs and put everything together. He then looked at me and with the usual hand gestures motioned “where’s the bait?” I shrugged. He gave me a “dumb ass” look, and pointed towards the market. With that I was off to the market to pick up some bait. One thing to know about Asia is that bait is food and there is a ton to pick from. All sea creatures are represented so I had my choice. I settled for a 10B bag of shrimp 25 cents for about 20 medium size shrimp. Back home it would probably have beein $10US. Within minutes I was back at the hotel happily pulling in some beasts. Ahhhh fishing.

Bombings. In the guidebook (which is 3 years old) they go into brief forays in every southern towns description about ongoing problems between the Muslim minorities and the Thailand government. Apparently bombing were prevalent during the time the book came out and it was recommended to be extremely careful and to avoid certain areas. I of course have never heard about any of these problems and figured three years ago was a long time ago so what risk during that time frame had most likely fizzled out. Well, I was wrong. Stuff is still as bad as ever with bombings and shooting going on even after my arrival. I was fairly surprised as even on the drive from the border inland towards Nariwathat, they have armed security points every 2-3 kilometers. I also passed about a half dozen heavily armed armored transports doing patrols along the main road. In town it was like being back in Israel with black clad military personel all over town carrying old M-16’s and full body armor. Even security guards were carrying AK-47’s. Stuff was a little uptight to say the least. The French guy warned me my first night that it was not good to be on the streets after 9pm as there had been some problems. A few days before there was a bombing where some teachers were targeted as well as their armed escorts. A mother and son were the only injuries. That same night a bomb went off killing a local man, and I am fairly sure I saw and heard the bang on that one as just before sundown up the river there was a big bang and a large smoke cloud. He had found out the next morning when he went to the market that a guy had been killed as the place where he buys flowers the man there was making the funeral flower arrangements. A few days later a Mosque where some people were praying was shot up. His friend who is in Bangkok keeps an eye on news information and calls him up when there are issues as apparently the government is trying to keep things hushed up. Even the news agencies are hesitant as a reporter was killed here a few years ago. Not to worry though, the happenings usually happen outside the city limits, and I am spending most of my time on the balcony with my weapon of mass destruction in hand.

If you Google Nariwathat & Bombing it will pull up some of the going ons here although I believe a lot of things are swept under the carpet.

Apparently prior fisherman hadn’t had much luck here, but I got skills and I was pulling them in. I was actually surprised at the variety of fish I was catching and some were breaking the kilo mark. I knew the Asians were fond of anything that swims so I started to give the fish I caught to the bell boy. Later I started catching some pretty good size perch and when I went downstairs with a big one in a bag, one of the girls eye-balled it and started smiling. She called another one of the girls out and with a wink I was handing it over. Soon the other girls were promising me soup and stew, so I was soon being given a bucket and orders for more fish. I am working on a deal that when I hit a hundred kilos I get a coupon for a freebee.

For those in the need to know, it is a real low key operation. The front of the hotel is a little café serving coffee’s, soft drinks, and even beer. There is a second building in the back that runs all the way to the waters edge and is two stories. There is a center common area with about five rooms on each side on the lower level and upstairs with three on each side. The ladies each have their own room on the bottom level with the top being solely for tourists. During the day the ladies just hang out sleeping, eating, and chatting. In the afternoons the guys wander in, have a beer, the wander back to where the girls rooms are and the love consultants go to work. Everything shuts down before 9pm and it is strictly quite from then on. It is different than a lot of other normal set ups as this is not a karaoke joint. It is kept very much low key (Muslim state) and the girls have never bothered me accept for the fish and to bring me coffee and snacks. Good times. Price wise, I am sure if you are a hard bargainer you could get it down to 5 0 kilos of fish.

Shootings and curfew I guess could follow along with the bombings section. I am not sure if there is a legally implemented curfew, but stuff is locked down with shudders and steel gates all over town by 9pm. When I go to the night market in the evening the manager warns me to hurry.

Suspicion is very odd here. I definitely do not fit in for some reason as I am getting the usual stares that I got in Africa and South America where I was totally foreign. Here though the stares have a bit of a distrustful worrisome look to it. I know a few people got startled when I go out in my jeans, long sleeve shirt, and hiking boots. I think the boots are somewhat representative of military so people kind of glance down a lot at them with a hesitant glance. Even little kids stop and stare. Maybe it’s because I smell like fish. I don’t know, but I guess with all the going ons here people are very wary about everything. Oh yea, the Muslim ladies who run my mama’s restaurant were very hard when they first dealt with me but as I go there twice a day now and try and joke around with them, they have become much more friendly and joyful. I know the fishing shop is happy to see me come by kacheeeeng.

And so I am adventuring and having extremely joyful times. I can just see the headlines, American tourist (although we think he’s Chinese) was killed in a bombing at a brothel. He died with his pole in his hands. News at 11.


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