Rubber or Lubber?

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, November 8, 2012

Venturing off the island and back to the mainland to meet Pipat clutching the directions he wrote to me. We were to go to the Tamichand pier, but it seemed to be the exact same place that we came in on. Oh well, I guess the worst would be that our taxi ride would be a bit more. We looked for the orange taxi that would take s to the market town of Santung. The taxi was quite easy to find – once I changed my concept of 'taxi'. These are old trucks with an open back and benches that seat 6-8, a covered top over the seating area holds the luggage on top. We keep being asked if we go to Santung to catch a bus to Bangkok, I say no, so they ask again. I try to explain that we go to Santung to meet a friend. They ask if we catch bus to Bangkok again. Farangs only do certain things. Wandering about the market town of Santung is not one of them. Meeting friends is another. The concept of CS-ing is waaaay out there. But Pipat read about couch surfing earlier this year and thought it sounded like a nice idea. As the only CS-er in the area, I think he receives a lot of requests.

He lives well out of the city down a small pot-holed, red, dirt road – to the rubber farm we go! Over 4000 trees tapped in a way similar to Maple. The cut a small slit in the bark where the liquid drips down into little buckets. Workers go throughout the night to cut each one – 2 days cutting and 1 day resting. In the morning, a little acid is added to the liquid to solidify the rubber.

We took a lovely walk all over the land and into the jungle a bit. Let's watch out for the king cobra! I was beginning to think that the whole mosquito thing was a farang exaggeration, but this spontaneous walk without deet proved otherwise. But it's not just the mosquitoes that bits, the plants as well as the ants do! Must be careful to not stop walking, otherwise the will get on you. At one point, I looked down and my foot and sandal were swarming with ants! It was lovely to walk and admire all the foliage. Plants that I've only ever seen in it's miniature form in greenhouses explode! Huge clusters of bamboo and hidden jungle rivers with little waterfalls are everywhere. 

Besides rubber trees, they also grow lamboutan trees, which is an extremely cool looking fruit. Reddish with green hairy spikes open to an opaque white globe. I am amazed at the variety of food that grows here! The other day, I went to a fruit stand and I couldn't identify anything I saw except pineapple and banana (and even those were different varieties). So I just pointed to a few different things, paid a few baht and had a great time sampling.

When we met Pipat, we went for a walk through the market as we wanted to buy some food to help contribute to a meal. So many vegetables that look different – who knew there were so many varieties of eggplant? Crabs, turtles, frogs, eels, jelly fish...the list of edible creatures is endless it seems!

Spent some time cooking together. Everything goes into a giant mortar and pestle which is so big it's almost impossible to lift. Fish, garlic, chilli, lime, palm sugar. You must always remember the 4 tastes: sweet, salt, sour and spice, so every bite is a taste explosion! Not like much of our bland food. We made a soup with a tamarind juice and chilli paste base with an omelet cut up and placed in the soup. We also took many of the vegetables we bought and dipped them in a chilli paste.

Later, we sat outside and watched the lizards and other creatures of the night came out while we talked and talked. Brian is learning all the important things like the names of different lizards and the finer points of what being a lady-boy is all about.

That is one of the best things about couch surfing – that you can talk to a local' and learn about many aspects of a culture that would otherwise be lost. I feel so privileged that we've been welcomed into a Thai home to see how normal people live. There are some experiences you will never find anywhere else. Cooking a kitchen with a camp stove and a giant garbage pail full of dry rice. Sleeping on a paper thin mat under a mosquito net. Washing dishes outside over a rock while the chickens peck at stray bits of rice. Preparing food at an outdoor picnic table with seats so ride you have to sit with legs crossed. Bathing, cooking and drinking rain water stored in giant concrete urns as tall as I am. Burning coconut husks in an old pot in the middle of the room to keep off mosquitoes. It gives you a different perspective on life.

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