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Open Features: 11 - Time For Thailand

During her holiday in Thailand Maria Volant hears of a petrol station which at night is converted into a cafe bar with little tables clustered all over the forecourt. "Nestling amongst the petrol pumps and on the tables were LIGHTED CANDLES! Well, what a way to spend a romantic evening, breathing in petrol fumes and wondering if you are going to be blown up.''

Aroma of Shell or BP Ce Soir

Hello.

On Wednesday eve we took a tuk tuk to a very swish restaurant. Part of it is outside in the garden and lit up with large coloured umbrella shades. Our tuk tuk was driven by a couple that we called Mr and Mrs Tuk Tuk, which they found very amusing. We called them this cos the driver's wife was always with him, perched on the battery next to him. A few of the drivers always had their wives with them. We thought it was cos they all had their get togethers with other drivers in between taking people around.

An early night to the strains of what might be Abba, and bye bye to Chiang Mai.

Thursday morning we flew back to Bangkok and the lovely Tavee guest house. We took the boat to the Oriental Hotel, as we wanted to have English high tea in the Author's Lounge, so called cos of the many famous authors who have stayed there.

But no, they were at it again - guards, police, motorbikes, blah blah. We couldn't go in. Fleets of government cars arrived. It looked like we congratulated ourselves prematurely in avoiding the King of Spain's entourage. So after trying to find another way of getting in and failing ,we took the sky train to the Siam Centre and Siam Discovery Centre, part of the modern shopping malls.

Here it is mall after mall, very Westernised and expensive, makes Churchill Square look miniscule. We ate in a trendy cafe, full of fashionable, chic Thais, overlooking a square with dozens of fountains. Here,Yves was sure, they would do things differently. Food would be served in the right order. So he ordered a coffee, sandwich and brownie ice cream dessert.

He soon changed his tune, however, when they gave him his dessert and nothing else. His face was a picture. The two waiters hovering seemed to be waiting for him to eat it before he would be allowed his sandwich and coffee. We tried to hide it behind the menu with much giggling. The waiters were looking at each other and tittering too. After a bit of grovelling, he was allowed the rest of his nosh.

We then looked at lots of shops and strolled around, before catching the sky train back towards home.

Eva wanted to show us something. We had noted the general lack of health and safety observed in Thailand, and had been tittering over the notice at Chiang Mai airport 'Your safety is our priority,' but she wanted to show us the best one. 'Do you remember that Shell garage round the corner?' she asks.

'Yes, we do,just an ordinary petrol station.'

'Ah, but at night it's transformed!'

Indeed it was; they were not selling petrol. Instead it had been turned into a cafe bar. Little tables clustered over the entire forecourt. Nestling amongst the petrol pumps and on the tables were LIGHTED CANDLES! Well, what a way to spend a romantic evening, breathing in petrol fumes and wondering if you are going to be blown up.

Yves and I tumbled into bed while Eva went to the Koh San Road to get some books and go on the internet.


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