Well, it’s just been a week full of birthdays around here! First the Queen, then Todd, and then the Queen again, because her birthday celebrations last for a week. I told Todd that we should head over to the palace and combine celebrations, but he insisted on having his own special day. He was certainly well feted, because half the contractors in the apartment building showed up to air hammer our doorframes at the same time that 15 of our teacher-buddies showed up to celebrate. There was probably one person for every year of his life present (I won’t mention the precise number of years, but let’s just say that it rhymes with “dirty-tree”).
Todd and his favourite Siamese twin, David, try to extinguish a trick candle
Now, birthdays around here mean one thing, and one thing only: birding time! Nothing brings joy to Todd’s heart like the twitters’n’chirps of his fine feathered friends. The birding began with a special cupcake from Michelle and Lisa.
These teachers know what a birder needs
I showed my support for Todd’s birding habit by eating the beak off his bird cupcake.
Always happy to help
I also planned a surprise Birding/Birthday trip to a national park three hours south of Bangkok. This necessitated staying at an adorable beach resort* in Prachuap Kiri Khan province. The things we do for our little cluckers….
It wasn’t too shabby
We spent Saturday swimming in the creepily warm water (“there are no sharks in Thailand, right Todd?”), where I got stung by a jellyfish. This was a new and not entirely enchanting experience. Coming from Calgary, I’m used to dealing with threats that are either minuscule (mosquitoes) or monstrous (grizzlies)**, with pretty much nothing in between. Getting stung by something that you can’t see felt unfair. They should at least have given me a sporting chance.
The only thing to do was to drown my sorrows in a vat of ghee, presented in the form of Indian food. I may be Canadian, and I may be living in Thailand, but my gut is loyal to one country, and one country only. Don’t worry, Mother India. No amount of pad thai will ever come between us.
I can’t even begin to convey my joy
The feather action began the next morning. Because this trip was planned by me, not Todd, we only had the roughest idea of where we were going. The helpful owner of our hotel drew a map for us: “drive up a random dirt road, turn left at the shrine, pass the ruined shrimp farm, hurtle down the steep hill, and stop at the ranger’s station. Someone should be able to take you out into the marshes on a boat.” Say no more. We rented scooters, and headed off early the next morning.
Hand-drawn map? Check. Birding shirt? Check.
When we arrived at the rangers’ station, we wondered if we were in the wrong place, because no one was around. We hiked through the forest to try to get a better view (“there are no spiders in Thailand, right Todd?”), and wandered around a bit. After some time, a ranger showed up. When we asked if he would take us out on a boat, he started laughing, and gestured that there was no water in the marshes. Funny how we missed that detail…
A good birder doesn’t sweat details like water
Todd still had a good time checking out storks’n’who-knows-what-else, while I sat and contemplated life, got into an altercation with a pack of dogs, and tried to converse with a local rooster, who didn’t seem to be feeling it.
Humans are depressing
That afternoon, we decided to take out our hotel’s tandem sea kayak (I don’t mind doing the conjoined thing if it means that Todd does all the paddling) and explored one of the islands in the bay. I initially regretted not bringing my camera, but in retrospect, perhaps it’s for the best. The island was covered in monkeys, and the acts in which they were engaging scarred my eyeballs and would not be appropriate for a PG blog. Here’s another picture of the bay instead.
All in all, Todd had a great birthday weekend, even if it was a little light on the birds and heavy on the jellyfish and copulating monkeys. Once again, as we drove home, the Queen beamed benevolently at us from numerous highway shrines, because it is still her birthday.
*No, this is not a paid endorsement – just wanted to put in a good word for a friendly place.
**Grizzlies’ motto: “We may maul you, but at least you’ll see us coming”