Pattaya Daily News

06 November 2010 :: 13:11:53 pm 45466

British Summer Time – by Mike Bell

As British Summer Time finished on Halloween Night, Thai Winter Time began. Yes you read it right first time – winter in Thailand! Hitherto I had thought there were only three seasons here in Funtown: Hot, Hot and Wet and Very Hot. Now I find there’s a fourth: COLD. Cold, I wrote it again but still can’t do it without smiling. My wife has all the windows and doors closed. When she has finished her seemingly unending chores, she sits down in front of the television, cocooned in a duvet like a curvy silkworm.
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I checked with the Chonburi weather site and it’s official: the temperature has plunged to a bone-numbing low of 74 though you can cast aside your duvets in the afternoon as we reach highs of 85. I got to thinking about the different climates in Thailand and the UK. My wife’s favourite two photographs are of my grandsons in the snow last Xmas; neither were taken in Thailand. It is her ambition to have one of her gamboling in the white stuff. I can’t tell her it will never happen; she would perish as she stepped out of the door. We have been to England twice, during what we British ironically call summer. On both occasions, despite wearing all my daughter’s winter clothes simultaneously, she fell into a catatonic two week-long coma. Only by showing her the photos did I convince her we had, in fact, been to London such were the hypothermic effects. (I have to confess that I visited a Charity shop called Help-the-Aged and bought a fleecy, zip-up coat by Next for two British pounds.)

Of course we are very lucky to live here a long way south of Chang Mai. Up there at this time of the year, they have it very bad. Almost daily there are stories of local residents dying of hypothermia. They are found the next day wearing eleven shirts; their jaws clenched in the rictus grin of death from frostbite. The newspaper does add in the final lines of the story that they had downed fourteen bottles of Chang beer and a litre of rice whiskey in a vain attempt to keep up their core temperature. It is no wonder the denizens of Chang Mai set fire to thousands of acres of rice stubble to warm up the land in readiness for such a cold snap. I suspect if the World Health Organisation published such figures, the two most common causes of death in the north would be hypothermia and lung cancer.

The Uk government release figures for road deaths and the toll rises significantly during the winter months as snow and ice bring the country to its knees – at least on the railways. When I first came to Thailand, I was curious about the number of roads made by putting down sheets of rough concrete: Thailand is the cement capital of the world. The sheets are roughened deliberately to prevent cars or motor cy’s from skidding on any icy patches. (Plus no one can keep a check on how many bags of cement go missing.) You’ve only to look at the main thoroughfare into Jomtien to realize this happens.

Perhaps the best way to encapsulate the difference between the respective climates of my two countries of residence is to provide free advertising for two local attractions. The first is just off Walking Street. It is called The V2oO Ice Bar; it literally has a bar made of ice and walls that an Eskimo would admire! Here you can sit and drink a variety of vodkas in different flavours whilst enjoying temperatures of minus 18! There’s even U-tube videos of hard, obviously English, lads doing this in their T-shirts and string vests.

Meanwhile just down the road at Dream World in Bangkok, Thais queue for thirty minutes for the pleasure of getting a cold bum on the ice slide in the Snow Palace. For any budding entrepreneurs, I see a business opportunity here. Why not open a branch of Help-the Aged and specialize in Next jackets; I can let you have one for a hundred baht!

Writer: Mike Bell

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Stories

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