Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Our day out

A day off, it being the 80th birthday of the world's hippest monarch. Small Boo and I decided to take a trip to Pattaya: I've skirted the edges of the resort a few times, but never actually been there. It's actually a fairly grim, tacky place, somewhere in the psychic space between Blackpool and Benidorm, but with rather more tattooed, chain-smoking Eastern Europeans in evidence. Still, one more to tick off the list.

The fun came on the way home. First, we stopped at Mini-Siam, a model village in the grand tradition, with representations not just of Thailand's finest architecture, but many of the world's finest tourist attractions. It's actually pretty good, although the right-most head on Mount Rushmore is more Leonard Nimoy than Abraham Lincoln.

It's a fun detour if you're passing, and there were plenty of local family groups enjoying the holiday. What surprised me was the presence of three vast coaches full of Korean tourists, who were lapping the place up with as much relish as the Thai kids. It did make me wonder whether we've got this tourism business right: maybe its enough to stick models of the Parthenon, Sydney Opera House, Angkor Wat and so on in one venue, and let the punters run free with their cameras. I mean, when they photographed each other in front of an impressive copy of Abu Simbel, they could have been imagining themselves in Egypt, or the Las Vegas version of Egypt? And which would more impress the folks back in Seoul? (Which reminds me, I really want to go to Macao, to see their version of the Vegas version of Venice.)

Obligatory obeisance to Baudrillard duly performed, we proceeded to The Bottle Art Museum, the life's work of the late Pieter Bij De Leij.

The oeuvre of Dutch-born De Leij falls squarely into what art critics with interesting haircuts now call "outsider art". He made rather rough and ready representations of buildings and vehicles, then dismantled them, and put them back together inside bottles. It's what people have been doing with model ships for centuries, but rather more fiddly. The slightly melancholy atmosphere in the little museum tipped over into David Lynch territory when we reached the back wall, only to see pictorial representations of De Leij's six weddings, revealing that he was a dwarf.

The final stop was an orchid farm, but we were stopped in our tracks by a gesticulating man who warned that a randy, rather violent elephant was blocking the road, and if we carried on we'd probably be making a very interesting claim on the car insurance. We took an alternative route, and from the farm we had a good view of the beast being tranquilised, which made me feel a bit Orwellian, albeit in a terribly safe, sterile way.

"It's nearly four," said the orchid man. "The Russians will be here soon." On cue, seven or eight all-terrain vehicles, most of them ridden by burly men in shorts, crash helmets, vicious sunburns and nothing else, rolled up, had a quick drink, and departed. "Tour party," explained our host.

Small Boo selected an orchid cluster, and stowed it in the boot. On the freeway back to Bangkok she glanced at the car ceiling and gasped. It was swarming with large, black ants, which had presumably hitched a ride along with the flowers, and spent the rest of the journey wandering harmlessly over our heads and arms.

"How shall I end this?" I asked her, as she lounged on the bed, tapping into her laptop. She shrugged.

16 comments:

dh said...

Go to Pattaya on your own next time...I dare you. Could be an interesting read.

FirstNations said...

oh yeah? well, in a few minutes i'll be headed in to Bellingham to pay my car insurance...who knows what wonders await???????

Annie said...

My favouritest post from you ever, Tim.

I long to go to the Bottle Art Museum, especially to 'Impression Experience with hand-made souvenir shop'.

Tim Footman said...

Sorry, Dick, I can't be doing with all me-love-you-long-time-you-buy-me-lady-drink schtick. Although maybe I just haven't really hit my mid-life crisis yet. I'll give you a call when I start listening to gangsta rap again.

Bet there's no bottle museum in Bellingham, FN. But there may be a scale model of Abu Simbel. Just behind Wal-Mart.

Why thank you Annie. And yes, do go if you're passing. I always think the best museums are the ones where the staff look a bit startled if a punter shows up.

BiB said...

Yes, I like the Bottle Museum too, and am glad to see, upon closer inspection, that there is the odd ship or two in amongst the late Mr. De Leij's many exhibits. I like to see tradition respected (though marrying six times is perhaps respecting tradition a little too much.)

BiB said...

Sorry for the philistinism of the full stop within the brackets. Please feel free to ban me from your site.

llewtrah said...

The miniature towns in the Netherland (Madurodam) and Britain (Bourton-on-the-Water) are a tad more insular in comparison!

dh said...

Very sensible Tim. I was thinking more of a fly-on-the-wall Pattaya write up. Could be darn funny.

Murph said...

Finding Pieter Bij De Leij was much smaller must have made his miniatures just slightly less impressive. And I suppose his devotion to the bottle may have shortened his marriages - just like Jim Davidson.

Tim Footman said...

There's a whole room full of ships, Bib - although oddly, most of them aren't in bottles... And full stop shmull stop, this isn't an English lesson.

I know, Llewtrah. No ambition, the Dutch.

I'll think about it, DH. Although I wouldn't like to take the piss out of some of those Russians...

Yes, Murph, I did wonder whether he climbed into the bottles and assembled the models in there.

dh said...

I'd be more worried about the Millwall fans myself. Just a suggestion...I'd love to see Pattaya get a mention on CIF.

amyonymous said...

my friends who moved to thailand did some birthday celebrations too. if you have time, check out their view of things:

www.shirleyville.wordpress.com

Tim Footman said...

Millwall, DH? From Dec 23, it will be compulsory to support Man City.

Thanks Amy. That's a great site.

dh said...

I should have said English football aficionados in general. Not really fair to pick on Millwall.

City aren't doing so well but I'm sure MCFC shirts are selling. What they need is a young Thai striker. A few good goals from him and the government will collapse.

Charles Frith said...

Blackpool and Benidorm? Its a modern day Sodom & Gommorah and I only do it once a year whether I need to or not.

Tim Footman said...

A few good goals from one of those strikers, Dick, and the fundamental laws of reality will collapse.

B&B vs S&G, Charles? Which is which? And why does no-one talk about Gomorrah?