Sal and I are writing. It’s been hard. But fun. We are going for a cheap B action flick-type story about which we know very little. But, what the hell, eh? Blow up a few cars, shoot a few bad guys, crack some smart-alec remarks as you plummet over a cliff…….how can you go wrong? It’s NOT rocket science. We kept partially cool at the pool all day while grinding out the schlock and then headed out to dinner at the Passport.
Book progress? Maybe 20,000 words but only three people have been killed and the heroes haven’t even been wounded yet. Only one car down. But not blown up. Plenty of opportunities to act like Reacher or Willis still yet to come.
The Passport is a little cafe-style 20+ seat restaurant open to the street and buried deep within a labyrinth of sois and alleyways on the residential side of the highway to Hua Hin. It’s where the locals live. Lek and Mike own it. They’re from Boston.
Well, Lek was originally from Thailand but, after raising their kids to teens in Boston, they abandoned the US rat race for the slower, quieter and somewhat more advantageous (financially) lifestyle of Thailand. And they opened a restaurant.
“We never had a restaurant before. Didn’t know how to do it but Lek can cook and that seemed like a good place to start. Then we found a really great butcher who would make ‘cuts’ they way we asked and the rest is kind of history. It is NOT history yet, not really, because we are still in our third year and learning as we go.”
Mike is 60. Lek is younger (50?) and the kids are still teens. They are not likely to ever go back to the states. “I have nothing for me, there. I have no love for it. This is good.”
Thailand is still foreign to Mike. He doesn’t get ‘how they think’. It’s frustrating for him but he’s managing. He’s not allowed to work directly in his own restaurant either. But, he does a bit. He greets people (allowed). He seats people (questionable) and he cleans tables and collects plates like a busboy now and then when it is busy (not allowed). Thais have to be employed. He can be an owner. He can’t be a worker. And, yes, the authorities check now and then and he was fined once already.
“Another local restaurant got jealous of our business and ratted me out. It happens.”
“Why write about ex-pats, Dave? Gotta be a million stories like that!”
And that is the answer to your question. There are a million stories like that. And I find that intriguing. I am fascinated by the number of Scandinavians in our compound, for instance, and in the general area. Seriously, this northern section of Hua Hin is well and truly represented by the Scandinavian cultures including Belgium and Denmark, Germany and other close-to-Scandanavia peoples. But most of them are simply residents. They may own land (with a Thai) and they may have ‘interests’ here but they are mostly cafe society only. They are NOT working throughout their day. NOT in Thailand, anyway.
Maybe they are managing their portfolios. Offshore accounts? I don’t know. But they emerge at night like giant white cows-in-t-shirts, hang out at a local restaurant and disappear again until the next night. Occasionally, we will see one down at the supermarket. They are mostly distant, incommunicado, unengaged with ‘other whites’ and certainly NOT with Thais. This is not a friendly outgoing group as a rule. But they are NOT unfriendly, either. Just distant. Could be me…..
Mike and Lek are different. They are assimilating. They are in the thick of it. Their kids go to school and they have a home, investments and the restaurant. Mike prefers driving his large motorcycle rather than his car because, “With the car, I am constantly afraid I am going to run over someone.” Their life is now 100% Thai oriented.
“How was the food?”
Bloody marvellous. Delicious. Ample, fresh, tasty and cheap. Mike and Lek bring ‘Merican portions to their menu along with Thai tastes and recipes. Plus they have a few ‘Merican dishes like burgers and ribs. A taste of home if you need one. And, by local restaurant standards, the bill is minimal. Of course, we can eat cheaper and almost as well going ‘local’ at the markets and cooking for ourselves but, for living the ‘high life’, this is very, very affordable. Cheap, actually. Cheap eats. We’ll go back. More than once.
This is NOT a great blog. I know that. But, one of my little pleasures in life is discovering small, local eateries where the menu is all done ‘fresh, from scratch, using non-processed foods and are somehow different.’ Getting to know the owner is even better. The Passport is one of those discoveries. The Passport is a true ‘find’ in every sense of the word.
In Campbell River, there is Miki’s Sesame Sushi, Ty’s Honey Lemon Grill and Baba Ganouj. All great. There are others, of course, but then the wallet comes into play, like the king of greasy spoons, The Ideal Cafe. Still great but getting pricey.
It’s hard to beat The Dolphins for table-cloth and candlelight dining but a smidge difficult to afford it too often…that kind of thing.
And my latest favourite in North Vancouver, Mumbai Masala. I’m a big fan.
Anyway, the list of ‘faves’ has now expanded to include The Passport in Hua Hin. If you are ever in the neighbourhood, tell Mike I sent you.
* The photos are not ours — credit to Trip Advisor
On the contrary, great post! I like to find little cafe/restaurant gems. I like to read about ’em too. Getting the low-down from the proprietors and staff is half the fun. They seem to like it too. Otherwise it is just eating. My husband and I travel by the motto – gotta stop to eat the roses.
Now those Scandinavians – how mysterious!
I hope it is not too rude to ask, but I don’t suppose there are some heroines in your novel?
Interesting you should ask that, it being a cheap B flick and me being a sexist pig and all. You would be forgiven if you suspected as much. Just a couple of Arnies blowing away bad guys…maybe a scantily clad nubile shrieking and running around scared at a party scene or maybe clutching a towel on a beach? But still lookin’ real good?
I come across that way, don’t I? Sometimes, anyway.
I should. I think that way, too. Sometimes.
But, only for fun. For a novel, it has to be real. In mine, Sal’s alter ego is 100% there, 100% real and 100% a heroine. And Sal is a quasi-heroine in real-life already. Hell, bookclub is a hive of heroism.
I dare you: you have to pick up some women at the end of the road in your small boat in December in a storm and cross over to a remote island. Make sure your quiche or quinoa salad stays together. They do that all the time.
I mean she hasn’t yet had to do a tuck and a roll out of a speeding car while shooting at bad guys but she has certainly shown the female equivalents of major cajones way too many times to count. And let’s not even think about the horror show that is giving birth! Gawd!! It all still reminds me of Alien 1. Even our second child reminds me of Alien 1.
Anyway, to answer your question: yes. Sal plays a role. Starts slow but finishes well. She starts quiet and scared, gets enrolled in the chaos and mayhem, does what she has to do and, finally (when I can figure out how to do it), she saves the day. I may have her pull a trigger or drive over a bad guy but I am hoping for something a bit less blunt-instrument and more in keeping with the REAL Sal….. something like…….leaving the propane tank on at a ‘trap’ and, when the bad guys come to it, blowing them up. She could do that. All too easily, actually.
The most realistic? Some bad guy kicks a puppy. OMG. I pity the poor bad guy who kicks a puppy if Sal is nearby.
Seriously? Don’t mess with Sal over anything but especially puppies.
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I knew I could rely on Sal. As to whether you come across as a sexist pig, all I’ll say on that is that I appreciate those who can do irony well. Unfortunately internet-land is full of folk who don’t get that.
Hygge describes Danish happiness. We have no word like it in English. But part of this philosophy of daily living is mindfulness, being present and in the moment. The Danish ritual of enjoying friends and family.
We are not always in the moment. Sometimes we are ‘in the novel’ and making crap up. But then, the real MOMENT rears up and asserts itself (heat) and we then go dip in the pool. Sudden immersion in cool water – that will get you in the moment. Every time.
But I am extra lucky. I enjoy Sal’s company. So, she’s the moment for me most of the time.
We discovered the Ideal Cafe last summer when we were on our quad camping trip to the Campbell River area. We even drove all the way back from Port Alberni with our kayak in tow to get another burger and shake. We don’t get to the island often, ferries cost way more than Ideal meals. Book sounds interesting. Why spoil a good vacation with work? – Margy
Well, as you know, I live in heaven with an angel. So, a vacation for me is adding a little hell. I.e. some work.
There is a bit of a method to this madness, we can deduct part of the vacation (if the book sells enough to cover some of the cost of it). But the real answer is that Sal and I are not the poolside lounging type. And we’ve grown past sightseeing temples and ruins. Seen a hundred Chichen Itzas, seen them all. But we still like to ‘do something’ when we travel. Unfortunately, Thailand is much too hot to do very much and so having a writing project was a really good idea.
Oddly, it was Sal who wanted the cheap B flick story. I’d prefer to stick with OTG settings at the very least. So this book is a concession to her. She needs to blow up some cars, I guess.