Tomorrow I head south to beaches and scuba diving. Today I pet tigers at the tiger temple, fed and held a baby leopard, saw the bridge over the river Kwai, went to a floating market, and spent a frustrating hour on the phone with the visa people.
Tonight I had lao khao, which is Thai whiskey. The guy selling it was in a back alley behind Khao San Road. He had five types: one "for strong man," for eye, for brain, for kidneys/back, and for the nether-regions. He poured it through a funnel. Good stuff, although I'm not convinced of its strength. I tried strong man, brain, and nether regions. The nether-regions shot was accompanied by an enactment of its powers by the other patrons.
Afterwords I went to a bar in the same alley. It had a kiddie pool table in front of it that was wobbly, run-down, and the felt had scotch tape patching it up. I played one game against Eric, who is visiting for 10 days, then one against another patron, then 12 against one of the bar employees. This guy was out of control good. The table was tiny, wobbly, and not level, but he was making shots that would be unreal on a flat full-sized table. I have to admit I never thought I would be hustled on a table that was three feet long. He was even using tricks that Grandpa Drumheller taught me, which seemed out of place on a table this size. For instance, he would chalk his cue and put the chalk down where I was sighting my shot. The bartender said that he had worked there eight months, was from Cambodia, didn't speak Thai, and only smiled when he was playing pool. He was doing a lot of smiling tonight, the sly devil. Out of the 12 games, I beat him three or four times. He was without question the better player, though.
On my way back to the hotel a motorcycle cop stopped me, went through my pockets, and was awkwardly thorough in searching me for drugs and contraband.
I haven't found the money pouch, which strengthens the case for theft. The visa people meanwhile are slackers and are blaming my bank and I won't get the replacement card for four or five days at best. I also called my insurance and discovered that they don't cover stolen cash. On the plus side, though, there is nothing that I would do differently if I had to do it over again. There comes a point where something is going to happen against you no matter what you do. Locking the door to your room and not carrying the cards for pickpockets is as good as I could do, and if people still steal stuff, they steal stuff. It happens.
Tomorrow I'm going to see the last temples I am looking for, try and fine snake blood cognac, and catch an overnight bus to Koh Tao, an island famous for scuba diving.