Getting to the Safaie/Mason wedding requires some more travel. And we have acquired new travelling companions. Apart from the Mason family and Mr Safaie, we link up with Mrs Safaie Senior, her daugher, Mrs Larkman and Ms Nicola, a school friend of Ms Mason’s so we are now a party of 9. We fly to Phuket at a ghastly hour of the morning and from there pile into a minibus which hurtles us to the quayside where we are to catch a speedboat to Koh Racha. The traffic is heavy and we are late but fortunately Thai time is on our side and there is a relaxed attitude when we arrive at the quay. En route, we stop briefly at a travel office so the driver can go and relieve himself and no sooner has he left the van than the side door is opened by a ladyboy who is solicitous in asking whether we need any help with travel plans or need somewhere to stay. She is perhaps not one of the most attractive ladyboys although is perfectly pleasant and as she shuts the door, Mr Mason says “Nice lad” which has the minivan rocking with laughter. As we have been staying in Ari in Bangkok, we have not had the opportunity to see many ladyboys so we were perhaps a tad over-excited to see her.
The next exciting instalment in our journey is getting on the boat. We sit and watch the men heft our luggage onto the speedboat without perhaps thinking of how we will heft ourselves onto it. Since being on steroids for a protracted time and following the disastrous second type of chemotherapy which left me in hospital for a week, my muscles have atrophied and weakened and have still not recovered. The way onto the boat is to wade through the water and haul oneself up. Hmmm. I can see this will be interesting. When it gets to my turn, the men are helpful but assume I am capable of climbing up onto the boat. They show me where the step is and pat it invitingly but fail to understand that even if I put my foot on it (which one of them actually does), I will not have enough power to lift myself up. It is an early pantomime for anyone watching and, of course,I fall off spectacularly, much to their consternation. I am plucked from the thankfully warm sea by several Thai men who somehow manage to haul me onto the boat. I now have a wet bum.
The journey to Koh Racha takes about an hour and is fun if you are not prone to seasickness which, happily, I am not. When we arrive at the island, we have to go through the same performance in reverse. I turn around to get down the ladder backwards but, sadly, there is only 1 step on the ladder and I am already on it. With the boat going up and down and with my efforts to locate a step which doesn’t exist, I fall off the boat again. I suspect the Thai men are too polite to roll their eyes but they cry out and say “OK, you are OK” as they grab hold of me again and put me upright. Another wet bum. We are taken to reception to register and the lovely, polite people in reception see me with a walking stick and entreat me to sit down. I don’t want to wet their furniture and loiter, causing them anxiety. The water dripping from my trousers also makes the floor incredibly slippery and I am concerned I will make things worse by up-ending myself again. The man who has been organising the wedding with Ms Mason arranges a golf cart and takes us off to a beautiful villa in the gardens where we will spend the next few days. They put Mr Mason junior and Ms Atherton in the villa next to ours while Ms Mason and Mr Safaie have a very grand room in the main block. Every day the maids make a different arrangement with the towels on the bed which is always fun to see. The restaurant is right on the beach and so breakfast, lunch and dinner can be taken with an unobstructed view of the sand and the sea which is a fabulous medley of blues and greens. One morning we sit and watch shoals of small fish working their way up and down the bay. Periodically they leap into the air just for extra entertainment.
One lunchtime, Mr Mason and I linger over our lunch and watch a beautiful boat draw in. Once it is anchored. men jump over the side and proceed to carry its cargo through the water to the shore. It seems slightly incongruous to realise they are actually carrying flatpack furniture. This is probably Ikea delivering Thai-style.