Children are brushing the verge in front of their school with straw brushes, like a little militarised unit. The Thais seem to be obsessed with brushing up leaves. Maybe it's meditative.
A group of orange clad monks, two white robed shaven headed nuns in tow. They move graciously and with dignity in public presence. When it gets dark I pass them on the second bridge smoking and browsing their phones.
Small boys diving from the flat bridge still in their khaki school shorts. The older ones are plunging from the 30m mon bridge.
In the market a woman with bad teeth chews on a cheroot and tries to sell me some sweets. I buy a bag of black rice from another mon woman, yellow ash daubs on her face.
At dusk a raft boat is towed out into the lake. Full of monks. Maybe going for a few days of peaceful meditation afloat on the water.
Two boys play a kind of cricket. Wickets a kind of tripod of twigs. The ball is a punctured yellow plastic one, the bad a stick. One of them is wearing a Man Utd shirt.
On the flat bridge a small group of Thais are dangling string with balls of bread in one of the gaps between the bamboo struts. Small children look on at their fishing.
In the dark on the bridge a teenager is listening to some western rock music on YouTube.
A policeman on a garishly lit Harley revs up illuminating the banana pancake man. His small daughter is standing on a box fingering the balls of dough.
I see women making handicrafts in doorways, whilst the men swing in hammocks.
Quite a chilly sleep, thankfully the karaoke on the other side of the creek stopped by 11.
I'm quite excited to get up for sunrise over the lake. Monks on the bindi baht are crossing the bridge. Long tail drivers are prepping their boats and cruising out into the golden water. A schoolboy dressed in Boy Scout type uniform is with his mother selling little fish in bags of water, to be released for merit making. I guess that's his job before school. I forget how early it is. 6 am? 7 am? The village is getting up. Mon women with yellow ash daubed faces with baskets balanced on their heads are selling tea and snacks. Across another small bridge, under which locals are tilling their vegetable gardens, I'm now in a more rustic environment of typical mon houses, bamboo platforms with thin woven walls. There are a lot of women with babies. At a store I drink some water and a guy on a motorbike generously offers to take me to the wat. It's burmese and very ornate. On the land next to it is a campsite. Tents for monks. There is a road which is strewn with dry leaves, rustling in the cooling breeze. This leads to a gilded stupa, next to which is a souvenir market. Here I see a small group of monks committing taboos: handling money, smoking, shouting to each other. Buying food and ice creams…I understood their food was from donations. In the road a small mangey pup has just died. A pack of adult equally scrawny and few ridden dogs aggressively police the small corpse.
I decide to change my plan and miss my flight to trang. I had too much pleasure being in nature and wanted more. My decision is reinforced when I go and talk to zita on her yoga mat on the lawn at her resort. Also it means I will avoid Fran for a while…I hope.
The mini bus to Sangkhlaburi isn't too painful at all and takes about 3 1/2 hours, the road getting lessons less busy and winding up the mountains and last lakes. In fact I'm the only passenger going to the end of the line. The midday. Sun is hot as I walk down to the lake and try to find a room. The resorts are either full or inappropriate. I get a room at the burmese in , which has bad write-ups, yet is affordable, has a great open restaurant, a chatty thai owner called Mel ( who is divorced form her Austrian husband, and dotes on her 21 year old daughter), and my room has a view of the narrow bridge that goes over to the non settlement. Very happy with this.
Even more happy with the area. The bridge is cool, and the mon village iss friendly and full of characters. I play football in the street with songporn,11, barefoot and his 10 year old brother, one shoe whilst a granny sews in her doorway. Dusk on the bamboo floating bridge. Kids swimming and fishing. Tour long tail boats coming in. Very relaxing.