Coconuts and shark attacks

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TMT is located on a long, quiet stretch of country road. Groves of palm and rubber trees, lush green foliage, little houses and long stretches of roads leading who knows where. There is a resort directly across the street called Baansuan, which is mostly filled with people training at TMT. Baansuan has a beautiful pool that we can run and jump in to cool off (for 100 baht). It’s a bit more upscale than TMT, and for 24,000 baht ($600) a month, you get daily maid service, a separate living room and bedroom, and a 4-poster bed (after a week at TMT my own bed has lost its charm and I’m considering the move…). And for some reason, twice weekly maid service just isn’t enough for me here. I am incapable of picking clothes up off the floor or doing my own dishes here.

It’s usually pretty quiet on this country road, but they do have one odd custom here — talking truck advertisements. So several times a day, the quiet of the breeze through the palm trees is interrupted by this:

It’s bizarre. Like having live TV commercials interrupt your actual life. Or a poor man’s Minority Report. And during their local elections there were big candidates driving by with faces talking about themselves — it felt very Third Reich.

The most popular and cheapest mode of transportation around Phuket is the moped, and you can rent them everywhere – including on-site at TMT. What I first thought were charming little roadside bars everywhere are actually little moped gas stations. Owners fill bottles with brightly colored petrol and moped drivers can pull over, fill their tanks, and apparently leave money on an honor system. An HONOR system. After looking that word up in the dictionary I laughed aloud for 20 minutes at the thought of it.

There are a couple places we can walk to for food… Mama’s is very close by, down a little side street… nothing you’d ever see in a tourist guide or even find if it wasn’t a TMT hangout. The food is good and Mama is adorable. There’s also Fatty’s, which is a long walk (30 minutes?) but serves the most amazing ostrich steaks.

Amazing ostrich steak at Fattys.

A 10-minute walk down the road takes you to a great little spa, but the walk there can be a harrowing one for me… here’s why:

Driving in Thailand is on the left side of the road (aka, the wrong side), which is as irritating as the metric system but especially dangerous for me. And I can’t believe I’m disclosing this, but… for some reason, I don’t know right from left. I mean I don’t instinctively know right from left. If you tell me to turn left, I literally have to first think in my head “I write with my right hand, so the other way.”

Don’t ask me why – it’s just my way. So when I try to cross the street in Thailand, this is my internal monologue:

I write with my right hand so that’s right, so this is left, so they drive this way so the other way on the right

Then out of habit I look left-right-left, then realize that’s wrong so correct it with right-left-right, but then can’t believe they actually drive on the left so I look left one more time, and then step out into traffic where I mentally rehearse the whole thing again just to make sure it’s right. Err, left.

I can get stuck for hours in an intersection.

And even on this quiet little country road I’m a wreck crossing the street, with all these mopeds racing by at speeds of up to, well, 15 mph.

But the other thing that ups my fear of dying is the whole coconut death threat. Ever since I read that there are more deaths worldwide from falling coconuts than from shark attacks (15 times more!) I have this–some might say irrational–fear of death by coconut. And TMT is located on a coconut grove and palm trees line both sides of the country road. I lay in bed at night and every once in a while I hear the muffled THUMP of a coconut hitting the grass and think “there but for the grace of God…”

And of course I can’t walk anywhere without listening to my iPhone, which makes me deaf to the sounds of traffic. So now when I walk to the spa, cloaked in my deafening iPhone, I have to think “I write with my right hand, so left…,” look left-right-left, right-left-right, left, step into the street, look up for falling coconuts, walk-walk-walk, check behind me for cars, walk-walk-walk, forget which side they drive on, write with my right hand so left, look left-right-left, right-left-right, left, walk-walk-walk, up for coconut, look behind me, see someone coming, panic about which side of the street I should move to so start thinking really quickly write with my right hand so this is right so that’s left so they’re going to pass on the left OH FUCK IT — jump off the road and into a bush and look up for coconuts.

A 10-minute walk to the spa becomes 30 minutes of stress so that by the time I arrive I need that massage just to recover from the walk.

I do this ritual daily.

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