Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Putting The Boys To Bed"

"Time to stop work and rest?" I'd asked a man who was collapsing umbrellas on the North end of Pattaya Beach. "Yes," he replied, not missing a stroke as he moved along the line of them along the sand. "Putting the boys to bed!" It was one of those times I wished I spoke more Thai or he spoke more English, as I was curious to know where he'd heard the expression.

Watching him it was clear he'd done this a thousand times; perhaps ten thousand.  Another man was folding up the beach chairs and carrying them up to stack in orderly piles closer to the sidewalk that meanders along Beach Road for a couple of miles.

I was rewarding myself with a walk along the shore to watch the sun setting over the Gulf of Thailand after a full day of more or less constructive activity, and I was stopping often to watch this daily ritual as concessions were closing down for the day. From my vantage point on the sand I could see almost all of the way down along the curve of Pattaya Beach to the start of Walking Street.

You could hear each of the beach chair's wooden frames making a clacking, slapping sound that could be heard stretching down the shoreline as stand after stand closed up for the day and put their own supply away.  There were so many chairs snapping shut along the way that it sounded a little like crickets chirping off into the distance.

Jet skis were also being jockeyed away, their engines awakened and revved up by young men who then zoomed off on them, detouring every so often to cut a sharp turn and send a wall of spray up high above their heads; the water turning pink and orange as it was illuminated by the sun setting behind it.

The children of the concession owners and workers played along in front of where their parents were on task, occupied themselves in the "labors" of children at play: digging troughs, heaping sand up into castles and stopping every so often to examine more closely something they found while digging.  Sometimes one would rise from their squatting stance and run to Mama or Papa to proudly show them their discovery.

There was no need to stay at any one spot to see the entire process; the routines were virtually identical, and done almost at the same time.  I could walk along the beach and see it happen from start to finish as the sun lowered itself behind a latticework of clouds, making portions of them glow like stained glass.

By the time I'd walked to the area where I'd planned to have dinner most of them were done for the day and sitting to visit among themselves while the last few customers/stragglers sat in their chairs. Some played cards, some played chess, some just talked over the drinks they shared as their day drew to a close.

I took a last photo of some finished stacks, roped together for the night and said "Nighty night, boys. See you tomorrow."


Donald said...

Khun Bao Bao, You have captured one of my guilty pleasures in Pattaya. As I sit in the chair and watch the entire process it metaphorically captures not only an entire day at the beach but maybe life. I have a friend who gets there at 6am to watch the build-up.
The biggest perk is watching all those cute guys (usually by this time sans shirt and all sweaty) stretching up to reach that umbrella clip....oh my heart be still
Thanks, nice post as usual

khunbaobao said...

We share a guilty pleasure, Donald. The morning walk is usually nicer than the sunset one, truth be known. Sometimes you walk past the scenery, and sometimes the scenery walks past you!