So my last post in this army series was in October 2021. That is almost a year ago. Well, to be honest I lost my motivation to write. Basically due to low readership. I was also overwhelmed with the work around me. Not because I was busy with work which would be a good thing but because work and people somehow sucks and it was very tiring to keep up with their nonsense.
Anyway my contract is not. or have yet to be renewed, my projects for the year are all done, I have some time for myself now. I think I can continue writing. It does not matter that the readership is low. At least I put them on record.
So Crescendo Part 1.
KANCHANABURI, THAILAND, CA.2001
One reason why I want to continue writing is because I can feel that I am slowly and surely forgetting about all these things. I really have to type them down before I forget. I cannot even remember when I went to Thailand. It should be some time in 2002.
If you have been a consistent reader of my blog, you would know that I hate travelling. I did not like this overseas trip too but I was quite ok with it because it is "nearby". It is only a few hours flight away. I think it was about 2 hours. And also, it was only a 14 days trip. 1 week shorter than Taiwan and Australia. So i guess it is slightly "better".
The flight there was cool. I remember we checked in to the airport in the evening. I cannot remember what time it was. It was already dark. We board the plane as per normal. Just like any other commercial flights. Just like how it was when we went to Taiwan and Australia.
The flight was an SQ flight but the cabin crew were all male. It was a chartered flight just for these soldiers.
Here comes the cool part. I am not even saying this because of confidentiality or what nots. It is really cool.
You know when you are about to land, there will be some kind of announcement of sorts. We will be told to get back to our seats, push the table up, put on seat belts etc. This time, there was none. I think I remember it was just a seat belt sign. We were told to get back to our seats and put on our seatbelts. We looked out the window and it was night so it was pitch black. Well usually before we land, we will se the ground or some street lights or city lights or town lights or roads or something. But no, it was really pitch black. It was so black that we could not gauge that we were landing. We could feel the descend and suddenly we were on the ground. I am telling you, it was still pitch black. We thought we would land in Bangkok airport or something. We looked out, no buildings no airports, just black.
The doors opened and we exit the plane as per normal. As I exit the plane, we had to go down the stairs and on to the tarmac, just like how it was in Australia. It is still pitch black I am not kidding. We were only assisted by the basic lights of the plane. As I stepped off the stairs, I was on the tarmac and a few steps away we were stepping on grass. All of us just walked to the grass and listened to instructions to position ourselves.
When all of us were on the grass, the aeroplane wheeled away and off goes our only source of light. Oh yes, we did not have smartphones with torchlights if you are asking. It was the year 2002.
As the plane left, we realise that we are standing on an open patch of grass, pitch black around us, no airport, no nothing. As our eyes got used to the dark, yes there was really no building or airport around us. Just grass and trees.
A light suddenly turned on in the distance. A white light. About 500 metres away. But since it was pitch black, it was obvious. "Everyone! Walk to the light!"
We picked our stuff up and walked towards the light. In the dark.
Upon reaching, we realised that it was a small wooden guardhouse and a gate. We walked to the gate and trucks were already waiting for us. Boarded the trucks and off we rode into the darkness.
It was so cool. Until today, I have no idea where we landed.
SAI YOK CAMP
We checked in to Sai Yok Camp and got into our bunks. I think many of you would by now have seen the pictures of Sai Yok Camp. It looked the same then a long time ago. It was nice actually. Like some tropical island resort with the sombreness of an army camp. The bunks were like long houses with beds and cupboards stretched all the way to the end. The weather was pretty cool as the bunks were wooden and we were surrounded by nature. I was quite sure at that time that I would get good sleeps there.
The bathing area was cool too. The mould of the building was pretty much like the bunks. A long building. When you enter the building, it was like a huge public toilet. The cubicles were at one half of the building while the bathing area was on the other half. There were no showers. In the middle of the area was a long ceramic trough with a pipe head every few metres. You would have to turn on the water and fill the trough. And then everyone would just have to stand beside the trough and bathe yourself with a water dipper. I was so tempted to swim through the trough but that would be an irresponsible thing to do. But guess what, on our last night there at Sai Yok Camp, a number of people did exactly just that. I did not. It looked disgusting. Fun but disgusting.
The cookhouse served nice food. I do not remember having problems with my meals there. So I guess it should have been nice. I cannot remember what they were but I there were no problems worth remembering.
The canteen though.....
Somewhere near the cookhouse was the canteen. It was squarish big space with stalls at its perimeter. Pretty much like an old school canteen. I think it look quite the same today. I just did a google search. Oh I remember this canteen very well.
One part of the canteen were the stalls selling food. The other half were stalls selling souvenir. It was fun. They were selling t shirts, scarves, memorabilia, keychains shoes shades lighters all things fun. Chokers bandannas wristbands dogtags pins just so many fun things I cannot name them all. Oh and the cool muay thai singlets, shorts and gloves. Those were really fun.
All the stalls too had very pretty ladies attending to them. Of course it was meant to be a draw. There were really pretty to see. I did not know what to say plus I had nothing to say to any of them unless I buy anything, so I just looked.
Also, we did not have much canteen breaks, so when we did have the time, the whole battalion would be there. It was very crowded but that was where the fun happened. Everyone would bargain the price of the stuff there. Because it was too crowded, you most probably get good price for the things you bought because the stall holders would be too overwhelmed with the haggling.
The food stalls... hmmm I remember this clearly. I was unsure if the food were halal so I avoid eating meat. Actually I do not remember them selling pork though. I do not eat seafood but here at Sai Yok Camp canteen was where I learnt to eat calamari. The food was yummy. Tasty hot spicy and delicious. My favourite was tomyum steamboat with plain rice and fried calamari. Remember I told you it was always so crowded and the stallholders getting overwhelmed? Yes, your meals would take so long to be ready. But it was not a problem as you would be browsing and shopping at the souvenir stalls while waiting for your food. I actually pity the stallholders as it was so crowded. But I guess it was their time to get good business and you know Singaporeans can be troublesome customers.
How it works in the food stalls was, you would come over to the stall, place your order and pay for your food. Take a seat. Once the food is ready, someone would carry them over to your table. But it was so crowded, they will not remember your face. They will just walk over to tables and asked if you ordered the food they were carrying. If you did not, they would walk over to another table, "did you other fried kway teow?". Until they found the table. Or they will just scream out, "Fried Kway Teow!" "Calamari!" and someone would just say "Yes! Yes! Here! This table!" And they will send the food to the table.
On the last day there, my friends and I did an experiment. It was crowded as usual. The queue was long. The staff were overwhelmed.
We sat at a table and looked around. We asked each other, what we wanted to eat. But looking at the queue, we just said something like, we'll see first.
A lady from the stall screamed, "Tomyam Steamboat!! Plain Rice!!"
We looked at each other and asked, "you want?". "Sure. Can"
And we looked to her, "Yes yes! This table!"
And she placed it over at our table and left. Our naughty eyes just looked at each other in glee. I remember this clearly.
We looked at each other. "Want?" "Yes"
"Yes! Yes! This table!"
And she placed it at our table.
So our table had Tomyam steamboat, plain rice, calamari, kangkung. It was quite a meal. Yummy. And we did not order them. We did not know who ordered them, the stall owners do not know, the people who ordered them did not know that theirs was taken because they would just say yes it is theirs when a stall owner shouts the same dish again later. It was just a whole big mess. It was a yummy mess. The experiment worked. We did not queue or ordered. We just took someone else's order.
Anyway after the meal, we went over to the stall and paid the price of the meals. The stall owners were overwhelmed anyway and just took our money. So, no harm done.
So overall it was fun. We went back to our wooden bunks and chilled in the cool evening with the kampung smelling air. It was more of the smell of the wooden buildings actually. But it was nice. Some of us had our mini muay thai matches with the shorts and gloves we bought at the canteen.
Next Week : Crescendo Part 2 / Topography and Mission Exercise
Categories : The Army Series
At 40 years old, I found out that I might have been having a neurological condition, though I cannot (yet) afford an official assessment and diagnosis. In the meantime I shall call this condition “AS”. I spent time reading about “AS” and it made me realise that the signs and symptoms were prevalent throughout my life. It is like these writers know exactly how I have been living my life though we have never met before. I start this “Weirdly Wired” series to document about my life experiences with the symptoms which all these while I thought were “normal”.
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).