Planet Timelapse - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

January 14, 2024

Planet Timelapse

Planet Timelapse

I feel the need to elaborate on my weird day, well only the part of the day when things went weird which was from about 1-3PM at the Little Home Beach Bungalows.

We arrived and were checking out one of the beautiful little wooden bungalows when a foreign man and his Thai wife arrived in their pick-up.  Our fully loaded bikes were right in front of our bungalow and they came barreling down the very narrow driveway but he was so confident of his driving skills that he drove right in missing our bikes by inches.  It was then that I already had an inkling that the man driving was a confident sort of guy.  I knew he knew what he was doing but when you haven't even met the person how do you really know how capable he is?  

Then I watched as he parked, jumped out of the truck and immediately grabbed a huge cooler, which must have weighed quite a bit, and hauled it into the bungalow next to ours as if it weighed nothing.  I made a rash judgement (which I later regretted) to Andrea that, "Some macho, shirtless old farang full of testosterone just moved in next to us. You know the type. Thai wife of course." 

We got settled in our bungalow and the man's wife and the two women caretakers of the place talked together excitedly as people do who were old friends and had not seen one another in a long time.  They were very loud but it was friendly, excited talk, so we smiled.  The man disappeared, which I also reported to Andrea as I peered through an opening in the blinds.  She said he was probably inside drinking a beer.  I agreed.  

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I decided to go check out the beach.  On my way I had to pass through what used to be a dining area but there were not enough tourists to support a restaurant anymore. It was still a beautiful space and a shame it wasn't filled with tourists eating right next to the beach.  On the two steps from the dining area to the beach I found the foreigner sitting and looking at the waves.  He was, in fact, drinking a beer. I greeted him and sat down next to him. 

He was definitely older than I am but was in much better shape.  He didn't need to wear a shirt because he was one of those guys who never wore a shirt and his skin and hairy chest became his shirt.  You know the look. It is a look and it was him.  There is no way I could ever pull that off with my physique.    

He was quite nice and friendly and I immediately liked him.  We talked for a while before I asked him where he was from.  I couldn't quite place his accent but I won't immediately ask someone where they are from.  He said he was from Finland, left long ago but always returned for six months of the year - summers.  He talked about how he loved fishing and had once owned a small wooden boat somewhere, maybe right there, in which he went out into the ocean and fished.  But then the Thai government clamped down and told him he couldn't fish anymore.  They refused to give him a permit to fish or for his boat.  He was sad about it and his boat sat there and deteriorated over the years and was no more.  

He told me that he and his wife had bought a small piece of property on the ocean 130 kilometers south of there and that's where they were heading the next day.  They had been to this resort several times and loved it, thus the women talking like they knew each other.  He also told me he lived in Isaan in Buri Ram, where his wife was from.  He said, "People are different down here."  I asked him to elaborate.  "People do not easily accept you.  You talk to them and they don't have much to say to you.  It takes about three years for them to finally accept you."  I had already been thinking the same thing just from the few things I had bought from people.  They didn't seem to care about me or want to interact.  A couple of people hadn't even said hello when I greeted them.  The man said that in Buri Ram everyone immediately crowds around you and wants to know everything about you and are super friendly.  "In a day everybody in town knows everything about you and they already consider you a good friend. Very different people up there."  

We talked for quite awhile and I really liked him.  He was a character for sure but I already knew he had a good heart and really blue eyes!  I think he liked me too.  We were like two people from Isaan - we had become fast friends in minutes.  

Then, I told him I wanted to go see what the beach was like.  He lifted his beer can to me and told me to go north because the beach was nicer in that direction.  "You can walk 2 kilometers that way."  I wanted to walk barefoot so I removed my Keens and left them there on the step next to him. 

As I walked I could see a man up ahead lying flat on his back on the sand near the waves.  Occasionally a bigger wave would reach his feet but he never moved a muscle and almost seemed dead.  I wanted to walk past him as quickly as possible but as I was passing he suddenly jumped up not from being startled by my presence but almost like he was waiting for me.  I said hello and he didn't say a word but grunted something unintelligible.  His hair was black but he was definitely a foreigner, not Thai.   He motioned with his hand to the north and I took that to mean he wanted to join me on my walk.  I didn't necessarily want this grunting stranger as a companion to walk with but, oh well.  

We started out but he soon steered me toward the tall grasses on the dunes that had large balls of torture spines that looked like they would pierce skin very well. Murder ball grasses.  I had never seen such grasses.   Just in front of the grasses was a group of about fifteen long spiral shells stuck vertically in the sand all in a little square.  The man dropped to his knees and suddenly produced a GoPro which he pointed at the shells close up.  He held it there for about a minute as I stood wondering what was going on.  Finally he said something, "Timelapse."  He didn't move his head, just said it really fast as if his speeded up words were mimicking a time lapse visually.  It was just weird to me.  I was wondering what was moving and finally decided he was the one moving ever so slightly, as we all do, and I wondered if that would produce a cool effect.  He did his "Timelapse" for another minute as I took some photos of his little shell art project which he obviously wanted me to see and then he jumped up never looking at me again and disappeared into a nearby house, the only house around.  I was left wondering if I had come across another planet - Planet Timelapse.  The sound of waves, the odd sound the koel makes, the constant breeze bobbing the murder grasses, the heat, spiral shells, salty humid air and the guy who didn't speak, I was in an alien place.

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Murder grasses
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An alien being.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI like the tiny starfish clinging to it!
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Bill ShaneyfeltBrittle star, by the way.
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I could be wrong but I have the feeling that the accent I heard when he said his one word, "Timelapse," was Russian.  I don't want to jump to any conclusions but I know there are hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of Russians hanging in Thailand, mostly in the south, (mostly on Phuket Island).  The rather modern house he disappeared into was no doubt a rental.  Our past experiences with Russian tourists in Vietnam is that most of them speak no English and never show any interest in interacting with us.  But I am now falling into the realm of jumping-to-conclusions.  But why not?  It all fit: a young guy with some money, dodging the draft in Russia, disappearing in Thailand and making little shell art projects so he can use his GoPro for something.  He was most likely Russian but hey, better here than in Ukraine, I say.

I continued my walk on the beach of Planet Timelapse and wondering about what had just taken place I lapsed into taking time lapses with my camera, which I have never done before!  I shot those torture spine grasses waving menacingly in the wind, the waves, a dead branch stuck in the sand and affected by the wind a bit, and also I shot the square of shells - the man's little beach art project.  Fortunately he never came back out of his house but if he had he would have been so happy that I was honoring his art.  If he had showed up I would have not moved my camera from the shells and without moving my head I would have said, "Timelapse" in my American accent and otherwise ignored him.  That's when I wished he would come back out.  He didn't though. 

I found lots of the long spiral shells on my walk and most were totally intact and beautiful.  Of course I picked some up to bring back for show and tell with Andrea.  When I got back to the dining area my shoes were gone!  My first thought was that maybe the shoes had been in some sort of danger and some caring individual had picked them up and moved them to safety - either one of the caretakers, the Finnish man or Andrea.  The first person I found was Andrea and I asked her, "Did you take my shoes?"  The look she gave me suggested she didn't know what I was talking about, why my shoes were missing and why she might have taken them.  

That upset me because I really didn't think anyone else would have taken my shoes or if they had they would have put them at our bungalow.  I went back to where my shoes were last seen, by me, and quickly came to the conclusion that the dogs were responsible for my missing shoes.  It was a horrible thought because most of the dogs were young and you know what young dogs do.  They chew.  

It didn't take me long to find one of my shoes.  It was under a bunch of Australian pines in the sand which was the same color as my shoe.  It had been chewed on and the cord had been chewed clean through.  It was still wearable but it irked me to think that it would feel different and now had a much shorter life span because one of the straps was a mess.  Then I started looking for the other shoe.

I looked for a long time but couldn't look in all the places I wanted to because I was wearing one shoe and there were things that were dangerous for a bare foot.  There was an empty lot barb-wired off next door and I had the feeling it might be over there but no way could I go over there.  There were even cactus over there.  I hunted everywhere I could, mostly following the dog tracks along the upper beach.  Where there were lots of dog tracks is where I looked the hardest but I didn't find my shoe.  The dogs were along with me wondering what I was doing which only made me more upset.  I took off my shoe and shook it at them and said, "Where's my other shoe, Lebowski?"  I swore at them and they pranced around thrilled I was walking all around with them.  I was thinking that the longer it took to find that other shoe the more time a dog had to keep chewing on it.  Hope was diminishing quickly for me.  I was entering a dark place on Planet Timelapse.  

Just look at all those dog tracks!
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Then, Andrea came out to see what I was doing for such a long time.  She could tell I was very upset and did exactly what I was hoping, without me asking.  She alerted everyone else that my shoe was missing and that the dogs had taken it.  They came boiling out of their bungalow with serious looks on their faces and they all spread out to search.  I showed my found shoe to the Finnish man.  He held it and said, "Oh, that's heavy.  A big dog must have taken it."  All I saw were young little dogs and they most certainly could have taken it a long way as well.  But, whatever, I was just grateful he was going to be involved because I knew he was a capable sort of guy. He had driven in with confidence and lifted an enormous heavy cooler like it was nobody's business.

Without discussion he did exactly what I had hoped for.  He climbed over the barbed wire fence and into the empty lot he went.  I kind of knew he would find my shoe.  I was so relieved to have him on the trail that I sort of gave up looking. I had looked everywhere I could anyway.  I went into a mental void for a few minutes and visualized an aerial time lapse video of everyone spread out looking: under the Australian pines, in the torture spine murder grasses, in patches of cactus and then panning out to see the shoe floating on the waves moving out with the tide on the horizon, gone forever.  These were the panicked visions Planet Timelapse had filled me with and that koel's ominous song was not helping at the moment.

But the Finn was on the job and sure enough, soon I saw him at the far end of the long empty lot, waving my shoe over his head.  I jumped for joy.  He walked back and handed it to me.  The cord on it was severed like the other shoe but not much else had been chewed.  I was so happy to have my shoe back I could have kissed his feet.   I thanked him profusely but owing to his good character he shrugged it off as nothing and said, "Your toes must smell really good!"  Everyone laughed.  

There are men who are macho and full of testosterone and yank out enormous coolers from the back of pick-ups to show off their bodies and then there are other men who jump in to help because they feel good, are full of energy and are capable.  They genuinely want to help others wherever and whenever they can.  This Finnish man was the latter.  I made a foolish judgement about him initially but quickly changed my mind.  It's that guy on the beach that I still wonder about.  I hope he is satisfied with his time lapse and happy about his lapse of time here in Thailand.

Art project
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Ron SuchanekI have large collection of seashells that I keep scattered over the beaches of the world... perhaps you've seen it.
-Steven Wright
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Rate this entry's writing Heart 13
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Bill ShaneyfeltGreat shoe story!
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Bill ShaneyfeltThank you, Bill. I know it is lengthy but needed to be told. It doesn't have much to do with biking to some people but our bike trips have lots of side trips.
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1 month ago
Carolyn van HoeveLove the Planet Timelapse entry
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Carolyn van HoeveThank you, Carolyn.
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1 month ago
Lisa LeslieThanks for sharing "The Rest of the Story". At its best moments, I believe this is why we travel; to challenge the stories we tell ourselves about the other humans.
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1 month ago