Hotel toaster review (see picture below)

The Intercontinental Hotel is a great place to stay in Hua Hin. Apart from more light switches than a piano accordion has buttons, the rooms are excellent, along with the food and extra friendly staff. The only flat spot is the hotel toaster which I encountered at breakfast this morning. I did a double take. I’d seen it before! It was a cautionhot single knobber with green light optional extra and the commemoration plaque to Max who fell into a large model and toasted himself. I rounded up the toast captain (you can see him anxiously watching in the background) and he admitted that he’d bought it on hoteltoastersales.com. This is the little-known online marketplace for new and used hotel toasters. It links to a network of hotel toaster repair shops around the world that recondition and, in some cases, panel beat and repaint used hotel toasters. The dishonest shops might take the front of one damaged toaster and join it to the back of another. Serial number are then filed off and the toaster offered for sale as an original. The toast captain said he thought he’d bought a new one, but when it began to prematurely turn yellow, he wasn’t so sure.

This toaster may not be authentic.

Last night we went to find a tailor to make Michelle some linen pants and tops in fabric we’d brought from Australia – without fitting in a pair of shorts for the tailor’s son. After some straggerling and huggerling in which we agreed on prices and styles, we went for a massage in a shop I’d fondly remembered from five years previously. Time had not been kind to the establishment. Gravity had got the better of the furniture. Michelle was allocated the beautiful young trainee for an hour’s worth of feathery fluttering of fingers while I got the auld boiler for a salt body-scrub more abrasive than a rubdown with a brick. Today I’m getting around without underpants to allow new skin to form over the welts and rashes.

In an attempt to put the negative massage experience behind us, we found a nice little Thai restaurant for dinner. While the food was superb, we had to wait for a long time to be served. I filled in by enquiring about Thai whiskey. The premier brand (A$10 a large bottle) is Hong Thong (sounds like cheap Chinese footwear) and is a blend – although the label doesn’t say with what. I decided to try a nip, expecting something akin to fly spray. But it was in for a surprise. I’m no whiskey drinker, but this was the most gentle and delicious I’ve ever tasted. (yeah, he’s no whisky drinker). It has 35% alcohol against Scotch at about 40%. Dan Murphy’s doesn’t sell it, so I’ll have to bring some home. I might add that it helps calm toothache, (I blame Emirates for that and will be claiming my dentist bill) and has minimum hangover consequences. It is probably the cheapest way to get drunk in Thailand. However, there are some unfounded suggestions that it can send you blind. That, incidentally, applies to all whiskey, not just to Hong Thong.

Today we went on a food tour of little places tourists don’t know about because they don’t look like restaurants, are hidden in the shanty hinterland and are mostly part of somebody’s house. There were five stops. Two of the eateries were outstanding and we’ll return under our own steam. They all served authentic Thai local food. I made a mistake at the first one by putting a generous dollop of ‘chilli jam’ into my chicken and veggie broth. Our guide cried out a warning but not before I had disabled my respiratory system. It took several bottles water and some counselling before I could continue the tour. At another place we had curried water fowl. That interested me. Did they wade through leech infested swamps to capture the birds or did they farm them? I could not get the question understood so I still don’t know.

The highlight dish (among many outstanding ones) was sticky rice and red bean cooked in a length of bamboo. You can’t order this in a restaurant but have to buy it on the street.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I ought to be in the currency exchange business. At Sydney airport we were offered about 17 Thai baht to one Australian dollar. Here, in Hua Hin, the going rate from a reputable money exchange is 22 baht. Even to my slow mathematical brain that is a crazy difference. Somebody is doing some ripping off and I’d say it is the airport. In fact, even duty-free grog is, for the most part at the airport, as dear or dearer than Dan Murphy’s. I will be using my incoming entitlement of spirits on Hong Thong Whithkey.