Going Viral – Hopefully Not!
Koh Samet, a small island set in the Gulf of Thailand, was a famous weekend spot for well to do Bangkokians, it was a wonderful escape from the madness of Pattaya. Apparently it had been founded by a band of notorious pirates who had buried their treasure neath it’s silken sands. Paul and Andrew had been on the peaceful island for a few days, now thoroughly chilled, and staying at a boarding house belonging to the very friendly Miss Hong.
Each morning Miss Hong had greeted them with amusement, laughing hard with a mouthful of broken crockery masquerading as a set of teeth. There was obviously no decent dentist to be found on the island.
Miss Hong had taken an instant liking to them both when on checking in they had said they did not mind sharing a ‘big bed’. She seemed to find this hilarious and gave them her best room, replete with refrigerator and bedding to kill for.
Or rather, kill the designer for!
But it was clean and cheap so they thought the owl bedding a wise move.
The sunsets on their local beach were truly serene. In the mornings they were woken only by nature and her tropical dawn symphony. The island, just a stonehead’s throw from the mainland, had it’s own micro-climate, being one of the dryest places in Thailand. Even during its rainy season. It was gorgeous. Sunshine, white sands and cheap beer. It certainly wasn’t dry in the ale department.
Perfect island living.
Then the weekend came and unmasked an altogether different Sai Keaw Beach, as hundreds of masked Thais arrived onto the silver sand with the urgency of rats from a sinking ship. Revealing their faces only to smoke a cigarette before replacing their surgical face furniture to take in the fresh sea air.
There were Chinese tourists too.
Those who had come to celebrate the new year.
The year of the rat!
This filled he and Andrew with a slight touch of concern. Neither of them were xenophobic. Nor anti-rodent. Just a touch yellow-bellied. The new virus which had recently been discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan had already found it’s way to Thailand.
Although Paul had always wanted to go viral, he didn’t want to become it.
This new Coronavirus, which had recently broken out wasn’t anything to sniff at.
’Rats!’ He thought, they’d had to choose this year to come east.
He and Andrew had nearly hit South America, but no, they’d headed in quite the opposite direction and towards the brand new epidemic’s epicentre.
It was so typical.
As Andrew had often maintained, drama had always plagued Paul. Yet just like one of the Pied Piper’s disciples he had opted to follow him.
Nearly all, the way to Wuhan!
Paul only hoped none of the excited crowd had sneaked in from that unfortunate city, he didn’t want to pick up a touch of rat flu along with his tan. Mind you, he knew he was fairly unlikely to contract either. He hardly caught anything successfully anymore – not even a beach ball.
And Andrew possessed the immune system of a cockroach!
So Paul and his partner thought they would eschew the masks – just for now. Plus the things were so unsightly. The entire beach looked as if it were playing host to a convention of trainee dentists. Perhaps there was hope for Miss Hong after all.
Along with the masks and the mayhem, the mass of tourists had imported more inflatables than a Soho sex shop. Flaming flamingoes, dodgy ducks and ugly unicorns bounced on the waves between diesel-revving engines as tour boats manoeuvred in and out of the toddler-teeming surf.
Paradise had turned into Pandemonium.
Although it was all terribly jolly.
Other than the odd cough and splutter!
Paul thought he now understood how Sai Keaw Beach,(pronounced Psycho), had garnered its name. It was now truly psychotic.
Like Blackpool on steroids!
Except the only towers were full of beer and there was no ballroom to be had. Other than within the odd pair of Speedos!
Dodgy guitar playing filled the starry starry night and in countless karaoke bars, an ’Eagles’ song failed to take flight.
Fumes clogged the air and he knew that paradise had been postponed, at least until Monday.
He also knew it was entirely unwise for him and Andrew to attempt to travel anywhere over the lunar festival. They’d be lunatics to try such a thing, as it seemed half of China was on the move. Other than the thirty million poor souls who were now quarantined.
He and his husband would be going nowhere.
Not for the time being.
They were due to leave Miss Hong’s place. It appeared they could pick up a hut for a song around the corner for nearly half the baht, once the new year melee had died off – not literally he hoped.
Once again ’Diamond Beach’ would become calm. Her crystal waters free of the floating fairground they had now become. He and Andrew would not have to listen to endless, off-key variations of ’Stairway To Heaven’.
And hopefully, after the menagerie of visitors had vacated the place, not be climbing them! The only Corona they wanted came in bottles.
They bade Miss Hong so long and moved to their little hut around the corner. Joining those left on the island in watching how the news and the virus developed.
Only then would they decide where to head next.
Paul had everything crossed in the Lotus Position.
Especially his fingers!