This is a story about ‘ordinary’ Thai people going about their business in the way they know best. On this occasion we were able to gain some insights into the lives of Khun Ad and Khun Lom who have operated banana boats from the Cha-Am beach for more than 30 years.
Khun Ad hails from Suphanburi and his wife of over 22 years Khun Lom comes from Chumphon, however they met in Cha-Am. According to Khun Ad he spotted her walking along a roadside here and apparently was so attracted that he decided to ‘kidnap’ her. We’re not sure how true that is, but it was the only description given of their courtship! They now have a 19 year old and a 5 year old daughter. They are clearly very proud of their children and particularly their eldest daughter being in her second year of study at Stamford International University. The family is currently renovating a townhouse so that their children will be more comfortable and they also think it’s important that their privacy be secured,
Khun Ad is one of the earliest operators of banana boats in Cha-Am and he remembers when there were only 6 operators rather than the current 145. Apart from banana boats the couple also have a ‘sofa’ boat (the round version), a jet ski they and manage around 200 deck chairs on their ‘patch’ of beach. An important sideline is to carry out repairs to the boats and his expertise is well known. We understand that apart from other local operators boats are also brought to him from Bang Saphan and even Pattaya.
The biggest issue for this couple is the lack of customers during the low season between May and September. No customer = no money in, a familiar tale for all small businesses in town. They much prefer the busier months and school holidays is also good for business. The ‘industry’ has an Association of operators which meets to discuss any issues and they can offer a combined voice if there is a need to approach local government. It also helps to settle any problems that may arise between individual operators.
On a lighter note they described how one Thai lady managed to fall from the banana boat just as it was leaving the shore. Apparently her clothing was rather loose and to her embarrassment, she emerged from the water naked. Another memorable time for Khun Lom is the annual race between banana boats held every September. Apparently his team came second last year but this year he is confident of victory, important for ‘bragging rights!
Whenever there is an opportunity the couple visit their distant families, family clearly is a major priority. The only suggestion of just enjoying time together was a recommendation about where the best seafood in town can be found. They suggested heading for Springfield Beach and checking out the Sum Neung Restaurant. Apparently the best value and tasting seafood around; aroy maak maak! Also no banana boats……………………
Our thanks to Khun Ad and Khun Lom for their welcome and for keeping their falang-hating dog at a distance. If you are looking for the banana boat ride of your life, look for two phone boxes on the beach side of the road a hundred metres or so south of the White Hotel. Then head for the shore line. If you tell Khun Ad Cha-Am Today sent you, he promises he will let you stay dry!