Look for the Thai Fonzie

Finding my way in Surat Thani

I managed to make it to Muk Thani 1, Soi 1 on my own, with some instructions from C&C, and the knowledge that the local residents of Surat Thani aren’t interested in taking farang for a ride. It took a few minutes to secure a tuk-tuk for a price that wasn’t too far over the going rate. But shortly after you’ve left the “tourist zone” of the bus station, where island-goers transfer buses and get tuk-tuks to the ferry pier, you seems to quietly slide into Thai life, a life in which you can’t speak the language and certainly can’t read the street signs.

The guide books aren’t kidding when they say Thai people are nice and polite. They also smile and laugh when they are uncomfortable, so all told, it’s a rather pleasant place to be a foreigner. And in Surat Thani, life is cheap by both Western and Thai standards. Learn a few numbers, the words for a few foods, point and smile, and then hand over a 100 baht bill ($3 CDN) and you can trust you’ll get the right change. A little reverse math lets you know for next time how much XYZ costs. And some restaurants only serve one dish, making it even easier to get fed!

It took just a few days of orientation by C&C before I had the lay of the land, knowing

  • how to get around
  • how to find the many 7-11s, the drugstore, the western-style coffee shops
  • how to get to the the big market
  • how to find and order breakfast, lunch, shakes, dinner, and libations

What more do I need?

The Market on Karunrat Rd.

The Market on Karunrat Rd.

The only problem is that finding my way home isn’t so easy. At one end of Muk Thani Road, where it meets Karunrat Road, there is a big blue archway, AND an English sign. But at the other end, at the intersection of Muk Thani and Ratbumrung (the side I walk down to get everything), there is no English note, nor anything distinctive. And on top of that, our soi, which runs off Muk Thani Road, doesn’t have an English street sign either. There’s simply nothing to make a farang feel confident she’s got the right street and has made the right turn.

Our street, Muk Thani Soi 1

Our street, Muk Thani Soi 1

Well, at least there was nothing distinctive until I discovered Thai Fonzie.

The Fonz of Muk Thani Road

The Fonz of Muk Thani Road

One day as I was walking down the street with C, I looked up and saw this fella looking down at me. It’s a unique sign; haven’t seen it anywhere else, and I can’t figure out what shop it’s for, or what it’s advertising. But unlike the shops on Muk Thani Rd., which open and close at odd (and seemingly inconsistent) hours, this fella stands out all night and all day. No matter where I am on Muk Thani 1, if I look up or down the street, I can see Thai Fonzie, and then I know how to find my way home.

Thai Fonzie looks down on Muk Thani Soi 1

Thai Fonzie looks down on Muk Thani Soi 1

If you’d like to come for a visit, just keep in mind that after you pass the Thai Fonzie on your left, hang a right and you’ll be on Muk Thani Soi 1