I spent the majority of the day alone in my Phuket studio apartment with the exception of going out for what will become a daily swim. Two thousand meters in total. I have worked too hard for this body to abandon it to holiday excess. Hence I am continuing with my routine of logging my food and exercise in a health app to ensure that I never take in more calories than I am burning. In truth, I usually take in a lot less calories than I expend because my aim is still to lose weight. The other point that occurs to me is whether there is any kind of relationship between one’s fitness level and the likelihood of catching Covid-19. I do not know the answer to this question but a note to self to try to find out if being fit reduces one’s risk of contracting the virus.
I ventured out ate in the afternoon to sit at the Italian coffee shop that I have mentioned in previous posts. I already know that I shall visit this café every day because my life is defined by routines. There are many reasons for my obsessive desire to spend my time at this particular café. First, and perhaps foremost, there are very few customers which means that I can remain at a distance from the other patrons. This is important in these Covid-19 times. Safety aside, the coffee is excellent, the waitresses are a delight to behold and the patio area where I sit affords a perfect view of the heart of the town, a fact which allows me to people watch which is one of my favourite holiday past times.
Phuket, or more specifically the town of Kata, is inhabited by particular sorts of people. The men are largely of the middle aged, pot bellied type. They wear their wrap around sunglasses to increase their “coolness fact” and they are adorned with what have become ubiquitous tribal tattoos that carry no meaning for them because, let’s face it, they do not belong to a tribe. One might argue that it is the design of the tattoos that matters rather than the tribal associations. However, I would not concur. A moment of thought would have allowed them to see that these tribal tattoos, which may once have been a mark of difference, a mark of uniqueness, have now become commonplace.
Tattoos aside, these over sized men are more often than not accompanied by their wives, partners, girlfriends or whatever. These women, who have succumbed to gravity whilst at the same time expanding in the midriff region, have, it would be fair to say, seen better days. In the words of that well known saying, we might refer to “mutton dressed up as lamb”. And then there are the children. Thankfully few in number here as I am particularly adverse to children. They are too often whining little brats who will grown up to be carbon copies of their parents and, as should be clear by my writing thus far, I am not particular enamoured with the parents of these children.
I have, for the last two nights, eaten dinner at the same Thai restaurant. As mentioned in a previous post, the reason for eating at the same restaurant is that the restaurant is busy which means freshly cooked food and a reduced risk of catching the coronavirus. There is another more prosaic reason for my dining choice. The desert menu – extensive and still to be tried in its entirety – includes ice cream sundaes. I chose chocolate on the first night and despite an almost temptation to branch out, say strawberry for example, I chose chocolate on my second visit. If I visit the restaurant again then I am resolved not just to choose a different flavour of ice cream sundae. I shall, rather, choose an entirely different desert.
That said, I have in mind an almost mission to frequent a different restaurant tomorrow night. There are plenty of them lining the almost bustling early evening streets. And many of them are busy so, once again, some assurance that the food has been freshly cooked. If I swap to a different restaurant I shall not be worried about the desert choices as there is a Belgian waffle parlour on one of the street corners in the heart of the town. I have eyed the parlour on multiple occasions and have decided that I shall indulge myself tomorrow evening. The waffles will, likely, prove to be reason enough to branch out into culinary difference. But even more so I will feel as though I have extended myself.
Every other shop in Phuket seems to rent scooters and the tourists, often dangerous in the extreme, make full use of them. I have a 950 cc motorbike at home in Australia and, as a consequence, will not be a danger to anyone should I choose to rent a scooter because I know how to ride safely. My concern is getting hopelessly lost as I have no sense of direction and if Google Maps were to stop working I would likely spend an eternity, or longer, trying to find my hotel. I would eventually manage to find my way home but the whole affair would be extremely stressful.
However, the thought of a ride along the coast to Patong beach is tempting. A change of scenery. An impetus to write perhaps. The possibility of the unexpected. The allure of the new. Yes perhaps I will rent a scooter and venture out into the world. But not tomorrow. I do not feel sufficiently settled in Kata. Conversely, it might be the case that I still feel a little insecure. So sue me. I am on holiday on my own and still finding my feet. Not that such a thing is particularly difficult. It is just that every now and then I am struck by the thought that the days that stretch ahead rest solely and unequivocally on the decisions that I make and I sometimes find this fact to be a little overwhelming.
It is only 8 PM, the time at which I would once have been launching into my second bottle of wine, ahead of reeling my way out into the world to get into all kinds of mischief. But now, I am sitting in my apartment setting down these words. And a certain peace comes with this state. I might almost say that there is fulfilment. I care not for the world that is out there, beyond these four walls within which I do not have to make any decisions. Everything is taken care of by the hotel staff. The room is cleaned. The bed is made. If I desire it, then the washing will be done at the ridiculously low price of AU $3.00 per kilogram. And that includes ironing.
Tomorrow will vary from today but not significantly so because I apply order and structure to my days.. I will, once again, get up at around 8 AM. I will have breakfast, hopefully in the absence of the hygienically challenged others, and then I will retreat to my room to write. However, unlike today, which involved writing until the mid afternoon, I shall take a break at around 11 AM and walk to the Italian café. I shall sit and, once again, watch the world go by. I hope that by doing so I might find some inspiration. Perhaps some prompts for short stories. After an hour or so I shall return to my room to write once more. Then there will be the daily swim followed by more writing.
I will return to the town at around 5.30 PM to have dinner and, again as already mentioned, I will try the Belgian Waffles. I ask myself whether there might be something unexpected in the day that will unfold tomorrow. And of course I cannot know, otherwise whatever eventuated would not be unexpected. However, given the very defined and structured nature of the day that I have planned, it seems fair to say that I have, to one degree or another, limited the possibility of something unknown occurring. And this is exactly how I want my life to be. Or, rather, this is exactly how I need my life to be. I need order and I need control because order and control enable me to manage my mental health issues.
I cannot help but feel that the way in which I set about structing my days will serve me well in the Covid-19 world. I make this point not so much because I order and structure my days but because managing my life requires an inordinate amount of discipline and determination. There is also the fact of needing to direct my “will” to ensure that I live my life in a way that is conducive to my well being. These qualities, which might all be subsumed under the notion of self-determination, will mean that no matter what happens with the virus, I will have the capacity to react in a calm, ordered and logical manner. I am willing to be money that the same will not be true of the masses.
First Published March 1st, 2020