“Too sexy!” The Thai woman exclaimed as she wrapped me up in a long blue skirt, and draped a yellow shawl over my shoulders after seeing my ghastly exposed back.
I would pick this day to wear my cute summer dress. Unfortunately the palace staff didn’t think it was too cute.
I’d been “dress code-idized.” Like in elementary school, when you show up in spaghetti straps they send you straight to the principals office and he usually ends up fishing some gray, baggy, tuna smelling t-shirt out of the Lost and Found for you to traipse around in.
I’d been given the scarlet letter due to my scandalous scanty skirt and unable to enter King Rama the Sixths’ Summer Palace.
Built in 1923 and designed by an Italian architect, the summer palace of hope and love sits beside the sea half way between Cha-am and Hua Hin. King Rama the sixth died two years after the construction of the summer palace however it has been used by succeeding kings.
King Rama the Sixth was particularly known for his literary works and composed over 1,000 poems and plays. As a result of thus, the palace featured a theatre that hosted many a spectacle.
Traipsing around the palace grounds, it quickly became obvious that we’d picked the hot spot for fourth grade field trips. Lines and lines of obedient students tucked in neatly to their pressed school uniforms paraded through the halls.
A couple of the kids timidly approached and asked if they could take a picture with me before running away anxiously. I smiled the Disney Princess smile and kept the fingers crossed that they didn’t ask for an autograph, because my John Hancock is a bit of a sore spot for me.
I personally hate my own signature. I’ve been meaning to get around to modifying it, adding a couple of swirls here and there for some time now, but haven’t quite gotten around to changing it. It’s stayed stagnant since I first began those glorious squiggly years of cursive at about the age of nine.
Thankfully they were content enough with just a picture of the ridiculously white girl to take back to their families for show and tell. “Mom, Dad, you won’t believe the lack of pigment this girl had in her skin! She was unbelievably white!”
Expecting some grand, flamboyant, showily majestic mansion as implied by the word “palace.” I was quickly taken aback at the simplicity this long house displayed. Devoid entirely of fancy relics, ornate artwork or gaudy goods.
Upon entering the palace, we had to remove our shoes and carry them around in a cloth bag while tip-toeing from room to room, a nearby sign instructed us to, “No Yell. Soft Spaek Only.” Out of respect for the king, I was certain to soft spaek, and nothing but.
I was amazed by the purity of the palace, calm open aisles between many light rooms, with very little “stuff” cluttering unnecessary space. Just floor and beds and clean silk sheets.
On hot summer days back home, I remember mom used to always say that she wished she could just roll down the sides of the house. Well this was about as close as one could get.
Just one essential long open two story turquoise building, with calm outdoor walkways between each chamber. Deep wood floors guided the passageways and the ocean was visible from any spot in the house.
Believe me, I would have set up shop there and camped in the gentle haven of clear thought if it hadn’t had been for the persistent grumbling of ghrelin in my stomach reminding me that it’d been a while since I’d indulged in the delicacy known as: food.
We walked to a nearby restaurant and sat out in the sunshine examining the menu. Pretty typical, rice with this, rice with that, and rice with pretty much whatever it was that your heart desired.
That is until I came across the snake head.
I couldn’t help myself.
There was no way I couldn’t NOT not order it.
Anticipating the slick scaly body and bubbly juicy little eyes, I waited, slightly perturbed hoping that they’d at least remove the tongue. Because snake tongue was one thing I’ve never wished to experience. I imagined it being all gritty with texture like rough little kitten tongues, but not, because it would be a snake.
And what about the teeth? What was the etiquette involved with spitting them out into your napkin? Was it completely taboo? And what would the difficulty level be differentiating snake teeth from cauliflower, and the consequences of a false diagnosis?
By this time, murmur made it’s way round the table and I was becoming a tourist attraction. Carnie Island called, they want their snake eating girl back.
Cameras were beginning to flash for the infamous “before” picture and bets were placed as to whether I’d survive the endeavor.
Finally they stepped out of the kitchen, big silver platter in hand and placed it before me with an exuberant flourish.
And opening my eyes I beheld…
Slathered in spices and rice but a fish nonetheless.
Secretly relieved as everyone around me proclaimed, “Letdown of the century!” I settled in to devour this “snakehead” that turned out to be a lot further into the realm of my comfort zone than I had initially considered.
However when that fateful time really does come round the bend and I gain the guts, and the stomach lining to consume a slithering substance, I don’t think it’ll be too much of a difficulty acquiring a real snake head.
All I have to do is step outside.