Last year I flew from JFK to Haneda in Japan. The segment of my trip lasted 14 hours. The lay-over in Japan was two hours and the final hop to Bangkok took 6 hours followed by a 90-minute taxi ride to Sriracha. Sitting for twenty-six hours straight had flattened my ass, so my coccyx felt like it had taken a paddling from a nun. I arrived on my soi at dawn. I was happy to be home.
Fenway was waiting at the door. Mam stood behind my son. She was as beautiful as the first day I met her five years ago.
It was vacation time and our two other kids boiled out of the house. Fluke and Noy are my step-kids. The three kids swarmed me with kisses and hugs. It was good to feel their love. It was all kisses and hugs and then they repeated request to know when we were going to the Khao Khio Zoo.
"Punee." Kids don't like hearing tomorrow. Mam doesn't either, because my tomorrows tend to become yesterdays and I vanquished their doubt by saying, "Right now everyone gets a spanking."
I chased the kids and Mam around the yard. It wasn't very big, but they were faster than me. I could only catch Fenway. He's almost 3. He runs with a hop. I took him in my arms and gave him a kiss. It was good to be home.
May was entering the extended deep hot season and the next morning the sweat was bulleting from my pores. Our house has no AC, we had more fans than Howard Hughes' giant flying boat had propellers. The wind tunnel effect worked wonders, but out of their vortex the heat melted the beer girth off my flesh. We drank beer fast. It dripped out of me faster. Darkness came at 7. I lay down on the floor. The tiles were cool to my skin. Mam threw a sheet over my body and stuck a pillow under my head. I grunted thanks and dropped into a deep sleep.
The next day I woke early and took a bus down to Pattaya. I rented a car from Pi-san. His shop lay on land reclaimed from a swamp. My old house had a view of the reeds. Back then I called it a bird refuge. Pi-san was happy with the swamp gone. There were less mosquitoes.
The ride back to Srircha was swift. Sukhumvit was bare of traffic. It was before 11. Later in the day the multi-laned road would become a parking lot.
Mam, the kids, and their uncle nai were waiting in the driveway. I had promised lions, tigers, bears, and giraffes, elephants, and hippos. I looked at the sky. Not a could in sight. I reckoned the temperature in the high-80s. New York had been cool. High 50s. A swing of 30 degrees and the tropical sun promised 90s by noon.
According the complex Heat Index formula:
HI = c1 + c2T + c3R + c4TR + c5 T squared + c6R squared + c7 T squared R + c8T R squared + c9T squared. Here are the danger zones of heat.
27–32 ° / 80–90 °F
Caution — fatigue is possible with prolonged exposure and activity. Continuing activity could result in heat cramps
32–41 °C / 90–105 °F
Extreme caution — heat cramps, and heat exhaustion are possible. Continuing activity could result in heat stroke
41–54 °C / 105–130 °F
Danger — heat cramps, and heat exhaustion are likely; heat stroke is probable with continued activity
Over 54 °C / over 130 °F
Extreme danger — heat stroke is imminent
Khao Keo Zoo was a 30-minute drive away from the coast. The narrow valley was surrounded by tall hills which would be mountains in Eastern USA. The slopes were jungles. The kids were ecstatic to see the giraffes, zebras, rhinos et al, but the temperature was rising fast and my shirt was soaked by sweat. The animals hid under the trees. The sun was burning through the shade. Mam complained about the heat. Fenway was happy with an ice cream, so were his brother and sister. With any luck the hot would zap their batteries dry.
"Lon tao-arai?" I asked their mother.
"Lon mak?" Mam weighs about 46 kilos. Her body wasn't build for retaining water.
"Mak-mak." Fenway echoed his mother and I agreed, for we were definitely in Zone Two.
"Kin beer?" The Thai word for beer is 'beer'. This shared word is a life saver. Confusion in this heat was common for people speaking different languages.
"Dim beer, dai." Mem was equally thirsty for a cold one. Her tiny beer belly was a tribute to her fast metabolism. I drove the kids to a waterfall and bought cold beer for us and iced tea for the young.
95F and rising. Time for taking it easy and drinking Leo beer.
It's good for you.