The Diplomat gave a forlorn glance at what was once five strapping shrubs; now was two point five self-conscious attempts at greenery that looked like they’d rather be anywhere but near us. Our attempts at eco-fertilising them had been scornfully mocked by a colony of Thai insects who had set up residency and devoured the lot:
Look, farang. Useless gardeners. Ha Ha Ha. Let’s eat crooned the gleeful critters through their chomping mandibles.
“We can’t truly call that a shrubbery, can we?” she continued, wafting a hand at our pseudo-hedge. I nodded sage agreement. To be honest most of the other apartments in our building have superb arrangements of botanical delights so we’ve no real excuse to not have one ourselves. Got to keep up with the Joneses, haven’t you?
“I’ve heard there’s a garden centre of sorts out at Ekamai. Called Karaket Garden. Near the Big C. We should go and find something.”
“Like a hydrahangiandypandyparanthea?” I politely suggest, attempting to nod thoughtfully.
“Frangipani.” I was corrected, almost absentmindedly.
“Well let’s go find it. Can’t be too hard if we use our GPS.” With that we bundled into our truck and tried, unsuccessfully, to enter the coordinates. Apparently E126.96.36.1993/N38.72.345 doesn’t exist on planet Earth.
Start your engine was being frantically waved at us as we peered at the readout, oblivious to it all. Eventually we found we could search for ‘The Big C, Ekamai’ and off we went, to the palpable sweaty relief of our guards who could finally lower their arms. We trundled in typical tourist driving style along Sukhumvit until we reached the Soi about twenty minutes later. Having hopped out, we fortuitously went clockwise round the supermarket. Big C is a chain of large grocery and more stores in Bangkok. Think Walmart or Loblaws or Tesco. Apparently the entire site was owned by a Chinese gentleman who sold most of the land to enable this modern mall on the proviso he could set up a small garden centre to one side of it. Quite a good retirement plan, I think. Anyway we wheeled Isla round a corner, more in hope than expectation and there it was. A Soi full of shrubs.
On arrival, we were the only punters; with Isla straining to be freed from her pushchair, I duly took her on a wander round the place whilst Diplomat dropped 10,000Baht on various large plants and their pots. She even got a pot pond complete with lilies. The Chinese gentleman-owner was on hand, sprightly in his ushering and solicitude, informative in his recommendations and hand-wringing sales pitch. Quite a character, very personable and attentive. He didn’t try and sell what we didn’t want; he merely suggested certain plants that would look great in our place. I even bought a spur-of-the-moment bamboo plant (the ones that are topiary-esque in design) to gaze at whilst I pen these words. All very relaxing.
Here’s some photos of his place…
We piled back into our car and made it home three minutes before they did. Clearly this was all meant to be given our half-assed planning of the entire morning.
So, we have our shrubbery. As the peerless Monty Python crew would say:
“First you must find… another shrubbery! Then, when you have found the shrubbery, you must place it here, beside this shrubbery, only slightly higher so you get a two layer effect with a little path running down the middle. (“A path! A path!”) Then, you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest… with… a herring!”
We’re off to find some fish. Oh, and the insects are smirking on the other side of their heads now. The Chinese gentleman scoffed at our notions of gentle water and soap to clear them off and gave us insecticide …”If you want your plants to live, of course.”, his advice offered with a smiling roll of his eyes that clearly said: Farang!
Sometimes when you’re in Rome, you have to follow the local directives whether you like it or not.
Is this what diplomacy is all about?