Photos by Dannie
I worry that some of what I write about while living in Thailand will give you pause to visit. I do love it here and my wee tales are taken over seven years of living and many visits before. Keep in mind that I am a Southern country boy and roam the fields and forest. I see things most westerners are smart enough not to look for.
If you come here you will not be disappointed in the beauty, magic, food and people of the Land of Smiles.
I chuckle at the title of this post. I was going to name it, Beast of Thailand, but that brings to mind animals –mammals roaming the land. You will see few wild mammals unless you visit the zoo or natural reserves.
Normal life, living in the country, is made up of birds, ants, lizards, snakes and of course dogs and cats. The variety is endless; not all good but all amazing.
We have a small house in Pathum Thani—a suburb of Bangkok and the area is known to have some large water monitor lizards- the likes you thought only lived on the island of Komodo. The good news is they are very shy. The bad news is they are big and look prehistoric.
I was riding my motorcycle along the canals that border the rice fields near my house and two lizards came out onto the road. Of course I stopped and consider turning around but I had never seen anything so big- in the lizard department. At first I thought they might have been crocs (crocodiles) but from 20 feet away I could see they weren’t. Both were longer than the road was wide—at least 9 feet- and they only gave me a glance. They simply crossed the road and into another canal. Afterwards, I wished I had brought my camera. At the time I was just relieved they took no real notice of me.
Since that encounter I have seen a number of them, but only in the 5 foot range. All either running away or just not noticing. I have never heard of anyone being hurt by these large beast.
The water monitor has two names is Thai—neither make any sense to me. One is the proper name which in translation means, body of money- body of gold. The other is a very vulgar term but when speaking of the lizards it is okay to say. I won’t tell you what it is—it could get you in real trouble if used at the wrong time.
One other quick story about these lizards. I was walking the dogs through the brush and bushes along a narrow cattle trail. We were going to walk the dikes of a nearby rice patty. The dogs were ranging ahead when I heard them bark and then I heard what sounded like a horse or at least something heavy was running and coming my way, fast. I had only my trusty bamboo walking stick and nowhere to run so I prepared to meet whatever was coming down the narrow path.
A large seven foot monitor lizard burst around the corner heading straight at me—woo hoo, says I. Actually those weren’t the exact words that came out of my mouth.
At about ten feet away the lizard saw me and veered off the path—thank goodness. No telling what I would have done to the poor beast if I fell on him in a dead faint. They are quite shy you know.
I will continue my world of Beast of Thailand on another post. Wait until I tell you about the snakes and ants I’ve encountered. I do hope you enjoy these true tales. The life here does give plenty of fodder for writing.
The photos were taken from my upstairs balcony. That monitor lizard was only 4 or five feet long and small of body.