I went to a lot of trouble to get a large, triangular, traditional Thai cushion on one of my journeys to Chiang Mai, North Thailand. At the furthermost corner of the eclectic (and quite frankly, pungent) local Warorot Market, past the water barrels full of strange be-tentacled beasties and over the metal grate gangway where the rats hide, I had spied this, the perfect cushion that folds out into a bed, on one of my reconnoissance missions. On my last day in Chiang Mai, I ventured back there and haggled the shopkeeper down until I got a price we both liked. That left me with not quite enough money for a tuktuk, so I walked quite a few blocks with it over my shoulder in a huge plastic bag. On the way, many locals stopped me and asked what I had –
“Hey youuuu, what you gotttt?”
Then they wanted to know what price I paid –
“Oooh, good price, good price! Where frommm?” etc.
They admired and complimented my bargaining skills, which I will admit was damned pleasing, coming from the locals. However, in searing heat and high humidity, what should have been around a twenty-minute walk took me about two and a half hours, so when I finally stumbled up to our room at the guesthouse, I was sweating so hard I could actually wring my clothes out.
The next part of this cushion mission was to manhandle it onto a tuktuk, the train back to Bangkok, then onto two different flights back to New Zealand, along with my luggage. It took a bit of juggling, but I got it there. And the lovely New Zealand Customs folk, with their typical zeal, took one look at it and said –
“That’s a Thai cushion isn’t it? ”
Me: “Erm, yes.”
Customs: “It has to be fumigated.”
So I paid for the fumigation ($20 – not too bad, I thought), and went home, having temporarily swapped my precious cushion for a tiny receipt. A fortnight later they rang and said they had finished with it and I now had to pay for it to be couriered down to me.
Me: “Okay, cool, how much will that be?”
Customs: “That will be fifty dollars Ma’am.”
Swooning somewhat, I extracted my credit card and proceeded to pay for some courier’s Christmas bash, but after all the performance I’d gone through to get this damned cushion, I couldn’t just abandon it now, could I?!
So what started out as a bargain ended up being a very pricey artifact indeed and ironically, it turned out that it wasn’t even very comfortable. Thus it’s somewhat sheepishly that I admit to you that over the years I’ve rarely used it. I’ve just resorted to sitting it in the corner of the couch and telling it’s story every now and then. It’s very pricey and convoluted story.
Well, that’s the way it was until a certain little furry beastie came to live with me a wee while ago, and guess what?! She loves that cushion! She races inside, does a slidey cornery manoeuvre and leaps up onto its apex, there to look about with smuggishness and joyful abandon, and rule the world. And thus the cushion has finally realised its purpose in life and has been dubbed the great, the resplendant, the anthropometrically feline-pleasing Cat Mountain.
I just love a happy ending.