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balance (2): August 2005

Saturday, August 20, 2005

sleeping

to quote a bumper sticker i had on my beat up old car in college- "people suck, kill yourself".

and thus my blog is going into hibernation. at least for a time.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

new

last friday, just as i was preparing to hand in my keys to my apartment in bangkok and hop on a bus to ko phangan, my boss mentioned on IM she was quitting, leaving me with a new boss all the way across the world whom i have never talked to. that did not seem to bode well to me, but nevertheless 'o' and i packed all of our stuff into 6 heavy boxes (phew!), grabbed our deposit, nodded goodbye to some friends and some "friends", and hired a truck to carry the boxes, our bike, and all of our musical instruments to the southern bus station in the pouring rain. we sat for a couple of hours on a table at the station waiting for our VIP bus to arrive and musing over what we were leaving in bangkok...ultimately with not so much as a shrug of regret.


byebye bangkok friends

the bus ride was uneventful, as was the ferry. we arrived rather anticlimatically to the island (unimpressive at the pier) and hired a songthaew to take us to our new home in ban tai (near the "town" on the quiet main road), which we had arranged after our last visit. we hauled all of our stuff out of the songthaew into the yard and headed off to get the keys from the nice old lady who was to be renting to us in her yard full of caged birds.

unfortunately, the lady was not nice after all (her birds are probably miserable). we had agreed in person and on the phone on a specific price for monthly rent, including utilities. now she rubbed her hands together in glee knowing she had us in a corner, and upped the rent significantly, not including utilities, at the last minute. her husband came to hover and chuckle. 'o' and i were flabbergasted, and as i do not respect the concept of 'face' or the thai tendency to keep their mouths shut, 'o' dragged me out of there quickly... but not before she caught my evil glare. we sat helplessly on our boxes in the yard, scratching our heads in confusion. some neighbors from the kway tio stand next door wandered over with subtle shakes of the head and warned us that the old lady was well known to be greedy and not even worth trying to deal with. we sighed in the searing heat. finally 'o' ran off to rent a motorbike down the street, and we risked our boxes and went to search out a bungalow for now.

the bungalows we found were just across the way, and though 15 years old and a little shabby, were lovely. ban tai is not known for its beautiful beach, but because of that it is beautiful. there was absolutely no one on it, and just a glimpse of ko samui across the dark blue water. the owner sympathized with us and offered us the use of his truck to go get our stuff. he dropped it off in the bushes behind our little home for the night. we plopped into the hammock and stared quietly, suckling on beers.

the next day i freaked out a little, because the house we'd planned on was the only one i knew of on the island with a phone line for internet, and the satellite company is currently having an equipment shortage. as the internet shops close well before the people in my job's time zone wake up and talk to me, i was terrified i wouldn't be able to work. i frenziedly (but rather peacefully) coaxed 'o' onto the motorbike and around the island looking for a home.

when i was in bangkok i had started to get a little jaded. thai people in bangkok are not the best of the lot, and i was fed up with mean, thoughtless people, and feeling like everyone hated me because of my skin color and economic status.
but koh phangan is marvelously different. i can not tell you how many people we stumbled upon in a search for a house- really lovely people who would hop up and totally go out of their way to help us find a home. several people led us around on motorbike, and two men drove us in trucks for several hours. we met our local bar full of bargirls and their entrepreneurial mamasan (and one ladyboy), the rich and flashy UBC (cable) man, several shopowners, mixed thai/farang kiddies, a nerdy german boy with a pile of weed, several nice grandmothers and grandpas, one imperious chinese lady, a fat girl with a fat baby and fat dog, and a hippie guy who stared eerily on the beach. i have never felt so welcome in my life, and i feel so much better about thai people.

but having been so high strung all day together, 'o' decided to disappear, as he will, apparently. i am learning this is his respone to stress, and that all his claims to be going free and not returning are entirely false. so i figured he'd enjoy his trip to thong nai pan's fuzzy warm jungle and i would enjoy ban tai's hot steamy beach. i sat with candles on my porch, in the hammock, listening to music and dodging swooping bats. if anything can make me happy it is a deserted beach.

the next day 'o' was in a better mood. we still had no hope of a place in which we could feasibly live (though most of the places were great they all lacked a phone line, and sometimes furniture). we decided to relax but ended up racing up the west coast of the island to sri thanu, where one real estate agent i happen to know of has a house with a wireless access point. halfway there we stopped in the little roadside town of sri thanu, and shared our cool iced teas with a group of roly poly puppies, a hungover ladyboy cook, and an easygoing lady who served food. afterwards we looked at a basic wood bungalow with a fan and small kitchen up a hill, which could receive a wireless signal. the lady was friendly and the area was ok, but i just wasn't into the long drive at all. 'o' and i shrugged and resigned ourselves to the fact that it was our only option. we drove to nearby had yao and reluctantly appraised our new neighborhood.

luckily, when we had returned to ban tai to prepare for moving the next day to far away sri thanu, we got a call from a lady in ban kai, in a quiet corner of the island. she has a row of four in a big looming garden not far from the beach behind her very large house. the house is carved teak, with stone tile floors. everything is new, including a huge bed. it has a big porch, surrounded by rocking palm trees and grassy patches and flower bushes. it has an open air kitchen, a hot water shower, and cable tv. and the very best thing was she promised to give me her very own phone line, that day (and her smiling bustling husband got right to it). all for a very fair price. (???!??!) it seemed too good to be true, but 'o' and i gave her the deposit and moved right in. we are now living in bliss, me with an internet connection and confirmation that i still have a job, 'o' going into fits of euphoria over his new workshop of a kitchen. we bought a huge hammock and a rice cooker, and have already been adopted by a stray dog and cat. the funny thing about our new house is that when we came to koh phangan a week or so ago it was to look at it with the real estate agent, who didn't answer the phone. 'o' and i laughed at the fact that if she had answered we would still be living here, but for 6000b more a month through an agent. and we wouldn't have met the whole island! life is good like that.


new house


new yard

last night we took the long bumpy trip to thong nai pan noi beach to celebrate. we met our bar boy friend leo for drinks and sat looking out at the gorgeous but increasingly crowded beach. we thought up plans for business, from opening a bar to creating a magazine about bar life in phangan from both a bar girl's and a bar boy's perspective, to making our own real estate website for this half of the island since we now know it well. we nodded to some friends who have built a huge muay thai boxing ring on the hill and wobbled home on our motorbike rather tipsily.

i feel way too lucky. so far august is much better than stinky old july.

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