wanderlust


:2/28--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4 1/2 months travelling now. so far so very good.

today was a little lonely on lonely beach. i have a gorgeous tan but some lingering dissatisfaction in my head which made me sleep most of the day on the beach by myself. not sure why.

i did meet a british kid, twelve years old, harry potter lookalike, at the bar of all places. completely brilliant. i had a better conversation with him than i have had with anyone adult for quite some time. i fell completely in love with him (in a non-pedophiliac way). in the 3 hours we chatted (about travel, computers, how to make a ray gun, drugs) i downed four sangsom and cokes and was feeling a bit woozy.

i ignored the nature kids' invitation to join them to the jah bar black moon party (that time again) and headed awkwardly off on my own in the dark. once there, i cradled my free vodka/red bull and danced conspicuously in the corner alone while everyone i knew stared at me from their large accumulated groups on the floor, and wondered why i am such an antisocial freak. i tend to do the exact opposite of what i should do in social situations- i throw out all the wrong signals. never mind though, a little dancing always goes a long way for me, and i ended up with several new admirers who shared their rum buckets with me (rather unfortunately in retrospect). after most likely making a fool of myself in my drunken stupor i somehow managed to wander down the jungle hill and over the beach in the pitch black dark to my hut alone.

didn't make it to my bed however. i passed out on my hammock. i awoke a couple hours later (4am maybe?) to find some very strange guy sitting next to me on my porch, blabbering away. he said he was afraid to go home because some people had been following him the last hour or so through the forest. what he was doing in a forest at 4am (let alone on my porch) was beyond me, and i was suspicious that he was trying to finagle (how the hell do you spell that?) himself a position in my room with me. i told him to make like an amoeba and split, and surprisingly he did.

it was then that i noticed the very big mess i had made of potato-chip vomit all over my porch. i sighed and fell back asleep, to be awoken later by a horrific hangover magnified by the noon sun overhead. weird self destructive day.

:2/27--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

neurosis and paranoia

i bought antibiotics to prevent me from getting whatever it was that 'x' had but somehow i lost them, along with my favorite ring and a shirt i had just bought. something about losing things does my head in. i get so neurotic over it. but also i felt completely under the weather and ridiculously tired to the point where i could barely keep my eyes open so there was some niggling worry thrown into my mental soup as seasoning.

i had to take a songthaew to white sand beach to pick up my motorbike which otto had used to get home earlier. met a really nice old french couple but overall feeling irrationally antisocial and cranky- could be the rainy weather. could be the start of deathly illness. eep.

otto was on the beach to my dismay (he was supposed to have been off on the boat all day) so i completely offended him by staying only five minutes to chat and turning down various requests to stay on white sand beach with him and have dinner, see a band, sleep on the beach, whatever. i grabbed my bike and took off before he could stop me and raced back to lonely beach to sleep on my hammock until sunset. got up long enough to have a sangsom and a nice chat with a cute american guy named nick and passed right back out again.

:2/26--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

room



another sunset, white sand beach

the peeling sunburn i thought i had on my back is actually some freakish skin infection caused by a fungus on moldy pillows (according to the thai people i know anyway). i don't have shirts which cover my back so for most of the morning i hid out in my room. like a weirdo.

i finally decided around 4p to go to the clinic and get some medicine. unlike the clinics in the west you have to discuss your problem right in front of the line of people waiting, with a very unsympathetic and hurried nurse. after ten minutes of listening to a lesbian girl's diarrhea problems i felt a bit better about my skin thing- though otto insists that only dirty and poor people (usually male) get this. i tried telling him i take at least two showers a day here but he refuses to believe it and scolds me for being unclean. ack.

i met up with otto on the beach later and we went to dinner where i treated him to steak lao and a few heinekens, and we watched a flick & played a couple of pathetic rounds of pool. white sand beach has more entertainment options but i was missing my favorite firedancers and my usual sangsom at nature bar (i am becoming quite the barfly). i decided to head back home and otto insisted on tagging along. by the time we had gotten back, run into mr. long and another whole group of people we were obligated to chat with, & had been rained upon by a surprise shower, i gave up and went to bed. i get sort of irritated at having my time monopolized so often and told otto to just stay on his beach tomorrow, which i am quite sure he'll ignore.

:2/25--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

my shower



alternatively, the rest of my bathroom

ko changity-chang. i am wiping ants off the screen of this thing. the place is infested with them- i wake up in the middle of the night being virtually raped by them.

but mr. long hooked me up with a primo bungalow for 300b. about 3 steps to the beach, surrounded by papaya trees. i didn't realize that on this part of lonely beach that means no privacy at all (people can see right through the bamboo slats on my wall), but in the quiet morning it's cool. i bought a new hammock from the kid on white sand beach, where i went to find otto after every person in siam huts asked about him and annoyed me. he's turned into a boat guy in every aspect. he gets up early in the morning and is one with nature, brushing his teeth while watching fish jump and coconuts fall and all that. he has to dump water out of the little boat every couple of hours (starting at 3am) because it has a hole. i told him if he fixed it once he wouldn't be a slave to it anymore. he was amazed at that unforeseen possibility. all day he sits on the beach and sells tickets to his boat/house. i have been thinking about printing up cooler tickets because the scratchy half-thai writing isn't cutting it with the fat german tourists. but then i'm involved.

otto and i came up with a new way to start conversations. we name a country and tell about someone we met from there. we both have an endless supply by now of funny stories. i don't know how much he understands of what i say though, i suspect he pretends to get most of it, like i do with his thai. ;)

lots of new local gossip. (you don't care). neng left suddenly (on his chopper) so no web work... & he told me "don't trust anyone". joe has a new girlfriend (:( ), people have taken over masa's room, san cut his dreads off. ack. do i care either?

:2/24--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

goodbye pattaya mall

woke up sneezing my freaking head off with sore throat and both eyes watering/potentially infected, which is something inevitable i really hate about this part of thailand. i said a quick but sentimental goodbye to 'x' and jumped on a minibus to cambodia.

$75 and six hours later (after being ripped off by corrupt border officials as usual), i had an extended visa in hand and one foot in cambodia, one foot in thailand (as well as a couple of errant brown hands in my pocket which were not mine). i heard someone call my name and lo and behold there was an israeli guy (asaf) i had met in laos with robin, headed back towards ko chang. we caught the minibus to trat together and i found myself holding my breath to avoid choking on his batshit body odor the entire trip, while i attempted to nod politely at his nonsensical jabbering. i reconsidered my initial pleasure at seeing someone familiar at that point, but i couldn't shake him when we arrived. he followed me to my hotel where i insisted he get a room of his own (ugh). i escaped to the internet cafe but alas he found me there too, so after a sympathetic dinner at KFC with him i gave up all intentions of doing a little shopping/wandering in trat alone and went to my room to watch disney channel(!) with the (somewhat valid) excuse that i was too sick to hang.

my toilet is a hole in the ground, the shower is a dribbling hole in the wall, and it's cold, but nice... the tiles are clean and white and so is the bed. trat hotel. 250b.

:2/23--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


buddha army



view of pattaya



seedy nightlife

deliciously lazy today (in pattaya) and spent most of the day dozing in front of tv. 'x' and i did pick ourselves up before sunset and took a trip to the lookout on a hill over the suspiciously red lit city. it seems to be a combination buddhist temple and military monument. along with the requisite altar dotted with incense, flowers, miniature animals and candles there was also a big pit in which to light and set off firecrackers for good luck, overshadowed by a huge pewter official-looking statue. pattaya itself looks deceptively serene and beautiful from a safe distance above.

we decided on mexican for dinner (risky in thailand) and accompanied it with a huge pitcher of strawberry pina colada daiquiris (balances out the risk). having more or less knocked ourselves out, we decided to bypass the go-gos and instead buy a pirated dvd of 'gangs of new york' to watch on 'x''s laptop (perfect quality, 200 baht). we took a side trip to the beach where we rolled around in the sand and counted stars for a bit (in a rare display of random romance), and once we arrived at the hotel we jumped into the pool and splashed around in the dark (only to get kicked out minutes later). exhausted by our efforts, we both fell asleep before the movie had even finished.

sleeping next to 'x' is one of my favorite things in the world, though the mistake-o-meter in my brain has been on constant screeching alert for the last couple of days... i have conditioned myself to have no expectations.

:2/22--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

pattaya (sin city, thailand)



fun with foam

'x' had decided to leave bangkok and my visa expired today so i knew i'd have to leave as well. we initially decided to go spend a week together in cambodia since i was headed there anyway, but when 'x' told me i'd have to brave a 4-6 hour ferry ride (boats and i are not on good terms) to sihanoukville i basically said fuck that! & he agreed. pattaya is a three hour ride from bangkok, a good compromise for us since we have spent a lot of time together there in the past, and that put me closer to my destination, so off we set in a cab for 1000 baht.

again i must reiterate that it's never really a good idea to revisit a place, at least not with any sort of expectations. i haven't been to pattaya for a couple of years and i have done a LOT of changing in that time. so has pattaya. we headed for our old standby, the loma hotel. somehow it isn't as beautiful and tropical and welcoming as i remember it (and a lot more expensive). and pattaya itself gets gaudier and more crowded every time i see it. there are a lot of new neon-colored hotels, brassy karaoke joints, & could it be possible there are more ladyboys? more pollution, more sidewalk souvenir stands...not to mention of course the hoardes of fat old german men with pretty young (well paid) things hanging off their arms... i suppose that hasn't really changed.

i do like pattaya though even though it seems more ridiculous and seedy than ever. i think it must be the most decadent place on earth. from the go-go bars to the soapy body massage houses to the bordellos to the transvestite cabarets to the discos... got a fantasy? a few baht goes a long long way here. the whole city is for sale. there is a lot to satisfy a voyeur like myself, and other things besides that- the typical tourist restaurants like sizzler are decadent in themselves after being in the middle of nowhere (just try the all you can eat salad bar after weeks of eating mostly noodles)... i like the shopping mall and the brightly lit boats and the myriad of beer bars filled with chatty girls in high heels and tight pants. i like drinking with 'x' and then zooming recklessly around on our motorbike. i like lounging in the pool and watching fashion tv and cartoon network in the room while we eat pocky and drink spa wine coolers from the minibar.

tonight we happened upon a foam party at the very impressive (!) hard rock hotel. it's not something i would have expected to like but the hotel itself is really cool despite being a money pit- it has a huge pool in front that was made to look like a beach. nearby was a roped off area full of people and a machine that periodically barfed gallons of soapy foam on top of them. the music was high energy (and boy bands of course) and the draft beer was good. 'x' and i had ourselves a good peek though we didn't actually jump in. fun fun.

afterwards we headed to a couple of go-gos and i convinced a shy 'x' to come with me to "boys town", where after a bit of drooling over androgenous flirty thai boys in tighty whiteys dancing suggestively on stage, i was ready to head home and repent for all my spent baht and lurid thoughts.

:2/21--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ko chang farangs



lucifer's patpong

i spent last night drinking with my friends danny from australia and masa from japan- both of whom i ran into in bangkok. masa was rather distressed at having had to leave ko chang (who isn't?) as it's possible he will not come back. there is a lot of familial pressure in japan not to turn into a stinking hippie (apparently). danny and i tried to console him but alas he got silly drunk and ended up puking, crying, and kissing me before he actually called it a night. it was fun. i like both of those guys and they are the only foreigners who were in ko chang with me the whole time i have been there, so i feel a bit of comradeship with them.

today after a flick at MBK shopping center with 'x' (which never fails to satiate the capitalistic bulimic in me), we headed to patpong for some (non-seedy i promise) nightlife at lucifer's nightclub. a guy gave us the rest of his kamikaze pitcher but alas i was too exhausted (probably a bit hung over) to drink or even keep my eyes open for long, and my half of the conversation was made up of mostly silent nods.

somehow 'x' still convinced me to accompany him to the grace hotel "coffeeshop", where he's spent a few nights in bangkok, i'd guess. after 2am it becomes a gathering for freelance prostitutes and their potential clients. i can see the appeal for him- he likes decadence whether he takes part in it or not... there is something about the underbelly of things that is a lure for him. me, i have just seen enough seediness in my life. i don't like watching (admittedly decent looking and sometimes even white) whores put on their masks for the evening and flaunt themselves for average guys who tell stupid jokes and seek the most bang for their buck. it's so superficial. sure it's a little crazy and i definitely would suggest seeing it once, but once is enough for me.

there is a quirky old guy with stumps for legs walking around in backwards shoes taking pictures of people though. we bought one of 'x' looking rather wan and me looking bright eyed with exhaustion. after another beer and a quick sweep of the room with my eyes i was already off in dreamland. 'x' was drunk by that time and on the verge of confessing various things to me that i figured he'd regret later, so i dragged him out of there asap.

:2/20--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

happy drunk buddhas

another bangkok day spent dodging temptation and trying to get organized. i have so much to do and will probably get none of it done before i head back to ko chang on saturday. my cd burner is playing evil tricks on me and i suspect it will break soon, making updates nearly impossible, but hopefully today here's an update for you lovely folks....don't expect another one for a couple of weeks as ko chang's internet is 4b/minute. also, i will try to work on the other pages of this site a bit as they are somewhat outdated and boring- not that anyone reads them anyway but if i am going to do something i suppose i shouldn't do it half assed. (hmm, you can tell i've been talking to mr. type A himself). have a look at 'x''s site by the way if you are bored with mine- he has extensive and meticulously cared for galleries of the places he has been, some writings that i am amazed he is exposing to the public, and of course his controversial and provocative art.

write you all again when i decide to go to india, which i WILL dammit i will! just gotta get thailand out of my head first. in the meantime you can write me.

:2/19--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

cire looking deceptively innocent



nana plaza (also far from innocent)

i said a distracted goodbye to otto (who tried to pretend he didn't care that i was leaving) and hopped the ferry off of ko chang early this morning. i was listening to a mix cd that 'x' had made me and was still mulling over what to do/where to go/how to feel when i had a weird little moment of clarity and knew i should head straight to bangkok and talk to 'x' himself.

6pm or so found me at nana plaza nervously scarfing down mcdonalds and practicing nonchalance before i actually went to show up on his doorstep. the grace hotel is a snazzy place with lots of security but i still managed to get up to his floor and knock on the door. he opened the door in his towel with a rather shocked look on his face, but i think he was happy to see me. he looks great- he's lost a lot of weight from being sick but if anything that seems to be a benefit to him. he invited me in to his room (overflowing as usual with gadgets and sparkly knicknacks) and i knew from that point everything was going to be cool between us. it's amazing how a little face-to-face contact can set things straight. it's been about 3 1/2 months (of frustrating miscommunication via email) since i last saw him but it felt like no time at all.

anyway 3 glasses of wine, 3 glasses of sangsom, a couple beers and a couple go go bars later and i drunkenly confessed i needed his advice. he seems to think india will be really bad for me right now (as mysteriously it was for him but i can't coaxe the details out of him- see his journal). he said if i am happy in a place it makes sense to stay until the wind changes and i know it is time to move on. secretly that was just what i wanted to hear so i gave myself the thumbs up, decided to extend my visa another month, and proceeded to relax.

i took a hot bath in 'x''s tub (spoiled brat), and fell asleep next to him with bad cable movies blaring in the background. just like old times. it was nice to see the kid and i am glad he isn't mortally ill.


:2/18--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

breakfast at the treehouse



kiddies



"should i stay or should i go now"

indecision is chronic in my head... it's not that i don't know how to feel, it's just that i feel i have to justify it to myself one way or another. again i am going back and forth between staying a little longer in ko chang (maybe until rainy season starts) and going to india now. it's getting a little too redundant and i wish i could just make up my mind.

pros of staying in ko chang: otto (whom i feel affectionate towards and whom i would like to help), my local friends who are endlessly entertaining to me and show me a lot of thai life, more blissful relaxation in a heavenly setting, a diving course i want to take, firedancing i want to learn, potential bartending jobs that would be fun, thai food is better than indian food, and well, thailand just rules period. i don't want to leave.

cons of staying in ko chang: otto (who can be a little clingy/idealistic), my local friends (who in reality couldn't care less if i stay or go but it's been so long since i have had any social contact i will milk it for all it's worth), insulation and safety are traps, i won't see anything new for awhile if i stay here whereas india would be a wild, fascinating adventure, and i will spend a bit of money here that might be better spent elsewhere. oh, and since the other travellers i knew on ko chang have left there might be a bit of the ol' lonely misfit thing going on too. but that's good for introspection.

hmm. i must say i like the fact that this is the hardest decision i have to make right now. ;)

i was talking to 'x' via email and he surprised me by saying he is sort of over travelling and feels like going home soon. his perspective seems to have totally changed. he has seen the dark slimy underbelly of more than one third world country on his trip so i suspect that contributed to his altered mindset a bit- he travels differently than i do and his priorities/experiences are on a whole different level than mine. still, my perspective has changed a bit too, i realized. i still of course want to see the world but i no longer have any sort of agenda, and i don't feel like i have something to prove like i think i must have at the start. i am perfectly capable of being a traveller for the rest of my life so i don't need to have any sort of quota or demands upon myself beyond a general awareness of when it's time to move on on this trip. i can just go with the flow til my money runs out.

i know i will be happy with whatever decision i make because i am adaptable like that, but it's the making of it that i suck at. i suppose it'll end up being a coin toss on the ferry again.


:2/17--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

jae gallery on ban bao, ko chang



otto's cousin (neng) & otto

another gorgeous stormy day. otto got paid nothing yesterday (payday) so he more or less ditched his job today. no more jah bar. i feel weird about this for a couple of reasons- i hope i didn't influence his decision overly much and also i don't want to end up supporting him myself. it's hard because he is so ridiculously poor (he lives on about $2 a day whereas i live on about $25), but he's smart and a hard worker and deserves so much.... but i don't want him to fall into the typical thai thinking of farang=baht and take advantage of my sympathetic generosity. i will help him as much as i can without actually becoming a source of income to him. today he was depressed so we rode to ban bao and had a couple of beers and a nice swim at jae gallery's private beach and tried to ignore the situation & avoid his former coworkers.

later on otto remembered he has a cousin on ko chang so we rode to white sand beach to see him. neng is a total sweetheart and he runs boat trips to the nearby islands. he immediately offered otto a job working on the boat with free accomodation (on the boat). he is also opening a bar in the next couple of weeks and offered us both work there as well as some web stuff for me (internet advertising for his garment factory in bangkok). tempting.... jobs seem so easy to come by here and with prime minister thaksin's new decree to turn ko chang into another resort-filled phuket it will only get better opportunity-wise. i spent the rest of the night hanging with them and their friends on white sand beach. neng took me for a ride on his homemade "chopper". we listened to reggae, drank sangsom buckets, watched some fireshows, and i met otto's friends from khao san road. again i was the only girl in a huge group of (thai) guys- why is that???? i am learning thai pretty quickly though.

later, having no other option, otto drove us home at top speed through the hills fairly drunk, which bothered me. i squeezed my eyes shut and squealed at every errant motion the entire way home, but i have learned to trust him on a motorbike. i suspect that's rather stupid of me.


:2/16--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

lonely beach again

i met the owner of the nature bar last night who was very drunk and rather physically suggestive to me but seems like a nice man otherwise. (something about me attracts every 40-something thai man within a ten mile radius). he asked me to meet him today at the restaurant to discuss my working for him. my excitement at the prospect was dampened when he explained he had a position as receptionist at a snazzy hotel in white sand beach. no thanks. he was sort of offended and looked at me like "beggars can't be choosers"... i reminded him i am not a beggar and i can wait for the right opportunity to work on lonely beach. i don't have to work to stay here. white sand beach is not for me. nice of him to offer though.

otto had the whole day off today for a buddhist holiday. this meant doing whatever he wanted without a say in the matter. i didn't mind. he took me to kai bae to meet his german friend stephen who runs a dive shop. i want to dive so badly. his course is 4 days for 9000 baht- i am seriously considering taking it though that's rather expensive ($225). we hung out with him drinking sangsom for a couple of hours, and then moved to the no name bar. a huge storm moved in which was quite mesmerizing over the jungle hills and the choppy sea. we met a thai couple who took us later on to a party on the beach with a bbq. alas otto and i were sleepy & left early, braving the rain on our motorbike, to pass out.


:2/15--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

sunset from siam huts

slept in til 1p when otto's coworker came banging on my bungalow door for him. argh. then i received an email from 'x' saying don't come to bangkok. ack ack.... nevermind... i rode to white sands beach to stock up on moola and had a relaxing couple hours of blank thoughts and beautiful scenery. managed to guiltily avoid mr. prasit but his son saw me and i was forced to wave as i drove by way too fast. got attacked by a maniac dog while riding my motorbike back but got away scratch free. deepened my tan a bit.

starting to get a little bored/lonely here (it took a month). after awhile your position with people becomes solidified and you can't really change it so easily (ie. suddenly have a deep meaningful conversation with someone you have fallen into the habit of simply nodding to). it's all politics- one of the reasons i don't like staying in one place. then of course there's always the so-and-so doesn't like me thing. people to avoid for no apparent reason. juggling personalities. with my friends now gone i end up wandering around alone all day which is fine with me but now that everyone local knows me it's sort of conspicuous. i feel like i am in the public eye on the beach, in the restaurants- like some embarassing weirdo in the corner who just won't leave(!).... probably just the impending full moon exerting it's paranoid rays. still i don't mind being solo and i can't seem to shake lonely beach either way. it's so freaking surreal and gorgeous here it makes everything ok.

thailand's war on drugs has hit full time, and cops are becoming sort of annoying here so i have toned the smoking down a bit. it's not worth the consequences (though they are usually in the form of money more than anything else). the prime minister has announced that a certain quota must be met in fighting drug crimes in the next 3 months, so the cops have to scramble to arrest people in order to keep their jobs. there also seems to be a "dead or alive" policy- i read that something like 802 suspects (not convicted mind you) have been shot/killed by the police since this whole campaign started a month ago. between that and the fact that cops can randomly search you and make you take an on the spot pee test, i think this country is littered with nazi-like ignorance of human rights.

:2/14--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

otto bumming



pre-bash on beach

valentine's day was a little stressful. first thing that happened was an email from 'x' saying that once again he is very ill and was taking an emergency flight from calcutta to bangkok asap. why should i care you ask? i am as mystified as you (though secretly i really do care) but i suppose i could lend the kid some moral support in bangkok. that means leaving ko chang 3 days earlier than i wanted to and possibly postponing india again.

the second thing was that otto became very depressed today. he worked from 7am to 3am yesterday (20 hours) first on the boat and then in the bar. his slave driving boss made him get up today and work from 8am til when the party ended tonight (6am- 22 hours). this is thai life. he is expected to be on call at all hours of the day. it's not light work either- a lot of today consisted of hauling cases of beer, refrigerators, stereo equipment etc. up and down the very steep jungle steps of the jah bar. otto gets a salary of 6000 baht a month and free accomodation/food. the thing is, if he wants a drink he has to pay for it, so his 200 baht a day (about $5) allottment is used up by a couple of cokes or beers. when payday comes and the tallies are rung, he gets nothing, and sometimes even owes. the rest of the time is spent dodging his boss's evil eye... he has to risk everything just to get to see me. i don't know how to be convincingly empathetic in this case. thais live hard lives. but i couldn't be a slave to anyone. i would rather beg on the street. i tried to convince him to come to bangkok with me and start playing music again with his friends there but he's too confused and typically submissive, as thais are, to decide. poor kid.

i worked at the bar tonight with otto and the other "jah bar farangs", as we were so affectionately and unfortunately referred to as, for the valentine's day beach party. it was really fun being bartender for the night, though by the end i wanted to start verbally attacking people in the drunken mob and forcing them to leave my sight. the other girls don't like me, which is predictable, the other guys do, which is also predictable. my observation of thai parties has shown me that thais are perfectly content to play the same cd over and over fifty times hoping no one notices, that thais like to drink and fight, and that it's really a bitch to clean up afterwards when you have had 4 hours of sleep out of the last 48. fun fun. i secretly let otto sleep on my shoulder in the corner when i noticed he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore. he gave me roses he found in a bucket down the beach.

:2/13--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


hippie girl



otto
(had to cut ugly me part out sorry)


 

today was the jah bar boat trip around the islands (ko rang, ko wai) which i got a free ticket to. it was tres cool. usually i am far too girlie & insecure to snorkel and swim with people but today i said fuck it and had a great time. i helped otto make breakfast (pad thai and coffee) and watched mtv at the jah bar this morning and then we all wandered down to the boat (46 people). right off the bat the cutest blondest canadian guy ever sat down next to me and started chatting. otto was jealous but cool to the guy and he smoked us up. we floated to the first island and dee (one of the jah bar's owners) lent me her very good snorkel/mask. we were parked out on the sea and had to swim to one of two nearby islands. i wandered off by myself to see what there was to see. it was amazing. between the boat and the island there was about 500 feet of totally untouched sea life. i have snorkelled before but never seen anything like this. i saw sharks, sea urchins (scary black spiny things that sting you if you step on them), various fishies, sea snakes, coral, sucking breathing somethings, and giant clams. all in brilliant 3d color. i had a great time.

alas i got halfway across and realized i was exhausted (haven't exactly been working out of late). it was too deep to touch bottom so i ended up floating on my back to the island. i collected sparklies on the (indescribably gorgeous) white beach and climbed the rocks to see the other side with otto. then i decided to get a head start back to the boat. once again i got halfway across and realized i was really, truly going to drown. the current was really strong and it didn't matter how hard i swam i never seemed to get closer to the boat. i ended up having a full on anxiety attack in the water. i was hyperventilating and going under and freaking out. i finally took a deep breath and made myself calm down and float until i did eventually reach the boat after what seemed like fifteen years. i held everyone up and was choking and shaking and embarrassed by the time i got there.

the crazy hippie boat captains (who had brilliant monkmade tattoos and no teeth) did say i could help them with their boat trips for 200 baht a day, but i realized that though it seems like "the life" i just can't take prolonged interludes with boats or water. eep.

it was nice hanging out in paradise with dee and otto all day and once we got back to lonely beach i gorged myself on delicious barracuda bbq at siam huts and passed completely out.

:2/12--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

jungle fever

so. i extended my thai visa the allowed 10 days for 500 baht. changed my ticket to leave 10 days from now meaning i leave ko chang (maybe) on the 20th & head to the fearsome mumbai on the 22nd. :( it cost me most of today getting those in order (narrowly missing a ticket for no helmet again).

after running around white sands beach i couldn't escape otto so i helped him pass out fliers for the jah bar boat trip tomorrow. we went up to jah bar after, where everyone completely ignored me (nice) as i smoked a joint, watched a sylvester stallone flick, and flirted with otto. otto and san cooked, which is a grand affair and very interesting to watch. they made "nam picapic" which is a chili and garlic dipping sauce for some weird unnameable fresh veggies (mmm) and some sort of whole fish cooked with all kinds of stuff on a skillet (ymmm). and rice of course. i am in love with thai food.

tried to hang at nature bar but found i had nothing to say to anyone so went to bed.

 

:2/11--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


camera's possessed today
(i think it's cool)

 

hmmm. what did i do today? i sat around in nature beach's restaurant on mats and read most of the day, i know that. most of my friends have left so i have a lot of quality personal space. it was too cloudy to sit on the beach. otto eventually found me and whisked me off on my moto to a bar called the no name bar in kai bae. it was super chill, a nice little fishing inlet and gorgeous views of the jungle and sea (like everywhere here). we smoked a joint and otto told me how very poor he is and i tried to react accordingly and probably failed to do so. i bought him dinner at the treehouse where danielle confessed to us she had recklessly slept with the israeli guy we have been hanging with. nature bar later, same same.
:2/10--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

pshaw

went with otto to the market this morning and stocked up for the daily feast at jah bar. i didn't know they had one until i saw it for myself. i watched otto and his friend san prepare a totally authentic thai meal. they made spicy papaya salad from papayas they picked at the bottom of the hill, fish cakes, pork, sticky rice (so freaking good), and a plate of fresh veggies. yum!!!! it was a lot of work, chopping papayas with a machete, grinding spices and garlic with a pestle and mortar and letting the rice soak on a bamboo basket, etc.... very sexy and cool to watch. i hung out at the jah bar most of the day, watching t.v., smoking, chatting with the people there. it's very nice in the daytime- at the top of the jungle overlooking the sea, all open spaces with mats and hammocks and big plants and chickens and cable tv and a dj and a bar. and kittens.

afterwards i went to nature bar where i finally got a chance to talk with masa (the japanese guy who works there) and maritsela from ireland who works in the restaurant. each bar is a whole community of restaurant owners, bungalow keepers, bartenders and random hangers-on. and their pets. i like the farang locals and feel like i have joined their ranks. i ended up getting embarrassingly pissed on the beach though with my gossipy australian sex addict girl friend danielle. we finally stumbled off at about 2 am to bed, fending off idiots who were proposing to join us.

:2/9--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

enough i say

today i felt thoroughly sick of meeting new people and partying every night. i knew this day had to come. you can only lay on the beach and drink sangsom for a limited time before you have to break the cycle and do something with yourself. i don't give a rat's ass where the next random person i meet comes from, has been, is going to. i am sick of having the exact same conversation twenty times a day. there are few people who make any impression at all on me- the good ones are very few and far between. when i meet those people it becomes worth it to be a party girl, otherwise it's just disposable discourse and idleness. ...sure has been great til now though. you want instant friends all around, come to ko chang... but i am undeniably a nomad and i have an agenda, so moving on to india in ten days is looking more plausible.

not complaining, just observing.

the people who really make thailand important for me are the thais. i have softened up to otto for instance and he constantly surprises me. i realized i sort of expect thais to be innocent, uneducated, jaded, and greedy <must stop stereotyping> but he negates all those completely. he has introduced me to a lot of life here... one thing that i like about him is that i meet so many cute thai boys who hang out with foreigners and then sort of become one of them. otto can hang but he is thoroughly thai. he's devoutly buddhist, plays thai music, still goes home to backwoods issan for festivals and to take care of his mum, can't eat anything without fish sauce or chilis, is poor and simple and sort of melancholy but still enjoys life. we sort of understand each other despite our absolutely opposite backgrounds. he's cute and honest and i am starting to like him. he still brings me presents and does something unexpected and kind for me on a daily basis.

i was determined to learn firedancing before i leave here so i manipulated the israeli guy (ohad) into giving me my first lesson today. i completely excelled. the quiet israeli girl said she looked at me one minute and thought i was horrid and the next i looked like a pro. yeah, i'm a natural. ;) i got a bad sunburn in the process though.

went to bed early to escape inane and forced conversation with two sexy girls from norway who have taken my happy little spot as favorite at nature bar. :( had to happen sometime.

:2/8--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

view from porch of my new hut

woke up at 9am so i could switch to a cheaper hut since danielle promised the israeli guy she'd share with him. i got a nice beachside place for 300b at siam huts. it has no mirror which is distressing to someone girlie like me but it has electricity for my laptop.

spent the morning on the beach swimming and chatting with various people until i was bored and decided to ride my motorbike around. i rode past mr. prasit's restaurant and was unable to avoid his seeing me and wildly flagging me down. i pulled over and talked with him a bit but he spent the whole time trying to get me to go get my stuff and move into his extra room and work for him starting tomorrow morning. (he also mentioned he could get me a year visa if i married him.) ack. just what i wanted to avoid. i am realizing i am a complete commitment phobe. i don't want to have any obligation to anyone. i just can't do it. 14 hours a day in one place is ok if it's lonely beach but it's not. he was not happy though with my noncommital grunts. i felt bad and ran off asap.

half moon party at the jah bar tonight. just an excuse to bring people in but it seems to work. danced my hiney off with the israeli guy and some really irritating drunk perverts from canada and ireland. otto chased me home at 2am because i left without saying goodbye.

:2/7--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


the beetle who later attacked me (notice hand to beetle size ratio)

today was not the luxurious relaxing day i expected to have. it was really freaking stressful in fact. i rented a motorbike and drove to white sands beach to try to extend my thai visa which expires on wednesday the 12th. turns out immigration only comes to do the service once a week on wednesday. i freaked out thinking they needed at least 5 days to process it (as they do in bangkok) so i rode all over the island from pier to pier trying to find someone to take me to laem ngob on the mainland to see if i could get it there. thai people can be mean sometimes. the ferry girl knew enough english to answer my questions but she was too engrossed in her soap opera to actually do so. she pretended not to understand me the 3 times i went back begging for info, and everyone else just repeated "no".

finally it was too late in the day to go and come back by dark so i gave up and headed for home. someone had told me the main road went all around the entire circumference of the island so instead of turning back to lonely beach i kept going, thinking i could get there from the other side. an hour later and some rough motorbiking and the road ended abruptly. argh. i headed back in the direction in which i'd come and ended up behind a whole line of coughing, sputtering construction vehicles. on a particularly steep hill the big ass truck in front of me couldn't make it up and kept rolling backwards threatening to mow me down. i moved to the shoulder of the road and tried to go around but the rocks underneath my bike started crumbling and my bike slid backwards too. after about ten minutes of feeling like a very high strung hamster on a wheel i finally got around with heart pounding and hands shaking. five minutes later i was pulled over by the moto police and asked to pay a fine for having no helmet (news to me). i explained that the place i'd rented my bike from didn't have helmets and smiled sweetly, so they let me go but it was sort of irritating to run into after my little near death experience.

i got back to my room and took a shower, hung out and smoked with danielle a bit, ate some noodles and relaxed. went to the nature bar and who should be waiting for me but otto. sigh. i admit it's nice to see him but at the same time i didn't want to see him at all. no pressure though, we had a couple drinks, a couple laughs, and he went off to work.

i learned from a westerner who stays here that i can extend my visa on wednesday for ten days. after that i don't know.

spent the rest of the evening drinking with my new pals and a few old ones on the marvelous beautiful gorgeous terrific beach. stopped by jah bar and had a chunk taken out of my finger by an irritated black beetle the size of a kitten with huge deathly pinchers. after too many buckets and a guitar circle on the beach at 4 am i crashed out in my room and slept beautifully.

:2/6--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

back on elephant island (ko chang)

heh heh so my plane left tonight at 8p with robin on it but no me. i changed the date to march 10 but i can change it again with just a phone call if i want to leave earlier or later. i feel very good and very free. there's just something about thailand that isn't letting me go yet.

robin and i said a very weird and surprisingly sort of poignant goodbye. travel friends are the best friends.

i boarded a minibus for the hot and tedious journey back to ko chang this morning. couldn't sleep so stared dully out the window for six boring hours, but i had a smile on my face most of the time. by the time i got to the ferry i was positively beaming. the water, sun, jungle vistas can't help but cheer you up. i ate noodle soup with chicken (my fave- quite different from the campbell's i grew up with) as i waited for the ferry.

when i reached the island i met an australian girl (danielle) and her israeli friends (heck if i know their names) in the taxi to lonely beach. she had just spent 6 months alone in india, and the one israeli guy is going to india on tuesday. she and i decided to share a bungalow until we could find cheaper ones of our own so we got a really nice room at nature beach for 500b. we gossiped all night about various girlie things. extremely foreign territory for me as i am completely uncomfortable around girls and have very few female friends. it was nice.

i avoided otto and mr. prasit and went to nature bar first thing. all my boys were happy to see me. :) a dutch guy that robin and i had hung out with previously smoked me up though and i think my head was not ready for it. i escaped to my room before i embarrassed myself by passing out on my bar stool.

nice to be back.

:2/5--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'bye robin

 

robin is not happy that i am moving on with my life without him but i did warn him all along. if there is one thing you can say about me it is that i am honest. i like travelling alone. period. it's weird also to try to travel with a friend of the opposite sex. never quite balances.

i spent the 500 baht to stay at d&d inn in bangkok where i can take a hot shower and watch bad cable if i so desire. met some israeli guys at khao sarn center who got me really, really drunk (free beer and multiple drinking contests). they were 18 so i felt a little guilty hanging with them but i was good enough to turn down their offer of absinthe shots in their room. (i have totally changed my opinion of israelis by the way. they are laid back, honest, cool people.) bought a whole bunch of stuff i don't need (again), and a new mp3 player which i did need because i stupidly dropped and broke my other one. went to bed early.

:2/4--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'bye lonely beach

woke up with otto holding me down and telling me not to leave this morning, but i managed to escape anyhow. he walked me to nature beach where i was to pick up a cab to the pier and made me promise i'd come back to him and be his girlfriend. poor deluded guy- if there is one thing i am it is a "leaver".... it must be hard for thai people who work for tourists though because they can never really be a part of our self-indulgent, rich, spoiled lives. the closest they get is the occasional fling with a curious farang who wants to sample the local flavors. (like evil me). they watch interesting people come and go, off to exciting destinations that they can only dream about visiting. i really wish somehow i could take joe and otto and the rest with me to a place like india but i have to remember i am no kind of savior. the most i can do is smile and say "of course you're important enough to bring me back here"... which is partially true but unfair in any case. i am sure there will be another girl to pin hopes on in a week or so though so i don't worry overly much.

i am actually considering coming back though, after a few days in bangkok clearing my head. i can change my ticket to india for up to a year. this is a big dilemma for me- authentic local experience vs. novelty and forward motion. hard call. for once i really feel like i belong here. i have been to thailand six times- it's obvious i love the culture. i have friends here, it feels like home. but that has the makings of a trap as well. i flipped a coin and once again the king said "stay". ack. damn his myopic smugness.

it was such a gorgeous morning. so alluring and lush. the jungle was singing loudly by 8 am and the tide was still high so the waves mumbled sleepily and everything felt bright and clean. i had a hard time getting on the bus.

i will call and see about changing my ticket tomorrow. decisions decisions--- i can either stay here and work for a couple of months for mr. prasit (& almost no money) and then head to india, stay here for just a couple more weeks of leisure and then head to india, or just head to india on the 6th. feel free to send me your comments on this. i am so freaking indecisive.

:2/3--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

27....ack

happy birthday to me. otto woke me up this morning and took me with him on a motorbike to do a little market shopping in klong prao for the jah bar. it was interesting to see things from a thai perspective. i didn't know what anything was- he had to explain all the vegetables to me and order my breakfast for me from the noodle stand. the thai people giggle at us like we're newlyweds and think it's the cutest thing on earth that i run around with him, which sort of makes me gag. i concentrated on practicing the few phrases he has taught me on them. (ie. "peng yai ban" = "how's it going?")... i say everything wrong and with an americanized accent, which makes them giggle even more and makes me feel even more like a stupid "farang".

i met up with robin, yair from israel, and a hilarious guy from turkey who had ditched his plane home for a morning smoke on the beach. the water was especially blue and there was a calm breeze. i watched the cute guys from the nature bar practice their poles for firedancing. i will miss this beach like crazy.

later on otto picked me off the beach again to take me to the wat for my birthday. we stopped at the market where he bought a huge giftwrapped basket full of toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloths, canned foods, etc. he said "for you" and i was confused until he explained that on their birthdays thai people take food and gifts to the monks in exchange for their blessing for the year. the temple was beautiful. it was in the middle of a peaceful little farm where the monks wander around barefoot looking serene. otto showed me how to make offerings to the buddha, how to pray/meditate, different hand positions for the "wai".... when it came time for the monk we sat submissively on our knees before him as he chanted a blessing. otto repeated the chants in my place. then the monk sprinkled holy water over us and said "happy birthday" with a smile. we had to stop at two more buddhas so that otto could say little prayers and light more candles and incense, which he confessed to me was to placate the buddha and convince him to bring luck into his life in the form of my staying longer in ko chang...sigh. he also gave me a silver amulet for protection and luck. i must say buddhism is a seductively benign religion, and i appreciated otto a little more for his patient introduction to it.

we took my gift of whiskey to mr. prasit, who was delighted and insisted on our joining him to drink it. thus otto was an hour late for work and we had to ride the big bike back to lonely beach somewhat tipsy. otto & mr. prasit got along well though and spent most of the time trying to convince me to stay and help them start a new bar on ban bao. doesn't take much to convince me to want to stay here.

tonight was possibly my last night here so i was a bit depressed and confused. i spent the better half of the night at the nature bar talking to my little thai friends, who kept giving me free drinks and singing a half-thai half-english version of happy birthday to me. mr. prasit showed up with his son which made me happy (he never gets to leave his restaurant and go out for a drink). he got fairly drunk and was singing and dancing sloppily by the time the fire show started. two other people were celebrating their birthday as well. later joe said a forlorn goodbye and i realized too late he likes me too. figures.

i stopped by the jah bar to say goodnight to otto, and he followed me back to my bungalow and slept next to me all night. it was nice.

:2/2--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

cat and centipede

robin was mad at me this morning for not showing up last night. apparently he went all around the island asking for me and when that failed he waited on my porch in my hammock for me to come home. he was so nervous he smoked the whole rest of our weed, which was quite a bit. it was nice of him to look out for me like that and i felt a little bad. he avoided me most of the day. it's possible he's a little jealous as well.

i spent the day on the beach. talked to the cute israeli guy a bit. fended off otto whose present today was a six pack of bottled water. ok i'll admit i ended up sleeping with him later on (yes i know) because sometimes it's just easier to give in than continue arguing over the issue. i felt really guilty afterwards but i have to say it was fun (and safe). he is small (same size as me) and lithe... thai boys have very sculpted, smooth, hairless, almost feminine bodies and they are very sensual just by nature. it was nice just to be close to someone. but asians tend to be so sappy and idealistic and he is convinced he is in love with me (or so he says) ...thus i have dug myself into a bit of a hole. i am not so good at pretending so i just tell him bluntly how it is (read: i am in this for a casual fling and i am not going to save you). he is very adept at ignoring me though.

not much stress in this place either way. ko chang is paradise i say.

:2/1--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

otto

my thai friend otto more or less kidnapped me today. i was sitting on the beach with robin and he ran up and asked me if i would go get lunch with him somewhere (it's his only day off for the next month or so). i figured it would take no more than an hour so i agreed and grabbed my bag, telling robin i'd see him later. he took me on his motorbike to white sand beach for lunch. it's a huge dirtbike, too big for me to even get up onto with any semblance of grace. it might have been the most terrifying ride i have ever taken. i suppose you have to trust thai people in this situation as they are practically born on motorbikes, but i swore a thousand times as i hung off the sides of cliffs as we passed lines of trucks on blind curves at about 120k/hour that this was the last day of my life. so we had a rather windswept and nervous lunch, i met a couple of his thai friends, and i thought with relief that that was that.

ten minutes later we had zoomed around almost the whole circumference of the island (mysteriously driving right past lonely beach) and ended up at ban bao, a more remote beach in the south. otto wanted to watch the sunset with me. argh. i gave in for lack of any other option and ended up talking to him for two hours as we laid on the beach and the sun dropped lower into lazy hues. nice and friendly.

thinking i had fulfilled my obligation and could without guilt insist upon my being taken home, i still managed to fall for his next ruse. he just wanted to talk to his friends down the beach for a bit before we went. ten minutes. okay. we headed over and it turned out that his friends were having a party and we were invited. ugh ugh ugh. what could i do but chill out. by this time it was too dark for me to even consider riding the monster bike home. it was actually a nice place we were at. the thai guys who owned it were hippies and artists. one half of the place was a fairly impressive art gallery, the other half a combination house/reception area for the camping area nearby. they had a big pit barbecue and dug out their drums and a bong. the only other farangs were a finnish hippie who kept to himself and some really annoying bible belt americans who were camping and whom i avoided by staying in the corner on a hammock for most of the night. i fell asleep only to wake up in the middle of the night to find everyone asleep around me in hammocks and otto kissing me from above. hmmm. i let him. i guess if one is persistent enough they can get what they want. or i am weak, i dunno.

we flipped a coin to see if i should stay here or go straight to india. it came up "heads" five times. the king seems to think i should stay awhile.



 

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