Monday, July 18, 2005


spent friday on a hectic visa extension trip which took me all the way to the other side of bangkok. afterwards 'o' was hitting himself in the head for not going to the temple recently and clutching the amulet around his neck all the way to koh phangan where we hurried this weekend to scope out our options for living. it seemed that fate or some evil force disagreed with our choice of abode- we had absolutely the worst luck ever on the way there. the traffic was at an utter standstill when we grabbed our backpacks and left the house- 2 hours before our scheduled train. we attempted to take a bus but were still in front of our house after 40 minutes. we panicked and tried to walk it, but there was no possible way to get there in time. we made it to the canal boat and got off at the first stop- bobae market, which never ever has any taxis and is a one way street so there was no hope of one. decided to hoof it to hualampong station from there. in the hot sun we were wilting and puffing... until we finally managed to find a tuk tuk to race us the last 15 minutes there. no time to stock up on beer, water, newspapers.... alas 'o' and i prepared to hunker down in front of the window in our nice lower sleeper bunk, when we realized that the agency had sold us 2 upper beds instead. we pouted as two old and uppity thai people theatrically unfurled their sleeping mats in our spot. shrugged and headed to the dining car- which was full. the smiling waitress pushed us into a booth with a young dutch girl and her father- on hiatus after the recent death of her mother (his wife) from cancer. we got drunk together- first hesitantly and then later voraciously (luckily i love dutch people, even ones with problems). 'o' and i managed to trip through two rattling cars and into our claustrophic beds by 11pm.

next morning, we realized the train wasn't stopping at 6am as promised, but due to the mangling of a cow on the tracks we arrived 3 1/2 hours late to our destination, which was the speedboat to koh phangan, which should have gotten us there by 10am, except that we'd missed it. the agency most unfriendily made us buy whole new tickets for the slow boat (2 1/2 hours to koh phangan) for which we would have to wait for 3 hours. sigh... a whole entire day gone already. we choked down some horrid bus station noodles and glared at everyone from behind magazines until the bus came to pick us up and take us to the boat. the huge, top-heavy tourist bus was full of unhappy inconvenienced travellers, room for all with exception of 'o' and i, so we squished in next to the driver for a front row view to the thai traffic (which freaks me out so bad i have to stare down at my hands to avoid jumping out at a red light).

on the stinking car ferry we slumped down in the air conditioned but still hot and crowded VIP room and snoozed all the way to the island. rented a motorbike near the pier, 'o' and i argued whether or not we should spend the night in trendy and overpriced had rin (beach). a long drive away and full of annoying people (i protested). he won. halfway up a mountain being torn up by construction we started sliding backwards- our tire was flat. arrrgh. we were in the middle of nowhere so i started walking and 'o' coasted along on the crippled bike. a handsome german boy with a long black ponytail sidled up and 'o' forcefully threw me on his bike and told him to follow, despite raised eyebrows. finally we ended up at a fix-it shop, grimy and swearing..... after a long time ruminating as to what sort of guesthouse we wanted and not finding anything closely resembling it, we finally managed to push our way through the fratboy crowd in had rin to a quiet thai guesthouse that was empty except for us- in one dark musty bungalow. sighhh. i made 'o' come drink german beer and american barbecue with me in a bar full of foreigners, which he hated. had to sit through a norah jones video the whole time. flounced back home grumpily- me to bed to thrash about sleeplessly, 'o' to the porch to drink a half bottle of whiskey alone in the dark.

the next morning we awoke with fake smiles. ate a crappy breakfast served to us by awkward burmese kids on the main street. threw glances around the boutique- and falafel joint-filled had rin. i ran guiltily into a bookstore and snatched up the new harry potter book for almost 1000 baht. grabbed my helmet and whipped driver 'o' on our way to ban tai, near the busier side of the island, to find a home.

at the 7-11 we dialed the real estate agent i had made arrangements to meet with over the weekend. she refused to answer her phone. mystified, we started asking random thai people on the street if they knew of good house rentals. we ended up looking at this lovely, lovely thai style teak house built on a tall platform on the main road. it had cable tv, a/c, a kitchen, a huge bed, phone lines, a bathttub!!!! underneath the house was a concrete area where we could entertain. it was surrounded by a grassy clearing, and that by thick jungly bush. ack! perfect except far from all that we really love on ko phangan. we told the smiley, cunning, toothless old grandma in a colorful sarong to hold off, and against our better judgement took off at breakneck speed for thong nai pan- kilometers from civilization.

the drive to thong nai pan is long and lovely, though the road is rutted and crumbling. we guiltily grabbed a concrete bungalow with a pool full of dutch kiddies and air con, and took hot showers. sat on the porch grinning at butterflies and geckos. took gulps of pure, fresh air. were almost blinded by the sparkling white sand and calm, turquoise surf. sigh....

we headed up to our favorite bar in the jungle to find that nothing has changed. our weird but friendly friend 'w' welcomed us wholeheartedly with treats. he also showed us a great house, which his parents own. it is half cement half wood, cool, multi-leveled, with a grassy yard, toothless thai neighbors in sarangs, surrounded by children, puppies, chickens.... i gasped with pleasure before i realized that the neighbors would be 'w''s family on one side and the bar we want to not get trapped at on the other. no no no. we freaked out and left in sudden defense- went back to catch our breath and think on the perfect, placid beach with a thai friend. watched him practice his cocktail juggling and chick luring tricks (lots of scandinavian and french girls in bikinis). dug our toes in the sand, stopped shaking. decided to wander around the village. ate at the little open-air food shop on the main strip in thong nai pan noi- run by a lovely thai family who have grown a lot in 6 months. were sitting on a wooden platform with an old grandma lady and a friend a didn't recognize until an hour later, when our friend 'dum' came by- with a swollen ankle from muay thai boxing and a recommendation for another house. we shrugged and hopped on motorbikes over to thong nai pan yai. deep in the jungle near a waterfall is a place. it is two bungalows, joined together by a wooden platform. one of the bungalows is open-front (with triangle pillows and mats on the floor), and one is closed (a sleeping room). it had a kitchen area and a magical clearing outside the door. damn! this was good too! but thong nai pan yai is not very accessible in an emergency, to get mail, to renew my visa... it is also easy to get trapped in! freaked out again, 'o' and i raced back to ao noi's beach to eat marvelous fresh seafood barbecued on the dark beach. i fed the dogs nuzzling my ankles. 'o' drank quietly.

we managed to make it back to ao yai one more time for a party in the dark with lots of people we knew, none of whom were really friends. then i went home to again thrash sleeplessly (and with aching joints) in my room, while 'o' disappeared to the beach to get drunk with friends. morning, we awoke partly after just 2 hours or so of sleep. raced frantically to reach the pier. resigned ourselves to a perch on the sidewalk to wait for the boat, which was of course late. stared at the deep blue of the sea out the window of the speedboat ferry. hopped off the ferry at koh samui. 'o' and i had a huge, huge fight over in retrospect a huge misunderstanding right in public. managed to stay calm and get a taxi that wasn't extorting shocking prices. barely got to the airport alive and on time, upscale koh samui blurring past, and finally passed through the small dark airport and hopped on the plane back to bangkok. sighhhhhhhh. the plane food was good. the dizzying heights outside the window gloriously blue.

in bangkok, still not speaking with each other, 'o' and i took a long bus ride through the notorious traffic to our beloved home in quaint, old town banglamphu, and here we stay, trying to relax and not think too much, but being pent up and overloaded down with conflicting thoughts (mine including surprise emails from both 'x' and his new gal, and a lack of emails from my job, who has been ignoring me for a week including a timesheet i submitted so i could get paid) .....yikes!


Post a Comment

<< Home