Am I just being picky when I remove the ants from my fried fish on a stick? I mean really, there is likely more protien in those little buggers than in the fish “ball” thing that I’m trying to eat (but competing with some amount of vigour with the hungry and admittedly curious insects). These are the thoughts that I have to put up with after spending eight hours on a boat, waiting for it to leave port.
I got to Surat Thani (oh, note to all those that haven’t been here: you see a Thai name, just nix the ‘h’, it’s almost never pronounced – hense Tie not Thigh and Pooket not Fucket…) at about 3 p.m. after a long and painful ride in an “air con” minivan… well they got the “mini” part right.. I had to sit with my guitar on my lap near the whole way… and considering I was in the back, and the Thais are not up on smooth highway pave jobs… it was uncomfortable. The bonus was that it dropped me off right at the port, the downside (and I knew this going into my travel) was that the ferry for Koh Pha Ngan wasn’t leaving until 11 p.m., but with a pack that is now weighing about 25 kilos, coupled with a guitar… I was eager to just set my stuff down. The boat was no Stena cruiser, let me tell you. It is basically a big wooden boat with two decks, one for storage of various vegetables, motorbikes and animals and then a top deck for people. As you can see from the photo, it is just basically a big long row of 1″ (OLD!) foam mattresses on the floor. But hey, for $6 what does one expect. It was cool too because it was loaded with backpackers so there was lots of chat and stuff…
The journey was smooth as glass, hardly a wave to be felt, which made sleeping a breeze and I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. with us pulling into Thong Sala, Koh Pha Ngan’s port city. The touts (read: business-hungry Thais) started before we even got off the boat. “Where you going?”, “You need ride?”, “You need place to stay?” It is amazing the motivation of the Thai people to learn English when it comes to farang money. I know I can’t blame them, and should the situations ever be reversed you can bet I’ll learn the same sayings in “Thai” like quick. But with a head fogged with sleep, trying to balance yourself and your 30-some-odd kilos of gear on a plank to get you back on terrafirma, well… the last thing you need to think about is whether or not the woman shouting at you in broken English really does have the best deal of the 20 people vying for your attention. Which is why I felt so proud (and then so ashamed) that when she sicked her child on me to lead me to the taxi, I told the kid I didn’t need a taxi, I needed a motorbike, so confused she went to go figure things out with her mom… and I got away! Only to find my seat in another taxi… yeah, I’m a jerk, but what do you do, reward the annoying initiative or the complacent sloth of those that can’t be bothered to come out to the boat and bug us for our money… it’s a tough world we live in, one fraught with these types of questions that keep me up nights sweating… (well, them and the heat…).
Turns out the guy sitting across from me on the taxi (I say taxi, but they are actually Songtheaws – converted pickup trucks with benches) was heading to the same set of bungalows I wanted to get to. A place called Sun Cliff, that both Lonely Planet and my Rough Guide said some cool things about. After a short, body drenching hike in the early morning humidity we found the place and managed to get a great bungalow with a double bed and a single bed, an ensuite bathroom (WITH western toilet!) and shower, a balcony (complete with hammock) overlooking Sunset Beach and a FRIDGE!! My god! The place is costing us 500 Bhat a night (250 ea.), so it isn’t really cheap (which is funny because in any other country $8 a night for this type of place would make your heart stop!). But it is about 5 minutes over a hill from Sunrise Beach, the main beach where the full moon party is, and so is therefore safer and quieter.
Well, I should go and see about an Internet cafe. I was in the middle of writing a big long e-mail the other night and the power went out at the cafe, so I just ditched it and didn’t finish responding to half the people I wanted to. I also need to let Jin know where I’m staying so she can search me out when she gets here in a few days.
Alright, if anyone is reading this with any amount of enthusiasm anymore (and Thea, my mom says you are!), perhaps you were wondering what the e-mail from Cass said that made me all sobby and stuff that I mentioned last entry. Not going into too much detail (as that’s private! And aren’t I SOOOO private, sharing nearly every detail with anyone that will listen!)… basically the reason it hit me hard was that (and this is the second time she’s done this to me) I was beginning to think maybe she had stopped thinking about me, and I was wasting my time still missing her so much… and her letter basically said that was very much not true. Maybe it would be easier if she didn’t think of me, because then I’d have a really good reason to put in place all those cool defense mechanisms that we develope over years of heartache and just forget about her all together… man wouldn’t that be easy! But then I would have wasted all those sleepless nights trying to figure out how the hell I can get to Australia. So, better that she doesn’t… better that she just keeps on missing me as much as I miss her. No sense wasting good planning right?
PS: Photo site is being difficult and I can’t upload my photos… but expect them and some cool Koh Pha Ngan shots soon!!