Happily ever after

Trip Start Jan 19, 2013
Trip End Feb 02, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  , Nakhon Si Thammarat,
Friday, January 25, 2013

After all of the running around that we had done the previous few days we wanted to do something a little bit more low key on our last full day on Koh Phanang. On the agenda was some swimming, some eating, maybe a bit of a nap in a hammock.  We accomplished that… and so much more.

Carlo and I woke early due to falling asleep soon after sunset the previous evening.  We killed time lying in the hammock together, watching the sun take to the sky and the island come alive.  We didn't have to say or do much, just swing gently back and forth, listening to the birds sing to each other.  After we had passed a bit of time, hunger overtook laziness and we dressed ourselves to start the day.

We went back to the restaurant across the street, needing a lot of fuel for our day of lounging.  Both Carlo and I ate rather massive breakfasts of fried meats, eggs, toast with jam, coffee and fresh squeezed juice.  After we had eaten more than our fill we headed back towards secret beach.  We hadn’t really gotten a chance to swim there and this morning seemed as good a time as any.  We made our way down to the sand and spent quite a bit of time bobbing around the water, watching the fishing boats slide across the mirrored blue surface. 

The sun continued to creep higher in the sky so we decided to switch lounge location from the water to the pier.  We crawled out of the salty water and walked over to a diving pier that stretched out into the water.  The pier was the perfect spot to kill time and we weren’t the only ones to think so.  Almost every hammock was occupied under the thatched shade so we shared one.  It was lovely to just sit in the shade, feeling the sea breeze on our faces, listening to the waves lap at the stones.

After a while I got antsy and wanted a little bit more action.  It is a diving pier after all so I made my way down the stone steps to the water and took to paddling around a bit.  A couple had finished with their snorkel so they passed it my way and I put my face in the water to look about.  The staff from a nearby hotel came down with a bit of stale bread, throwing pieces in the water to attract fish.  I was thrilled as dozens of fish appeared from nowhere to froth the surface of the water to get at the bread.

After I had finished with swimming and clambered back onto the pier I noticed a beautiful, French speaking woman whose dark skin was inked with traditional Thai tattoos.  I hesitated for a moment before approaching her to ask about her ink.  She informed me that they were done in the traditional bamboo style and that she recommended the tradition.  I grinned at Carlo who hesitated and shrugged.  We discussed our concerns over lunch and decided that this was an opportunity for me to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time and this opportunity might not come again.

We went back to the motorbike rental place and got situated with another bike and a pair of helmets.  I mentioned to the woman who worked there that I wanted to get a bamboo tattoo and she told me that she had a friend who did them.  She would take us there!  Sure. Why not.  We’ll go to your friend’s tattoo shop.  So Carlo and I mounted our scooter and followed her towards the shop.  She turned down a little alley way and when she dismounted we found ourselves in a much less touristy, much more run down part of the island.  She eagerly beckoned us towards the shop and as we slid our shoes off and stepped up into the shop my heart sank.

Carlo and I sat on a bench as the motorbike girl waved and left.  I looked over the cracked linoleum floor, the glass case of "equipment" caked in dust, the TV playing static music videos.  I swallowed hard; I didn’t want to be here.  The owner of the shop, a heavily tattooed man wearing only a pair of board shorts and smoking a rolled cigarette, tossed us a couple of tattoo books to look at.  He chain smoked as we looked through designs.  No.  No I don’t want this.  A naked toddler ran through, squealing as he squatted to play in the dirt outside the door.  No. I can’t do this.  I mumbled to Carlo that we had to get out of here, go somewhere else, go back to the bungalow, just not here. I didn’t want this guy opening my skin.  I didn’t want this guy touching me. No.

Carlo took my cue easily and we stood in unison, hastily apologizing and shaking our heads as we backed out of the shop.  We buckled our helmets and remounted the motorbike, turning to head back the way we had come.  I was disappointed, I really wanted this to work.  Carlo suggested that we go to check out a place he had seen yesterday to see if they were better.  Better was an understatement. 

We pulled up to Bamboo Tattoo and parked the motorbike outside.  I walked up the steps to find a blonde woman greeting me.  I was sure she must be a friendly customer but then she explained to me that she owned the shop with her husband.  I looked around the clean, well maintained room and sighed with relief.  She told me all about their qualifications and their standards of cleanliness.  Finally!  I set to looking in the books to find my design.

While we were waiting for everything to be arranged Carlo told me that he had a few errands to run and he would be back in a bit.  I chatted easily with the tattoo artist and we worked out the specifics of my design and how to make it exactly what I wanted it to be.  Carlo came back just in time for us to get started so we went upstairs to their clean tattoo room and we got down to business.  The stencil of the design was placed on my hip and I reclined on my side to give him the best access to work on me.  We decided that using red ink would be more striking than the standard black and that the design would pop more with the color.  The artist showed me the clean, new needles as he worked them into a thin bamboo rod.  He sat in front of me and positioned his hands to tap the needle into my skin in an even rhythm.

I have been tattooed with the standard tattoo machine a few times now and I can honestly say that the bamboo tattoo hurts much less (and appears to be healing much faster).  I relaxed on the cot that I was on, but the silence only lasted so long.  Soon the artist’s lovely little daughter came crashing into the room.  She spent much of the next hour trying to throw things over the railing into the courtyard below, leaving Carlo to try to salvage whatever wasn’t nailed down. 

The entire tattoo took about an hour and a half to finish and once it was done I was ecstatic.  I thanked the artist profusely, incredibly glad that I had left the first shop and come to this new one.  My hip was wrapped in plastic wrap and Carlo and I strapped our helmets on to go back towards our bungalows

One of the original plans for the afternoon was going to be getting massages together down by the beach and we decided that now would be the perfect time.  We headed down towards the beach as the sun was setting but Carlo had a detour to make first.  He pulled me over towards a little temple that was perched looking over the beach and the setting sun.  He pulled a couple of bananas out of his backpack and told me that he wanted to make an offering for good luck for the rest of our trip.  I shuffled a bit, unsure about this curious spark of religiosity, but decided to humor him anyway.  He crouched for a moment in the temple and then came out, taking my hand and leading me to look out over the water as the sun painted the sky a brilliant red color.

Without warning Carlo dropped to his knee, drawing a ring box out of his pocket.  He took my hand in his to ask me to marry him.  I wasn’t really patient enough for him to say a poem or profess his love; as soon as the box was open I snatched the ring out, starting to slide it onto my finger.  Realizing myself I hesitated long enough to say yes and hold the ring out to him so he could slide it into place on my finger. He stood and we embraced, holding each other and rocking back and forth as the sun set behind us.

After we both had regained our composure we finished walking down to the beach, still intent on getting our massages.  We stopped at the little, open sided hut, and we lay side by side as we allowed the masseuses ease away the tension of the week.  After an hour were both well relaxed and smelling of coconut oil.  We stepped out of the hut and walked back up from the beach hand in hand as the full moon rose up over the island, giving us enough light to walk back to our bungalow together....

Do you know what happened to the girl who got everything she ever wanted?
She lived happily ever after.
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Mom on

You know I'm not a big fan of tattoos, so I appreciate how much thought and effort you and Carlo put into finding the right person for the job. It is beautiful, and will always be a memory linked to the moments just before Carlo's lovely proposal. We are delighted for the two of you and wish you many, many years of happiness together.

Benny on

This is such a beautiful story, and I am glad you shared it with us. I'm excited for you and Carlo, and so pleased he asked.

Sis on

This is a beautiful story of love and the beginning of a long and happy journey! Congrats :) I can't wait to see/hear more about your trip to Cambodia!

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