Withdrawal. And finally: Friendliness

Trip Start Sep 18, 2010
Trip End Jul 27, 2011

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Where I stayed
Baan Mak Dang

Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My name is Henni and I'm an online-aholic!

Apparently, I have a severe substance abuse issue. My substance? The www at large, email, facebook, skype and travelpod in particular. When I realize that one hour of internet costs $3 and is pathetically slow, I am seriously considering to leave Koh Mak earlier.

Sitting at a restaurant (read: bamboo hut with no walls), there is Jungle Book showing on a TV. The one kid here is not paying it any attention. But every adult in the place (which happens to be a half dozen men between 25 and 70) have their eyes glued to the screen.

Then, I go out for dinner, drinks and live music the first night. And I decide, this place is not so bad. Maybe I can be without constant wifi or online access for a while. Koh Mak is a tiny island, most Thais don't even know. It is only 16 square km and half of the 500 residents are not even from here. There are two taxis. Everyone knows everyone. If you are around for more than 3 days, you'll know a handful of people. After a week, you are a regular. After two weeks, you could move in with them. You will party with the locals from day one already anyways.

Our taxi driver is also our neighbour, he lives two bungalows away. He tells us to come to Havana Restaurant, where he'll be playing music. So we go, listen, enjoy some food, beers and way too many delicious 'Ocean Violet' cocktails. At this rate, I might need to add another
addiction to my list soon.

Here is the recipe in case you want to replicate some island vibes:
- Crush fresh mint and frozen blueberries
- Blend with a bit of lime juice, optional
- Add a generous amount of vodka
- Stir or shake to your liking, add more ice to make it slushy if you like that
- Decorate with paper umbrella, monkey straw or other cheesy island memorabilia of your choice
- Close your eyes and listen to some Buddha Bar, Cafe del Mar, Reggae, bad Karaoke or whatever is your personal trance-inducing tune of choice.

By 10.30pm, there are only locals or longer-term regulars left. There are kids running around, being teased by band members and anyone who feels like it can go to the microphone. Nai, the taxi man actually has a decent voice. Unfortunately for our ears, but fortunate for the entertainment factor, none of the other guests that end up in front of the mic should really be there. We listen to Kae, our bungalow manager, Edmontonian 4-week islander Christopher (who deserves his own mention if not a whole entry....later), a local Irish guy and several others. Noone cares. If you want to sing, the mic is yours. I have no idea what some of the songs are, but sing along anyways. To me they all sound like REM's Loosing My Religion - "That's me in the corner, that's me in this bar, like....I'm loosing my religion...." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwUZVkKfE70&feature=related...Ok, so I know it's spotlight, not bar. But I like it better my way :) Lina, the Finish waitress gives me a job referral to Cococape resort that is looking for English speaking people. Tempting: http://www.kohmakcococape.com/

Day two I already feel like I belong here. Over dinner, I do what Shaista would do and invite a girl eating by herself to our table. Her name is Rie and after Rene leaves Koh Mak, her and retiree Christopher will become my new island mates.
After dinner, we drop in on Christopher who is jamming with some others at an open hut. Then we cross the street to the infamous Monkey Island Resort Bar, where it is supposed to be reggae night. The resident 'Reggae' band is however playing Thai and cheesy Western music. The band consists of two Farang (non Thai) and a bunch of dread-locked Thai guys, wearing sarongs or cotton pants only. One of them is quite amazing, playing his short trumpet with one hand, beer in the other. The singer, Mr. T is an aging, flirty, Asian rastaman/casanova. Mickey, the owner of the place also sings on occasion. Poorly, but funny. He makes the party happen. Very smart business man. Doesn't look it with his piled up dreadlocks, sarong, constant grin and easy-going air. I catch him pretending to drink out of a rum bottle, but really it's just a show. He has his thumb covering the bottle neck tightly to keep it closed.
I don't think they know what they are singing when doing English songs and sometimes I am convinced they make up lyrics from scratch. One song is all about Pad Thai. Yummie. Another song I think is called 'Bamboo Bong and Ganja'. The lyrics go 'I want to have a bong in my head. Come on lady, let's have a bong....chop chop chop, chop chop chop chop,...'. The fine for smoking - not even owning or selling - marijuana is $5,000 or prison. Considering that risk, I wonder where they get their inspiration from and how that works on those infamous Full Moon parties that are often described as a drug buffet. Other songs on the list include 'Country Load', you know...West Virginia, Mountain Mama. It's not a typo either. They do sing Country LLLLLoad here. And not to forget, the song about a girl he goes to visit and brings a big fish for her family in hopes she'll kiss him later.
Monkey Island becomes the place to be every evening. It's the only live entertainment place and it is where every night ends for all the locals as well.

Other than having a blast at the local music scene, I also explored the island by bicycle, ate my weight in home made ice cream, got massages by the beach and got scared and barely slept the first night Rene left. I hadn't slept alone in 4 months, with all the hostels, family visit,
traveling with and staying at friends, that I became all paranoid about having a whole bungalow to myself. And of course, I worked on my tan a little. Now, I am no longer cottage cheese white, but Emmenthaler yellow, or maybe even a little Cheddar orange.

Aaaaand, I finally found that famous Thai friendliness. Right here. It does exist after all. And I think it must be at home on Koh Mak.
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