Island deja-vues

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

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Where I stayed
Remark Puzi Hut
Buddha View Guesthouse

Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, January 20, 2011

The bus is the exact same one we were on on our New Year's trip, cracked windshield and all. Thankfully, this time, it doesn't wreak of loo every time someone opens the toilet door. It's a full bus, so I don't get to pick my seat. I am seated next to a fellow Teutonic, Rene, who is on his second Thai vacation and well underway to addiction. Rene calls himself a "Lebenskuenstler''. There is no equivalent term in English, but it translates literally as "life artist". In his mind that's the best way of describing his work as a Medieval bagpipe musician and freelance web developer, not to forget a refuser of dad's big company inheritance. Bang Bao Bay is what we both have in mind for our Koh Chang destination, we are both watching our funds, and seem to get along alright, so it makes perfect sense when we decide to go accommodation shopping together.

My non-negotiable hot shower need means that he'll be spending 2 to 3 times his budget if we share a room. He is willing to splurge a bit to sleep in a comfy bed for a change. For me, this is a score, seeing as the cheaper places wouldn't have hot water. Or a shower at all. Minor issue that there are no twin bed rooms. I figure, if I can sleep with two others in one double bed (miss you ladies!), I'll be ok with one, albeit a near-stranger. I threaten to kick if he snores. I don't say that I'd do the same should he get the wrong idea. Any worries are completely unfounded. It had escaped my memory how uncomplicated it can be to share living spaces with Germans, no matter the gender. There is no oddness, no uncomfortable sense of prudishness, no vibe of non-platonic possibilities and I am reminded of my 'younger days', when sharing a room with a male would not have been something I'd even consider noteworthy.

Thinking these thoughts also reminds me of the vast gap in cultures I have crossed the past four months. And how the same experience would be viewed so differently is all of them.
- Germany (and most or at least some of Europe): No questions asked, no eye brows raised. At all.
- North America: No questions asked, but certainly one raised eye brow and a curious look.
- Middle East and other Muslim nations: Not even an option unless you are married. See the last entry from Dhaka on that note.
- As for Thailand, I'd say anything goes here. But Yu, the lady from Buddha Guesthouse (that fell in love with Rene ;)), had a hard time believing that we only just met. And that we are merely sharing a room and bed, nothing more. No one here will care or stop you, but it isn't common.

Turns out, I didn't just save some $s, but also learned a few interesting things from Rene. Over a few shared meals, beverages and beach time, he tells me what he knows about Thai culture and habits, a little about property rights and working visas. I must pick up the book he read all this in, called 'Farang in Thailand'. I am also really interested in his experience/accident with a Thai prostitute and trouble finding girlfriends who have the same horizontal preferences as him. He makes no secret out of being into S&M and I am curious to learn about some of the etiquette from that world. Even though I am what he considers 'sti-no', short for 'stink normal', meaning 'stinking normal' (or 'bloody boring' if I may pick a less literal translation), I at no time feel outraged, turned off (or on, for that matter) or grossed out by his stories. Surely, I have always been on the liberal end with my POV on prostitution and such topics. Now, I am trying to decide if this trip has made me more open-minded and his tales would have left a more raunchy or wrong taste in my mouth before.

Doesn't matter either way. What matters is that I made a new friend. Shaved head, tatooed, ear-lobe-stretched, double-nipple-pierced, S&M practicing, medieval music and Thailand lover, bag-pipe playing, Lebenskuenstler, super NICE guy. I've always enjoyed collecting people in my life :)
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