Koh Samui and Bangkok

Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
Trip End Oct 08, 2012

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Flag of Thailand  , Surat Thani,
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On our last day in Pattaya, Mike, Jim, and I had to make a border run to Cambodia to extend our visa in Thailand. It's a long story, but we were only there for about 30 minutes. With that, and the drive back to Bangkok, we were in the van about 10 glorious hours. The "Van Man" as Claire calls him was nice enough to play movies that had no English whatsoever in them. Some were Thai, some were American. The best one was Rambo because we pretty much knew that one by heart. We got to Bangkok and spent two nights at Claire's moms/sisters house. During the day we went to the famous Damnoensaduak floating market. It's a floating market about an hour and a half outside of town. You basically get on long tail boats and they boat you up to various booths. They sell art, food, and clothing. I found out several times the hard way that if you point at something, the guy will stop the boat and bring you up to the booth. Eventually I learned that I had to just use my "words" when I wanted to point out something interesting. He also would bring us to his friends and family's booths and skipped one we wanted to stop at because he didn't like the woman running the booth. Oh these wacky Thais. It was actually pretty fun we ate some great food and I got a few souvenirs.
After that we went to another market called Talad Mae Glong. This is a pretty cool place. This market is composed of two rows of booths mostly selling freshly caught seafood, meat, and flowers and is about two city blocks long. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the walkway in between those two rows is a set of train tracks...active train tracks. People also call it the rolling umbrella market because for shade, they have canvas awnings covering the tracks and the food. When you hear a very quiet bell, all of the vendors start rolling the awnings back and moving items off the track. They also start frantically pointing and yelling at the wide-eyed farang to get off the tracks because the train is a coming! Within about 30 seconds of hearing the bell, the train whistle blows and you see it coming down the tracks. And it doesn't go slow! We were about 1 foot from it and I got some good video and pictures and I put them both on here. Occasionally the train will catch an awning and tear up some of the booths and dumb farang standing too close. It was pretty fun, and I recommend checking it out if you ever find yourself in Bangkok.
In the morning, we hopped on an airplane and took a 1 hour flight to Koh Samui. Its worth noting that they fed us an entire meal which included fried chicken, sticky rice, salad, dessert, coffee, tea, water, and juice. I flew first class to Alaska once on Alaska Airlines for 4 hours and all I got was a bagel. America can learn a thing or two from the asian airlines. Koh Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand and is one of the most visited islands in Thailand. We are here until October 2nd.
As the plane touched down, all I could see was lush green mountians, palm trees, extremely white sand, and beautiful bluish green water. With the exception of the sand, it reminded me of Hawaii, and I was really glad we were going to be here for 7 days. Samui is probably the size of Kauai, but more developed because of its popularity. We stayed at a guest house call Samui First House for 30 bucks a night. There is a gym here, but i walk by it every morning and try to not make eye contact with it. I've fallen in love with food, and I need to get over gym. Samui first house is right at the end of the most popular and nicest beach on Samui called Chaweng. A ten minute walk in the sand gets you to the all of the popular restaurants on the beach. Samui is a lot more touristy than Samet so things are a little more expensive.There are definitely some things to do here, but my plan is to relax. Hopefully this won't be too boring of a blog for ya!
Our first day here we walked the main strip. For the most part, Samui lacks the typical Thai bar scene. There are a few in the really busy part of town, but it's really nice to sit down at a place without getting hounded by bar girls. Samui is very clean, and is the first place I've been that lacks the frequent sewage smell that I found walking the streets of the other places I've been. Strangely I don't miss it. I plan to spend most of my time here eating and getting massages on the beach. I had a really cool "Thai experience" as Jim called it on day two. I was in a little hut on the beach getting a two and a half hour massage. Up to this point, my experience with the Thai massage has been good, but I lack the communication skills to really explain or request for them to focus on a particular area, so most of the massages have been fairly similar. The woman massaging me was very nice and very respectful and soft spoken. During the massage we were helping each other learn the others language. She was also giving me a great massage that was focused on the back and shoulders. There were also about 4 other ladies in there and at one point one point they were all assisting with my massage. Now all I needed was someone feeding me grapes! Anyways, my massage was just finishing and one of the ladies who looked to be in her 30's but for some reason I felt looked less experienced noticed me grimace when a certain area of my back was touched. Up to this point, this woman hadn't said word or glanced in my direction. All of the sudden in a very authoritative way she said "Why you hurt there?" "You boxer?". I said no and I didn't know why I was sore. She waved her hand at the girl massaging me and she immediately stopped working on me and moved over. At this point I was sitting down. This woman comes over to me, shoves me down so I am laying on my left side and gets on top of me. The woman that was just massaging me puts her face about six inches in front of mine and with a smile and wide eyes says quickly: "Now you cry, now you cry!" The new woman proceeded to dig here knife-like elbows into the area beneath my scapula and goes to work. It was by far the most pain I have felt from a massage. She kept saying: "Why you hurt here, why you hurt here?" "You boxer, you fighter?" I felt like I was being interrogated and I all I wanted was to give her the answer to her questions so she'd stop! If I had the launch codes to the nukes, I'd be squealing like a pig. The other ladies were thoroughly enjoying watching this public torture. After about 10 minutes on that side, she said she I need another 30 minutes. I'm assuming she knew I was close to breaking and telling her all she wanted to know. She then worked my other side and my neck and head. All equally as painful. She found every sore spot and beat it out of me. This woman knew exactly what was going on in my body, and she knew how to fix it. She worked on me for over 45 minutes finding every pressure point on my face and neck. After I was thoroughly punished for whatever reason I still don't know, I had no more pain in any of those areas, and all of the stiffness in my neck was gone. I asked her how much I owed her for the extra work she did on me, and she just shook her head and said: " It cost you nothing, just pay the other lady for what you came in for." Then she got up and walked to a little food hut to get something to eat. I was shocked. I quickly paid my original massage lady, and ran over to the food hut and forced her to take a few hundred Baht and she was very appreciative. I told Jim this story and he was so excited. He said that that is a true Thai experience that he wanted all of us to have. He said that this lady saw that you had a problem, and instead of just letting the other woman finish, she spent 45 minutes helping me just because she knew she could help. That is what the culture is all about. It was no big deal to her and it wasn't about money, it was about helping someone who needed it because she could. He said its hard for us to have those experiences because we are outsiders in a tourist area, but most of the Thai's are just like her and that is why he loves the people so much.
Other than that, we just lounged around on beach and rented motorbikes and explored a couple different beaches and a 40 foot budda statue called "Big Budda". I came down with some sort of intestinal bug on our second to last day there and was laid up in my room. It was accompanied with the hiccups that I have had for more than 48 hours. I am having a little break in the hiccups so I thought I would finish this entry up. We are on our way to catch a ferry and meet back up with Claire who we left in Bangkok so she could spend some time with her family. She'll be waiting at the ferry terminal for us and is going to take us to see her dad who lives near Krabi. There are many beautiful beaches around here including Koh Phe Phe which is where the movie "The Beach" was filmed. Its supposed to be the most beautiful beach in the world. Claire's Dad is going to put us up for the night in a hotel he owns. I should also tell you that he is a very famous Naturopathic Doctor that has his own radio show. She's told him about my issue and he said he can help. The timing couldn't be better.
....I didn't want to leave you hanging about the illness so before I send this off, I just wanted to say that Claire's dad is awesome and I'm feeling much better. I should be back to normal in a day. The hiccups are gone thanks to him, but I'm sore as hell from them and it hurts to swallow. But I feel a million times better. I will tell you all about meeting Claire's dad in my next entry. We arrived in Phuket today and I finally have a soft bed!!!! And for only 25 bucks a night. After three days of sleeping all day and night on bed hard enough to break diamonds, I'm ready for this! Have a great day!
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