Thai'd to relax before India

Trip Start Sep 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand. An assault on my nasal passages. After being here for only two days my throat is sore. Smog and dirt, touts (people who harass you to buy things at every turn), tourists, tuk-tuk drivers, temples, did I forget to mention dirt? I arrived at 10pm and got to a teensy weensy room in the touristy backpacker area called Khao San Road for the night. The next day I sweatily worked my way across town to a much better place. I hung with a guy for the night and met a cool couple, Natalie and Michael, from England. With a hangover the next day I chilled at the hostel. I was going to go out that night (Saturday), but it was monsooning (is that correct?) and the street filled with about a foot of water. I was wondering why the sidewalks, when there were any, were so high and now I had my answer! I ran next door to an italian restaurant that proceeded to flood, water gushing out and through the back to the front of the restaurant. Miraculously they still managed to churn out dinners, albeit not very good. The next morning I had had enough of Bangkok and harassment so I bolted North to a town called Sukothai where their annual Loy Krathong festival to celebrate the end of monsoon season and thank the Gods for a bountiful harvest is supposed to be one of the best in the country. The train (@$10) took 5 1/2 hours with snacks served! It was just like being on a plane. After I had to take a one hour bus to the town ($2.50). I was looking for a place called Big Al's, but a lady took me to a wonderful place called J&J's. A french guy immigrant owned it and it was wonderful. On Monday I sat my butt down and wrote in my journal for 7 hours and 16 pages! Watching tourist couples go by made me lonely and sad. the next day however, I chatted with some fun girls from germany and so we went on a bike tour of the area with this funny guy from yet another country I can't remember. Ina and Gundel and Nadja and I had a blast biking around getting sunburned. I was wearing my leather cap and no lotion so I had a bright burn line running directly across the middle of my forehead and no I don't have a picture! The guide kept dinging his bell when we passed by people so the kids would all wave at the funny tourists. We stopped for coffee, which in Thailand is more sugar than coffee, but insanely delicious and it was served to us by a "lady boy". This is the term the Thai people use for trans-sexuals, not gays. I don't know what they call gay people cause it is so against their religion and all, but the "lady boys" have become a sub-gender, thus avoiding the scorn and prejudice of being labeled "gay". But it is sad cause this group also contains eunichs and castrated men who had been kidnapped and other tragedies. At any rate, we had to go to the "facilities" and we were having trouble communicating this to the people so Gundel gave them the international symbol for toilet, which I imitated in a picture for you and have posted so please check it out cause when you see it you will laugh your head off as we all did!! The next day Ina and Gundel took off for another town and Nadja and I palled around together. We went to a National forest and I hiked up to a waterfall. It would've been great, but it had just rained and leeches were jumping onto our feet. These slinky slimy disgusting things that when you pulled them off just bit and clung to your fingers! I was so stressful and tiring and an ordeal I got sick on the way down. The guide wanted to get out faster than we did and took off way down the trail. By the time we got back to the hotel I was shivering with fever. I spent all night under the blankets sweating, burning, and turning. I didn't have any cold medicine so I let the fever burn. I seriously was worried that I'd have to go to a doctor. I was rewarded for my suffering by feeling better the next morning than I had for the last four days! Yeah! On Saturday, Nadja was leaving for an island, she didn't know which one, but this was her vacation and she wanted to sit on a Thai island and chill. Long story short, I decide at the last minute to go with her. I had literally 10 minutes to pack everything up I'd had out for the last week. We were so close that our tuk-tuk driver had to pull in front of the bus we needed to be on to get it to stop for us, cause it was the last one for the night out of town! Being the stubborn American and German personalities we are, we refused to take a tuk-tuk to the train station from the bus station when we got to the next town and so spent an hour walking around without a clue as to where we were going in the dark of Thailand with dogs and all sorts of people alternately staring and laughing at us. But we eventually did find our way to the train terminal. An overnight trip to bangkok deposits us at 6am. While waiting for our train the guy asleep behind me just curls up on the floor still asleep! I thought it was funny so I took a picture. On the train these really tacky western girls were sitting in their halter tops and manicured and pedicured limbs. The one girl wiled away the hours plucking the hair from her knuckles! If you travel in Asia, please respect their culture and dress conservatively! Not like your on a cruise to the Bahamas or Disneyland. Another 5 hour train ($6) drops us in a town where we had to catch a bus to another town on the other coast two hours away. In case you haven't figured it out yet, travelling involves alot of travelling. We had now been going for about 21 hours. A girl at the station said her uncle just opened a new resort on the island we were trying to get to, Ko Phayam (Pro: pie-am, not fi-am). I didn't necessarily believe her but took the info anyway. A two hour trip by bus felt Nadja quite drained as she gets motion sickness and I was wiped as well. Luckily I bought a Lonely Planet India book in Bangkok and spent most of my time pouring over the 2 1/2 inch thick monster! But we finally get to town. We had to ride on the back of motorcycle taxis as they were the only form of transport at that time of night. Bags and all! Woo-hoo! It was great fun! The next day we make our way down to the ferry, which is to say a fishing boat they converted into a ferry cause they can make more money. Two monkeys on leashes were getting on and for no reason one of them jumped at me. Luckily no repeat of Bali happened though and they were tied up to the front of the boat and we were inside. A two hour boat ride ($6) gets us to the island. A woman on the boat says she works there and led us to two bike taxis who took us to the other side of the island. We walk up and the owner, Pat, greets us. It turns out that in fact he had opened recently...yesterday!! We were going to be his first guests. He showed us a cabana for 800 Baht ($20) with a 200 Baht discount for being the first customers, but the room was on a platform and the bathroom was downstairs requiring us to go outside every time we needed to go so we asked to see one of the ground models. For 400 Baht it was perfect! Gargantuan bed, brand new everything, in fact alot of the stickers were still on the fixtures! These Bungalows were set behind a platform about 20 feet across and 10 feet in the air. It was situated so you could look out at the beach. There were low lying tables and long cushions all over for sitting. Check out the photos. We donned our bathing suits and went in the water that was so warm, clear and calm we could have been in a pool. It was pure heaven. Now the reasons I wanted to go with Nadja is because 1)I was really enjoying her company, stilted German accented English and all, 2) I was sooo tired of bugs I needed a break, 3) I knew India was going to be quite difficult so I wanted to recharge my batteries and 4) Since my plans to go through Indonesia fell through and I was coming back to Thailand in three months anyway, I didn't want to spend too much time travelling around now. So for $5/ night we stayed for two weeks. As I floated there that first night a huge grin spread across my face. I thought of that song from Sweet Charity "If my friends could see me now". I looked over at Nadja and she was smiling too so we both started to laugh in giddy relief and ecstacy over how lucky we were. I was smiling all night long as we chilled on the deck and Pat cooked for us and brought us coconut milk. The real stuff , not from a can with colors and flavors. If you have the real stuff it hardly has any taste at all and is clear, but is silky smooth. Pat had previously managed a Sheraton and currently owns a few music schools in Thailand so he knew what he was doing! Every day he would ask us what we wanted from market and he would get it and also bring us tasty treats, the most unique being some fried leaves. The whole next week comprised of us doing nothing. Wake, swim, eat, chess, read,eat, chess, eat, swim, sleep. Every day was a struggle not to drink and I failed miserably. Eventually after a week I was having my first beer by 11am. Nadja wasn't any better. Pat's workers were from Burma, which, by the way, was right across the bay we were staying on, and couldn't speak English or Thai so ordering things was a hoot. They learned quickly though, but still had a long way to go. Pat told us one day that he hired a cook, but had to teach him how to cook!? Pat's dog for some reason wouldn't come near me even after I threw it a ball. I read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in three days. I got very good at chess so watch out Dad!! I thought of all of you alot. By the way...I miss everyone!!! We made one excursion back to the mainland. I only had a little money on me and this being an island and all it didn't have an ATM. We decided to make the two hour trip back. We ran some errands and picked up a bottle of vodka cause even though Pat's alcohol was cheap, bringing it ourselves was even cheaper. I almost bought a guitar cause I thought it would be soo cool to practice while travelling around. But it only came with a soft case and I didn't know a thing about buying one and I didn't think I would keep up with it honestly so I passed. I may still though cause I am in India now(that's another posting)and the guitar in Thailand would've cost around $45 usd! Even if I had to lose it it wouldn't be bad. Nadja was bummed that I couldn't buy it, but she agreed with my decision. Anyway, that was the most strenuous thing we did for two weeks! Two days before my flight to India we made our way back to Bangkok. Ugh. So for the two weeks on the island, with food, drink, and lodging it cost me $225! So a word to the wise, yes the plane fare costs more, but it is sooo completely worth it to go to Asia to vacation, especially when you can throw in a day or two in Bangkok to go shopping!! I know I will be going back! Thanks Pat! Our last day together was spent shopping. We went to these weekend markets that are the largest in the world. It was literally MILES of stalls. Just overwhelming. Something like a few hundred thousand people went to it every weekend and it felt like it! I got a cool army hat that had a wide brim and a fabric attachment that covered my shoulders and snapped across my face. It will become one of my best purchases. I also bought a new day pack from North Face(yes it is real, not a knockoff) for $6. On our way back to Khao San Road where we were staying we ran into Natalie and Michael again. They had taken a trip to Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia while we were on the island. I hope to meet up with them in England. We sat with them for a while and like 5 other people at various times came to sit because they knew them! So popular! But we were so tired from the day. We had gotten into Bangkok at 5am went to the hotel, freshened up and left for the markets so we had been going all day. Dinner and bed. The next morning I got a minivan to the airport. When I went to check in they told me the flight was cancelled and I asked why, bad weather? She said no not the flight just my ticket. What? Ok, so after an hour and a half they finally let me check in. Apparently because my ticket didn't have the price printed right on it, they had some trouble believing it was real. So now I had 1/2 hour till the plane took off and I still had to get through customs. Lovely. It was made better by the fact that a woman behind me's plane was departing in like 5 minutes. I let her go ahead. I go through and to the plane with only five minutes to spare! I was in the exit row and had it all to myself. All the flight attendants were gorgeous and the food was great!! Airline food! Nadja was vegetarian so I'd been eating veggies for the last three weeks and I decided it is a safer idea than meat so I continued with the habit, India being a major country for vegetarian food I wasn't worried about communicating this to people. So this concludes my entry for this visit to Thailand. Next stop: INDIA!!! Don't forget to check out the photos!! And MERRY CHRISTMAS to all the Christians!
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