Southern Softies

Tsunami damage in Krabi

Around the World Trip: Thailand (part 4)

Last post, I’d just spent my first night in Lamai. The second day and night passed quietly. The resort is mainly for older couples, plus it does seem to be affected by people cancelling their holiday to Thailand – a complete over-reaction seeing as the tsunami hit the other coast! On my final day I decided to try a Thai massage that, for those who don’t know, basically involves the masseur twisting, contorting and stretching the victim’s body (who at this point is trying to remember where he has put his insurance details), plus occasionally kneeing or elbowing at various strategic points and sometimes cupping the balls (not sure if she meant that!). Probably should have gone for the safe bet of oil massage instead.

In the evening I met two blokes who took me to Cha Weng (20 mins away – where I should have been staying!) for a night out. Talk about an in-yer-face experience. I was so overwhelmed by the mass of bars and backpackers/tourists, that I overdid it and can’t remember anything about the night. Think I might have tried to get in a fight and remember talking to some gay blokes who were trying to ‘convert’ me to the joys of ‘brown love’. Oh dear…

After oversleeping (I got in at 5am) and nearly missing my transfer to the boat, I delicately checked out and headed to the real party island of Ko Phangan. Everyone said, as long as you head south you can’t go wrong. “Can’t wait” I thought. So upon arrival I took a taxi to my resort… in the north! At this point I seriously wanted to go back to Bangkok to the tourist office where I made my bookings and give the guy a good shoeing…

The resort, Haad Salad is so remote that it has no ATM, only one bar, a few shops and the paved road stops before it reaches the resort, leaving a dirt track. I’d hate to be there when it rained! My bungalow was in Haad Lad, which translates as Lad Beach. No, it wasn’t a gay resort and there were few lads around in the small picturesque cove, just couples. Not again! What am I supposed to do, join hands with the lovestruck couples, walking along the beach?! I was basically stuck in this place as I couldn’t afford the taxi fares day or night, so I resigned myself to sitting on the beach and doing nothing. For lunch I had a meal in the restaurant. Amongst the choices this time were No Name and No Name with Chicken!! Guess I’ll go for sweet and sour chicken again then…

After topping up my tan from pink to red (with brown ‘sleeves’ on my forearms), that was the beach finished for a while. In the evening I ended up playing pool with some South Africans at the local reggae bar/drug dealership. One thing about this place, they are absolutely obsessed with taking shoes off before entering anywhere – shops, bars, even toilets (no chance!). Consequently one of the South Africans trod on some glass with bare feet in the bar. Nice!

On the last night I was determined to take a taxi to the south and asked people if they were up for sharing. No joy, so that’ll be a chilled evening and early night again. I can’t believe I went to Ko Phangan but didn’t experience the legendary nightlife (missed a half moon party by one day) or managed to see much of the island. Another time then – new year anyone?

Next and final stop was Krabi, on the tsumai-hit coast. My resort of Ao Nang is absolutely stunning, my favourite place so far, but seriously lacking in tourists. A few restaurants are doing okay, but most businesses need people to come back. Some of them are still closed. The locals are remarkably laid back about the whole tsunami disaster – I’ve even seen ‘I survived the tsumai’ t-shirts on sale! Bad taste maybe, but people are desperate to earn a living, so who am I to judge? Krabi has amazing scenery and long beaches, plus a town to look around and some nightlife (normally). Looking at the calm sea it seems unbelievable that it could produce a wave with enough power to rip up a wall and the pavement and send the rubble 100m inland. And the wave here wasn’t even that big compared to other areas! The damage doesn’t seem to be as much as I had expected – it just looks like parts of the resort are under construction (although there are a few dead palm trees that didn’t like drinking seawater!).

Anyway, enough of the seriousness… On a walk around town I found a massage parlour that offers ‘Milky Massage’. The mind boggles… Unfortunately no funny menu choices here though, but I have discovered my favourite phrase – chuey duey, meaning help me please. Tried with the next logical step of “Chuey Stewie” but they didn’t understand. Generally I’ve had a chilled out time here (yes it’s tough, I know). Went on a long boat rip around some of the (very) rocky islands today… which was nice. Had another Thai ask to take a photo with me. Strange people…

Leaving tomorrow after 3 weeks in Thailand, sob sniff. There have been highs and lows and it has certainly been an experience! It’s a country of extremes, same same but different. Points I’ve noted are:

1) Pedestrian crossings are invisible to the Thai eye (even the ones with traffic lights attached).

2) No speed is too fast on land or water and no horsepower is ever enough (a tourist boat recently crashed  because it was overpowered with 3 truck engines). Conversely, Thailand has some of the slowest drivers I’ve ever seen!

3) Driving on the left is only a guideline, not a law, and you can drive pretty much anywhere (pavement included) so long as you harness the magic protection of the horn god.

4) Hygiene, safety and animal rights are generally considered as unnecessary inconveniences that disrupt the daily loafing.

Finally, for all the statisticians out there, I’ve compiled a list that summarises my experiences in number form:

Number of…

– Temples visited: 35 (approx.)

– Buddhas seen: 350 (approx.)

– Tuktuks seen: 2500 (approx.)

– Roadworthy tuktuks seen: 0 (exact – enough said)

– Times ripped off by tuktuk drivers: 5

– Times I ripped off tuktuk drivers: 2 (Big Sir loses the game 5-2 on aggregate)

– People seen on a motorbike at one time: 4 (someone else saw 2 people + 2 pigs)

– People seen in a pick-up truck at one time: 14

– Livestock seen in a pick-up truck at one time: 6 cows/8 pigs

– Tourists seen on my stretch of beach in Krabi: 1 (up to 20 on next beach).

So that’s it. I’m going to miss being told I’m long (what bloke wouldn’t?) and having my photo taken with strangers (not really).

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