Asia | South East Asia | Thailand | South Thailand – Chasing the Sun
16.12.2003, Tuesday, Koh Tao
The answer, if youve been wondering what had happened, is simple – that would be me making my famous rash decisions. I wrote my last entry on 14th of December, came down to the cafe, discovered that the heat of the day destroyed my floppy completely and was just on my way back to the room, when the man from the reception desk stopped me and told me that the BA office in Bangkok called and they had one seat available on the flight on 15th and then long nothing till the 2nd of February. My call.
Enjoying Thailand as much as I was, I didnt want to stay here for another couple of months, so I packed in no time and by 6 pm was on my way to Bangkok. Arrived just before 6 am, tired and cold, and on my way out of the coach got befriended by Nicole, a young Canadian girl with beautiful hair and a laughter that was contagious. We ate breakfast together, talked about her plans to go to the islands and my disappointment at not being able to see any. Then I called the BA office and in an instant impulse started begging. And suddenly there were seats available and I was able to prolong my stay in Thailand for two more weeks. Not to waste any time we went to the nearest travel agency and typhoon no typhoon I booked a ticket to Koh Tao, the only island (me having no travel guide at all) Id heard of before.
Here I am now, being in a poetic mood of sorts, like a sunflower after a sunny day. Landed in Suratthani (the only port available at the moment to connect to Koh Tao due to the raging monsoon) at 5 am, departed at 8 after a couple of hours of colouring little deers and rabbits with a five-year-old who bossed me around in such a charming way that I couldnt refuse. She was Swiss and had hair that was almost white in the sun. Noticing that I was too dumb to speak her language, she picked up her colouring book and showed me the cover, looking at me in a demanding way. Bambi, I said, quessing that the name would be the same in any language. The girl nodded and showed me a tree. Tree, I continued, while she flipped through the pages and showed me another one. Tree, I repeated, and she smiled a disarming smile, nodding approvingly. I wasnt as dumb as I seemed after all. I deserved to have my own crayon. She opened a box and gave me one, poiting to the part I was to colour. Every time I was trying to have a break, she would pat me on the hand and motion not to stop. So I closed my book and kept colouring.
The boat to Koh Phangan was packed with tourists so tightly the boards of the top deck were invisible under their bodies. Suddenly South, I had to indulge myself in the sunlight. So I sat for nearly five hours, feet dangling over the board, eyes closed, my face turned towards the sun, my skin covering with salt. But hoarded onto the boat to Koh Tao, I wasnt that keen anymore. I could feel my skin beginning to burn, my head swimming, so I went to the cabin. I sat there for maybe fifteen minutes, watching people turn green and go out, and finally I had to leave myself. Given the choice between seeing the late lunch we ate with Nicole or getting sunburnt, I went for the latter.
And now I sit in my fancy room, not a sunflower but a cooked lobster, amazed at how I found myself here. While I was sitting on the boat and trying not to let the nausea get the better of me as the boat flew over the rough sea, falling off the swollen waves with a sickening crash, a short, chocolate-skinned woman with dreadlocks asked me if I wanted to do some diving. All the women before her I told that I wasnt interested, but she was holding an Asia-Divers leaflet and that was another name I remembered.
Hey – I said – My friend Julie took a course at your place a month ago!
Julie? Austian girl? Slim? Pretty?
If you have Julie e-mail, write that Joy says hi!
I promised I would and Joy asked for my name. I had a glance at her leaflet, but getting to know that the prices went up by 50% just a week before and the accomodation was no longer included dampened my enthusiasm a bit. I told her I would think it over and she left.
But dumped on the pier, after nearly three days and two nights of travel, more than twenty four hours without a meal, with my skin burning, suddenly in a throng of touts, I was dazed and lost. And then somebody called my name out loud, a slim, cool hand shot out of the crowd and got hold of me, the person attached to it pushing everybody aside, making a way for me. And then I saw Joy, laughing, ahead of me, showing me to the truck. I gave in and let her lead me, thinking nothing of the prices if only I was just about to have a shower, a bed, a meal.
We stopped at the office and I booked a diving trip for the next day, a necessary condition if I didnt want to pay a ridiculous amount of money for the room. But then I was on my own. In a spacious sand-coloured room with two big beds (if I had any energy left I could jump from one to the other, just to put both to some use), with a balcony and a nice, clean toilet. Five star hotel in comparison to where I had been staying before. I had dinner at a grubby Thai restaurant, finding a strange pleasure in being stared at (being a single white person there), and went exploring, exhausted as I was. I walked all three streets a couple of times there and back, but none of them took me very far. Im in Sairee village, the second biggest place on the island, but its the size of a single block back home. So I just sat at a place that was showing an early movie, and got talking to Ross, an Irish guy who had spent a month here already and apparently aquired the right to choose a movie and watch it during the day, alone in the restaurant. After the movie he invited me for a motorbike tour of the island and I could take in all the starry sky, bars done in a local way, with christmas lights hung over the entrances and wound around the palms in the yards, diving shops, clothing shops, seven-elevens and tourists, hundreds of them, although I was told the real crowd is gone, the Full Moon Party being just over.
Later I went to see another movie, but by the end of it I was dead tired, not having slept both previous nights, so the enthralling night life of Koh Tao remained unknown to me.