Friday, October 26, 2007

Koh Pha Ngan

We arrived in Koh Pha Ngan at about 8pm on Wednesday after being en route from Koh Lanta since 7:30 a.m. Travel in Thailand takes a while. A van picked us up at Where Else? (our sweet eco-chic rustic bungalow) at 8:30 am and there was a little mix-up with our receptionist (if you could call her that...more like some young girl who showed us to our room) because she thought we were booking our trip (3 vans +3 buses + 1 ferry +1 songthaew) through her so that she would get the commission. Unfortunately, we had wandered around town and found a cheaper deal from a little travel this girl became rather annoyed. It was the first time I saw a Thai roll their eyes in disgust.

Along the way, we bounced along muddy roads with massive pot-holes. It was impossible to read, and I was dying for a sports-bra after about 15 seconds. Luckily, Jen brought us some nuts to munch on because we didn't have any breakfast, and at one point we stopped at some crappy rest area while we were waiting to transfer to another van and we grabbed some panang curry and rice to tide us over a little longer. Little did we know that would be all we would be eating until midnight! At one of our rest-stops there were disgusting soi dogs with scabs and sporadic patches of hair hanging around us, and one had a whitish viscous substance hanging off of his balls. It was enough to make me dry-heave, so, naturally, I had to alert jen to its existence--much to her dismay. Our final bus ride before arriving in Suratthani where we boarded the ferry was plush and pink and fabulous. We watched Sin City and drank beers and reclined allll the way back.

The ferry was much grosser. It made me a bit sea-sick and there was a disgusting amount of smog being released into the atmosphere--billowing black clouds that occasionally blew back in our faces. It is quite unnerving how much people litter and pollute the islands here. The longtails run on car-motors that have been juiced up and and create an insane amount of smog. There is also a LOT of construction going on everywhere. Huge fancy hotels and resorts are choking out all of the smaller backpacking joints and I think the cheap- and quaint-ness of the Thai islands might soon be a thing of the past.

When we finally arrived in Koh Pha Ngan, we hiked around in the dark, in circles, in search of lodging. Because of the full moon party, every little crappy bungalow was way overpriced and not worth it. We took a songthaew to the west side of the island (further away from all the partying) and found nothing. We eventually ended up back where we had started on the east-side and got a bunglow at Pilada Lodge(sp?) in the back by a swamp and completely surrounded by mooing bullfrogs that were so incredibly loud we couldn't hear each other when we spoke in a normal tone of voice. Then, just as we put down our shit and were about to go eat dinner, we noticed a huge leak--basically our floor was caving in--so we had to go switch rooms. At this point I am about to keel over and die of starvation and when we were finally are on our way to go eat, it started pouring on us and then the island went completely black! I was really worried that I wasn't going to get to eat my pad see ew if they weren't able to cook it, but eventually after watching the storm outside and the palm trees swaying madly in the darkness, and after driking a couple of Changs, the food came out and we feasted! Vegetarian no-names (fried vegetable nests served with a sweet chili sauce, seafood pad see ew (drunken noodles with veggies and prawns and squid) vegetable spring rolls, two orders of rice, green curry, hot and sour chicken, and a broccoli, tofu, and mushroom broth soup crowded our table. We feasted and then we slept. And we were so exhausted that even those damned howling bull-frogs couldn't keep us awake.

The next day we decided that we don't have to live like stinky hippies the entire time we're backpacking around, so we splurged on a really nice, clean, air-conditioned room. Cool tile floors, a huge lovely bathroom with a western toilet that flushes and comes complete with toilet paper and a hot shower...heaven! We realized that after a long night (or three) of full moon partying, we would probably need a nice clean place to crash in, complete with mini-bar full of water, gatorade and Chang. We also have an infinity pool in the shape of a club that looks out over the sea.

Koh Pha Ngan is a party haven for young westerners looking for drugs, loud techno, and other travelers to mingle with. Most of the restaurants here show movies or American TV alllll day. There is one little alley where literally every bar/restauant blasts Friends. Different episodes, different seasons, but all at full blast. Last night we found an amazing bar called Mellow Bar which is situated up on a hill overlooking the sea. It is built into the rocks surrounding it, but does not destroy or take away from the natural beauty of the area. It creativly works it's way into the nature, with lots of steps and different levels to hang out on. There are curving patios with cusions and low tables to lounge around, and really good djs as well. From this high place you can also hear all of the loud music coming off of the beach and see the flashing lights and neon body paint writhing around on the sand below. I drank a happy shake for 500 baht and we spent the night hanging out with some crazy irish kids and enjoying the scene.

Monday, October 22, 2007

mai pen rai

So here I am in Koh Lanta, Thailand. Jen, Courtney and I got here last night after having a mildly annoying day of travel from railay. basically, our driver who was supposed to take us from krabi to koh lanta (an hour's drive) decided to do all of his personal errands and take us around Krabi for an hour and a half before taking us to our destination. finally after he exchanged a hair straightener, went to the hardware store, got gas, dropped off a box of worms at some lady's house, and did something with a cell phone, we started getting fed up and courtney confronted him about it. Shrugging her off, he finally started to take us down the correct slow as humanly possible. even tuk-tuks were shaking their fists at him...but we eventually made it and after a couple hours, found acceptable lodging (cheap, adorable and clean bungalows with a roof deck, outdoor shower and western toilet!)

But let's start at the beginning: a week ago today...
After one day, i was offered a (real) and fucking sweet job--working for the same company that brooke works for in bangkok as a writer and researcher for an online educational company. if i take it, i would be working in bangkok for 3 months, then sf or wherever else I wanted for 3 months, etc... so that was huge, especially after only being in town for 24 hours!
i stayed in bangkok with brooke and her parents in their sweet ass house with a lovely maid who made us breakfast and dinner that was fucking insanely good. one night we had pumpkin curry and fresh mangos off the tree outside of her house. i had my own room and we rode mopeds all around the soi (neighborhood) she lived in. there are semi-mean soi dogs everywhere though, so we had to avoid streets where they ruled the school. i ate delicious street food (chicken satay and papaya salad) and drank the water within the first day and my belly was fine, so i was extra happy about life.
we were in bangkok for 3 days and then met up with courtney correll and jen at bkk (the airport in bangkok) where we (and brooke's new boy, Jeff) all flew down to Krabi. leaving bkk I got my carry-on confiscated because I tried to hide my hair products, sunblock and bugspray (all over 3 oz). "Come on!!!" I pleaded, "can't i at least keep one?! I freckle, I fro, I get eaten alive!" the airline people giggled and shook their heads no. Somehow I got the idea in my head that i would spray allllll of the bug spray all over myself (and jen) if I couldn't carry it on. So right there, I ripped off the top of the can and sprayed a huge cloud of bugspray all over the place, even in our mouths!! then the airline staff started really cracking up and as jen and i were coughing and spitting out bugspray all over the floor. i was pretty shocked that they actually let us do that.
once in Krabi, we noticed that there were no taxis allowed into the airport area, only very expensive vans. So we walked out to the street where we caught a songthaew (a truck with a cover over the back where people sit on benches) to the docks. There we haggled for a long-tail boat and took it (during an amazing sunset) to Railay.
We stayed in Railay for only 3 days, but it seemed much longer because life goes so slowly there. there are no cars or mopeds, only long-tails and feet to carry you around. there were bioluminescent flagellates in the water at night and as you moved your hands through the water, it looked like you were climbing through the stars. amazing. One night courtney taught us the half-moon pose which we did on the beach under the half-moon in the sand which was as soft as finely ground flour. some local guys crouched nearby, watching us curiously, so we waved at them to come join us. We tried to teach them how to do it, but they kept falling over and laughing at us in the moonlight
there is so much more to write about but internet is kind of slow and expensive so I will write more when we get to Chang Mai in the north. Once there I am going to take a thai cookery class and courtney says it is a really cheap and good place to get dental work done, so maybe i'll get my teeth cleaned or something...i got a great thai massage on Ton Sai ( a beach on Railay where all the rock climbers go) and as the lady was massaging and stretching me out, another lady went to smack a giant flying bug on the ceiling and like 5 bugs fell out of the ceiling and onto my face. i screamed and everyone in the place started cracking up. after that broke the ice (and the ceiling) all the ladies started joking around and one told jen she was sexy ( as translated by brooke) and they all crowded around her to gawk at her belly button ring. Then one lady proceeded to lift up her shirt to show us her rolls and tell us that she was "too fat for a belly button ring." We started dying after that and couldn't stop laughing through the entire massage, but it was still really amazing (and only about 6 bucks for an hour!) I think I'll go get one today too...

i'll put up some pictures and write more once i have better internet connection (the power just went out and luckily, this blog was saved!!)

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Week Away

In exactly one week I will be drinking a glass of red wine on my plush cathay pacific aisle seat (#56K) eating my Indian Vegetarian Meal that I ordered over 5 months ago.

But how many books to pack? I really don't want to weigh myself down--I'll already be lugging my allocated two bottles of booze--but I hate not having adequate reading materials on a vacay.

Speaking of reading, I really want to read Mexico's ex-president Vicente Fox's new book Revolution of Hope.

Since Thursday I have been house/pre-teen-sitting for my little brother, Hunter. He was really worried that I was going to make him eat salad every day, and I don't want to our time together to be spent arguing over vegetables. He made a good point though, which was that potatoes are vegetables, so we've been gorging on mashed potatoes at pretty much every meal. So much for dieting before Thailand.

So, what's up with Columbus day? The bank and post office are closed, is that all? Hunter still had school--what a dumb holiday. I dropped him off at 8am and then after I got home I realized that maybe he would be the only kid there because I couldn't remember if schools were in session or not. I sat in mom's minivan for like 8 seconds, pondering whether I noticed any other little pre-teens skulking around the vicinity of the junior high when I dropped him off 10 minutes earlier. I assume there was because when I picked him up later, he didn't seem any more annoyed with me than he usually is. For example, this morning when I came downstairs to make breakfast I exclaimed, "brrr! it's cold in here." And he responded with "DUH, it's called 'morning'."