Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ko Samet

I recently traveled solo to an island outside of Bangkok. I took an over-night bus up to Bangkok (14hours) and then made my way across town to another bus station to take me to the ferry. I've spent a decent amount of time in Bangkok so it was all mostly familiar- aka no fear, no stress. Our bus blew a tire, I think, there was a loud noise and it smelt of burnt rubber. We continued at a slower pace, because we were relatively close, but the driver constantly stopped and ran out to check the tire; eventually and thankfully we did make it to the ferry. It was a bit comical. There was a couple from Germany on the bus as well, we kept giving each other looks of the same questions, "What is going on?", "We better make it there" and "Are they seriously going to drive the rest of the way on this bald tire?".

Once on the island I felt, "I'm back". It was my 3rd time now to Ko Samet and has become a place of wonderful memories and comfort in a way. I hopped into a Song Tow (truck taxi) with about 11 little Thai girls, who were excited and ready for their vacation- all with their straw cowboy hats on. They were quite excited that I jumped on with them and began using what English they knew. Since I was with them I was able to pay about half the price that foreigners have to pay when entering the National Park-- thank you ladies!

I was meeting my friend Betsi from San Luis on the island. She was here on a trip with a team from America. I arrived earlier than them, so I checked into my room and walked around the main beaches. It was interesting to see the new changes/developments and quite fun to return to my favorite spots and reminisce about my last stay. My good friend, Maureen, and I stayed there last time and boy did we have some adventures-- one of the best weeks of my life.

It was great to spend time with Betsi and meet her team- to be able to have a real conversation with people (and not worry about a language barrier :-)). We rented motorbikes to bike around the island, went on a snorkeling trip one day, and saw many fire shows. Those are amazing! The Thai men throw around flaming sticks and many other incredible things. At some shows there's boys like age 5- 10 twirling this flaming stick and throwing it around while walking through the crowd-- it is really crazy and somewhat scary. A couple nights Betsi, her friend, and I went out dancing. It was great, I've been dying to just go out and dance for quite some time- we had a blast! :-)

Fire Show

The dancers and I, plus the little one in training!

Betsi and her team left a few days later, but I remained. I switched over to the hostel Mo and I stayed at. It is very basic, a little bungalow (bamboo hut) with a porch and inside a mattress, bug net, and fan. But I love it, so simple. The showers and toilet are communal, located elsewhere. It has a great communal living space where people eat, read, watch tv, hang out, etc. Very easy to meet people and start chatting. In the evenings the hostel plays 2 American movies, so you get a little comfort from home. It was so peaceful, beautiful, relaxing. To have the whole day to do nothing- take a nap on the beach, go swimming in the beautiful water, read a book, just sit and think, or go for a walk. Being solo was not a problem, it was nice, and I did feel very comfortable considering I had stayed there before. I was just a little nervous towards the end when word spread that I was staying/traveling by myself- but everything was fine.

It was really crazy, because quite a few people looked familiar from years past, the locals that is- people I've had conversations with. It's always weird when the past resurfaces to the present. I did learn that it's impossible to recreate the past and relive old memories. It can just never be and the hoping of can be a real let down. One must learn to cherish the past and look forward to what the future will bring... new memories. :-)

My last night I was sitting on the beach deciding if I should swim one last time, when a local Thai asked if I wanted to play pool. It was fun although our skills are severely opposite, making the games probably not too fun for him. After, he asked to take me to eat some Thai food for dinner. We walked along the beach to the restaurant. It was great food, great conversation, and a great view. Overall a great experience, no complaints. Later I met up with some people staying at my hostel and we went out dancing. It was a great, amazing, and adventurous last night on Ko Samet.

My henna tattoo that I love and wish was real

I was sad to leave, I'm never able to stay as long as I want when I'm there. But I had to return to Bangkok and meet up with Pook's 67 yr old mom and 13 yr. old nephew. They are staying with a us for a week and get to see the baby for the first time. The three of us journeyed our way back to Nakhon with the use of many hand gestures and the few Thai words I know. We were quite a sight, I'm sure people were wondering how we were connected. Apparently someone even asked her if i was a half Thai. :-)

Until next time...

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