Monday, November 16, 2009
Island Hops and Hopes
The Thai islands are both not what we expected, and exactly as we expected. They're very beautiful and very crowded. We weren't prepared for how crowded they actually are. In the land of understatements, to call the tourist path here "beaten," is king. Our plan was to rent climbing shoes in Railay, and "climb every day for the next two weeks." What actually happpened is that I got ill again, we never went climbing, and then left Railay after three nights. We did, however, meet two Coloradoans there, and Miles and I decided people from Colorado are pretty cool. There also must be some sort of unexplained attraction between Coloradoans, because without making any plans, we kept running into this couple for several days in unlikely places.
After Railay, we went to Koh Phi Phi pretty much because it's obligatory for tourists to stop there. It was stunning. Both in landscapes and the sheer number of foreigners in such a small space. Everything is done in excess there: partying, drinking, tattooing. The girl from Colorado saw my tattoo and asked if I got it here. I felt a sense of revulsion at the idea and gave her a stern, "No, I got this in America!" I'm painting a grim portrait of these places, but it's actually easy to have a good time here. On Koh Phi Phi, Miles and I rented a kayak and went around one side of the island. The currents were in our favor, so we were able to rest whenever we liked, and we still drifted by the limestone cliffs toward our destination. We made landfall on the opposite side of the isthmus from where we rented the kayak, so we hired a cart pusher to push our kayak on his cart to the other side. That night we were going to go out at one of the beach parties, but I still wasn't feeling well, so I went to bed and left the partying up to Miles.
Now we're on Koh Phangan, where we actually plan to stay for the 10 days until we pick John up in Bangkok. I'm feeling good about this island. I'm feeling the best about this place since we left Lake Toba and Pulau Weh in Sumatra. It's a big island with lots of wilderness in the middle, and the city of Haad Rin, which is famous (or infamous?) for the full moon parties. We won't be here for a full moon, but that makes little difference here, because they also have half moon, and black moon parties (the black moon is tomorrow night). Basically they're partying all the time. This would normally wear us down, but we have a place at the very tip of the penninsula from where it's dark, quiet, and you can't even see any signs of civilization. From our secluded retreat, we can decide if and when we want to partake in the island's offerings. I've been traveling for nearly two months now, and I embrace any place that can feel something like a home.
Two Thais fishing up the beach from where we're staying. Over that rocky bit in the background is Haad Rin.