Monday, March 16, 2009

This Land of Sun, Sand and Spills!

Well nearly at the end of my jaunt in Thailand and its been full of fun and unexpected adventures and delights. I will take away with me the smells and the excitement over cooking. Just today in the night market of Krabi Town the vibrancy and energy surrounding the place makes you feel you are in a circus. The chefs all around in the makeshift kitchens with flaming woks some flames shooting high into the night (mostly for effect I dare say), the waitresses grabbing couples and families and singles to sit at the nearest chairs to their stall so that they can win another customer. The menus juggled like ten pins and the plates jostling all around the hub bub finally making it to their respective tables with eager faces, forks and chopsticks at the ready. For tourists and locals alike this market produces a prodigious amount of food on any given night. With the piquant smells of lemon grass, ginger and chillies filling the air its like the piped piper calling to the rats - and oh we scurry.
So on ending this holiday i am nursing an injury from a motor scooter accident of which I have only myself to blame. Sober and with pillion rider in tow I ventured around my island haven of Koh Jum (Pu Island for those who can not remember previous blogs). We entered terrain meant for 4WD only and carelessly ventured forward even after we had reached the point on the map the hire company had told me to avoid. With danger on every slippery rock we pressed forward until on the top of an escarpment with wondrous views of the Adaman Sea to be admired I lost my nerve on the impending swooping hill. So retreating back to safer roads we thanked ourselves lucky for no misadventures. Beer was beckoning and lovely forest floated on either side of me on a normal relatively safe dirt track for the island. Low and behold a bloody big goanna (iguana type lizard from these neck of the woods closely related to the Kamodo Dragon - I kid you not) was sun bathing on the path. The fact that he was 2 metres long meant he took up the entire path. Now normally my brain does not work this quick but in succession the following thoughts flowed through my head. If I run over its tail it may swing back and bite me or Silvia my Scottish pillion rider. If I hit it dead on its large enough to topple the bike without killing it and therefore I will be on the ground with a huge pissed off lizard. Thirdly I registered that slowing down may just prompt it to scurry off but that braking hard to stop will surely cause pre-goanna crash. In the split seconds that these thoughts occurred I braked softly at first and when realising darn goanna was not scurrying on, I hit the brakes harder. I was aware of yelling to the girl on the back "we are going down", before the bike even started to lose grip on the road and suddenly I was down. Losing my watch and silver bracelet, which no doubt saved me from larger injuries. Silvia, sadly went down behind me and immediately lept to her feet before I had even stopped sliding. She asked what happened and then I saw the blood pouring from her knee. I think I got off lightly. Now, what is it with nearly deserted islands that you don't see anyone for ages and then if you do something stupid three people come along immediately to gawp at you. So sadistic nurse in town, after a very careful ride back, cleaned our wounds and gave Silvia a bandage (bless her she was brave and only a few tears came out). Said sadistic nurse relished dabbing iodine on my scraped up elbow. I nearly cried like a baby.
The next morning I had booked a snorkeling trip around the nearby islands. Being told not to get my arm wet until the seeping wounds had scabbed did not deter me. Besides drinking loads of beer and smoking some local weed from the island helped my determination to see some lovely sights the next morning. We went to Bamboo Island (I say we - I mean I joined a group of two couples from Germany and from Birmingham). We snorkeled in some of the loveliest waters I have seen with the exception of places in the Whitsunday Islands in the Barrier Reef. We then ventured to the island itself were a National Marine Park fee of 200 Bahts was required. We all agreed that as long as beer was sold on the island we would pay. Lovely chicken and fried rice was prepared for us for the day trip and Singa beers washed them down. The sand on this island was as white as snow and the water a crystalline green. If you stood up to your neck in the sea on the beach and looked down you could see your feet as if you were on dry land. We later ventured to Mosquito Island and thankfully that's a misnomer. No bugs at all, just weird rock formations and staggeringly beautiful vistas. The ride home was interesting for the fact that our Thai captain had to undertake repair work on the engine when we were still 3km's off shore - nicely making us all confident in our vessel.
Drinks and a feast that evening with Sarah and Duncan the Brummies, together with two other couples I had met in the resort and pretty soon we had ourselves a fare gathering which they all started calling a farewell party. I was quite chuffed, they were all very sweet and one friend I had met actually woke at 6.30am to see me off as well - The owners were asking whether i knew all these people before the trip as we all seemed to act like we had known each other for ages. Enough to bring a tear to the eye. Sal the woman who owned Woodland Lodge on Koh Jum surprised me by cooking me her favourite dish, Seafood Peanang Curry. It was amazingly sweet and spicy at the same time and a faint taste of peanuts. Sal even took me to the main land and dropped me at the current hotel I am staying at in Krabi (to make sure she got me off the island she joked).
Oh the delights of modern technology. Having spent 10 days on Koh Jum with electricity available in my room when I was never in it (between 6pm and 10.30pm meaning I am in the bar or at a restaurant), meaning arriving in the bungalow hot and in pitch black with no fan, I can definitely say I am happy I now have air con. I once would never have been bothered by this lack of comforts. Now however I have developed a taste for some of the finer things in life (no I don't mean a fan in my rickety bungalow would have been "finer things"). Nearly all my fellow islanders were backpackers on a budget and had not seen air con for months - washing their own clothes whilst having a shower themselves - that is when they have showers. Of the small bunch of friends I made on the island however there was Sharlene and Grant (friends I had briefly met in Sydney at a mates BBQ) who just happened to be on the island (see previous blog about "perfection and the barracuda carppacio"), well all I have to say is that I would have much preferred their bungalow. Bloody Luxury compared to mine. Well they still only get a fan and I have now got 24 hour free Wi-Fi and air con at will.
Kuala Lumpur tomorrow and perhaps a blog about the 3 days I had there before I came to Thailand as well as tomorrow's adventure. Maybe I will have started adding photos as well by then. We can only hope.
Catch you all soon.

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