January 28, 2008 Monday 11:35am
I want to be lying on the beach with my pineapple, mango, coconut shake, reading my book and soaking up the liquid sunshine of the beautiful Thai beaches. Instead we are back in the crazy, hectic, sensory overload of Bangkok.
Let me explain, since my last email, we travelled by bus and ferry to the island of Ko Chang. We decided on Ko Chang not so much because it was a place that called to us specifically, but because our friends from Quebec said they had a good deal on round trip tickets and we hadn’t decided where to go yet. Ko Chang sounded as good a place as any. Maybe a little less popular and a little more rugged than the islands of Ko Samui or Ko Pha Ngan, which sealed the deal.
While on the bus to Ko Chang, I happened to get locked in the bathroom. The toilet was located in the bottom of our double-decker bus. The door looked like it was made for a hobbit and there was a latch on the outside to keep the door shut. When I entered the miniature room, I realized there was no light (aka it wasn’t in working condition) so I had to hold the door open to let in enough light to see. Inconvenient but not enough to deter me. While I was attempting to hold the door while the bus swayed from side to side creating the same sort of turbulence as an airplane, the door was suddenly forced closed and I heared the latch click. I was shocked and it took me a few seconds to register what just happened. I thought Malachi must have been playing a joke so I sat in the dark for a few moments in order to not give him the reaction he was obviously waiting for, such as yelling or banging on the door. I’m not extremely claustrophobic but who really wants to be locked in a hobbit size toilet on a Thai bus, so I told him it wasn’t funny and to let me out. There was no answer. My second thought was maybe it wasn’t Malachi. So I knocked on the door. No answer. By now I was completely perplexed. Why would someone lock me in the toilet? I kept knocking. I figured that if no one let me out that eventually someone would need the toilet and I would be released. But if no one needed the toilet it was only another 5 hours, so I guess a dark, cramped, smelly bus toilet was as good a place as any to meditate or attempt to take a nap……. I knocked a little harder this time and voila, someone opened the door. I was actually surprised, I had almost come to believe that I would be trapped in there for some time. It was one of my fellow passengers that I think was Italian. I looked up at her and her expression didn’t seem surprised or concerned, maybe even a little peeved as she said “Oh” and turned around and walked back up the stairs. I wasn’t sure how to react. I think my face pretty much said “Yes you just locked me in the toilet and I have no idea why, so please don’t do it again.” I finished and went back upstairs and sat down. Malachi was watching “The Rock” which was playing on the bus television. Everything seemed completely normal. I told him I was just locked in the bathroom. At first he didn’t hear me so I said it again. He said “What? What do you mean?” I explained and I could tell he was genuinely surprised. It wasn’t Malachi.
Anyway the beach is much more exciting. When we approached Ko Chang on the ferry, it looked as if we were entering Jurassic Park or maybe the Congo. The jungle covered mountains rose up out of the sea and gave the impression that all sorts of large creatures were hidden amongst the trees. We actually meet some of those giant mammals the next day. We went for an elephant trek where we were able to wash, feed, and ride the elephants. I think it’s actually a very clever way for the Thais to fool Westerners into paying to do elephant house keeping chores. It was actually a ton of fun. The elephants were majestic as always, maybe a little bored, but to someone who doesn’t ride an elephant everyday, it was fun. I would have liked there to be a little bit more information regarding how the elephants are being saved and protected and how our money was helping that effort, but maybe that is a little too Western of me. It was enjoyable just being a tourist.
Malachi and I ended up staying at the Treehouse II in Long Beach on Ko Chang for the majority of our beach bumming. We met Ted the South African, Tania the German living in China, and Boris the Slovakian on the taxi trip to the beach and who were to become our dinner companions. Taxi I think is much to formal. It was actually a truck with two benches in the bed with a canopy roof over the top. Not the most comfortable considering the hilliness of the drive. I sat next to a Spaniard who threw up the majority of the trip and I rubbed his back while he was retching. The poor guy was miserable. The least I could do, or even think of was to offer him a little comfort. Thank you Mom for the times you rubbed my back when I was sick. I think it helped him a little.
Once we got to Long Beach, we dropped our bags in our lovely beach side bungalow made from thatch, and headed to the beach. We went to the restaurant to have dinner that night and as I surveyed the rest of the patrons, I recognized a face and it took me a moment to register who it was. The woman who locked me in the toilet on the bus 3 days before was there. A little surreal I guess, but we never ended up running into each other and there was no locks on the outside of the bathrooms so all was well.
We spent the next few days swimming, snorkeling, eating, doing yoga, and reading in or around the water. At night we had dinner with our new friends sharing stories and eating fish that Boris the Slovakian had caught each day. Speaking of fish and Boris, one night we decided to go to a little shack down the beach and have seafood. We picked out our Red Snapper BBQ fish; there is something erie about meeting your food face to face before you eat it. Then only to open up the tin foil and stare straight into the eye of your chosen sacrifice. Almost enough to make you become vegetarian. But if that doesn’t do it, watching Boris eat the eyeballs, lips, cheeks, throat and other various apparent “delicacies that are the best part of the fish” would do it for you. Suffice it to say the fish was delicious, but I’m moving towards the digestive tract of an herbivore.
We had a blast at the beach and enjoyed every minute of it, but (and this is where I insert my utter detestment of cigarettes) there were smokers everywhere. When I dreamt of spending days at the beach I would never have guessed that the refreshing and sweet air of the ocean would be tainted with cigarette smoke no matter where we went. I can’t believe how much Westerners smoke. It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand how you can enjoy the beauty of the sand and the ocean while dragging on a cigarette non stop. Grrr, enough of my rant, but it really was unbearable at times.
Malachi is a little burned (I wore tons of sunscreen) and my sandals are full of sand, but we loved it. We had a very hard time leaving yesterday, but we are off to new adventures in the North. I think we’ll be going up to Chiang Mai tomorrow with maybe a stop at Kanchanaburi for the tiger temple. I promise to not be eaten, then on to Lao and back to Bangkok. We fly to Calcutta, India (it was cheaper to buy tickets to Calcutta than Chennai, only $187 one way!) on Feb 10. We’ll keep everyone updated. Oh and Malachi put new pictures up with people actually in them.
Thank you everyone who keep writing, I would like to write to everyone individually but I won’t always have the time.
Mom, is it a business week or full 7 day week?? 🙂
Oh and happy late B-Day Joanna, I’m glad you had a fabulous time in Mexico
Grandparents: I’m sorry I cannot write everyday but I am doing fantastic and I will write as often as I can.
And an interesting note for other Psenaks, Boris said Psenak is definitely Czech….or maybe Slovakian I can’t remember which.
Talk to you soon!
Love to you all,
Kenni and (Malachi even though he’s writing his own email too)