Thursday, July 10, 2008

Island Adventure

(pictures to follow, my internet connection is too slow to upload)

The Thailand trip was really cool. Ted and I went to Koh Phangnan, an island in the gulf of Thailand. It was a long bus ride and then boat ride down there, almost 15 hours of travel. The bus was older and was decorated with funny fabrics. It was half full, so we each had two seats to ourselves. They showed random movies, like Blade Runner, and a newer one called “Lucky Sleven”, which froze right at the end. Damn. The bus left in the evening, making one stop around midnight at a fluorescently lit oasis along the way. Every got out to use the bathroom and buy food. A series of transfers followed at dawn, first to a minivan, then to a big bus again, and then to a boat. We finally made it to the island around 11am.


We walked along the pier battling hotel offers from the locals. We headed up the main strip and began looking for scooters or motorcycles to rent.


We found a pair of enduro motorcycles for $5/day. We drove all over the island. We must have looked like degenerate gym teachers, Ted in his boxer brief underwear (he didn’t have a bathing suit) and me in my speedo-briefs bathing suit. Or maybe we looked more like nihilists from the big lebowski. We stayed in beach bungalows that cost about $12/night for a double with no a/c, just fans, which isn’t too bad. We stayed on a different beach each night.


We bought snorkels and masks from a tourist shop in town and rode out to a part of the island that the guidebook recommended for diving. There weren’t very many people there. We walked along the rocky island until we found a point that looked safe enough to jump in. The waves were small, but sill crashed against the big rocks. Ted went in first and I followed suit. It was a clean entry. Once we put our faces in the water and began swimming we realized we had literally jumped into a school of fish. They were about 6-8 inches long, with yellow stripes over a silvery-blue body. There were hundreds, all swimming in sync.


The reef was amazing. There was tons of live coral and many different kinds of fish, some of which I remember from snorkeling at Grand Cayman as kid. We spent about three hours out in the water before calling it quits. The sun was setting and it began to get chilly. At some point Ted kicked a piece of coral with the top of his foot. It wasn’t too bad, just a few layers of skin missing, but it bled a lot, especially when he got out of the water. It looked like someone had stabbed his foot. He put his sock on, which acted like a bandage, and was good to go.


We left the island on our fourth day. We took a ferry in the morning, and got on a bus in the afternoon, which brought us to Bangkok around 8:30p. I had a few hours before my flight, so we went to an outdoor bar that was set up in a gas station on the street. They put tables and chairs everywhere and decorated the gas pumps. The bar was projecting the Wimbledon tennis championship on a big screen. We sat there watching tennis drinking pina coladas for a couple hours. I caught a taxi and went to the airport and got on a plane to Beijing. I arrived around 7am.






Tuesday, July 1, 2008


The BASE program wrapped up last Friday with an exhibition of the work and 400 lamb chops grilled on our barbeque.

I flew out of Beijing and arrived in Bangkok last night. My plane sat at the gate for an hour before departure due to heavy rains. They served us dinner, which made it tollerable. I got into Bangkok around 1:30a. It always seems weird when I arrive in places late at night (it was the same when I first arrived in china a month ago) the place is seemingly more wild and mysterious because you can't see anything. You try to make out as much as you can flying down the freeway with a taxi driver you can't really communicate with. So many scenarios go through your head, but it always works out.

The taxi got me to my hostel fairly easily. I chose one in a very touristy part of town for better or worse. It's mostly young people from all over the world. There are lots of bars, restaurants, and street vendors. Everything is so cheap here it's kind of nice that there is so much of that "stuff" around. Cars and two-stroke motorcycles and scooters buzz all over the place.

Ted is meeting me here today. He flies in from Hong Kong due to a technicality with his flight back to the states and visa trouble in china.

It's been thunderstorming here today, but now it looks like the sun is coming out. It feels very tropical -the heat, the humiditity, the plants. The streets are narrow and a walk down any alley uncovers hidden stores and places to eat. My hostel has everything one could ask for, clean rooms, internet, restaurant, laundery, etc. I found a few vespa shops online that I'm going check out today.

I've already priced out buses and boats to nearby islands. About $20 and a full day of travel gets you to paradise. Ted and I tenatively talked about staying in Bangkok for a few days and then heading to the beaches for the remainder of our stay. I'm flying out of here on the 7th and will spend my last days in Beijing before heading back to the states on the 12th.

I'm off to find scooters...