Koh Phangan – day 376

I feel that today’s blog should begin with a lighthearted poem. Not much else happened and it is a bit of a filler, but once you read it, I’m hoping it will lift your spirits. 

‘Come to the beach

Where the sea is blue 

And little white waves 

Come running at you. 
A wave comes splashing 

Over your toes. 

You just stand still

And away it goes. 
We’ll build a castle

Down by the sea

And look for shells

If you’ll come with me.’
Fruit, muesli, yoghurt and honey is calling to our fruit & veg deprived bodies and it’s filling us up happily until lunch. But, getting up at a leisurely hour, sitting on our ass and flicking through a mag, swiping candies on an iPad, reading posts and news articles on social media and such… isn’t very taxing. So we easily arrive at lunchtime for Pad Thai noodles. 

So, today is the day of the Full Moon party. My spidey senses think the full moon was actually the night before, but yesterday was a holy Buddhist day and the sale of alcohol was forbidden in shops. Maybe it was respectfully moved to the next night. Thus, with respect in mind, the full moon party itself was cancelled. The death of the Thai king, His Highness Bhumibol Adulyadej, has meant the country is in mourning. All organised festivities have been cancelled, with concerts organising refunds, bars and business shutting up shop for the foreseeable future, etc. There is a 100 day of mourning period and everyone needs to be on their best behaviour – articles even cite a local being forced to their knees to show respect to the king’s portrait. Hemming and hawing about whether or not to join the party has been decided for us. We don’t want to be present at an event (which everyone seems to be getting ready to go to), out of respect for the Thai people and when there’s a chance of people getting arrested. Everything we had read on the internet has said that the full moon party had been cancelled but we’d overheard several tourists stating they were going to ‘go there anyway and get something started’… Slightly disappointed by the lack of cultural insensitivity displayed by some people. But, we have unfortunately met our fair share of ‘tourists’ like this during our travels. 

Showing our respect, avoiding the potentially difficult situation, we stayed at the resort. We were rewarded/vindicated when the heavens opened for several hours, downpours of torrential rain that was deafening and flattened the footprints in the sand. Knowing that the staff weren’t overloaded with food orders and run off their feet, we ordered chilli cheese fries and tacos. 

We had seen them being prepared several times in the kitchen and we envied the platters being served to others. Tonight we feasted and it was fantastic. Waddling back to our hut, we had had a perfect day. 

Monday 17th October 2016

Bangkok – day 338

With the room in near pitch blackness, the hostel pretty much empty and quiet and the air con stuck on a comfortable setting and a nice sized bed, we both slept beautifully and awoke fresh as daisies. So, custardy bread and water for breakfast we set about doing a bit of planning for the coming weeks. We can’t stay here indefinitely catching up on blogs and eating curries. Can we?? However after a hour or so with little motivation to do any productive research, we decided to stay here an extra night and go to the cinema instead… Oops!!

A familiar walk to the Surasak station, we walked the last bit at Siam station to the mall and cinema, not bothering with the convoluted change of lines and queueing up to be squeezed on. No, we walked a few hundred metres and you can tell where we walked from the puddles we left behind. Humidity and heat in the middle of the day, bad combination. Totally different to the heat of the Northern Territory in Oz, this was bordering on silly. Stupid weather in an beautiful city. It means it’s hard to walk around and explore at this time of year. Probably something we’ll regret in the coming ventures. 
With a sneaky small burger before the cinema and a large popcorn we sat down in an almost empty theatre. But, other people sandwiched us in? I don’t get that. Half way through the salty popcorn we remembered the M&M’s from aunty Alita and suddenly the magic combo of salty and sweet was perfect. The film, ‘Secret Life of Pets’, had me giggling non-stop and there were moments where I could totally imagining it happening once owners had left for the day.Just outside the cinema, the Made In Candy shop, dedicated to creating bespoke works of art, personalised to however you wanted it, we’re making BMW candies for the event being held on the ground floor. The staff twisted and rolled the sugar to a sausage shape and then two more staff pulled the end to a diameter that was suitable (without compromising image or text) and snapped the canes into sticks. The sticks, once set and cooled a bit from all the working, were chopped in to small pieces. The process of make rock candy that one buys on holiday was no longer a mystery, but damned if I knew how they managed to start the process or get it perfect. A real craft and we couldn’t believe the end result. Back at the hostel we hadn’t long to go before it was dinner time. We may have wandered the shopping mall, with indoor ice rink, a bit too long and lost track of time. Still, with nowhere to be and no schedule it was a nice feeling. Certainly it felt stress free when we ordered 2x pad Thai noodles for a change and it didn’t rain. The street was busier and the fruit sellers kept their produce out later than usual in anticipation of more sales. We Skyped Martin and Anne-Marie and having not spoken to them in ages it felt good to catch up on gossip and hear about upcoming trips. With the air con still stuck at a nice level we soon called it a night and went to bed. 

Friday 9th September 2016

Travelling – day 336

There were 4 heaters on the ceiling of the bathroom that give out a nice warmth before and after your shower. Discovering these unique features the night before was helpful when getting up at 04:15, when the surprisingly very inactive day yesterday had left us really tired and wanting to stay curled up in bed. But, we managed to hop on the shuttle bus for 05:30 and zip back to Melbourne airport for attempt #2 at leaving the country. The gentlemen that were before us yesterday at ticket desk, at the same hotel and on the same shuttle bus, went their own way and joined the queue for check in much later than we did. In fact, the queue became mental and the regular 07:00 flight for business people flying to Sydney for meetings was delayed as JetStar hijackers took all the spare seats and were checking in late. In defence, we were told to check in at 06:00, Katherine and I wanted to be earlier for safety sake. 
We were given breakfast on the short haul flight to Sydney and loved the space, comfort, sophistication, et cetera of the Qantas flight. We were eagerly hopeful that the next flight would be equally luxurious, so we wrote missing blogs and listened to music. A throng of eager people buzzed through the domestic lounge to gate 15, where the shuttle bus took us to the international terminal. Through security again, the staff weren’t as pleasant as the domestic crew, but maybe they have tougher jobs dealing with different languages and more baggage trying to be taken as hand luggage? They certainly had a rough time at the boarding gate where a gent was f*ing and blinding about something. The guys behind us on the plane (seat monkeys) were also loud and we heard that the gentleman outside was rather irate as he felt that, due to the flight cancellation yesterday, he deserved to be upgraded to business class and wasn’t boarding the plane unless it happened… I believe his bags were removed from the hold! Also, someone they knew lost their passport somewhere between checking in at Melbourne yesterday and this morning and couldn’t even make it to Sydney. The whole scene was a small Month Python sketch and we were lucky to have a pleasant passenger next to us for the flight. A delectable homemade drink of orange and hibiscus was served before a choice of lunch – Katherine ordered the pork chop, I had the beef curry. With a garlic bread bun and rhubarb desert we had struck out big time. So, when the drinks trolley came through and we were on film numero duo we were now sipping G&T’s. It’s a tough life as an international drifter. 

Skip ahead some easy trips to the bathroom as we didn’t block anyone, sparkling wines, more films and to series, a flat beard cheese concoction for an amuse bouche and we touched down in Bangkok, a day later than planned and a longer flight than anticipated. We knew the airport well and self guided went through immigration, collected bags and were on a train in to the city. 
In the space of dumping bags in the room and returning to our infamous street restaurant the heavens had opened and the rain was pouring down. But, nothing, not even the smell of sewage from the flowing sewers could ruin the papaya salad and green curry to finish a perfect day. Plus, a private room to snuggle up and drift asleep. Wednesday 7th September 2016