This and that from re Thai r ment. May 6, 2010

I have just returned from a two-day stay on an island called Koh Samet located about half way between my current residence and the Cambodian border. I had been to Koh Samet a few years previously and that trip proved to be one of those life altering events, bringing with it a lot of pain and changing my expectations about the rest of my life. But that is another story for another time and place.

Anyway, I always liked Koh Samet. It is, to those who grew up on the East Coast of the US, often referred to as a working man’s resort. No amusement park style pools, no health spas, no starred restaurants, just jungle and small beaches with white sand the consistency of talcum and tiny bungalows adjacent to each beach and a nights stay costing about $25-50. There is no tearing down of structures as they grow old. They just build new structures nearby and let the jungle take back the buildings, or local artists and beach performers move into them as squatters.

I travelled to Koh Samet to visit with Choti Lambert the principal of the school in Chiang Mai that Hayden had attended until his mother took him away to travel with her in Italy. Choti, her husband Jerry and their son Leo were vacationing there during the hiatus between school semesters.

Being unsure about where you’re going and not knowing how to get there makes even a simple trip an adventure. After all, if you know where you’re going and how to get there, there are usually, unless you are unbelievably stupid, no decisions left that would impede your progress towards your goal. But an adventure by its very nature means most decisions you make, if wrong, could force abandonment of the voyage and require you to return home.

Anyway, I left the condo at about 8:30 AM and took a songtheuw to a breakfast place. After finishing breakfast I took another songtheuw to a stop not far from the spot on the map I had that identified a bus station for transportation to Rayong the largest city near the ferry terminal to the island. After walking for some time in the heat, I soon realized that there was no bus station at the location corresponding to that on the map. So with a certain amount of good grace, I took another songtheuw to the bus station that I departed from to Chiang Mai a week or so ago. I reasoned, a bus station is a bus station and someone there would know where the Rayong bus departed from. As I speak virtually no Thai and the bus station ticket people very little english, there was a lot of gesticulations and I was sent across the road to another bus station on that side. The people there sent me back to where I had started. So, exhausted, hot and covered with sweat, I decided to buy a bottle of water to quench my thirst, call the trip a failure and return home. It had been about two hours since I had left my apt. and I had still not gotten out of Pattaya.

So, I sat on the curb beside the road to drink my water before returning home and while sitting there a bus pulled up and the conductor jumped out and said, “Rayong?” I jumped up pleased at my good fortune and responded “Rayong? Koh Samet?” so that he knew my ultimate destination. “Yes, Yes, Rayong,” the conductor responded and ushered me on to the bus and collected $1.50 for the ticket. (In Thailand long distance busses have conductors as well as drivers.)

The ride to Rayong took 2 1/2 hours. Instead of napping, I stared out of the window the entire trip in anxiety that I may miss my stop or something. My nervousness was not helped by my seat mate an overly large Thai soldier in his jungle fatigues who was probably just returning home but that did not make me feel any better.

We arrived in due course at the Rayong bus terminal. I got off the bus and started asking for “Koh Samet” and the gesticulating began again. I followed the pointing that led me out of the terminal and hope began to ebb again. At the curb ,however, was a songtheuw and an old man pointing me into it saying the magic words, “Koh Samet.”

I was not home free yet because I still had to find the ferry terminal when I reached the shore. Upon arriving at the shore, we drove along it for a while until I spotted a sign, “Koh Samet Information” that looked familiar. It was the ferry terminal. I left the songtheuw , paid $2.50 for the ferry ride and was escorted to a small wooden, top-heavy, overloaded ferryboat standing a short way off the wharf. To get on to the ferry I had to climb onto the roof of another ferry that was tied directly to the wharf, climb part way down the other side and then leap about two or so feet onto the very overloaded ferry, no mean feat for an out of shape 70-year-old. But leap I did, and fortunately I was caught by a large australian man and two of his friends. They said, “Ere you go mate,” and “you aright mate,” and a lot of “mate” this and “mate” that. Actually, it sounded more like “might” this and “might” that, or it could have been “mite” which is what I felt like. Anyway, this “mite” was thankful for the “might” of my “mates.” I cannot believe I just wrote that. I shall sleep sounder this evening for it.

Anyway, the mates or mights cleared a seat for me. Actually it wasn’t a seat, it was more of a ledge on which several Thais were asleep on those colored plastic bags one sees throughout Asia in which the locals carry just about everything from place to place. I snuggled into my spot, cut off from any sea breezes and sweated my way across the bay.

I arrived on the island after an otherwise uneventful crossing and found my friends. That night we went to one of the restaurants on the beach where fire jugglers entertained us.

I have attached photographs of the beach where I stayed and the ferry terminal on the island.

___________________________________________

EXCERPTS FROM DIARY ENTRIES PRIOR TO POST:

MONDAY MAY 3 2010 10 AM.

Spent yesterday in my room in bed in the hope that a day of rest will clear up my cough. It does not appear to have done so. I have two more days of antibiotics to go before making a decision on whether to continue self-medication or check myself into a hospital.

No response to my latest KOS diary. That is disappointing.

Sent out a “This and that…” mostly a re hash of Thoreau.

Need to pick up passport today.

TUESDAY MAY 4 2010 7 PM

Traveled to Koh Samet to visit with Jerry, Choti and their son Leo where they were vacationing. I had been to Koh Samet a few years previously and that trip proved to be one of those life altering events, bringing a lot of pain and changing my expectations about what the rest of my life.

Anyway, I always liked Koh Samet. It is, to those who grew up on the east coast often referred to as a working man’s resort. No amusement park pools, no health spa’s no starred restaurants, just jungle and small beaches with sand the consistency of talcum and tiny bungalows adjacent to each beach costing about $25-50 per night. No tearing down of structures as they grow old just build new structures nearby and let the jungle take it back,or artist and beach performers move in the derelict buildings as squatters.

Got out of condo at about 8:30 AM. Being unsure about where your going and not knowing how to get there makes even a simple trip an adventure. After all if you know where your going and how no get there there are usually, unless you are unbelievably stupid, no decisions left that would impede your goal. But an adventure by its very nature means most decisions you make could force abandonment of the voyage and require you to return home.

Anyway, I took a songtheuw to a breakfast place. After finishing breakfast I took another songtheuw to a stop not far from the spot on the map I had that identified a bus station for transportation to Rayong. After walking in the heat for some time I soon realized that there was no bus station at the location corresponding to that on the map. So with a certain amount of good grace I took another songtheuw to the bus station that I departed to Chiang Mai a week or so ago. I reasoned, a bus station is a bus station and someone there would know where the Rayong bus departed from. As I speak virtually no Thai and the bus station ticket people very little english there was a lot of gesticulations and I was sent across the road to another bus station on that side that sent me back to where I had started. So exhausted, hot and covered with sweat, I decided to buy a bottle of water to quench my thirst, call the trip a failure and return home since it had been about two hours since I had left my apt. and I had still not gotten out of Pattaya. So I sat on the curb beside the road to drink my water before returning home and while sitting there a bus pulled up and the conductor jumped out and said Rayong?. I jumped up pleased at my good fortune and Rayong? Koh Samet? so that he knew my ultimate destination. Yes, Yes, Rayong the responded and ushered me on to the bus and collected $1.50 for the ticket. The ride to Rayong took 2 and 1/2 hours. Instead of napping I stared out of the window the entire trip in anxiety that I may miss my stop or something. My nervousness was not helped by my seat mate an overly large Thai soldier in his jungle fatigues who was probably returning home but that did not make me feel any better. We arrived in due course at the Rayong bus terminal. I got off the bus and started asking for “Koh Samet” and the gesticulating began again. I followed the pointing that led me out of the terminal and hope began to ebb again. At the curb was a songtheuw and an old man pointing me into is with the magic words, “Koh Samet”. I was not home free yet because I still had to find the ferry terminal when I reached the shore. Upon arriving at the shore we drove along it for a while until I spotted a sign “Koh Samet Information that looked familiar. It was the ferry terminal. I left the songtheuw , paid 2.50 for the ferry ride and was escorted to a small wooden top heave, overloaded ferryboat standing a short way off the wharf. to get on to the ferry I had to climb onto the roof of another ferry tied to the wharf, climb part way down the other side and then leap about two of so feet onto the very overloaded ferry, no mead feat for a 70-year-old man. But leap I did and was caught by a large australian man. Who said “ere you go mate’, you aright mate’ and a lot of mate this and mate that. Actually act it sounded more like might this and might that, or it could have been mite which is what I felt light. Anyway I was thankful for the might of these mates for safety of this mite. I cannot believe I just wrote that. I shall sleep sounder this evening for that,

Anyway, the mates cleared a seat for me. Actually is wasn’t a seat, it was more of a ledge on which several we sleeping on those colored plastic bags one sees throughput asia in which the locals carry just about everything from place to place.

I arrived and found my friends. That night we went to one of the restaurants on the beach where fire jugglers entertained us.

WEDNESDAY MAY 5 2010 10 AM

Last night at dinner, I texted Tai that I was at Koh Samet. She called back. Said she was with mom, had lost phone and my number. Returning to BKK tomorrow and visiting me thereafter. This morning at breakfast, Lek texted me regarding my whereabouts. Coincidence?

Am sitting in cafe waiting for ferry. Cost Koh Samet-Pattaya 300 baht. Yesterday cost. Pattaya- Koh Samet: Bus 50 baht; songtheuw 20 baht; ferry 100 baht. Total 170 baht.
Time yesterday 3.5 hours. Today ??

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Categories: April 2010 through June 2010 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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