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Thursday 27 Feb 2003
Ko Samet, Thailand

Crash BANG! Ouch! Hurting!

Net access has been quite suspect on the island so this entry will have to sum up quite a lot of whats happened!

I met a load of people... Irish, Canadian, Brits, Swedes... not to mention loads of Thais.

One morning I entertained a crowd of waiters by playing the guitar that was lying around the place... that was a buzz alright! The guys can sing great!

I also met up with a wisened traveller called Gary (with red-hair no less!) and he spent many an hour swinging in his hamok telling me tales of his travels through Vietnam ("I kill you long time") through to Peru (where he found a secret village known only to hippies)

oh yes.. and I tried to ride a motorbike and ..er.... crashed.. breaking the bike, not me! That cost me 10 euros! yeesh that would have lasted me a week in Laos... *sigh*

raconter...

Ko Samet, I was soon to find out, is one of the most authentic "Thai" islands in Thailand, almost bereft of the influx of tourists - whom usually choose to go to the full-moon party island of Ko Panang, or typical islands like Ko Samui. "Ko" (as if you didnt know) means "island" in Thai.

Ko Samet is "where the Thai go for their holidays". In fact it has been designated a national park and so lacks the overdeveloped nature of many islands in the Thai peninsula. Most of the accommodation on the island consists of huts.

I met a Canadian girl on the boat going over to the island (whose name I cant remember now, but had a nickname of "Mamma Strut"?!?). She is an English teacher in South Korea (a very common occupation among the visitors to SEA ... I even met an Irish guy doing the same thing on the bus from Vietnam to Laos! Good money apparently.) and introduced me to such Thai delights as Mekong whiskey (which incidently the Thai drink watered down, cuz its so strong!). A very "drinkable" spirit though, it has to be said, made from rice.

I took a hut similar to the one M. Strut chose, on her recommendation, which turned out to be a tiny bamboo construction containing a bamboo double bed plus an adjoining toilet which contained a squat toilet, and a bucket full of water with a cup to scoop the water out. There were no lights in these huts.. as was the case with most of the huts on the island.

This was the first time I had to use a squat toilet! Not being able to squat as the asians do (i.e. to crouch down, sitting on your hindlegs with your feet flat on the ground) it proved to be a little difficult at first, especially on the thigh leg muscles!!! Nevertheless, I succeeded the first time without making a mess by hanging on to the bamboo wall opposite. I had to strategically wash my nether regions with a handful of water.. a strange sensation it has to be said so I used a few of my sanitation wipes instead. Then I threw cups of water into the pit toilet to "flush". I was amazed how well it worked: all the bits of paper I had used, plus the other "crap" disappeared with just 3 cups! Other more-developed islands would have "western flushing toilets".

The flimsy door of the hut, held together with an ancient rusty padlock, didnt alay my fears that someone might break in and steal all my stuff. Or worse, cut my throat when I was asleep (at that time, I still thought of Thailand in terms of the movies Id seen!). Not helping the situation either was the dirty-looking bed (I think it was just old) or copious mozzies buzzing around all night. Thankfully I had come prepared with two indispensible items: a standard-sheet sleeping bag, and a mozzie net! I slept pretty well considering the couple next door, a young Thai girl and a balding man in his 40s, went at it LOUDLY for hours on end...

I felt slightly homesick for the first time that night... a culmination of the alien culture, the tatty hut I was to sleep in (which would set the precedent for many of the rooms I would sleep in over the coming months), no more typical comforts of home, and the fact that I was to face all of this on my own! In the morning this feeling had disappeared completely.. helped along by Mamma Strut who must have felt a little sorry for me and wrote a detailed list of "must-dos" in Thailand and Vietnam! That list came in really handy! No longer was I homesick, I was bloody EXCITED!

Over the following days I found out that my hut wasnt quite the bargain that Id been told and, when I met Gary - the wisened redhead traveller, he showed me his fantastic set up which consisted of an enourmous standalone pentagon-shaped hut overlooking the beach with ample room inside for 20 people! Inside was just one double bed (with its own mozzie net!). Outside, the hut was equipped with a hammock -- this being the first hammock Ive tried I quickly learned how to get into it without falling out the other side. Would hurt your back if you stayed in too long though.

He got it for a fraction of the cost of my dire hut. Well maybe next time...

The social atmosphere on the island was very relaxed, but still had a great party vibe to it. One night I went along to one of the beach bars where they were serving up buckets of unusual cocktails for 1 dollar!! I stuck to my beers thankyouverymuch.. didnt want to have to spew all over my hut.

While sitting at one of the knee-high tables on the carpets laid out on the sand in front of the ocean, a group of us watched various Thai performers doing acrobatics with fire and spitting flames. Mesmerising in the starlit night sky! Then out of the blue a bunch of Thai girls started a cat-fight (apparently they were fighting over some white guy) and proceeded to kick-box the hell out of each other! THIS WAS ENTERTAINMENT IN THE EXTREME! And it was real!

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