Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.

Koh Phangan

Against my better judgment, following a 5 minute stare down (I blinked, he didn’t), I had decided to let the cockroach live, even though he was the size of my skull.  I thought, “At least he can’t fly.  He’ll stay over there in the corner, I’ll stay on the bed, and then I can just move out tomorrow…”

“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!!”

El Rocho flew right onto the middle of the bed, shoes and books fly, and before I know it I’m hiding in the bathroom of my bungalow.  Did I just pay 400 baht (around US$13) to sleep on a tile floor with a toilet paper roll for a pillow?

This is one of the risks of arriving late at night without pre-booked accommodation.

I have moved across the central Thai peninsula in the Gulf of Thailand to Koh Phangan island.  In the light of day, I was able to find a much better bungalow overlooking the sea for the same price, leaving SuperRoach to scare the shit out of some other unlucky bastard.  The move to Haad Yao beach turned out to be a fortunate accident; this is paradise.  Empty white beach, amazing pool, great resort staff, cheap room (still 400 baht), killer view.  And great people.  I had intended to sleep the night off after The Great Cockroach Attack of 2011, but when offered a ride to dinner on the back of a scooter by a half-drunk German girl on the beach, how could I refuse??  Nine hours and a bottle of Sang Som later, I’m naked in the sea with three Germans and a Swiss…so much for restraint.

But Koh Phangan is not exactly known for restraint.  There are two primary resort areas on the island.  On the southeast side is Haad Rin beach which is home to the infamous Full Moon Parties where the young and stupid go to rage, get roofied, burned by flaming jump ropes, and have their shit stolen by enterprising locals.  (Thanks to Capitalismo, there are now also half moon parties, new moon parties, quarter moon parties, and shiva moon parties – can someone please tell me what the fuck is a shiva moon?)  Walking on Haad Rin during the day reminds me of strolling through the French Quarter in New Orleans:  Something very dirty and wrong happened here last night.  And it’s sure to happen again.

The northwest is much more relaxed and Haad Yao beach is known as one of the most beautiful in all of Thailand.  And is also vacation central for all of Germany, apparently.  In my first 5 days on the beach, I met one Swiss, two Israelis, and one American.  And more than 100 Germans.  Not really sure how that works out, but my Deutsch is much improved.

Tongsala, the largest town on the island, is a bit of a craphole.  Other than a really nice street market – and a mobile phone repair shop if you are stupid enough to get sea water in your sweet Nokia – there isn’t really a reason to go.  We did take a taxi in one night (which turned out to be six of us sitting in the back of a pickup truck bombing down a one lane road…novel for the Germans, frightening as hell for me) to eat at the night market and ended up on a little side street listening to Thai folk music.   Somehow the Thai whiskey made the return trip a little less harrowing.  Funny how that works.

Because of all the negatively banked corners that are covered in sand, the roads on this island are fairly famous for tripping up both locals and tourists alike.  Everyone here knows about the “Koh Phangan Tattoo,” which refers to scars from a scooter accident here.  Thousands of drunk tourists on a scooter for the first time probably doesn’t help the situation.  But if you talk to 10 people who have been on the island for any length of time, at least 5 of them will have one.

I made friends with a Thai who has been living on the island for two years (and has a horrific road rash on her left calf, of course) and so I got the custom tour of several off-the-map beaches and monasteries, which was a real treat.  I met a monk who I could swear was another incarnation of my maternal grandfather.  We also visited a gorgeous Chinese Buddhist temple on a hilltop overlooking the sea.  (I prayed for peace, love, and home.  I’m pretty sure she prayed that I would offer her the position of Casey’s Third Ex-Wife…)

Life on Koh Phangan is what I had envisioned Thailand to be, and I’ve found myself feeling guilty for spending so much time here just relaxing, napping in the hammock, reading by the pool, and wallowing in the sea.

 

What a fucking waste of emotion.  I’m going back to the pool.

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