I made it to Ko Chang, although I'm not sure it was worth the trip. It's been raining hard for the past 24 hours, and there's only so much you can do when it's pouring. I decided to make the journey straight from Pai, which meant 27 hours straight of either sitting on buses or waiting in the bus terminals. After all that, I'd think that the weather could at least cooperate for a little bit.
The trip down from Pai wasn't actually too bad. It was 4 hours to Chiang Mai, and an overnight bus from there to Bangkok. The ferry to Ko Chang was about 6 hours east of Bangkok, and somehow, I didn't go too crazy. The island is in the southeastern part of Thailand, and even though it's fairly close to Bangkok, it is still relatively undeveloped. It's nowhere near as quiet as anywhere in the Philippines, but compared to what I've heard about the southern islands and beaches, it's downright peaceful. I was also hoping that since I wasn't in the main tourist islands, the prices might stay fairly low. Not the case.I paid 300 baht for a 7x7 bungalow with a bed and a lightbulb that only worked from 7pm to 2am (the lightbulb, not the bed. The bed works all the time).I guess I am right on the beach, but $7.50 is quite a bit to pay for a thin mattress in a dark room with no windows.
The rain started yesterday around 4pm, and it hasn't stopped since. Around 2:30 in the morning it got really bad, and the roof started leaking down on me. This morning, I found branches of nearby trees that had broken off and a palm frond went right through the roof of the neighboring bungalow. I don't think there was anyone staying in it, but still, that easily could have been me. My plan was to spend the day enjoying the waves, and then tomorrow rent a bicycle and do some exploring of the island, possibly walking to one of the many waterfalls and exploring the national park. It's now almost 4pm, and the rain hasn't showed any signs of slowing. I might just have to rent a boogie board and go swimming anyway. The temperature is still a comfortable 78 degrees, and the water's plenty warm.
For lunch today, I went to an Indian restaurant down the road a ways. Along with serving some delicious food, they had a nice golden retriever. After seeing so many mutts running all over the place, it was nice to see a good looking dog that I didn't feel afraid to pet. The golden came over to greet every new customer and sat down next to me while I ate. I've noticed that about quite a few dogs here and in the Philippines. They don't really seem to want anything other than some company. I recall a dog who joined Virginia and I while we were walking around trying to find a restaurant in the Philippines. It didn't slink along behind us, but just joined in along side. I imagine dogs around here don't have too much to do, and they seem happy to go wherever you might be going. As long as they're not being a nuisance, I'm happy to let a lonely dog join me for a while.
Since tourism is a huge source of money in Thailand, most of the locals have generally learned the common phrases and questions. Hello. Where you go? How you doing? You want (something)? Thank you. And they've also come up with a few phrases of their own. "Same same, but different" is a pretty common one, which can mean pretty much anything. I think it generally applies to a comparison to two things, but I've heard it used in place of yes, no, I don't know, and various other things.I've also noticed that all Thais answer their phones with "hello?" even though all the conversations are in Thai. It's as if they're expecting an English speaking person to be calling, though I doubt that most Thais receive too many English callers on their personal phones.
On the subject of language, it boggles my mind how foreign tourists always speak English. For people from English speaking countries, it's understandable, if not necessarily proper. The thing I don't understand is why people who are obviously not English speakers would use it. I realize that many people speak English, but some people only speak a few English phrases such as 'hello' 'thank you' and a few others. If this was the case, why wouldn't you just learn these few phrases in Thai, instead of English?
I don't know, it's just one of those things I guess. There are a lot of things that I figured I'd have in common with fellow travelers that just haven't quite fallen into place. I kind of assumed that most backpacker type travelers would be interested in doing things like hiking, exploring cities, riding bicycles/motorbikes through the countryside, and stuff like that. I'm sure there are a few out there, but for the most part, I'd say around 95% of the people around my age I've encountered are more interested in partying until 3 or 4am and then sleeping in until noon. I'm all for going out to the bars occasionally, and it's a good thing to meet other travelers from all over the world, but it seems like people are more concerned about partying with other travelers than meeting anyone who actually lives in the country they happen to be visiting. Maybe it's just Thailand, as it seems to be the world's playground. I guess maybe I'll have something different to report from India.
I think that's about it for now. I've already paid for three nights in my current room, and if the weather doesn't improve, I'm not sure I'll even make it that long. Hope you're all doing well out there. I'll keep you posted.