I'm not sure how it happens exactly, but the pace is quick. You glance fleetingly in their general direction, maybe show vague interest in something on display... then POW! you've bargained your way to almost half the price for a Diesel side-pack you sort only half wanted. Such is how it goes down with every store, why? Because I'm a white 'westerner' and I am obviously only in Thailand to buy, buy, buy. Interesting sidenote, the Thai's value lighter skin so much that they factor bleach or something into some products. Ironic really, since we come to these islands to tan up. As you know, I've been reading 'The Beach' and seeing so many Thai, I start imagining I am also as tanned... but alas, like Richard when he puts himself infront of a mirror... he sees that he is still pasty... or in my case, mildly sunburnt.
Anyway, so this is the 2nd side-pack I've purchased since being here, but I've only really paid about $45 bucks for the two of them. Not that I regret either purchase really, but surprised at how whenever I truly mean to walk away, and start doing so... the price magically drops and I'm forced to make an offer. How low will he go? But it is customary to bargain, and I accept my fate, that it is necessary to arrive at the correct (or slightly inflated) price. If you're white, the Thai's also view you as wealthy... obviously coming from a country where the currency is well-off, and to make a living the Thai must appeal to you. And so, regardless of the price, or outcome... I like the friendly smile they give me when we exchange baht. Thailand after all, is the 'land of smiles'.
Here on Ko Samui, it's only natural to buy up big before returning home as this is a big tourist mecca. I'm told as a result of the fanny-pack wearing backpackers, that Ko Tao is now the place to be after Ko Phang-nan wore out is 'untouched'ness when the Full Moon Party started attracting the same sorts of crowds. But I'm not fussed really... for the time I've got available I don't mind staying in the already celebrated... I've just chosen to stay away from Chewang, on the quieter Maenam Beach. Besides, its a nice change from Saigon's hustle, and there are plenty of bare bodies to perve on... ;)
I've just stopped in for a Chang, my favourite of the beers, and asked for a glass but received a pitcher in the translation. Oh well, be nice to sit here and write a few postcards before I visit the another Big Buddha. As a person of the camera, I envy the dramatic colours of the horizon so I need to pass time to make my photos magical. Not that it isn't what it claims to be, a big buddha nonetheless is still pretty impressive, but the neverending 'you buy, you buy' philosophy cheapens the spiritual significance a little bit... and I'd much prefer to go into that with a beer head.
KO PHI PHI
I'm not sure how it happens exactly, but the moment it is not convenient, is the moment you so desperately need to. The runs have returned, and it just so happened waiting for the ferry to Phi Phi Island I needed to go... again for the 3rd time. Alert! Alert! All that is available is the eastern squat toilet, in a higenically challenged bathroom. A small Thai woman followed me in when I hesitated looking for the tissue I'd need to wipe with afterwards. Angrily she scolded me, and gave me a quick demonstration of how I'm supposed to clean myself afterwards. This was going to be the most humbling and frightening experience of this trip! Thank f*** that I had some wet wipes in my bag I'd forgotten about... and that's all I'll say on the matter...
... because Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley (home of Maya Bay where the DiCaprio film of 'The Beach' was filmed) are certainly breathtaking. All but wiped out from the 2004 tsunami, the town centre has been rebuilt with a respectful memorial to an unchanged affected area if you so desire. But I mainly desired to swim, which I did... end of story. Oh and I chartered my own boat to Maya Bay for the sunrise... glad I did... totally worth it, and you can snorkle with the fishies. I photographed an octopus that was trying to hide by camoflaging into a rock, but it changed colour after the underwater flash went off. Cool huh!?
KO PHUKET/PHANG-NGA BAY
So I was supposed to arrive in Phang-Nga Bay to transfer to a small fishing village on stilts called Ko Panyi, but getting up for sunrise meant I slept through my stop on the bus and playing charades with the driver wasn't on my list of priorities... so I've ended up in Phuket. It's fine though... this often happens when travelling. I've still managed to book a cheap hotel, a trip out to the bay (at sunset no less), and an airport transfer for the day after. I wasn't counting on it all going according to that plan either, as the rain clouds just keep coming... and they did as my little twilight tour descended onto the bay.
There were short bouts of light beaming through the the gray clouds, but otherwise it was a blink n' you'll miss it type of photograph opportunity. Fortunately, after a huge downpour on Ko Panyi, a sunshower meant I could explore through the alleyways and enjoy the simple pleasure of children giggling as they got wet. Straight after, our little longtail boat sailed through rain to what is now known as James Bond Island (locally named Ko Tapu), in honour of the 1974 007 film: 'The Man With The Golden Gun', in which the villain has his lair camouflaged within the area. Of course in the plot, this island exists somewhere in China, but it looks the same as it did in the film (pre-blowing up), as I found out during the bus ride to the bay on which the movie was played for us westerners. I imagine the guide is well and truly over it...
Anyhow, that's it from me on this here SE Asia trip. I've now completed my transit from Phuket > Bangkok > Sydney and am now safely quarantined and allowed back in my nation's suburbs. I've got a few gifts for a lucky few, so if you're one of those, you'll receive in due course.
Bye for now,