Thursday 28th December 2000 Day 16

Waking up this morning was a wonderfully slow process. Drifting in and out of the two worlds. By the time we all eventually decided to wake up it was 10am, and we'd missed breakfast! I must have been feeling better because I was disappointed!

Well, today I took to wearing a sarong, although Julie is convinced it's just a bedspread. It was laid on the bed but it felt fine wrapped around me, bedspread or not! Most of the men at the Sea Gypsy village were wearing sarongs, so when in Rome. It was surprisingly comfortable to wear around the room. I however didn't venture outside in case someone pointed at me and shouted, "Look at that idiot wearing a bedspread!"

We went for a walk along the bay and discovered that there were two other resorts on this stretch of beach. In our room we'd read an information sheet that said there were other places to eat outside of the Palm Beach resort, but they did not recommend anyone to try them because, and I quote, "they do not reach the same high standard of hygiene". I was really incredibly hungry after walking down the beach, but we decided not to eat at these other restaurants. Despite having really bad diarrhoea, I didn't want it developing into a serious bout of dysentery!

On the way back we stopped at the local "drink shop" at the Gypsy village to buy bottles water. It was just a corrugated steel shack, and not particularly hygienic either but the bottles still had the seals intact, so at least the quality of the water inside was guaranteed.

Outside the shop a group of local men were gathered in the shade of a palm tree. They were just hanging around, having a beer and smoking, wearing their sarongs.

I wondered at what simple lives they must lead. The dozen empty bottles of whiskey scattered nearby the shop was probably a sad reflection of their boredom! This beach is so idyllic, yet even in this paradise you could see how locals could become easily disillusioned with their lives. I wonder what Sea Gypsies dream of? Perhaps speedboats and big fish!

As we left the village, a longtail boat full of supplies for the shop pulled up onto the beach, and a group of children rushed out to help carry the cargo. It was amazing to think that this was their only form of delivery as there were no roads on Ko Phi Phi. We finally returned to our resort, and had lunch in one of its restaurants. Julie was also feeling unwell by now with her wisdom teeth aching, and she was suffering from a severe sinus headache. We both came to the conclusion that we weren't going to win the "fit family" award!

At least Hannah has been feeling well since she got over her swollen glands in Bangkok. (As I write these words I am touching all the wood I can!) It was so obvious that Hannah was feeling well because of her incredible appetite. She demolished a large plateful of Garlic Spinach with sticky rice, and then moved on to a desert, which she devoured with such ease that even I would have been proud of!

On the menu it said Banana Fritter, but we should have guessed its oversized proportion when the waiter asked if Hannah and I were going to share the pudding! When it arrived it was actually four large bananas in batter, and drowned in honey. And this was only lunchtime! It was really hot at this time, and I was suffering with my spaghetti with tomato sauce. It was four days ago, Christmas day, that I last ate a full proper meal.

Watching Hannah wolf down her fritters was turning my stomach. What made me feel worse though was listening to these three ignorant blokes trying to hit on these two equally irritating Canadian girls. We waited for such a long time for our bill, and so were forced to eavesdrop on this mating ritual of the Travelling Tits. Everything, from their extended accents to their inane topic of conversation was getting to me. My sensitivity was pushed to its limits. Even the usual laid back attitude of the staff, which I'm sure is wonderfully charming when you're in no particular rush, (as you should be), I found to be extremely annoying. Couldn't they tell I was a sick man!

We returned to our room where we sat on the veranda for a while. It was extremely hot, but luckily the chalet had cast some shadow over its own veranda. Hannah was overplaying the Gameboy to death, whilst Julie and I attempted to do some reading.

Before too long we had to retreat into our air-conditioned room as we became hotter and hotter.

Then as if it were a gift from the gods, the sky darkened, the wind blew, and it started to rain slightly.

All the sun worshippers rushed off the beach and shivered indoors, whilst the three of us ran out, and went swimming! We had the beach to ourselves!

When I say, the three of us ran out, it didn't quite happen as simple as that. Julie and Hannah immediately sprinted down the beach, and into the sea, but I had to get changed into my swim shorts.
This I did fairly quickly, and I was about to leave the room when I remembered that the door could not be left on a latch because it didn't have a latch. So I had to take the key with me, but I couldn't find the damn keys, anywhere! I huffed, and I puffed, and stomped around the room, but that didn't help me find them.

I carried a large terracotta pot from off the veranda into the room to hold the door ajar, and then stormed down the beach shouting, "I can't find the bloody keys!" "Aren't they in the key block?" asked Hannah.

Then it dawned on me that they had been in the receptor that switches on all the electricity. All that time I was swearing and cursing the keys were exactly where they should have been!

How stupid did I feel? It did make me realise how bad tempered I was though! I behaved like a cantankerous old man, and I'm sure I uttered the immortal words of Victor Meldrew, "I don't believe it!" In my own inimitable style of course!

We all had a go at snorkelling, even me! And I was even floating, unsupported by any inflatable aids. A huge achievement for a brick like me!

It took a few trial runs with the snorkel to get the hang of it. Remembering to breathe through my mouth and not my nose was quite a challenge, but once I cracked it, I was really enjoying it. I even came face to face with several silver, almost transparent fish.

Julie and Hannah said it wasn't as good as yesterday's show because the sea was getting quite choppy. Nevertheless it was excellent fun! I felt so much better after the time in the water. The air was still cool, and I was much refreshed.

We retired to our chalet where I lounged in my sarong (OK, it may actually have been a bedspread!) and Julie and Hannah tried to out-do each other's scores on the Gameboy. I've never been much of a Gameboy-er and I had no interest in starting now either. I continued reading my book, 'Disgrace', feeling smugly superior in my preferred past time! The maid knocked on the door, and came in to replenish our mini bar. She didn't bat an eyelid nor did she point and laugh at me wearing my sarong. Bedspread or not, at least I wasn't spread eagle on the bed in nothing but my underpants!

It was happy hour at the Mong Thalay Bar from 6:30pm until 8:30pm. (Why do Happy Hours last more than an hour?) We made it just in time before the Happy Two Hours was over. Our lateness was due to Hannah having to try every outfit she had brought with her. And I really do mean every outfit! Julie chose to have a Blue Frozen Maguerita, which was served in a glass similar to what you would find floating candles bobbing around in! Hannah had a cocktail with milk in it? I had water. The next round of cocktails were free, despite being after 8:30pm, and technically in the unhappy hour. We all had the same again, a vase full of anti-freeze, a half a pint of alco-milk, and a glass of water.

After our Happy Twenty Minutes we quickly moved on to the restaurant. It was very busy, and they could only put us into the smoking section. As it happens, no one seemed to be polluting the air, so it wasn't a problem. We sat down, and the waiter took our order. We didn't have to wait too long before he brought us our starters. Julie had some badly smelling fishcakes on her plate, which she said tasted like, and felt like, eating raw fish. She only managed to eat half of it before having to surrender. The weather was really turning stormy about now, and we had a torrential downpour, which cooled the air nicely. It had gradually been getting more humid up until then. We then waited nearly an hour before our table was cleared. The reason being was that the mafia table to our left had nobbled our waiter. It was like a scene out of 'The Godfather' or perhaps "The Goodfellas"! It was made even more realistic by a Ray Lolita look-a-like! This large Italian extended family had sat down, and had the General Manager of the resort personally attending to their every whim. Our waiter had also been ordered to attend their table, leaving us servantless. We didn't care to complain however, in case we found a parrot's head in our bed when we returned to our room!

Our main course eventually arrived, and Hannah showed us how delicious her Yellow Curry was by polishing her plate off within minutes! Julie and I on the other hand had made poor choices from the menu. My fried rice was far too greasy to be tasty, and once again my stomach waved the white flag before I'd even reached the halfway mark. Julie's meal looked terrible, and it's appearance didn't lie about its flavour either. It was shredded pieces of chicken in batter, but Julie bit into something that didn't remind her of chicken, so her meal also came to a premature ending.

On our way back to our hut, we decided to walk along the beach until Julie spotted some huge crabs. As we looked closer there were loads of them, scurrying back into their not-so-little holes. These were proper crabs, not the cute little ones on the beach at Krabi. Perhaps the shadow cast by the light from the resort made them look bigger than they were, but we weren't taking any chances, and returned to the path whilst we still had our toes. It was 9:50pm by the time we were in our room, and once again it wasn't too long before it was lights out.

The stool situation is like the weather, wet and windy. I hadn't noticed before how a toilet bowl acts as an amplifier. Every squelch could be heard loud and clear in the other room!

Julie woke me up sometime later to ask me if they had Tidal Waves in Thailand. I laughed myself back to sleep! Yet another comic moment that shall become a cherished memory!

Day 17>>

ęCopyright Colin Owen 2001