Well a few days without internet means here comes a double maybe triple post.
It’s my birthday! I half forgot actually. I was reminded later in the day when I see a facebook message wishing me a good one from a college friend. I’m 26 and as I’m later reminded closer now to 30 than I am to 20. I know I cant travel like this forever and I sometimes regret buying the house because it means if I lose my job I can’t just bum around south east asia for a few months like so many others I meet out here before finding a new one. I have a mortgage. I have some responsibilities. I only have the one life to experience everything I can, and even less of that I can use to really travel like this. It’s a fleeting part of life. It depresses me a little and today I have fantasies of quitting my job and being a remote contract programmer in Thailand or Laos or something. It has it’s appeals to me. There is that tug. I know though it’s just a fantasy. It’s much more complex than that and I would be giving up a lot of other things like seeing friends and family regularly. It’s perhaps not such a fair trade in the end.
I woke up extra early today half hoping to catch the sun rise over the viewpoint on the little mountain at the center of the island. I’m a bit too late but set out anyway with all my camera gear and tripod. The climb up to the viewpoint is strenuous with I would guess 1500 ft of stairs. Even at 7am it’s quite hot and humid and I quickly am drenched. I finally make the top and find a couple up there who had gotten up at 5:30 to catch the sunset. I couldn’t manage that. Either way the view is quite nice looking out over all of Tonsai with both beaches. It really is quite narrow between the two. Ko Phi Phi Leh can be seen in the distance. I set up my tripod and take a few shots. It’s hard to expose because the sun is lighting up the clouds so brightly and the town is still in the shadow of the mountain. I tied to do an HDR shot but fail because the clouds are moving too quickly. They’re bringing a morning shower actually. I have my umbrella with me to keep my camera dry but I start to worry because these often turn into thunder storms and I’m about the highest thing up with a big metal rod. I decide it prudent to break things down and go back down into town. The rain passes quickly though.
My next goal is to find this secluded beach I was told about that’s off a dirt road, but I can’t ever find the road. I’m starting to run out of time for check-out and settle for some nice baked goods with things like coconut in them. I’m going to miss the food.
I shower and pack up before enjoying a bit of relaxation in the AC before checking out at 11. I chose to take the last of the 2 ferries for the day by Phi Phi Cruiser which leaves at 2:30. We’re supposed to be at the dock by 2 which leaves me a lot of time. I debate going for a swim, but I don’t particularly want a wet swimsuit in my bag. Gah. So I find a beach front cafe and have some curry enjoying the view. I take as long as I can to finish and wait for the waiter to bring me the bill instead of asking for it so I can sit here enjoying the view as long as possible. I only manage to waste about an hour. I decide to walk around town one last time stopping for some pineapple. They have these little ones we used to see on our sailing trip that are so sweet. I only have so much money and I’m watching to avoid taking out more money because the ATM charges a $5 fee, plus then my bank will hit me with a fee and exchange rate fee. I eventually head back to the guest house and sit down to pass the time updating my journal. I meet a french woman there also waiting for the ferry named Amy. Eventually her friend and travel companion for the last 2 weeks Peter, an Austrian, arrives back from his trip up to the viewpoint in the middle of the day. It’s always nice to have people to pass the time with. Peter tells us about how all along the way people are stopped catching their breath and chugging water asking how much further to the top. I feel justified in my early start. Amy has become quite the traveler and maybe one of the few people I’ve met who may have more visits to more countries than me. Besides past travels to places like Japan and China, she’s spending an entire year backpacking the Pacific Rim already spending 3 months in India along with time in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. So far her favorite place is Cambodia and the way she tells it makes it quite enticing. A mix between the fast paced craziness of Thailand with the the sleepy Laos, it apparently offers much to see at a great price. I suppose I may need to have a look some day.
Eventually enough time passes that we grab some snacks and water at the convenience store, load our bags on a trolly, and head to the dock. Peter is staying for the next week in Phuket, though he’s found where to stay away from the horrible Patong. Amy is flying onto Bali the next morning and is going to be spending the night in the international terminal.
The ride back to Phuket is a bit rougher than the way out but the boat handles it well. A lot of people are sea sick though and more than once people go running up top. The area at the back and to the sides of the boat are filled with people with their heads in their hands. The ride passes more slowly than before even with good company since I have nothing to look forward to when we arrive but a mini bus to the bus terminal followed by an hour long bus ride to the airport an a 2 hour long flight to Bangkok. I’m also quite tired from my early start.
On the bus to the airport Amy meets another french woman spending the night in the terminal. Such luck! I did something similar returning from my europe trip spending the night in Istanbul Airport. I regret not getting a room for the night and so that’s why I have one near the airport for tonight. At least now she’ll have someone to talk to. At first our new acquaintance, Marie or Marin (I couldn’t quite catch it.. ) wasn’t too sociable electing not to sit with us on the bus, but once we got off she was quite pleasant and joined us for a bite to eat at the Thai Airways restaurant after I checked my bag. My last meal perhaps in Thailand. The food is clearly cooked for the Thais as it’s quite spicy and good. We’re served by a fairly convincing lady boy and Amy remarks how socially acceptable that is here, that they’re able to hold down normal jobs like everyone else and no one pays them any bother really. Back home they’re liable to be assaulted.
I also timed the trip perfectly at the airport, the bus we took instead of the taxi dropped me off with just enough time for the food. I had wanted desert but looking at my watch I had just 10 minutes until boarding. As it would turn out they were 10 minutes late and my watch 5 minutes early but this flight I couldn’t miss or it would also make me miss the flight to Bhutan. I had to leave the girls with 200 baht to cover my part of the bill, a bit more than my dinner cost but at least Amy could have the Mango and sticky rice she wanted without worrying about not having enough money for breakfast. It’s so much easier to get through security out here than at home. It took me all of 5 minutes to get from my table outside the security checkpoint to my seat outside the gate waiting to board. None of this taking off of shoes nonsense and they keep the scanners staffed enough to not cause a big backup when there is a rush.
After my 8th flight so far this trip (I think I’ve filled my yearly radiation dosage) I landed in Bangkok. I forgot to print out the address of my hotel or request shuttle pick up so I had to settle for a taxi. As I’ve written before the taxi system in Bangkok is well organized at the airport and quite affordable so I told them my hotel and off I went. As it turns out I budgeted just enough money for the ride as there is a 50 baht airport pickup fee on top of the meter and I tipped the guy well for taking me such a short distance. I now have 20 baht in coins in a bag enough for maybe a bottle of water in the airport next week as I make my way back through Bangkok on my way home. I guess no Muy Thai unless I want to take out more cash and pay the $5 atm fee. I set my phone up as an alarm to wake me up at 4am and it reminded me with a message “Alarm set for 4 hours and 20 minutes from now” as I grimace. I waste a few more of those precious minutes of sleep killing all but 1 of the bastard mosquitoes inhabiting my room. No Malaria thank you.
Tomorrow is the start of the final act of this trip, the part I’m looking most forward to, Bhutan.