Monday, October 16, 2006

Trip: Thailand - Part Deux
Date: October 12, 2006
Place: Koh Tao

Today is my third day on Koh Tao. I was a bit disillusioned at first, because the plan was to spend a week on the beach relaxing before I head off to Dhaka, but there was no beach at my resort! (Well, technically there is, but it is only 1-5 feet deep depending on whether it is low or high tide…). Also, EVERYONE here smokes! Yuck! I haven't had a breath of fresh air in two days! I chose Scuba Shack because the diving is supposed to be very good here and a guy that I met on the way to Phnom Penh recommended it. He was right about the good diving and cheap rooms, but he neglected to mention the drunks who party in front of your door until 4:30am. I think that he may have been a "vomiting drunk" himself, so perhaps drunken brawls are his thing… As for me, I was hoping for some peace and quiet, and I definitely haven't found it here!

Consequently, today I rented a scooter so that I could look for a beach. Unfortunately, the roads here are about as bad as the other places that I have traveled. They have one decent paved road on the island, but all of the other rods are dirt, sand, and gravel (or boulders, depending on the road!) Like many tropical islands, this one has a big hill in the center. Thankfully, the rain didn't start until later today so the roads were still fairly dry (apparently the rainy season in the south starts in October! In the north, the rainy season ends in October…) Anyway, I was driving along and the road became more and more treacherous (photos to come). Sadly, I had another wipeout, again damaging my poor right leg which had just healed from my Sukhothai wipe out and the second degree sunburn I got on my way to Siem Reap. I was determined to find a beach though, so when the road became so treacherous that I wasn't sure that I could even walk it in flip flops, I parked the bike on the side of the road and started to walk down. A few meters down I saw a large, bright green snake in the middle of the road! It wasn't very fat (only about ½" diameter), but it was a good 4- 5 feet long. I carefully circumnavigated the snake and continued down the hill. Once at the bottom, I realized that I left my key in the scooter! So I climbed back up (dodging the snake again), grabbed the key and then went again to the bottom of the hill.

To my dismay, the road did not lead to the beach! It did lead to some very steep stone stairs, however, so I went down those, going through what looked like someone's house, until I got to the bottom where there was a real beach! Plus, it was REALLY quiet! (Probably because it is next to impossible to get to!) I then rinsed out my wounds and applied Band-Aids while resting in the shade (I was DRENCHED in sweat when I arrived.) I spoke with a guy who was staying there and asked him if there were any drunken brawls. He laughed and said, "no," and told me that there were only 4-5 people on the beach. This resort, New Heaven Huts, has bungalows with beach views for very reasonable prices ($10 a night). So I spoke to the manager and he said that he had a room. I was going to spend a couple of more days at my place for the diving, but then I found out that New Heaven also has a dive shop just a couple of doors down from where I am staying. I then asked the manager if he had hammocks. When he said "yes", I was totally sold. I would have checked in today, but I had already missed the checkout time for Scuba Shack. Tomorrow, however, all I need to do is take my bags down to their dive shop and they will pick me up by boat. (Much better than the treacherous hill…)

After that was settled, I unfortunately had to climb back up the treacherous hill, and then I had to get my motorbike up it which was almost impossible. Suffice it to say, I will definitely not be scooting on anymore dirt roads anytime soon!!

My next task was to find a plane ticket to Dhaka. This also proved to be quite a challenge. The fifth travel agent that I spoke to was willing to book the ticket. The next obstacle was the fact that Bangladesh Airlines only flies a couple of days a week, so I could either leave on October 16 th (2 days before I wanted) or on October 20th (2 days after). I chose the 16th because it had an evening flight.

The next challenge was to find transportation to Bangkok. I wanted to leave at night on the 15th so that I wouldn't have to forfeit another day of vacation. This left the Night Boat as my only option. I will take the boat to Champuthon and then a REALLY long local bus ride to Bangkok. I leave Koh Tao at 11pm on October 15 and arrive at 3:00pm on October 16th in Bangkok. After that, I will pick up my bags at the Hyatt Grand Erawan and beg the manager to let me take a shower in the health club. I will then repack by bags and head to the airport. My flight to Dhaka doesn't leave until 10pm on the 16th, so I should have time. Thankfully, I will have a State Department car waiting for me when I arrive!

Anyway, tomorrow I should be on my way to Zen…

Oh! Speaking of Zen, Scuba Shack does have two really nice things going for it. First, the food is excellent and cheap. Second, they have a massage parlor right on the water! My first day here I got a massage (for Heather!) and tonight I got another massage (for me! I figure I deserve it after today…) just as the sun was setting. It was fabulous!

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