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Published: January 1st 2013
When we first heard of this island sitting around the communal table at Stuart's place in Kanchanaburi, we laughed at how it sounded like toejam. Also known as Koh Pu, we giggled at the unfortunate name but secretly hoped it wouldn't be so bad. In the middle of a conversation about the dog's mange, all sorts of pictures were going through our heads. I was thinking, great, we go from one place where the mutts are afflicted with mange to another likened to toejam. How little we knew...
A slice of tropical paradise greeted us as we transferred from the ferry to a longtail boat. Wading to shore, we knew we'd hit the jackpot. A beautiful beach, clean bungalows and families with children Eleanor's age - we should have booked a week.
Over the following four days, Eleanor mucked about with kids from Alaska and Norway. Snorkeling, cards, volleyball and canoeing occupied her time. Dean whiled away the hours swimming, playing soccer, reading and scooting around the island. I perfected the art of slothery, putting in some serious time on the deck chairs. With a wide variety of Scandinavian women's magazines at my disposal, I realized that I didn't need
to know their languages because I am fluent in the formula of trash; royalty, recipes, reality and celebrity. I gained an understanding of Princess Mary's plight (stalking sister-in-law), found a new appreciation for sausage dishes, empathized with scowling women who'd obviously done nothing to deserve whatever life was throwing at them and admired the houses of the rich and famous. Christmas craft is just as popular with the readers as it is back home at The Women's Weekly. Luckily for me Sudoku doesn't require more than an ability to count to 9, so that's one puzzle I could complete. Maybe the mamas from the northern lands aren't mathematically inclined but I always found the Sudokus left blank.
Walking to the village in the south, we happened upon a school assembly. The students didn't appear to be too riveted by the musings of the man on the microphone, but sitting on the dirt in the hot, baking sun in scout-like uniforms wouldn't have been much fun. The man speaking to the students was dressed like a scout master and he was clutching that microphone like a Japanese businessman in a karaoke bar. We quickly moved on because the scene was
Sun, sea and fun
A little bit of snorkelling action to pass the time.
too reminscent of school back home and we don't want to think about work yet. Not much to see in the village, although Dean and Eleanor enjoyed some freshly fried chicken, Thai-style.
The village of Ting Rai was closest to our bungalow and was also home to an evacuation point in the event of a tsunami. Only 750 metres away, I calculated that we could run that far in 10 minutes. The mosque's 20 metre loudspeaker tower looked like it would relay any warning signals, alongside the daily calls to prayer. Not that we were preoccupied with thinking about natural disasters, but I always like to be prepared. A bakery nearby sold delicious pastries, croissants and cheesecakes, so I frequented that every morning. The German baker knew how to put together a simple, but tasty breakfast. He just has to work on improving his coffee and it would be a perfect place to have that little Western food fix.
The northern most village was a fair drive on the scooter along a semi-paved road. At one point, we were held up by the concreting process and were able to watch in awe as the men used a knife
and what looked like a very large rolling pin to lay the concrete. After a detour to the eastern side of the island while the concreting was underway, we saw some fishermen sorting mussels and another small village. Once the concrete truck was out of the way, we drove down a dirt road for a while before realising the scooter probably needed petrol. Luckily for us, we ran out about 20 metres from a place which sold fuel in old soft drink bottles and right next to the man who sold deep fried bananas.
One night we were sitting with our new Alaskan friends and were pleasantly surprised by the delivery of two lobsters to our table. The kids were all playing cards on another table and missed out on this special treat but we were very happy to partake in our friends' bounty.
Dean was able to participate in a bit of circle time on full moon night. The bungalows next door had a bonfire, fire twirling and music over loudspeakers. He was in his element, sitting in a circle around a fire. Eleanor and I left hiim to his circle work, gazing into the fire, and
Soccer by the sea
Note the palm tree in the middle of the pitch!
went back to our bungalows where she hung out with the kids awhile and I finished another trashy read.
The days passed in a blur of sunshine, fruit shakes and lounging about. This island, and where we stayed, is a brilliant location for a family vacation. If it had a coral reef off the beach, it would be better than the Perhentians. We were sad to leave, having met some lovely people and fully enjoyed island life, especially since we had no idea about what awaited us in Koh Ngai.
Tot: 0.842s; Tpl: 0.063s; cc: 14; qc: 58; dbt: 0.0307s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
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