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Published: July 14th 2006
ugh... I just tripped on the power cord to my computer (and 2 others) and killed their power and lost the very very long entry that I had nearly completed. I haven't asked the other people if they lost anything- they look mad so I'm not making eye contact. I'm going to try this again half-heartedly. Also, it's worth mentioning that we just had a massive rain storm here on Koh Phangan and that has apprantly caused a problem with this computer. I must hold my feet off of the ground while touching the keyboard or mouse to keep from getting shocked. I've had 3 good ones already. I'm being conditioned for something. It's hard to say what, but I do look funny hunched over the keyboard with my feet held up in the air. It's also a very good ab workout.
I believe that after my last entry, I had one more night and day in Chang Mai with the group that had amassed. We all rented motorbikes and drove around the city and up into the mountains. Driving in the countryside out here is crazy, but driving in the cities is really just hard to describe. Technichally, yes
there are seperate sides of the road with respective lanes and other traffic control measures, but they don't seem to serve much purpose. The main streets are always packed with cars and motorbikes, and it's literally just a free-for-all. If there are two traditional lanes going one way, then you really have 5 lanes (2 car lanes and 3 motorbike lanes in between and outside of the cars). For good measure, every couple hundred meters there is someone going the complete wrong way towards you. It's all actually very exciting and enjoyable once you get over the panic. After making it out of the city and up the mountainside a ways, we stopped at waterfall. We ended up finding a natural waterslide on slick rocks. Despite not having our swim suites with us, we all jumped in as it was raining anyways. After spending the day there, we went to the huge huge Sunday night market. It snakes all around block after block. I don't know how big it was. Huge. There must have been 1000 stalls, but they seemed to be the same 15 repeating over and over again. It's okay though, because plenty of them were food stalls. There was this one stall serving little whole squids. Everyone else got one, so I couldn't really be left out. I ate 2. No, actually I didn't eat any, but I DID eat a lot of pineapple.
On Monday we all were lazy and just wandered around town on foot for a bit. We said goodbyes in the evening and I got on the night train to Bangkok (13 hours) with Sarah. The train was great and I actually slept more soundly than I have the entire trip. The beds were just so damn cozy that they almost made me mad. I don't know why. We arrived in Bangkok early in the morning, headed to Khoasan Road, and booked bus/boat tickets to the Island of Koh Phangan (a 13 hour bus ride and 3 hour boat ride for 12 dollars each). We had about 10 hours to kill, so we decided to head to the massive shopping center called MBK. I'm sure that's really an acronym for the real name, but that's all I can offer. We made the pathetic mistake of expecting a god forsaken tuk tuk to get us there. Taxi drivers are probably fairly reliable around here, but the tuk tuk drivers are all part of The Cartel, maybe the same Cartel I found myself involved in back in Luang Prabang. So we got in the tuk tuk and drove along for about 8 seconds as though everything was ok, and then the he revealed his true nature. It's clear that he wasn't going to get some under the counter commission for taking us to MBK, but he was happy to take us to suit shops, or jewlery stores, or cetain special temples. I would say NO NONO NO NO and he would say OK OK OK WE GO TO MBK. And then it would start all over. Finally I agreed to go to a suit store. He told me I had to stay in there for 20 minutes for him to get his gasoline coupon. Some previously undiscovered, deeply rooted acting skills emerged when I stepped in the door. 20 minutes flew by as we discussed fabrics and color combinations and waist sizes and working conditions for assumed sweat shop workers, and then I walked back out the door expecting a thank you from my driver followed by a quick ride to MBK. We drove 8 seconds and then went back to square one. We exchanged meaningless foreign insults and headed our seperate ways. Sarah and I had an interesting 2 hour walk trying to find our way back to Khaosan Road. Anything to avoid The Cartel. We found a relaxing restaraunt and stayed there for 6 hours, 2 meals each, and 4 shakes each.
Evening finally rolled around and we boarded our double decker VIP bus. And I can't deny that it was VIP'ish, but something about the design of the seats prevented anybody from falling completely asleep. And just when I would get tantilizingly close to sleep, the flourescent lights would bust on and the bus would stop to pick up passengers. Neither one of us got any sleep, but our bad moods were quickly forgotten in the morning as we boarded the boat and headed out into the Gulf of Thailand. We made it to the island and got a ride to the resort we had booked a room at. It is just amazingly beautiful here, especially from a high viewpoint. People are friendly and the weather has been fine (excluding the last hour). We stayed 2 nights in a nice little bungalow right on a private beach and close to a great restaraunt. The tide is out during the middle of the day, so the beaches are a little dissapointing, but we did some hiking and found some nice cliffs to dive off of and snorkel from. The coral comes right up to the shore here, so it's interesting snorkeling, and the water is such a great temperature. It just so happened that we arrived the day of the full moon party, so we couldn't really pass that up. Our resort was about 25 km from the beach that was holding the party, so we took the free ride offered to guests of our resort. It was a short bed, extended cab little pickup and literally had 21 people in it. There were 8 inside and 13 in the bed (where I was). The dirt roads here are extremely bumpy, and the main paved road has many hills that literally have a 20% grade. At two points half of us had to get out and walk so that the little diesel engine could make it up. The party ended up being exactly what I expected- About 6000 people dancing on a big beach to very loud techno music. I mostly went to watch others make fools of themselves, and I was not dissapointed. Today I said goodbye to Sarah and got a bungalow in the main town to try to figure out my plans. Tomorrow I'm either going to Ko Tao to take a 4 day diving lesson, or I'm going to begin making my way down to Malaysia. I've heard that a couple islands in Malaysia really shouldn't be missed.... I don't know what I'm doing. That's ok. That's the plan!
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