01.08.2007 - 01.08.2007 -17 °C
I am enjoying my time here very much, but when I arrive in a new place without knowing anybody, well, it can feel very displacing. The thrill and excitement of arriving somewhere new is very much alive and there's a kind of disorientating feeling too.
Leaving Pattaya, and those friends I've made, was filled with both sadness and excitement too. I felt like I had lived there for much longer than the 16 days that I actually did. Since leaving I have received emails and texts from some of the people I encountered - My is doing well, his eyes are better and he hasn't gone back to Boyztown; he's working on his parents small farm and seems to be quite happy. Kitipong has also given up the go go dancing and is desperately trying to find a 'proper' job.
You know; someone once said that when you die '"its not the materialism you leave behind, but the inspiration!". I can empathise with that not only because of the counselling, social work and teaching that I have done, but because of the way some Thai people have made me feel - oh, and because I'm skint too!.
I finished a wonderful book recently "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari'", a very dear friend of mine gave it to me before leaving the Uk and I'd highly recommend it - It's a book of self development and enlightenment, and without giving too much away its really helped me reflect on who I am and where I'm going. While I don't intend to go too deep; travelling, for me, has many purposes - its a kind of spiritual, mental and physical journey that, I hope, will be the platform for the rest of my life. Ok, some of you may say I'm lucky to have all this time? And to an extent I am, but I can assure you that its not just luck - its self-realisation and the knowledge that I desperately needed to get away and get my head together. Luck, hard work and relationship building has enabled me to re-search my hopes and dreams and thankfully I have a wonderful partner who has encouraged me to achieve these goals too.
Something wonderful my partner gave me before leaving the Uk was an ipod filled with all the music I love - If you really want to empathise and experience where I'm coming from then three particular tunes encapsulate where I've been, where I was, and where I now find my self. All over the world there are lots of people that experience difficulties in their lives and recently it stuck me, in the dynamics of three songs, that I am truly over the rainbow. I guess there have been many versions of many songs, but the three that fit for me (and these three versions can not be recreated by other artists) have dynamics that can induce and encompass feelings that fit.....listen to Shayne Ward's ''WHAT ABOUT ME", Bruce Springsteen's "STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA" and Angelis's SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW" and you may know what I mean xx
Boarding the plane from Pattaya to Koh Samui was similar to flying from Manchester to Thailand, maybe not as profound, but still, it felt like I was leaving behind loved ones and that's always a bit sad. The flight was lovely, taking off in the early evening was like flying from day through night, the sunsetting sky was beautiful and the burnt orange sky complemented the blue/green sea that I was flying over. Looking out of the planes window was amazing; I saw the liitle islands I was flying over like I was walking in a shallow sea; it was like looking down at small pebbles in the blue/green water.
I landed on Koh Samui island a little after 7pm, daylight had faded and dusk had arrived. The airport kinda reminded me of a rather nice garden centre; it's outdoors and very well presented. I took a taxi to the Baan Rom Mai bungalows and was wonderfully surprised to see the grounds in which they're set. To get to reception I had to walk through a small beautiful tropical garden that was filled with life.... butterflies were dancing around wild orchids and the frogs were croaking a welcoming tune, crickets were rubbing their knees and running away in case I ate them, palm trees swayed a little in the evening breeze and Koh Samui felt like a good place to be. The staff at these bungalows are superb and made me feel very welcome, the beach is just across the road and main Chaweng is only a five minute walk.
My first night on Samui didn't involve very much, I must have been jet lagged from the hours flight from Pattaya, I just chilled at Baan Rom Mai and had an early night. When I woke the next morning I took a long shower, something I'm getting very used to, and went for a long walk on the beach. I stopped for breakfast at the OP hotel (not sure what OP stands for, but I don't think it's old people!) and ate a full english breakfast. I sat there for a couple of hours drinking lemon tea....another thing that I'm loving doing, long leisurely breakfasts on the beach Mmm!The view from OP's is fabulous, I'd sit in the shade of a coconut tree and laid out in front of me was a blanket of uncluttered white sand that led to a very inviting blue/green sea. Small fishing boats would bob by and local children would sieve the sand for shells and things to sell. Looking out to sea, there in front of me, was a few other islands dotted around and when I paddled in the sea small fish swam between my feet. The water is the temperature of a warm bath and the heat can be humid and sticky, a swim or a dip was as refreshing as a freezing cold bottle of beer. I spent quite a few mornings at OP's, it's about a ten minute walk from my room and walking along the seashore barefoot listening to slow tunes on my ipod was a perfect way to start any day....food for the soul!
Koh Samui - Women Collecting Coconuts
Arriving somewhere new, for me, involves acclimatising myself to my new surroundings - So, after a very lazy day I headed down Chawengs main road, aptly named Beach Road, and eventually, after a real slow stroll, I came upon the three gems project - It's called the three gems as it is a bar, restaurant and sauna. Three gems was certainly a gem of a place for me, it's where I met many people that I now am fortunate enough to call friends.
I first met Bruce, one of the owners of the 3 gems project, as I almost walked past his establishment. I really was just strolling along, not looking for anywhere in particular, when I heard this rather slim, kind of camp, man saying... hello! Three or fours hours later, and after many bottles of beer, I had been given all the information (and gossip!!) I needed to have a good time on Samui.
Bruce and his partner, Mark, had moved to Koh Samui three years ago; they set up the three gems and have been living their dream ever since. Bruce is a retired museum director and historian and Mark speaks and writes four languages....Malay, Thai, Chinese and English; they originate from New Zealand and love the British monarchy....Bruce in particular loves queen Elizabeth....but then I think she's someone he aspires to be, the old queen that he is.
Bruce showed me great kindness and we seemed to click straight away. If you remember the first part of my tails....I talked about losing my original email and almost going berserk as a consequence. Bruce, when hearing my computer dilemma, opened up his house to me and gave me free range on his computer, he also discounted all my bills at the three gems....bless!
Three gems and OP's are the havens I seem to seek when arriving somewhere different. As a creature of habit, I seem to need some kind of familiarity....I guess we all need a sense of belonging? And both these places offered me that in abundance. Three gems also offered the best massage one could have. Kim is the masseur and that man can manipulate, Thai style, any aching muscle....thankfully, without offering 'extras'!
It was at the three gems I met Michael Dobbin, Bruce introduced us and we too hit it off straight away. Michael's in his early sixties and has been a Canadian actor for much of his adult life. He often takes three or four months off to chill in a beautiful house in Koh Samui, near Bo phut. Michael and I spent several days together and it was he that really changed my mind about the Samui.
Michael & Me
My initial impression of Koh Samui, Chewang Beach was kinda okay. Well actually it was lovely during the day, but the night time wasn't! The place turned in to Blackpool in paradise, it was full of larger louts getting drunk, doing drugs and generally abusing the locals...loads of obnoxious people who were mostly lads from the UK.
Michael showed me the other parts of the island and for three or four days we just drove from beach to beach, from town to town and waterfall to waterfall....it was bliss and I was fortunate enough to be driven around some stunning places - Bo phut and the Fishmans village are two of my favourite places, more sleepy and relaxed than Chewang.
Part 8 to follow soon