Remember that movie with Leonardo DiCaprio where he goes to Thailand and finds this idyllic, Utopian island filled with backpackers, where everyone lives in peace and harmony and smokes weed on the beach and wears white-person dreadlocks, until something goes wrong and they start turning on each other and then these opium farmers kill everyone? That was filmed near where Al and I went in the south of Thailand! Don't worry, there were no run-ins with sharks, AK-47s or white boy dreads on our trip to the beach, but there were plenty of fruity drinks in inappropriately-shaped glasses.
So yeah, our beach vacation was a tad less exciting than Leo's ill-fated trip to a hedonistic island paradise, but we still had a lot of fun. We first went to Ko Samui, a really beautiful island that a lot of people use as a jumping-off point for many of the other islands off the southeast coast of Thailand. Ko Samui is crawling with rich Italian and French tourists who spend piles of money on lavish accommodations and carafes of watered-down wine at the beach-front restaurants. Al and I, being the poor students we are, opted for a more budget-friendly guesthouse and kept pretty closely to our diet of Changs and fried noodles, with some exceptions for those drinks in the sexy glasses. The closest we got to experiencing the lifestyle of the rich and famous was when we picked up our luggage in the absurdly well-appointed Ko Samui airport. That airport was so fabulous I would gladly have stayed there, sleeping next to the baggage carousel, but I bet it'd be out of my price range. Maybe I could afford one of the comfy chairs by one of the gates, but probably only for a few nights. This is me at the AIRPORT:
Okay, enough about the airport. Ko Samui itself was fun, too. I overcame my fear of riding on a motorbike and allowed Al to drive me around the island on a little red Honda number. I am proud to report that we did not crash into a bus, drive over a cliff, or careen into a storefront, all of which I was pretty sure were real possibilities before I climbed aboard. Al is an excellent driver. We spent the nights lying on pallets at an outside beach bar, drinking mai tais and watching people light huge, lantern-like balloons and send them off into the dark sky.
After Ko Samui, we headed to Ko Tao, a much smaller island nearby, to meet up with Al's friend Tim and do some SCUBA diving. I had never dove before, but I wanted to try it, so I signed up for the beginning class to get my open water certification. I made it through the first two days (which involved so much pool time we all looked like white, wet prunes when we emerged) and my first open water dive without incident. During the second dive, however, several disasters occurred, I freaked out, and came to the conclusion that SCUBA diving is not for me. Most of it was just me panicking under water and thinking I was drowning, but after that happened twice and I was sobbing into my regulator, I realized, "Wait, isn't this supposed to be a recreational activity?" So yeah, I tried it, but I'm afraid SCUBA is one of those expensive, jet-setting hobbies that I'm going to have to pass on from now on, just like cliff diving and extreme yachting.
After I gave up on SCUBA, I had a fantastic time on Ko Tao. I went running in the hot, hot heat, discovered some new beaches, read a book in the shade, and ate a lovely salad in a restaurant that clearly catered to white girls who miss their fresh vegetables. Al and Tim quit diving early and we spent our last full day drinking Changs (surprise!) and hanging out. That night we headed out for a semi-debauched night at a beachside bar that allows drunk people to jump rope through fire. Suffice it to say that by the end of the night, one of us, who will go unnamed, had a burn on his leg from falling in the fire jump rope. Okay, it was Tim.
So, that was Ko Tao. Our next stop, after an excruciating ferry ride back to Samui, was Bangkok, for our final two nights in Thailand. Stay tuned for my next post on that experience. Laterz!