week long party in Sihanoukville with some of my best friends from around the world then a week in chilling in Pai with new ones
15.02.2013 - 03.03.2013 32 °C
Even though was lying on solid tock I somehow managed to sleep for over 3 hours when woke at 5.30am in Singapore Changi T2 so could check in with Tiger and walk to Gate 34 to use the wifi and make the most of soft seats in what was in fact an area to house passengers for the giant A380 plane; my route a little short so no chance of this happening.
We landed on time at 8.10am (minus an hour time difference) into Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA, and already had my e-visa sorted so strolled right through immigration whilst the majority queued up and were processed. With my bag waiting, Canadia ATM located (only one that doesn’t charge) and a tuk tuk found just outside the gate for $5 I could be forgiven to think this was far too efficient! My luck only got better when at the private bus area on the corner of a street (no official bus terminal in the city) I was given the last available seat for the 9.45am bus to Sihanoukville instead of having to wait two hours which I fully expected; lady originally said full until her supervisor corrected! Winning.
Seated at the very back corner above the engine I ate the hotdog rolls I just purchased from a vendor and started talking to Englishan Mike who sat next to me (when he came on the bus I knew we would get on) with brilliant Iranian hostage crisis film Argo being put on his laptop to take our minds off how god damn hot it was! Just about finished at the rest stop I had some tomato curry thing and was in no mood to get back on knowing everyone at the front was nice and cool! Taking longer than I anticipated we finally arrived at the out of town ‘station’ at 3.15pm and was only a short tuk tuk from best friend Amy who was standing outside The Big Easy and received a huge bear hug the moment I got out! Incredibly happy I collected my room key, briefly caught up and sipped on a celebratory draught beer (makes a change to see kegs!) before heading down the hill to see my other good mates Nick, John, Lisa and Bridget as well as Pete and Lucy who were on the popular Serendipity beach…LET THE PARTY BEGIN!
We had a group photo, signed up for a booze cruise, ate sandwiches/burgers and just embraced the fact we were all here in the same place at the same time all effectively single full well knowing this will almost certainly never happen again! Later on I uploaded a set of photos, played pool, had a few $1 Angkor’s and sat outside my bungalow with John saving money by drinking rum and vodka together with cold Sprite- only shop nearby that does it. With Mike joining we for formed a cicle of 9 that took over the pathway before going to Dolphin Shack at 11.30pm for overlong games of Beer Pong with myself and Nick losing to a tiebreak in the final. Back with the girls at a we went to the rooms at about 4am where caught the Australians crazy dancing in their pj’s. As sharing with Nick I had to force him across the bed so could sleep but the M150′s were trying not to let me.
Accepting the fact that my mind was set on 4 hours maximum rest time I got up to see everyone else in the bar area in the same zoned out state so had a light breakfast (baguette with egg, sausage and tomato) and some leftover curry before using the laptop till beach time about 1pm. We manouevered half a dozen sun loungers into place by Kurin Bar then played much frisbee and waboba (ball that bounces on water going vast distances) with the Americans. Feeling the need to ‘get back on it’ we did rounds of canned beer then moved to 75 cent draughts at happy hour- Cambodian money is Riel and 4000 to a dollar but currencies are used everywhere side by side.
With the girls having relaxed and satisfied with massages and pedicures (Bridget had a posse around her much of the afternoon) they left before us to nap as we ate cheaply at Nice Foods til sitting at Big Easy, showering and pre drinking on our porch again with myself having perhaps a bit too much vodka which is not a good thing as cannot remember the last time I had a GOOD night on cheap versions of that particular spirit. Wearing clothes we didn’t give a shit about we took part in Neon Night, getting covered in mainly orange flourescent paint partying the night away each with a bucket in hand as my memory turns hazy. Getting into one of my funny moods I went solo for a bit, let little things annoy me and wondered about aimlessly (not safest thing to do in this dodgy hole) till spoke to Bridget in her room and ended up passing out there and then.
Feeling parched, emotionally drained and mentally shattered following more sleep deprivation I spent the morning avoiding people and chillaxing with Bridget till a need for substance got the better of me. A ‘nothing day’ was on the cards as everyone found excuses not to do anything in particular and instead sat by the bar on my laptop preparing documents to send onto Australian immigration and actually applying for my Second WHV. I eventually stopped being boring and put it away so could refresh, lie down and change to enable me to be sociable and play dominoes with John, Nick and barmen T. I sampled chips with chili con carne and a cheesy garlic baguette (poor job of filling me up) and began drinking once again. John, who had not stopped all day did a phantom and never came back leaving just me and Nick to carry the flame for the rest of the group! We did this in style by rocking up to JJ’s Playground at the end of the beach and ordering the $10 big boy bucket that was monstrous in proportions and were the only ones with it; enhancing the fact we were amongst the oldest about. Unwilling to dance we literally just sat with our baby as it acted like a magnet bringing many ‘admirers’ over who could start a conversation with including Brits Emily and Miriam who were on a month long holiday but rather ditzy to say the least. We finished up and ordered two normal sized buckets, did a spot of dancing (Nick decided I have three moves- guns, missiles, napalm!) and went back via the convenience store not far off 6am with the sun starting to rise!
Despite another sub 4 hours of rest I eventually left the room for a four cheese wrap and a baguette with honey as I tried to round the group up for the booze cruise. Unfortunately Lucy, Bridget and Pete all had rather lame excuses and there was no way to change their minds so there was just 5 of us when walked to Dolphin Shack at 1.45pm. There was considerably more people than the last time I was here although the girl to guy ratio appeared to be more 50/50 so there was a silver lining. We just about had time to consume the ‘free’ buckets ($10 for whole thing) before all 90 of us squeezed onto the small, rusty boat and participated in a shotgun- cut hole in can and when signalled pull the ring so the beer takes only a few seconds to finish. We set up base up top in a corner and generally kept to ourselves as it was soon quite clear most of the people were long termers out for a jolly and not many ‘newbies’ so few games or entertainment going on which sucked.
We finished most of Amy’s hidden Smirnoff bottle before the resident policeman confiscated it (bit petty) and we had stopped by an island so we could jump into the warm, jellyfish filled ocean nearly getting John to swim into a huge one foolishly. We reluctantly ‘motorboated’ a not so good looking, rough British girl (she was trying to beat some stupid record) and avoided a group of fuckwits then took advantage of the discounted vodka red bulls till got told to swim over to a stretch of sand and take part in a whiskey train pitting males vs females. Amy, Lisa and Nick couldn’t be bothered and I got up the second had downed my share not caring who won as grown out of this sort of thing a while ago.
The boat meandered ever so slowly to Sihanoukville into a purple dusk sky with the drinks not flowing as fast as before and once had eaten an ok meal on the sand (part of the package) went to Big Easy to chill being not as drunk as would of liked.
Dominoes were played, Pete did a great impression with a walking stick and John managed to have his ass slapped extremely hard by the staff for some insane reason as split time between them and the girls. We watched some football on TV (including Liverpool vs Swansea) and went with the local guys to JJ’s for beer towers and shesha as Amy bought me a burger and none of us wanted to mix with the backpackers. I hung out with Nick discussing how much we have changed even just since we were in Europe last summer and how it was good/bad as we were last to leave about 3am.
A near lack of buckets or energy drink late in the evening meant I could at long last have a full 7 hours kip (21 in 4 days!) leaving me refreshed and feeling so much better in myself. I think I must of been the only one as the rest mucked around for an infinite amount of time as we prepared to take tukk tuks the 20 minutes to Otres Beach; no direct route so had to cut inland several times. My heart sank the moment we arrived as it was gorgeous on every level and a world away from the seediness, rubbish, ladyboys and old white guys in Serendipity where we have been staying. As I was first to book and effectively got everyone together I got annoyed at myself for not staying here but at least we came with enough time spare we could visit the remaining days. Nick received a budget manicure and pedicure as we shared a couple of beer jugs at by the white sand at ‘Blame Canada’ before playing frisbee in the water as it was very calm and grew deeper ever so gently meaning I was able to stand quite a ways offshore.
I had an in depth conversation with Bridget in the sea about various things then Me, Amy, Nick and John shared a dozen delicious fried shrimp as the others slept on the sunloungers of ‘Indigo on Otres’. It was already nearing 2pm by time we got here so only had a few hours till was time to leave disappointingly but a good evening lay ahead once a brief visit to hot and horrible Utopia was over (although did play flip cup winning one and losing the other).
Not wanting to be labelled a perve by the girls for watching the wet t shirt competition us boys resisted temptation and had some drinks in Dolphin then spent the majority of the night boogieing to classic rock songs at Kurin Bar not caring what anyone else thought- all hard at it and none of us drunk in any way shape or form (me, Nick and Amy had $2 between us).
Some great photos were taken then we rolled in the sand and sat by the bar when legs too tired to continue. Understanding each other better since our chat myself and Bridget were getting on well and left the others at one of the few open food places to go back to Big Easy very late as usual; when a power cut happened I thought the outside lights remained on but it was in fact daylight!
When out and about at 10.20am I found Nick on one of the bar sofa’s where he had spent the night and ordered myself the Big Breakfast to satisfy my hunger- not eating nearly enough as spending too much being lazy here instead of going a few doors in either direction! I paid off the food/drink tap so far (compared to what things cost in the Philippines this is ridiculous), let my stomach digest and at a still really late 1pm went to Otres Beach again.
I didn’t think it was possible but the sea was like a mirror as played frisbee with Nick and big Nebraskan Brent then wrote in my journal much to Bridget’s annoyance taking me much longer than usual due to ever present distractions. Along with Amy we sat with the Americans (including another- Tim from Colarado) for beers and banter as the Australians and Pete left to pack and get some much needed shut eye. We hung around till gone 7pm and went directly to mid market Zephyr for really good food that was a step above other places and no drunken kids about with myself receiving gifts of garlic bread, pizza slices and pasta on top of my grilled fish meal! At the bungalow I de-salted and lay down alongside an already dead to the world Nick for an hour so could get through the night as Amy continued being a legend and got me Tandhuay Rhum (Filipino stuff) as well as good vodka and cold mixers. Although all getting attacked by the ferocious mosquitoes we did a spot of pre drinking and left very nearly without John as he was totally incapacitated. The night was by no means epic but we had a fun time at JJ’s and Kurin Bar, ate $2 chicken ‘purses’ off the guy who used to manage some of the most poplular hangout’s (says he earns double cooking food) and ended outside Dolphin seeing all the unsavory characters as Nick made a brief, almost pointless appearance looking rough as having just woken up. All partied out, when the first person got up to leave the rest fell like dominoes, and once said goodbye to the amazing Bridget, Lisa and Lucy (who will next see in Melbourne in time for their 30th’s!) I tried so hard to comprehend how much time is flying as what had been looking forward to for months was on the verge of ending…
Trying not to think about the departed trio (all going seperate ways- Nepal, NZ and Australia) I got on with handing my laundry in and booking my $5 bus to the capital city in a couple of days time. In the 5 minutes we were away from Big Easy John had somehow electrocuted himself plugging his laptop into the wall as the wire got caught in his bracelet and he apparently shook for a few seconds and collapsed on the floor- he was Ok but was noticably not himself for the next 24 hours with his hands shaking way more than usual; this sort of stuff only happens to him! Along with Amy and Pete we headed over to Otres and pretty much spent the entire day playing ‘Shithead’ with Brent as Tim rolled joints for us at convenient intervals; the previous night they ‘lost’ an iPhone and credit cards which didn’t surprise me considering my camera and clothes went last year! I did go in the sea at the beginning and at sunset to break things up but I was planted to my seat for hours as quite overcast and nothing much going on and quite an addictive game with the aim being not to be the loser; contrary to most card games where it is all about winning. It was nearing 8pm when we left Indigo as the food is expensive and we needed dinner. Once packed most of my gear, made sure papers were in order and given Amy stuff to take back to Jersey (miss my puppy Max, little red sports car and the island quite a bit!) we sat in John’s room with the remnants of alcohol from yesterday watching 80′s cheese classic ‘Flash Gordon’ which was amazingly shit, hilariously bad and just plain terrible but rather entertaining and enjoyable especially when laughing amongst good friends; wondered why the likes of Timothy Dalton and Brian Blessed were in it though! Having not spent as much time or appreciated her as much as I could of I went with Amy to share a pizza half way up the hill and just talk about the things we have to look forward to and the worries we harbor for what is the next stage in our development as she goes to London and I am likely to return to Australia. If I am going to see her much in the future then my nomadic life has to change quite dramatically so is food for thought but hard to process when been a long week and past 2 in the morning.
I’m not sure if it was because I am subconsciously stressed, there not being enough fruit & vegetables in my diet or through being so devoid of liquid that I drank tap water in the middle of the night but I woke up with severe stomach cramps making me incredibly restless and irritable. A bunch of British yobs shouting their mouths off in all directions at 9.30am did not help and neither did the cheesy food (should be simple!) or the fact I didn’t know when I would see Amy again so took my mind off things by collecting my clean and folded clothes. We played cards right up until it was time for her to get onto the minibus, parted ways yet again (goodbyes are the worst thing about my 37 months on the road as done it countless times- 4th time with her alone) and shot straight to Indigo where could barely move the whole afternoon so typed up diary notes on my Kindle as the boys drank beer towers and played games- being ill sucks balls! With the girls gone we could now eat cheaply at Nice Foods ($1 plates of fried rice) before settling the room bill and watching what is possibly the best cartoon on the planet- Archer! Seriously whoever is reading this blog download it NOW! Its just awesome. It was approaching time to go out and with my cramps almost gone completely mixed vodka into a Sprite bottle and played a little catch up as found 50 cent donuts and 65 cent baguettes with John in resistance to Nick and Pete wanting $5+ pizza- ‘our tightness knows no bounds’. Once had enough of the little c**** by the beach (kids who smoked and went about with the sole aim to antagonize and piss off westerners) we caught up with Nebraska and Colarado by Sessions Bar where we stayed doing shots of Tequila and pineapple washed down with draught Angkor. Doing the unAntony sensible thing I opted to call it quits about 4 in anticipation of a long travelling day- really? so not me!
Being the deep sleeper I am I didn’t even notice Nick get up, pack and leave the room and only woke up to John tapping me on the shoulder saying they were literally leaving right that second for the border and Koh Chang. With one staying put in the US and the other going to New Zealand for a year it was perhaps the first time I had no clue when would next see either of them, let along both at the same time, but being such good mates and going through so much together the past 6 years has taught us that this won’t matter one iota!
An hour later at 8.30am it was my turn to depart Sihanoukville with everything running smoothly and on time plus having no one sitting next to me and the a/c keeping me cool the entire 5 hours to Phnom Penh (watched Ted and half of Bourne Legacy). Once visited Central Market for cheaper than duty free clove cigarettes and meaty spring roll snacks (no idea what kind of animal and didn’t want to enquire) I picked a friendly driver who was willing to accept just $4 to the airport where checked in momentarily, got away with my bag being 20.5kg and took off en route to Thailand at 5pm- now I was on my own and left to my own devices! Swweeeeettttt!
After touching down into Bangkok’s Don Mueng Airport I had to collect my bag and then check in again because Air Asia being the budget carrier it is means there is no transfer option available (called point to point in airline jargon) which could be a problem if the first flight is delayed regardless if its the same company- ridiculous! I changed my remaining $10 into THB, withdrew the maximum my bank would allow from the ATM (13,000) and almost fell on my knees to give thanks when outside 7/11 as bought myself a microwave rice meal, crisps, sandwich and water forgetting its actually not all that cheap in there. The flight to Chiang Mai was considerably shorter than expected so had to turn off my film half way in preparation to land at what would be my home for a month once done my week long excursion north. My bag was amongst the first out as flagged down a tuk tuk for a reasonable 100 baht to take me to Little Bird Hostel just inside the moat, where arrived at 9.45pm. I put all my valuables in a locker in my 4 bed dorm, washed/ changed quickly, spoke to two Chinese travellers and upon getting a beer out the fridge asked if could join a group from the American Peace Corps- two of them worked in the city and the rest had flown over from Azerbaijan as their contract was up (cool). As they consider themselves quite intellectual they made ring of fire into the most boring and tedious drinking game ever by introducing silly rules such as saying the word ‘imbibe’ instead of drink and having to describe someone in ‘third person pronoun’- what the hell?! I did in general have a fun time with them learning about the going’s on by the Caspian Sea but was great when most went to bed and it was just myself and ‘normal’ Kerry from Nebraska who shared a bucket at the bars nearby till they shut around 2 meaning we sat in the dark with a few others a fair while longer.
Not in the best state of mind when awoke mid morning I tried refreshing myself, repacked my bag and went to the shop for a sim card and a crappy brunch before checking out and catching a 60 baht ride to Arcade Bus Station to wait 40 minutes till the 12.30pm bus to Pai was ready to go. The last time I did this journey I was the most hungover I think I have ever been and got put at the back corner of a crowded vehicle so being in one that was half empty and seated on a single chair with the ability to put my leg on another seat was a dream come true! For most of the 3 hour trip I spoke with a guy from Perth who is cycling all over Asia (bike on the roof) and going to spend a month doing Muay Thai boxing to up his fitness level- not sure my ass could cope with sitting on a seat like that for days on end! When I mentioned Spicy Pai hostel, young German long boarder Thaddeus (Ted) introduced himself and we walked together the 15 minutes to it over the bridge.
I was really excited to be back at the place I had some of the best days of my entire trip in (http://escapingtherock.travellerspoint.com/22) and couldn’t wait to pick out a bed in the amazing, unique big dorm; got lucky as A6 free and very similar to my old one giving me view of half the room and as on a second level meant could have privacy and avoid using a locker all the time. I noticed that almost nothing had changed except for the staff (none I recognised) so got myself a chilled beer and sat in the open common area using my kindle and speaking to other guests befor going all the way to Pai Canyon some 8km away on a number of scooter’s (wanted a bike but none available) to see the spectacular sunset behind the hills.
On the Walking Street later on I got myself my favourite pumpkin spring rolls, other food bits and a perfect 20 baht banana shake (would go to the same place rest of the week) then much alcohol from 7/11 to take back along with everyone else- about 10 of us. During my power shower I realised just how much warmer it is compared to January as last year having a shower at night was almost unheard of the air was that cold!
In a big group of people that included mainly Brit’s we played an exciting game of ring of fire that worked as in we were all well and truly ticking by time we wanted to leave- Swede Pontis literally rolled onto the cards and knocked about 5 drinks over! Along with him and fellow Scandinavian Donika we fit three on a bike, beers in hand, as visited quiet Ting Tong’s and stayed at half busy Rasta Bar till the wee hours when apparently I walked two girls back.
I considered going for an excursion in the morning but was quite happy in my bed as was a really pleasant temperature right up till about 11am but this meant I missed the free breakfast which was devastating. I wrote in my journal then went the 300 or so yards to Fluid swimming pool with Bristol Suzy, Ted and Australian Aliesha where ate a big chicken pesto salad and bathed in the slightly green water. I aimed to keep on writing but more people meant more distractions and I inevitably gave up for the time being. Once thrown the frisbee and an inflatable ball about I left to go with Ted for a bargain 30 baht pork with chili and basil meal that included water/ice and a tasty soup.
By early evening it was time for manager Jain to take us to Wat Luang in the centre of town, as today is a key Buddhist holiday but also means all the bars are closed and none of the shops are allowed to serve alcohol- terrible news! He explained to us the meaning behind it and gave us a small bunch of flowers with a candle and incense sticks that we were to light and slowly go around the stupa three times in a clockwise direction (same as Nepal); bit of a balancing act!
I took photos with my 35mm lens as watched the locals perform the ceremony and then pray infront of the big buddha. Once shoes were taken off we went upstairs into the temple and sat infront of an elderly monk who spoke in Thai and cleansed us of sins by fanning water over us (had to watch the camera) marking the end to a very interesting cultural experience.
As the others rode to Spicy myself and Ted got more good food from the night market that included a bag of sugary things and homemade chips with mayo. At the hostel there was still beer available so had a Chang as I set up my tiny 11.6 inch latop screen and used Pontis’ burger speakers to put on the new Tarantino western- Django Unchained. If we had known before it was nigh on 3 hours in length and wouldn’t finish till nearly midnight we might of been better prepared with seating and snacks but it was an exceptionally good movie with fantastic performances from Di Caprio and Waltz- never seen the main area so busy due to town being on temporary prohibition.
I was nigh on the first up when my alarm went off at 7.55am so I could power walk to Aya Services and rent a scooter and when initially told no I almost blew a blood vessel as so sick of having a lack of freedom here that me and Mike exploited to the max during Reggae Festival. The lady knew I was going nowhere so gave me a number and told me to wait and was glad I did as in the time it took for me to go to the shop and back there was one available. It didn’t have the character of the pink pony but she’d do!
I had coffee and many pieces of toast at Spicy, made friends with shy Russian Kristina, played frisbee in the dry rice field with Ted, bought water in town and lay on my bed writing till 1pm when felt I should join the ‘Full Sun Party’. As it was just the staff getting drunk I had my 25 baht 8% Siamsato (bit like goon) and hung my legs over the edge whilst speaking to French Canadian Martine and German Susanne till it became too warm so went to Fluid when moving further and further back became tiresome. We played ball in the pool for the most part, only managing to hit the thing more than 10 times in a row on two occasions (so bad). At Spicy I sat on the swing with Kristina talking away as day turned to night then dropped the girls into town for street food, having to do a couple of trips but not minding as just love riding about the quiet roads going flat out.
That night I got shithead on the go (had to explain it) with everyone getting to grips with it quickly except for Susanne who lost 4 of the 6 games plus lost a bet with me- she stated that one of her two covered cards was guaranteed to be a 4 but seeing as I had the remaining three 4′s in my hand it would of been foolish for me not to lay a bet! HAHA. I thoroughly enjoyed my free Sangsom bucket in Hi5 Bar, just over the bridge, and was nice to of made some new friends who would be about a few days. With Martine on the back we scouted about seeing if anything was going on elsewhere with only Rasta and Bamboo Bar having significant amounts of people. Me and Susanne round each other up something chronic till one of us had to get away from the other and at 3am by the sink at the hostel veterinary nurse Martine was tending to my slightly infected foot both a bit worse for wear.
Feeling quite fresh at 9am I filled up on toast with butter and jam, chilled with the girls and left for Mo Phoeng waterfall when Susanne had rented herself a 200 baht per day beast of a new scooter. On the way we stopped at a store where Martine accidentally burned herself on my exhaust pipe rather badly so Kristine got ice and I went to fill the new bike with petrol- soo fast and smooth compared to mine! Able to carry on we followed the misleading signs that said 2km when in fact it was more like 5km, but the place was more or less empty so climbed up the rocks and looked at the view along the valley being careful to avoid a roaming cow.
I slid into the shallow middle pool where some kids were playing and whom threw leaches onto the girls (hilarious) then we ate lunch (fried rice) at what is supposed to be the main viewpoint but with all the burning that is taking place and increased humidity it was extremely hazy. For some random reason 7/11 doesn’t sell alcohol between 2 and 5 so went directly there to buy some to sneak into the monthly pool party at Fluid inside my waterproof yellow bag; 100 baht entrance but you can use that money for food or drink so effectively free today.
We congregated in a cosy middle spot and even had our own personal umbrella to keep things cool and provide shade to those who didn’t want too much sun. Once I hobo drank a Siamsato (out a plastic bag- discrete it certainly wasn’t!) I got in the water and socialised with the increasing amount of people from our hostel who fit into every available gap. Being the professional tight bastard I am I bought one beer with stubby holder from the bar and once finished just poured a mix of Sangsom, Sprite and M150 into it so anyone else would be none the wiser- received many compliments! With awesome party beat music going on, about 7 of us played cards (too many for shithead but we made it work) and I ate the scrumptious BBQ pork with jacket potato and salad although the Asian dude in front was taking just the tomatoes out of the salad bowl so made sure he knew my anger at what he was doing before I did the very same thing! Having a blast and speaking to an 18 yr old American dude (looked my age somehow) about travels we only stopped playing when it was too dark to see the damn cards and therefore time to go back- still warm enough to be shirtless.
With Ted on the back we ate 12 baht sandwiches and filled them to the brim at the deli (another good trick) then when put my foot down on the scooter his crisps flew about 50 yards behind on the way to Spicy endangering traffic. There was no rest for the wicked so had a quick shower, put on my Hawaiian shirt and continued drinking apace upstairs with most being about the same level of tipsiness. It only occurred to us to leave at 12.30 meaning only the two bars before the bridge were actually open and I fell asleep on the table drink in hand according to eye witnesses. Rather stupidly I can’t even remember riding the scooter home with Martine at some unknown hour.
As Kristine was due to take the bus out of Pai in a couple of hours I made sure I was up early so we could go to town and have a proper fried breakfast at Little Big Cafe. The owner also did the food for the party the previous day so the poor girl who was cooking had no utensils and barely any gas so watched my food be so close to being ready when it ran out and things were put individually into the tiny grill she used for toasting bread- agonizing. We were in no real rush so didn’t matter until it was pushing time for her departure just as things were finally ready after 55 minutes of waiting! Most of the food was mine (big hash brown, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans- like being at home) yet I still finished it in time to see her off at 11am alongside the others and unbeknown to me the lovely Russian had paid for it all- hopefully will see her in China as currently studying there.
Martine, Susanne and I felt it was a good time to get a back, shoulder and neck massage but my god was it a brutal experience! I mean the lady knew exactly where my painful spots were and pressed so hard I had tears in my eyes but it was for the best as if it were soft there would be no point. Back in the daylight and feeling slightly abused I loosened up and spent time typing journal on my bed till it became unbearably warm when met the girls at the pool to finish off their lunch. We tried lying down but the flies were too much and so we left and did little except watch the sun go down and sip on cold Chang’s till being too late for the majority of the restaurants kitchens to be open at only 8.15pm. We ate Thai food at a busy local eatery on walking street then went to both 7/11′s to find Sprite to go with the ‘blended spirits’ as really don’t want to drink Coke again if can help it. The intention was to have a quiet night but with a load of newbies about drinking games came to the fore as Martine kept going up and down the stairs like yo yo for ice (I wasn’t complaining). Still reluctant to go out it was only when we were literally the only two at the hostel when I put jeans on (getting colder) and made an appearance at Rasta, sharing a solitary big beer.
Due to a lack of water I was a little spaced out on what was the first day of a new month (March) and a bunch of girls having a loud conversation by the breakfast area so early in the morning was not ideal- they definitely had a sober night! Susanne persuaded me to join her and Martine to the Hot Springs about a 6km fun drive away and it was something I would regret going along with as all the big pools were empty of the cleansing thermal liquid was replaced by workmen- guy at the gate really should of said something before we each parted with 200 fucking baht! Asshole.
We did the short walk around seeing the boiling hot areas then sat in about 10 inches of water that was only 38c. Just wanting to go we did the loop via the WW2 Memorial Bridge and Pai itself, getting 93kmh out the 100cc machine, then upon finding out the download speeds of Spicy’s wifi were top notch I put on about 20gb worth of films (Lincoln, Life of Pai etc) and TV shows (Archer and Breaking Bad).
I spent many hours catching up on my diary then at 6.30pm went to meet Martine at the Cookery School where had dropped her off at earlier in the day. As she and the two other’s were still hard at it I could watch and eat whatever was left for free- Tom Yam soup, chicken with ginger, spring rolls and sticky rice with mango; very good and friendly teacher who made it almost totally hands on which is a complete contrast to the one I did in Udaipur, India. We were on the alcohol again by 9pm and this time there was no chance of venturing off the property so just played cards, shared a big bottle of spirit and spoke with two people from Colarado meaning lots of Wild West talk and US history.
As the girls were off on a trip to explore the parts of Pai they had missed (done it last time so not fussed) I skyped Anya for the first time in 2013 with her being in Nassau, Bahamas celebrating someones birthday on a rare night off from dancing on the cruise ship Carnival Sensation; made me quite happy to say the least. When done I went through half a dozen pieces of toast, downloaded some more, gave tips to Jolin about the Philippines, noticed a number of people leaving and carried on writing till at long last finished at 1pm. Martine appeared out the blue to say she had a bungalow sorted at the place up the lane (her treat) so speedily and sweatily put my various things that were scattered about everywhere into my bags, settled the bill (only 150 baht a night) and moved- next time will come during the festival again as better weather and a much more awesome vibe.
Once settled in the big ensuite room (complete with couch but bad internet) we ate a rip off lunch, washed some clothes in the sink (my top and shorts looked clean but my god was the water brown), chilled, took photos and looked at where to stay in Chiang Mai. Dinner was had at the highly recommended Curry Shack (made sure was there in opening hours this time) and as it was our last night in Pai I bought the Rolling Stones singlet that was stolen off me, as well as another one with James Dean on (both for 400 baht). As Martine looked at jewellery the wind picked up and stars disappeared which could only mean one thing- rain! As all the shop keepers started to pack away the first few droplets landed on my face so got my banana shake and was jogging to the bike when the heavens opened. I foolishly rode on the street to pick her up but a man didnt look when carrying his things across and it was either hit him or bail and so I slid along the oily wet tarmac with the bike on top and shake all over me! I was lucky in that I only had small cuts and grazes to my legs and feet but was shaken up and soaking wet when sheltered in 7/11.
When the torrential rain subsided enough to warrant a safe and slow passage we left and she yet again nursed my wounds as drank a beer to take my mind off the pain (stings so much). We joined Susanne, Ted and the rest at Spicy for drinks and cards when I was ready then spoke to Mum and Dad on the phone, primarily as had received a message saying I had been ‘off the radar’ (been less than a week!). Jain and co had put on a BBQ (so glad didn’t sign up for it with the weather like it is) and with there being a tonne of mash potato left tucked in till tiredness set in and I was out like a light within 5 minutes of entering our room at quite an early hour.
Up at 8am we sorted ourselves out then I did two trips to the bus station as was impossible to carry both of us and all our belongings remotely safely plus got one last burn out my aging scooter not knowing when will use one again. Once I had my passport and 100 baht helmet deposit back (never used it as no strap anyway) the four of us drank smoothies, ate artificial sandwiches at 7/11 and boarded the minivan out of town.
I was sad to leave Pai again especially when have come to terms with the fact it is too much of a mission to come here for just a weekend (original intention was to visit during my time doing TEFL) but know I will be back as truly is set in such a beautiful, laid back area full of like minded individuals…now it is time to temporarily be part of real life in Thailand’s northern city.