Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :-

Slave Ships, The Holy Grail and Full Moons

Who is The Travelling Seanchai? Check here.

2007-01-30 to 2007-02-03

If you`ve read the last entry you`ll know that I was on the wrong island in my quest to find the elusive Choppers Bar on Koh Tao! Never one to let my clear lack of orientation set me back I set off from Ko Lanta via several minibuses, two ferry crossings and a few taxis to Surathanyi where I would take an overnight boat to Koh Tao.


They never miss a trick over here to make a few bob and the bus driver dropped us off in Surathanyi at a restaurant where he wouldn`t give us any information about where we were, how we could go on to our respective destinations etc unless we bought some food! It was amazing how quickly their English improved as soon as you had paid for a thai green curry!


At the pier I met Gregory and Benedicte from Bretagne (France) and Roderigo from Sanitago in Chile. It does not serve you well to have stereotypes built up in your mind about different nationalities but Greg and Bene should be permanent overseas ambassadors for France! By their own admission, many of their countrymen do not travel well but they are definitely overhauling everyones pre conceived perceptions that they meet. It is great, I help them with their English (Je suis le professeur) and they are improving my French no end. Throw the Spanish speaking Roderigo into the mix and I may actually become a multi linguist that I referred to in my last entry!


The boat to Koh Tao. Oh good God (or as they say around these parts, Oh Buddha) it was hellish! No seats, just assigned spots on the floor for us to lie out for what would be 9 hours on seriously choppy water. We went below deck to have a few drinks in the carriage hold with Susie and Wendy from Oz and Nz respectively because we needed something to help us get to sleep.


Now, there have been many times when I have thanked God that I am a man, or more specifically, that I am not a woman. For example, any time that I have had to parallel park, knowing the offside rule instinctively, the prospect of childbirth and being able to make logical arguments but seeing the toilet on this boat, I gave another big nod to the man upstairs!!


As any of you that have been in this corner of the world knows, the toilets are often just holes in the ground but add to that the continuous and irregular rocking of the sea and no handles on the walls to get a grip and I sighed a sigh of sympathy every time I saw a girl descend the ladder to the toilet below!


Several people were getting sick out the windows but my iron constitution refused to yield and I was ok. The same can`t be said though for the Thai man lying beside me. It was about 5am, the sun was rising and not being able to get back to sleep and feeling a little queasy, I reached for my iPod to see if it would work and take my mind off the water. I sat up but then a rogue wave hit us and I went flying, elbow first which unerringly and forcefully connected with my luckless companions nether regions!!


He woke in howls of pain as you would if your nights sleep had come to such an unceremonious end at the hands (or should that be elbow) of a great big white guy beside you! The agonising look on his face of “Oh Good Buddha, why did you do that?!” will stay with me for a long time and since my Thai consists of “Hello” and “Thank You” (both woefully inappropriate in this situation) I said “Sorry” and lay back down. I couldn`t help myself but I did break into fits of giggles every time I thought of his face but I did feel bad that he had to go down to the toilets shortly afterwards, probably to inspect the damage!


We got to Koh Tao and my new motley crew found accommodation relatively easily, Greg and Bene on the beach where most of the shots that you see that I have loaded up have come from. In fact, big thanks to Bene and Greg for the photos as I am still camera less.


And then, the big night when I brought my stubby holder to Choppers! I`d like to say that it was a monumental moment but the gloss was taken off when our drinks got served in replica stubby holders and the staff tried to take mine away when we had finished our round! I tried to explain the significance of the journey I had gone through to get there but I think he was just confused why I cared so much about my beer cooler! So maybe then, it wasn`t one of the last great treks of the modern era but it has brought me to Koh Tao which is really beautiful. The main bars are all on the beach and you sit there, getting served while watching fire shows nightly and the hours slip away as you can go to several clubs and even watch the sunrise again!


None of my travel companions had seen “Team America” and when it came up in conversation I tried to relay some of the funnier scenes. The scene where Gary Johnston the actor goes undercover as a terrorist in Egypt and gives the `signal` (both arms in the air waving wildly), well that has now become the Koh Tao signal/dance! I am aware however though that this probably doesn`t translate so well to those of you who aren`t on the island with us (and lets face it, most of you aren`t!).


I met the Ko Lanta guys Justin and Lee again and it would truly fill up another blog again with the antics that they have been up to. If you are every in Bambury, near Oxford in England, call in to see these guys, they should be knighted (except they`d probably forget to turn up!)


So while I was here and so close to Koh Pan Nang where the world famous Full Moon Parties are held, I thought I would bite the bullet and go. Images of young idiots off their heads on drugs dancing around to Techno music is truly my impression of hell but it was another box that had to be ticked so I went with the lowest possible expectations and still thought I would be disappointed.


Roderigo and I set off on a boat trip of only 90 minutes but this time I even reached for a sick bag the water was so choppy. Again, steadfastly refusing to join the ever increasing number of sick people on board, I held out. But they had actual crew people to clean up sick, hand out sick bags and tissues. We got off and I immediately met some Northern Irish girls that I met in Bangkok a few weeks ago and I knew that a lot of my friends from my trek would be here.


We found two of Roderigo`s friends first and then we all went to Hadrin Beach. There were about 10 or 15 bars, all belting out various different degrees of dance music from outright techno trance to pop/rock to entice customers. Fairy lights and neon abounded, fire dancers entertained, hundreds of stalls all over the island sold buckets of drinks that you could mix and match and at its peak I would think there was about 20,000 people dancing on the beach! The clouds held off so we got a good view of the moon and the fireworks that came later on!


And despite myself, I was enjoying it! We of course found a pop/rock section of the beach so I belted out song after song and even did a bit of toe tapping, against my better instincts!! There were hundreds of new people to meet but I was more interested in catching up with Andy and Scott (from my Sapa trip in Northern Vietnam), Mandy and Stacey from Koh Tao, the gang from “The Rock” on Phi Phi and of course the Phi Phi Massif (Emily, Lucy, Tina and Kelly). It was great to see them all again and it seemed like a very natural end to this trip of mine!


We partied until about 6:30am and then I went to catch the 8:30am boat back to Koh Tao leaving thousands still on the island dancing away in the early morning. I was dreading it but I fell asleep before we took off and then someone kicked me and said “Koh Tao” and I told them that yes, that was where I was going and then they said “Well get out then!”. We were there! Once again the man upstairs got some huge credit and I was back on terra firma without any queasiness.


I will spend a few days now in Koh Tao methinks, we have a good crew here and the place is small but beautiful. David and Julia from Germany, Martin and Marcos from Chile, Mandy and Stacey from California, Emily and Tina from England have joined Justin, Lee, Greg, Bene, Roderigo and I so I think that there will be some good nights. Liverpool were terrible last night but I hope that Ireland can do us proud tonight in the rugby.



Funny Lookin Kids and Melted Welly Heads


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