Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :-

The Perplexing Questions of Paradise!

2007-01-21 to 2007-01-24

Hi all


Well, it was always going to happen but I am staying an additional three nights more than planned here in Ko Phi Phi. I have met some people who have spent an additional two to three months on this island, some who have jeopardized jobs and relationships to do so, so I am not that bad!


It is slightly more expensive here but we were very lucky to find “The Rock”, a guest house with a dorm of some really funny characters from every nation. But more of that anon.


Not much known for my devotion to sun worshipping but much criticised on the message board for my albino like complexion, I resolved to get myself a colour other than white! This was done by a couple of hours each day steadfastly doing nothing. That`s harder than it sounds for someone who shuns the sun as I do unless I have a golf club in my hand (seriously feeling withdrawal symptoms in that regard let me tell you!)


Then yesterday I took a long tail boat out for 8 hours with our group to see these magnificent islands, we saw the “The Beach” beach and we swam in an inlet surrounded nearly on every side by 100m high cliff faces which presided grandly over the clear green warm waters we were swimming in. Another of those memorable moments. I am determined not to do the usual and take a picture of my toes to relay how clear the water is and anyway, I haven`t had a pedicure in ages!


I met a writer the other night who is a few years older than me. He said that he packed in his job at my age and went travelling and is writing his book. For someone like me who can`t imagine anything better, but who has been shackled with a lack of guts and a marketable hook, I asked what his `hook` was. He had none per se but was just writing about the places he had gone with his own special insights. I can tell you it made me think, but its a convenient safety blanket for me to always think I need to find something that would make my trip truly unique (other than the fact that I am on it).


With this question in my head, and a healthy burn on my back, I decided to sit at “The Rock” in the shade of the balcony, read my book and listen in to the conversations of the big group of long-term residents on this island. They are truly a motley crew of nationalities and temperaments and some of the topics caused me to run down here to pen it straight away!


Of course they were all high!! The authorities in Thailand have very low tolerance for drugs of any kind, even marijuana (one bar has a prominent sign saying that it will take anyone that they suspect under the influence of drugs straight to the police rather than just kick them out!) but these guys seem to have bypassed most of the controls or cares for that matter.


The intriguing catch 22 of smoking to calm themselves and thus relieving the throaty coughs that they all have has clearly been lost on them. It was so funny to listen to one guy starting to tell a story to another friend, completely lose track and then insist on his friend (who doesn`t know the story of course) to help him finish it!


Most were just trying to read their books or magazines and there was an uneasy balance of open conversation and quiet solitude, invariably screwed up by one guy out of step with the group dynamic! He`d ask a question, not rhetorical, and when no-one would answer his furrowed brow showed that he`d just mistimed his entry to the conversation again. Then a few minutes later someone would look up and say something to which the others would clamber to answer in unison as our can-can conversationalist kept kicking the other way.


Confident that he had got his kicking in time now, he`d throw out a question like “So did you see Leonardo di Caprio actually got an Oscar nomination?” but everyone would have gone back to their own worlds much to his chagrin and my growing amusement!


An American guy kept getting asked questions about Canada as an Aussie guy wanted to move to Vancouver and the Yank had been there once! He was asked if he`d smoked any of that `American BC` (British Colombia in Canada) weed and the Yank replied wasn`t that an oxymoron and the Aussie said, “No it`s a type of grass”! The fact that I was one of the only ones laughing at this said volumes as to the various states of mental well being and English verbage recognition. His retort of “Are you playing up as I`m coming down?” I thought was particularly well phrased.


So another day tomorrow here, it`s Australia Day and since I have met a few and am a citizen elect, I have chosen to stay here before moving on to Ko Lanta. I am hoping that my discipline in the sun can reverse my usual trend of looking like a barber pole, white skin to red, red skin to white!


Ko Phi Phi is magical though. There are no roads on the island, so you walk or take a boat to where you want to go. As devastating as the Tsunami was here, it does leave the island fresh with enterprise and it gives those of us who haven`t been coming here religiously for 10 or 15 years a glimpse into what travelling must have been like before there was such an explosion in development. After meeting some of the people here now and seeing how wonderful they are, it really has made the Tsunami more real to me. Donating a few hundred bucks at the time of the appeals was all well and good but seeing these people just get back to getting on with their lives and you contributing directly by pumping money into their hands feels great.


Well that`s the latest one done, I will report back in a few days unless something particularly exciting happens!! Thanks for the messages, Donough, keep my red in the cold fridge!


International Linguist on the Wrong Island


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