Ko Pan Ngan and the UK! (Si)

Simon writes:

Wow, it’s September 19 so this is a little overdue, but I can include some UK info at least. I’m in the UK now of course, and Grant is in Greece still enjoying the tale end of the travelling bug. Anyway, I should moan for a few paragraphs about how sick I was to dig up some sympathy form you all, and share a few thoughts on the UK so far!.

I travelled from Chang Mai to Bangkok, then straight to Surat Thani, which was about 20 hours in the train over a day and a half. It’s quite comfy on the Thai trains though, and you can sleep, buy beers and pop to the Canteen room for a smoke if you want.

Upon arrival at Surat Thani, it was only a short Bus ride to the coast, and a not so short boat trip to Ko Pan Ngan. While the boat I was lucky enough to meet a guy from the US (Trev) who I ended up spending a lot of time with over the next week, and was unlucky enough to fall asleep in the sun and get burnt (just in time for a couple of weeks in the Sun – good show Si!).

Once on the Island, Trev and I travelled by scooter to a small French run bungalow that was quite out of the way, but was apparently the closest we could get to Hat Rin with only a couple of days to go until the infamous full moon party (yea).

The place was great though, quiet, hammocks on the bungalows, anti-globalization posters and so forth everywhere and yummy, if a little pricey (for Thailand) food. We spend a couple of days lazying in the Hammocks drinking whiskeys (without coke of course) and mouthing off all the good and bad things we thought about the States, and all the great things about woman. We hatched a plan to walk around the Island, but later discovered this was near impossible as much of the coast is just cliffs and natural bush.

Then it was full moon party I’d heard so much about!. We didn’t get there until about 11pm, as an earlier evening at Hat Rin, when we’d started late afternoon, had left us a little worse for wear and ready to sleep at 9pm. So, whats there to say about the full moon?. It wasn’t really what I had expected, nothing like Visions in NZ, more like lot’s of bars on the beach and heaps of people. People were sitting and chilling for hours, then dancing for hours after about 2am, and by the early hours of the morning, the scenery had the added addition of people urinating and vomiting into the sea, and collapsing on the sand everywhere. A lot of the time was spent wandering up and down the beach like ants, and there were heaps of crazy people to keep us all entertained. Bars were selling all sorts of food and drink everywhere, and we were able to indulge in the delicious shakes Hat Rin is so famous for.

The Sunrise was amazing (the beach is called sunrise beach by the way), and it was probably my favorite part of the night/morning There were still crowds of people awake, most of us just sitting down and relaxing by now (there were still a few cat’s dancing away like legends – where do they get their energy from ! )

So, with the full moon party over and my brain and body giving up on me, I got a taxi back to my bed, crashed for an hour then made the move to another beach we planned to stay at. I really needed sleep and started feeling quite energyless.

The new beach (I can’t remember it’s name) was much quieter, but still with a fair few people staying there, and ot was heaps nicer in my books. I went for a walk round the bays for a while with Trev and started feeling a bit sick so went back for a lie down. This was the start of a few weeks of lovely dengue fevor, which was the perfect way to end a fantastic adventure in Asia.

So, the rest of my time was spend shivering and sweating in my bungalow bed, with a little time in the hospital. I won’t bore you with all the details but it was definitely the worst two weeks I can ever remember going though. I really feel for the poor bastards that had to deal with it without anti-fever drugs and fans!

Eventually it was time to go, so we headed back to Bangkok by train. I woke up on the train without a fever for the first time since I’d started and thought I was over it, there was much rejoicing!!!!. But alas, it was just a trick. That night in Bangkok we spent some time with Al and Min, who were in Bangkok for a couple of days on their way back to Japan. They had just come from Tibet, and wow!, that had some ugly stories about the situation there!. This included watching a Tibetan truck driver be beaten up by two soldiers and thrown into a ditch because he hadn’t backed his truck UP the hill to make room for bus quickly enough. The two soldiers had prostitutes with them, who enthusiastically congratulated them on their bravery.

The next day, Professor Dengue came back, and I was a mad Simon. Being tricked like this was the last straw. I still forced myself to go out and buy cheap cloths for the UK, and a few other necessary chores (which I’m stoked about now of course, as I have new cheap cloths to wear – tee hee). On the plane back, I was sitting next to a woman I thought was a bit wacky, but it turned out she was just enjoying the effects a some Valium. After a long long sleep, she woke up and was quite interesting.

We arrived in London after what seemed like a really short flight to me, and all I wanted to do was get a bed and crash in it, but unfortunately we had to negotiate the tube system, find out the budget hotel area, get there and find a hotel, which took most of the morning.

After a few days in the hotel, Lico and Vicki came back from their Austrian holiday, so we made our way over and thats where I’m staying now. I got better about four days arriving in the UK, and yea!!!, it’s SOOOOO fantastic to feel healthy again after so long!. In many ways I think it was a good reminder for me to take care of myself, I don’t want to feel anything like that when I’m an old man.

Brief thoughts on the UK so far :

  • Big red double decker busses, just like you expect, fantastic!
  • Expensive Expensive Expensive, especially getting around and accommodation. Groceries are quite cheap at some budget supermarkets though.
  • The weather was grey the day we arrived, but has been sunny and nice most days since. That’s not meant to happen here is it?
  • Really nifty looking taxi’s, and really slow and cheap looking police cars.
  • People really seem to keep to themselves in public!. This is probably an impression reinforced by the polar opposite in India, but I am pretty sure the isolation is more prolific than in New Zealand.
  • The tube is fun to travel on, and some stations are huge underground.
  • London is another city without all the skyscrapers I was expecting. There are tall buildings for sure, but nothing like New York or Bangkok.
  • Queues everywhere, as is the clichĂ© for London. It’s true though, kind of. Especially in banks and the like anyway.

I’ve since been looking for a job most of the time, and studying for a computer exam as well (sounds fun doesn’t it :). The job market is definitely harder than the NZ IT market at the moment, but I’m sure something will come up. A big thanks to Lico, Vicki, Jenny and Karen who are letting me stay for free (for now…), London would have chewed up my money without this generous hospitality.

I guess this is my last post, unless Grant or myself become completely voyeuristic and decide to post the rest of our lives here. I’ve had a fantastic time and am excited about this year. I’m already missing my friends and family in NZ though (you know who you are) and it’s going to be one fun reunion when I get to see you all again!

Love to you all!


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