Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Aahh. There is nothing more satisfying than picking at a scab. The large scab on the upper part of my right arm was the subject of much attention from the fingers on my left hand this morning. It is currently being fashioned into the shape of the two islands of Ko Samui and Ko Pah Ngan, but sadly there is still a land bridge between the two forcing the multifarious boat operators to lose much business.

My scab:

Intriguingly, the bit that might represent Hat Rin on my scab was the first bit I picked off. And that is where I am a now - the Ibiza of Thailand at the south-east tip of Ko Pa Ngan. This place is as touristy as it will get during my travels and I'm still not sure about the vibe. Although Thais are almost universally friendly, if you are to find an exception it is probably where they are constantly in contact with annoying Western holiday makers. So that's at customs in Bangkok International Airport where the singly most glum looking individual welcolmed me to the Land of Smiles and here, where a laundry woman directed some unknown rant towards me for indescernable reasons.

There is a stark contrast here to the laid-back feel of Hat Yao or, for that matter, most other parts of the coast. This is the place where the monthly full moon parties are staged, and the next one is this coming Sunday. I expect the town to fill steadily with holidaymakers during the intervening days. And holidaymakers is the correct word; although there are undoubtedly many travellers like me here, the mood is dominated by people on a two week jolly, and they are a very different type of animal. Expect loud music, drunken revelry, sports bars and bars playing dodgy copies of movies. Forinstance I watched a DVD replay of 'Love Acctually' complete with absurd attempts at English subtitles.

Don't get me wrong, Hat Rin is still a fun place to visit, but you need to be of a certain persuasion socially. A dreadlocked traveller I met last week advised me Hat Rin was "a shithole" whilst the three Glaswegian Celtic supporters baring their stripey football tops seemed to love the place. I am somewhere in between. Sitting on the beach sampling a Bucket (hip flask-sized bottle of whiskey plus eastern-style Red Bull emptied into a bucket for 160 bhat) watching locals speedily manipulating blazing sticks and having people approach you hoping you will pay to have a monkey sit on your lap or to stroke an eagle etc etc is okay. But I still prefered finding a bar in Hat Yao built like a treehouse and chatting to all comers from around the globe.

Two different experiences; one island. And a bloody terrible road connecting the two.


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