Koh Chang pt2: Brown sauce

I had grown quite accustomed to waking up with a hangover… I’m not talking about the “I wish I was dead” or “I’ll never drink again” level of hangover no… I’m talking about the “remind me next time to drink some water and take some painkillers before I go to bed” type of hangover.

The night before had been a bit of a heavy one…

As the tiny drummer inside my head battered out yet another drum solo I found myself actually looking forward to getting up and ordering breakfast… I usually find, when I’m staying at hotels that breakfast is a low point of the day… A chore, something you have to do… Unless you find a decent eatery close by… At this particular resort, I had struck breakfast gold… A breakfast to look forward to… Hurrah!

Both Jo and Angela had to work today, I was unsure what the day had in store for me… I sure as shit wasn’t going to go out and ride the motorbike around the island on my own… Sitting by the pool listening to the loud American talk about her drunken exploits wasn’t an option…So, I decided to sit in the room and read my book (well, not MY book… I haven’t written one… Yet)… It had been a while since I’d last sat down and read, so I thought maybe today was the day to rectify it (I did, by the way)

The first half of the day was spent with Jo sitting on the bed, in meetings for her job as I alternated between reading and falling asleep… Thankfully by around 4 pm, Jo was finished and we could get on with our holiday.

Earlier we had found out that of the two people joining us for the remainder of the trip, one of them had fallen foul of a recurring knee injury and would not be joining… We had, however, found out that a friend of Henry’s was also on the island and would be joining us for drinks later.

We all met up for a few drinks and a snack before we all went back to our rooms to get ready for dinner… pre-dinner snackage… That should catch on y’know.

Henry’s friend Omar joined us for a drink before we headed off for dinner at a nearby beachside area… We had planned to eat at a Mexican place but when we got there it was full (quite annoyingly with some of the very people that had suggested the place to us) after a little bit of wandering around we ended up at an Italian restaurant, again this place was quite full but thankfully we were able to get a table.

Now, I have been craving lasagne for ages now… Back in Bangkok a few weeks back I saw lasagna on the menu at a beer bar, I ordered it and was disappointed when the waitress came back with a very apologetic “mai me” (don’t have)… I found lasagne on another menu a week or so later, but was disappointed in it… Basically, it was just tomato sauce and pasta… My God people.. Lasagne should be a cheese overdose on a plate!

So there I was in an Italian restaurant… My eyes were scanning the menu… Lasagne!

We all ordered food and drinks, Omar oddly ordered four servings of bruschetta (which when he had wandered off to the toilet, Henry changed to ONE portion) we drank (we do that a lot don’t we?) we chatted and waited for our food to arrive.

Jo and Angela struck up a conversation with a woman from Tunisia who was sitting with friends at a nearby table… My shocking knowledge of geography reducing me to “oh they filmed the Star Wars Tattooine scenes in Tunisia” when I heard where she came from.

Our food arrived, my lasagne looked good… But bloody hell, Jo’s food looked so much better!

She had ordered lamb ragu and pasta…. I began to eat my lasagne (good… not great… At least there was cheese in it) and Jo slowly began to eat her food… It was obvious she wasn’t enjoying it… “Can we swap?” she asked… “I don’t like the texture of the lamb”…

I didn’t need asking twice!.. Bloody hell it was delicious!

As we finished off our food we became aware of a small cat (barely past kitten stage) wandering around the tables… A stray, a very beautiful stray… He accepted some food, he would climb up on your lap… But as soon as you tried to pet him, he would swipe at you with his paws… He was christened “arsehole cat”… You’ll learn that petting is all part of the begging game Arsehole cat… You will learn.

We all climbed into a songthaew back to lonely beach, we ordered drinks at the Sunshine bar and played Jenga… We were joined by some of the other guests from our resort… A teacher named Hanna and drunk bloke (very drunk) from Yorkshire and his boyfriend a biomechanical engineer who is developing a point of sale app (it’s amazing what little details the drunken memory holds onto isn’t it?) Drunk Yorkshire bloke was saying how his dad wanted to disown him after he called “HP sauce” “brown sauce”… “being gay didn’t bother him… The sauce was the last straw”… Hannah was saying how she felt old drinking in the “Ting tongs” bar… How old? I hear you ask… Twenty bloody seven! She’s practically a baby!

Jo was tired… It was time to head back… Northern brown sauce blokes boyfriend offered to give us a lift in his car… Henry, Angela, Omar and the others headed off to Ting Tongs… Me and Jo had a chauffeur all the way back to the resort.

I awoke without my usual daily hangover… We had both had a broken nights sleep though, due to a storm during the night… Loud claps of thunder, brilliant flashes of lightning and heavy rain had awoken us… Jo was still asleep when I woke up in the morning, I knew the group was planning on going to find a waterfall today, I lay in bed thinking about how wet the roads were and how much I really didn’t want to ride a motorbike today.

We all met up for breakfast and I made my case for not riding a bike… The roads will be too wet, the hills are too dangerous, I’m a scaredy-cat.

I thought I’d won them over… I ate my breakfast with a sense of relief… Short-lived relief as it turned out as just after breakfast it was decided that the roads wouldn’t be too wet now and it had been decided to take bikes after all.

I told Jo I’d give it a miss, I’d stay at the resort, a reasonable compromise I thought… Or as Jo saw it, me digging my heels in and trying to ruin everyone’s day.

We exchanged words… I lost my temper and stormed off to grab the keys to my (now hated) motorbike from my room.

The little convoy of bikes headed off… Henry and Angela in front, Me in the middle and Jo bringing up the rear…

Riding down through lonely beach I was furious.

Winding through the streets heading toward the first hill climb, I was loudly damning everyone and anyone in my line of sight… Everyone was my enemy.

As we approached the hairpin bend we had labelled the “S” bend I saw cars and struggling to climb the hill…Cars had actually stopped and passengers were getting out of cars to reduce weight in an effort to make climbing the hill easier… Still, I was loudly swearing and complaining.

Henry navigated the “S” bend with ease… The sounds of car tyres slipping, the sight of the wet road, my anger and my own awareness of my incompetence as a motorbike rider made navigating the same bend a much more difficult task.

I approached it… Lost my nerve and bought the bike to a stop at the apex of the bend… I sat there on the bike wondering what to do… I was scared… I was embarrassed… A man approached, he had presumed my wheels were spinning, they weren’t… The bike was fine… The dickhead riding it, however, was not.

I applied some throttle and pulled the bike around the turn, my embarrassment didn’t waver… I was now angrier than ever.

Riding away from lonely beach the ride slowed to a crawling pace as cars in front of us limped along the road… In between bouts of cursing my fellow travelling companions I complained about inexperienced car drivers not knowing how to drive a car.

The journey continued for what seemed like an age, we found ourselves on a busy road with lots of traffic… Jo behind me kept shouting to me to “keep left!”… Each time she shouted to me she was greeted with either “I KNOW!” or a more likely “FUCK OFF!”… Thankfully, up ahead Henry indicated right… We were coming off the busy road… As I made the right turn I found myself on a lane… I breathed a sigh of relief as I left the busy road behind me… I wasn’t happy, by GOD I really wasn’t happy, but I was off that bloody road.

It was at this point I saw the elephants.

Not wild elephants, and by no means free elephants… They were feeding in a compound… Thankfully they weren’t wearing the riding harnesses I’ve seen elephants wear in the country… They were, however, still chained… Despite this, seeing them calmed me… I actually smiled…

For the remainder of the journey I no longer loudly damned my friends.. Instead, I just got on with it… Enjoyed the scenery and hoped for the journey to end.

We arrived at the national park and parked the bikes… The walk along the forest path was fun, I enjoyed the walk… As always when I’m in Thailand I enjoyed the people watching too… It amazes me how many activities Thais will do while wearing flip-flops… It amazes me, that no matter where you are, or what you’re doing, you will always find at least one attractive young Thai girl dressed up ready for a photoshoot… Here in the middle of this forest was one such creature… Making her way along the forest path in a leather mini skirt and shiny black platform boots.

We arrived at the waterfall and I have to say it looked beautiful… There were people everywhere, some enjoying the sun, others diving into the cold water… I found myself getting annoyed (I do that a lot don’t I?) at a large group of Indian Asian men diving into the water… It wasn’t the diving that bothered me, it was the noise they were making… Loudly shouting at the top of their voices every time one of their group jumped into the water… Loudly shouting while they were in the water… And yes, loudly shouting when they climbed out of the water too.

Jo and the others made their way to the water to swim, I sat on a rock and watched the world go by…

After some swimming, a jump in the water for Henry and a couple of photographs we made our way back toward the forest path… Forest? More of a jungle really… toward the motorbikes… Just as we were about to leave the leave we passed Omar who had decided he wanted to see the waterfall too.

The ride back to our resort was strangely less stressful than the ride to the waterfall… I was no longer swearing at people, my riding wasn’t perfect, but I felt more relaxed, I knew where I was going wrong, I couldn’t stop overthinking everything I was doing… It was frustrating, I was in a rut.

As we approached the “S” bend and I knew I was on the home stretch… I tried to calm myself and amazingly handled the “S” bend really well… The ride from the “S” bend back to our resort was, compared to the ride earlier, actually pretty good.

The final member of our little group had arrived at the resort by the time we got back…

We showered (those of us on the ride to and from the waterfall, not me and the new arrival) and we headed out to a nearby beach for some food… Jo decided she was ready to ride with a passenger… I wasn’t overly keen, but the journey was to be a short one and, well, anyone that knows Jo, knows that once she gets an idea in her head, there is no changing her mind.

After a short (and amazingly, dare I say it.. Enjoyable?) ride we arrived at a beach, we parked the bikes and sat down at the beachside restaurant.

Considering that through fear of COVID many Thais had cancelled their holidays, this beachside restaurant was actually quite busy… This was made more amazing by the fact that the service there was shockingly bad and all the staff have a major attitude problem. I’ll explain.

We all ordered drinks… Laurel ordered a drink that was yellow… As in it was called “yellow” something or other…

The drinks arrived… Along with laurels drink which was not yellow, it was a bright shade of green.

Now, there could be many reasons for this… The drink could (possibly?) be called “yellow” something or other but actually not actually be yellow… It could be green… So when Laurel politely said “I don’t think this is my drink, I ordered yellow” The waiter could have said “oh sorry, It’s called yellow but actually it’s green” or something like that… But no, that is not what happened.

When Laurel said “I don’t think this is my drink, I ordered yellow” the waiter responded by pretty much shouting at her “You ordered this!” they had a short back and forth but the waiter just wasn’t having any of it, she was left with the drink and he stormed off and proceeded to walk around like he owned the place.

Food arrived, food was eaten, Omar turned up and ordered beans on toast, folks swam (I didn’t) I sat at the restaurant trying to work out how a place stays in business with such bad customer service… It’s a place I’ll not visit again in a hurry.

After a short time at the beach we headed back to our resort, the sun had begun to set and I wasn’t overly keen on riding back in the dark.

By the time we got back to the resort I was tired, the ride had taken a lot out of me… Stress mostly if I be honest… Me and Jo ate at the resort, and Henry, Angela and our new arrival Laurel went out to a fish restaurant for dinner.

We sat and drank while we waited for the others to get back… Taking full advantage of the buy one get one free cocktails offer… It would have been rude not to wouldn’t it?

A little later the others returned and we sat, into the early hours drinking, playing cards and chatting… By the end of the night I think we were all rather drunk… Actually, I KNOW we were all drunk.

I awoke the next morning without a hangover, which if I be honest took me totally by surprise.

We had arranged to meet for breakfast before taking the bikes to a beach at another resort for a relaxing beach day… We were down a member due to Laurel having a really bad hangover, so Jo rode to the beach minus her passenger… The ride to the beach was maybe a little longer than I would have liked, I was struggling with confidence and just wasn’t comfortable on the bike, we arrived at the beach, found some deck chairs… And I promptly had a panic attack.

It was all so bloody weird… I had ridden to the beach, parked the bike, walked onto the beach… All was fine… We were sorting out deck chairs when suddenly I became very anxious… I found myself looking left and right, each side of the beach, I was scanning the nearby restaurants as if I was looking for some unseen threat… I could feel my anxiety building, I walked out into the sea just to see if the water would help me centre myself… calm myself…. But it didn’t work… As I walked out of the water I’d noticed my hands wouldn’t stop shaking, I was still scanning the beach, looking for threats… threats I KNEW just were not there… My heart was racing… What the fuck was going on? I told Jo what was happening… I sat down and she tried to calm me down… Eventually the shaking stopped and my heart rate slowed to a normal pace…

I have no idea what bought it on… I’m glad it didn’t last too long… And I’m hoping random panic attacks are not another thing I have to add to my arsenal of oddities.

After some time at the beach, and after booking a table at a restaurant for dinner we headed back to the resort, to a now thankfully less sick Laurel.

After a shower and some rest, we all headed back to the restaurant for dinner, we didn’t need to take the bikes this time, Julia at our resort introduced us to Patrick, a professional driver who was at the resort working as the driver for some guests, he would take us to the restaurant and wait for us to take us back.

Dinner was good…Not spectacular… Omar joined us again and we ended up at a beach bar drinking and chatting before getting in Patrick’s car and going back to the resort for a nightcap… A good old fake Russian!

I fancy a fake Russian now… I think I may make one…

Wow, this one has gone on a bit, hasn’t it…

I think I’ll bring this part to a close…

So… Until next time!