Koh Chang pt3: It’s not even Halloween

I lay in bed this morning (Here in Bangkok, not on the island of Koh Chang) thinking about getting up, running on the treadmill and then switching the laptop on to finish the Koh Chang blog (I still hate the word blog by the way… So much so, I just typed the word “BLOB” instead of “BLOG”) As I do, when I’m writing these multi-part entries, I think back to what I wrote in the last part… And then it hit me… Shit! I forgot to write about something that happened at the beach with the rude waiter…

So let’s go back in time, you and I… Step into the past with me… (insert spooky music here)

We were eating food at the restaurant with the rude waiter (I really should name and shame the place but for the life of can’t remember the name… EDIT: It’s called Nature Beach) We were chatting, I was moaning (shocking, I know!) about the shit waiter… When I felt a mosquito land on my arm… With reflexes a ninja would have been proud of, my right hand swooped over and swatted the little vampire.

I’ve swatted at mosquitos before… And believe me, I’ve missed lots of times… Rarely, there have been times, like today I actually made contact with the blood-sucking little bastard.

What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of blood that came out of the little fucker… Blood splattered over my fingers, on my arm… And even sprayed a little on Henry’s shirt… If Quinten Tarantino made a film starring a mosquito, this is what it would have looked like.

Now that’s out of the way… Step with me back into the present… Or the past… Just not as far back as Quinten Tarantino mosquito… I think you get the idea…

“Oh wow” I hear you cry “All that because he killed a mosquito… How ever would I have managed without hearing about THAT!”

Our original plan had been to head back to Bangkok on Saturday morning… We were having such a good time that it was decided we would extend our stay by one day and head back on Sunday instead… Earlier in the week, the others had decided to hire a boat and go snorkelling around some of the smaller islands… I (being a sufferer of the dreaded seasickness) would be sitting out this particular activity… I could see that the waters around Koh Chang were, in fact really calm, but I just couldn’t risk going out on the boat and ruining things by being sick… So I hatched my own plan… While they were away on the boat I would relax at the resort, I’d find a comfortable spot, I’d order drinks and finish reading my book (again, not a book I’ve written)… The transport to the boat was due to arrive around mid-day, so there was no rush to get ready… We met up for breakfast and sat in the sunshine chatting and relaxing…

I had noticed a couple of new additions to the guests at the hotel… A girl in a black bikini with a beautiful tattoo emblazoned from her thigh up to midriff was walking from where she had been sitting toward the bar… It wasn’t her striking looks or the tattoo that got my attention though… It was the noise!

If she spoke to the bar staff, she shouted (not aggressive shouting… The ever so annoying “hey look at me everybody! Aren’t I just wild and crazy?” shouting) she spoke to a girl at the bar… AT A RIDICULOUS VOLUME… I looked at the sky… Hoping to see clouds… Hoping a sudden downpour would send this bikini-clad gobshite back to her room… But no… The gods were unkind… Today would be a day perfect for the bikini beauties.

I could feel my relaxing day slipping away… With every ear-splitting syllable, I could feel “Ades relaxing day by the pool” dying.

Things got worse when someone decided to change the music being played…

I hate jazz… I see no reason why jazz is allowed to exist in today’s modern world… I have however managed to drown it out… It doesn’t anger me as much as it used to (except that freeform jazz shite… That shit deserves to burn) the choice of music during the daytime at our resort was a sort of jazz/easy listening hybrid… It’s not great, but it doesn’t make me want to murder people either… However, some cretin at the bar decided “Hey, wouldn’t now be a great time to play mindless, soulless dance music at high volume?”

My relaxing day by the pool was dead.

The songthaew arrived to take the others to the boat… I ordered a beer and went back to my room for some peace and quiet.

I spent the day (in peace) reading (I’ve still not finished that book) and writing… I may or may not have had a little snooze too… Heaven!

Shit… I AM old, aren’t I?

The others returned a few hours later… This blob (HA) would have been so much more entertaining if I’d gone on the boat, wouldn’t it?

We had a drink before going to get ready for our night out.

None of us wanted to travel far, so we decided to eat locally… There was a restaurant near to our resort and it was decided (despite Angela previously saying it was rubbish) to have dinner there… We were shown to a table, we ordered drinks and looked at the menu.

I didn’t fancy Thai food, in fact, I wasn’t sure what I did fancy… The menu was quite limited and I found myself struggling to find something that I actually wanted…

Eventually, I decided on lamb shawarma… Jo decided she’d have it too, as did Henry…

“Served with garlic sauce” Hmmmm… Not for me I thought… So we asked the waiter “Does the shawarma come with the sauce on it?” He assured us that no, the sauce comes in a dish on the plate… Just to make sure we ordered three lamb shawarma… Two with sauce… One without.

We seemed to wait for ages for our food, despite the restaurant not exactly being full to capacity… Then we were approached by a waiter

“Just checking, one shawarma no sauce?”

Jo told him that was correct and we continued to wait… Then food began to arrive at the table… Laurel and Angela’s fish dish… And three lamb shawarma… Each one smothered in bloody garlic sauce.

There are options… I could have asked to have it changed… But, it had taken almost a bloody hour to get this plate… So I did the “British” thing… I just ate the chips.

“Angela was right” I said… “The place is shit”

We had passed a small bar on the way to the restaurant and I’d decided I wanted to go there for a drink… As we walked in I realised it wasn’t exactly what I expected… It looked closed, the pool table was covered over, they only had beer for sale, two scruffy looking dogs wandered around, at the bar, Thailand’s answer for Elvis sat drinking, a Frenchman sat with his arm around a Thai girl, opposite him another European man sat smoking… We ordered beers, one of the scruffy dogs walked up to me, sniffed my hand then demanded I stroke him… Which I did, the old lady running the bar thanked us for coming to her bar… As I petted the dog (now dogs being as the other one wanted in on the action) the Frenchman had dragged the others into conversation… “Elvis” randomly got off his stool for a little dance… It was all very strange… And a little sad.

It was the last day of Songkran (Thai New Year)… The water fights of previous years were gone, COVID had pretty much killed them all off… The old lady wished us happy Songkran and blessed us with water, pouring ice-cold water on our necks, before the girl sitting with the Frenchman mixed baby powder with water and painted our faces with it… The old lady poured shots of Hong Thong (Thai whiskey) for us all… It was a strange mix of weird, sad and special… I hope her bar survives… I hope that when I return to Koh Chang I can walk into that bar and see how it “should” be… Not how COVID has “made” it to be.

We said our goodbyes… I petted “Black dog” and “Whitey” (yes, by now I had named the dogs) one more time before we made our way back to our resort for a few more drinks and bed.

Friday had been designated as a beach day… After breakfast, we got on the bikes and rode out, I seemed to be riding a little better, I wasn’t perfect, but at least I wasn’t a nervous wreck… We passed through lonely beach, navigated the dreaded “S” bend and made our way to the beach…

(a little side note) I subscribe to a Youtube channel called “CB Media” I like his videos because he talks about Thailand, without constantly concentrating on the bargirls and ladyboys stuff… He does motorbike tours around Thailand and I’ve often wondered if we’d ever bump into him either around Bangkok or on our travels… So, I’m approaching the dreaded “S” bend… At the apex of the bend, I see a motorbike parked up with a man standing doing something with his phone… Bloody hell, It’s Chad from CB Media… I’d like to say I handled the “S” bend like a champ… I didn’t, I rode around it like I always did… Drive to the apex, pause, and carry on… I do hope he didn’t get me on video doing it.

(sidenote… Again!) He did post a video about Koh Chang… I wasn’t in it… But he DID fall off his bike at some point)

We rode, at speed along the busy road that had freaked me out days before… I manoeuvred around cars and bikes that were in my way… I seemed to be in control…

As we sped along the road, in the near distance I saw a motorbike approaching from a side road… I could see two people on the bike… I slowed down a little as I feared they would ride out, straight in my path… As I got closer I got a proper look at the riders… They were children… A young girl aged about ten and her even younger passenger… As We crossed paths, she braked to a stop as her passenger screamed “MAI DAI! MAI DAI!!!!!!!!” (Cannot! Cannot!) in a panic into her ear.

I laughed as I rode on, his panicked little voice had really tickled me… I imagine he had given her a proper shouting at whenever they got to wherever they were going.

We arrived at the beach, we parked the bikes and spent the rest of the day relaxing by the beach…

The water was so warm… I’d never experienced a sea this warm before… At points it was like swimming in a warm bath… We relaxed in the sun… It was a really nice day… Even the bike ride back was ok (despite the fact that I didn’t feel as if the bike was handling as well as before) Riding back toward our resort we had to slow the bikes to allow a monkey to cross the road… I really am in a different world aren’t I?

Patrick drove us to the other beach resort in the evening, we had managed to book a table at the Mexican restaurant that we had failed to get into earlier on in the week.

The food was good, the drinks were strong… After dinner, we headed to a nearby bar to continue drinking and chat… Scanning the bar prices we worked out it would be better for us to buy a bottle of booze and some mixers… And that is exactly what we did. As midnight approached, we were told the police would arrive soon to shut the bar down… We took what was left of our bottle and headed back to the resort…

Patrick told us the bar at the resort was closed… So when we got back we simply switched the lights back on, grabbed some cushions and made ourselves at home… We drank the bottle of booze as we chatted… Then I grabbed another bottle we had in our room and continued with our late-night drinking session… Lightning was streaking across the sky and a light rain had begun to fall as we put the cushions back and returned the poolside area back to normal before heading off to bed.

Our sleep was disturbed by a huge storm that struck the island in the early hours of Saturday morning, Rain lashed down, lightning flashed across the sky and thunder boomed.

But broken sleep and mini-hangovers were not going to ruin our plans for the day.

We had decided that we would drop the bikes back at the hiring place, head out via Songthaew and hire a jeep for Jo to drive us around the island…

Laurel didn’t join us, she needed some more sleep… So we all met for breakfast by the poolside…

The square covered platform that we were sitting on comfortably housed all of us, all sitting around the table, all sitting on a mixture of beanbags and cushions… I had my back to the sea, facing our friends and facing the entrance to the resort.

It was at this point I saw the witch.

At first I noticed the long flowing black hair and the long black dress… In this blazing sunshine she stood out like a sore thumb… It is impossible NOT to notice her… She walked toward the bar, at which point I saw that along with the witches dress thing she had going on, she was also wearing one fishnet stocking and leather, studded garter belt.

“What the fuck is she dressed as?” I asked (a little too loudly according to Jo)

“It’s not even Halloween!”

She was joined by two other people… A large overly camp man with a floppy fringe and baseball cap and a young ladyboy in a hideous salmon pink trouser suit…

They took turns posing for photographs (God damn you INSTAGRAM) “floppy fringe” did an over-exaggerated sort of catwalk... Erm… walk toward the camera… It was all very tacky… The witch then lay back near a small statue of Ganesh pointing her stocking foot toward the sky… Pictures taken… Attention gained… Then they buggered off.

That trouser suit WAS bloody hideous!

Breakfast eaten… Witches photoshoot witnessed… We dropped the bikes off, at this point they told me my bike had a flat tire… Which explains why it wasn’t handling so well yesterday… Ahh well, lesson learned.

We got into a songthaew and headed off toward the pier to hire a jeep.

The journey seemed to take an age… By the time we got to the jeep hire place, I was feeling sick… Jo and Henry looked at the jeeps on offer as I sat drinking water and trying not to be sick.

I’d noticed a small boy as we walked into the jeep hire place, In my sickness I hadn’t really paid him much attention… as I sat I could hear singing… The boys’ mom told me he was singing for us… “old town road” was his song of choice… He may not have known the words, but he had a pretty good grasp of the tune!

The boy appeared, I’m guessing he was maybe 6 years old… “Sabadi Mai”? (How are you?) I asked “Sabadi Mak” he replied (very good) at this point he decided he was my best mate and simply had to show me the toy he had made (a digger truck with a mini bath taped to the bottom of it) he showed me how it digs things before filling them with water… His name was “Sunny” (or Sonny) which struck a chord with me because Sonny was my granddads’ name… His sister (looked about the same age) appeared, she was wearing a face mask, Sonny, however, was not… “Sonny, where is your mask? Are you not afraid of COVID?” she asked in perfect English… Sonny ran off to get his mask.

For the next half hour or so, I was Sonny’s plaything… We played with the truck he had made, he loved being swung around (as did his sister) and they both enjoyed being lifted up so they could “climb” toward the ceiling of the jeep hire place…

We found out his sisters’ name was “Ferry”… Her mom had complications during childbirth and had to use the ferry to the mainland in order to save her daughters’ life… Two absolutely lovely kids… Both blissfully unaware of how much their family is struggling due to COVID and its effect on the tourist industry… The parents told us they are trying to sell the jeeps, the dad has some farmland back on the mainland and they plan on going there to set up a homestay… I hope they get what they want…. And I hope the kids remain blissfully unaware of the struggles and just go on being happy kids.

Jo (with the help of Henry) finally decided on which jeep to hire, we said our goodbyes and drove off toward the south of the island.

Jo loves driving… She looked so at home, sitting behind the wheel of that little black jeep… We travelled to a Fisherman’s village for lunch… It was nice to be off the bikes… I was feeling more relaxed… Which (when you moan as much as I do) was probably a relief for everyone.

After lunch we continued our journey, there was a waterfall nearby and we decided we would find it.

We parked the jeep at the opening of the forest and walked inside… There was a little track but the lack of tourists had allowed it to become overgrown a little… as we ventured deeper into the forest it suddenly became a jungle.

With sweat pouring out of me, I suddenly became aware of how dangerous things actually could be… If one of us were to be bitten by a snake or spider… Did we know how to get to the nearest hospital? Noises could be heard all over the jungle… Was it birds or monkeys? Our friends had (on another island) been chased by a troop of monkeys earlier in the year… Looking at the path I knew running wouldn’t be an option if he HAD to run… Then I found myself thinking about protocol… What exactly IS the protocol if you are threatened by a troop of monkeys? A tree had fallen and was blocking our path… Henry and Angela climbed through it in search of the elusive waterfall… As They disappeared into the jungle the noises seemed to get louder… Calls, squeaks, screeches… All became louder… Closer…. We heard a loud crack in the distance, it sounded like a tree falling over “I hope that’s not an elephant” I said.

Henry and Angela returned, the waterfall had been a bit of a letdown due to the lack of rainfall…

We left the jungle and headed back to the jeep, our next stop was to be a beach at the southernmost point of the island.

We never actually got to the beach… We tried… Jo tried… But the roads were too steep… The Lack of power steering made the jeep difficult to steer… Bad weather had caused some of the roads to be damaged… We were not going to make it to the beach.

Jo pulled the jeep into the car park of a viewpoint (very nice viewpoint actually) Three ageing Brits on scooters were asking Jo questions about the jeep “has it got a split diff?”

“No idea” she said “I only hired it”

It was decided that we should take the jeep back early… Driving it was just too much hard work.

We took the jeep back and met Laurel at a nearby resort… She said she had found the perfect spot for sunset… She did not disappoint.

Before Long we were all sitting at a table overlooking the sea, drinking a cold beer and choosing food from the menu.

The beers were cold… The food was delicious… The view was stunning.

As the sun went down we decided to head back to the resort for a couple of drinks before having an early night, ready for our journey back to Bangkok.

Before leaving Laurel heard about an “art party” and she wanted to go… I didn’t… The walk through the jungle had left me quite sweaty and to be honest I did not smell too fresh… Laurel, Angela and Henry went to the party, Me and Jo headed back to our resort for a shower, a change of clothes and a “couple” of drinks.

Laying by the pool area, having drunk a couple of “fake Russians” I found myself drifting… At one point I knew I had fallen asleep… I said to Jo that if they (the others) didn’t get back soon I was going to bed… At that, Jo's phone beeped, they were on their way.

Our quiet night didn’t quite go according to plan… The drinks flowed, Pia (the barman) started pouring shots… Someone gave us control of the music… It became a party.

A messy, drunken party… Bloody good party tho!

Sunday morning arrived… Amazingly I was lacking a hangover… We packed our bags and prepared to leave the resort.

I took a travel sickness tablet, which may go some way to explain the lack of details about our trip home… Being as after the ferry to the mainland I pretty much slept all the way home.

Not a bad way to end a holiday I suppose…

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Ade Cox

A working-class man from The Black Country, plucked from the factory and now living the best life in Bangkok