Hanging Pants and Real Estate

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Bangkok is growing rapidly like a classic tale of urbanization. In the city, new residential apartment, office buildings and shopping malls are expanding and replacing small commercial estates along the street, like these ones in my ‘hood. The building in the background is a new luxury apartment whereas small shops in the foreground are half abandoned. Just the matter of time they will be demolished. Inside the loose fence is a cleared area waiting to be developed. The fence doesn’t protect anyone to get in or, putting a real estate ads or hanging a pair of pants.

Day Three Part Two—From the Full Moon to the Rising Sun

It is quite calm on the boat ride to Full Moon Party in Haad Rin. It is the same route as I took in the morning but with the moonshine behind the cloud, reflecting the sea. It feels strange that this tranquillity will drop us off to the beats of chaos.

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I always have a mix feeling about big parties. There were times I took photos of dance parties in Sydney I was not sure I was fond of them them but got photos I really liked. They are bits and pieces of basic human nature I pick up from them.

I only work on the camera phone this time. The main challenge is to stay up all night to catch the dawn, the most photogenic scene. I have done so in a past assignment but this time with the sun rises in front of you.

I stick to a electronic music area, which is not too crowded and have some chats with other partygoers. I surprisingly enjoy myself in the party.

Day Three Part One—Exploring the Other Side

Today’s plan for this Koh Phangon trip is to explore Haad Rin area before the big Full Moon Party night and to take a look deep inside myself.

To redeem the hangover in the boat trip yesterday, I get up quite early and walk to Thong Nai Pan main street. Along the way, there is a restaurant I would like to try their breakfast but they open at 9pm. Next time then.

I buy aloe vera gel from 7-Eleven to sooth the burnt skin. The damage is done and it is the best I can now. Then back to the resort, have another average fried rice, and book a boat to Haad Rin at 9pm.

The journey by boat is very decent. It takes you along the east coast of Koh Phangan down to Haad Rin Nok. Now I am pumped to get to see more of it.

The boat stops to drop me off right at the beach. Pubs are setting up the party with big sound systems, workers are clearing the beach, and shops are getting their ventures ready for the night.

Backpackers wander everywhere whether on the streets, in pubs, or on the beach. It gets crazier and crazier as the day goes by. Now I think it is probably the right decision to stay on the opposite side of the island.

On my other side

There is another mission here in Haad Rin. I stumble upon Kamala Healing Centre in a local tourist guidebook. What intrigues me is one of the services, Past Lives therapy.

Could a past life be affecting your present life? Perhaps you wish to explore past lives out of curiosity or maybe you have questions regarding your present life that cannot be resolved without accessing to knowledge that lies outside the boundary of your present life memories. Find out and resolve any issues with a past life journey.

That, somehow, fits one of the purposes of the trip—to explore some spiritual journey. I decide to give it a go.

Of course, at first, I am nervous to enter a realm you have never set foot in before. In fact, the technique is to relax you and let your subconscious guide you to envision what are there deep inside. It is similar to E.M.D.R. (Eye Movement Desensitising and Reprocessing) that treated my depression not too long ago.

It is an intense journey going into your inner space. Even though I am not totally convince that what have visualised are really my past lives or I am just an imaginative visualiser, it makes sense what my subconscious is trying to tell me. The conscious mind will be processing it in the next few weeks.

The meaning of reincarnation becomes distanced away from me as I grow up. However, this session gives me some thoughts not just about some holes in me but also some substances of life. Maybe we are born again to get a second chance to make things right. Or third, forth, or indefinitely until we make it right.

Time to find a way back to the resort. That is always an effort. And I will get back here for the big party. It is going to be a very long night tonight.

Day Two—Not Seasick, Just a Hangover

A resort staff is knocking on the door to alarm me that the taxi is ready to take me to a pier. Ah, that’s right. I booked a day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park yesterday but had quite some drinks last night. She says five minutes. Gosh, I’m in the rush. A holiday is not supposed to be in a pressure like this. I take a quick shower, grab stuff I think I need for the trip, put them in my backpack and get to the reception.

There, a songthaew taxi is waiting for me, just me. I’m the only one. At least, I don’t have to feel guilty to keep anyone else waiting.

The road starts to get familiar to me. The driver picks up an old lady and drops her off along the way somewhere. It feels exclusive since I’m the only person for his main mission to take me to Orion Pier.

On the boat, there’s light breakfast for the patrons on board. I take one donut. It is a struggle to finish the donut but I know I have eat something no matter how awful it is or how sick I am.

Without examining the boat properly, I just take a spot on the upper deck to sleep in. A young man on board teases me “Looks like someone didn’t sleep much last night” I can only reply with a smile and get back to rest.

With strangers around, I can only half sleep but it helps. I get up again when the boat is about to stop for a snorkeling time. Now I realise I have been under the direct son unprotected. Sunburn worsens the hangover. On top of that, the sunscreen I brought is not in the backpack. Big ouch!

What else I forgot…my swimming trunk. That’s ok. I don’t think I will be able to take a plunge into the sea for a snorkeling anyway. Basically, what are in the backpack are useless for this day trip. There are about 40 tourists. Most of them are young backpackers from Europe. The staffs are the captain, the tour guide lady and about 4 crews, mostly from Myanmar. I come down to the lower deck and find lunch is ready to serve. Since I am one of few who stay dry, I get to have it early. What they have is pretty basic with vegetable green curry, vegetable sweet and sour stir fry, fried chicken, and rice. I have a bit of them although my stomach is not quite ready for it.

Once everyone is back up and finish their lunch, I secure the lunch spot to lie down for the rest of the trip. The boat anchors at another spot to drop off people who also booked for kayak trip. Glad I didn’t as my hangover still gets to me and I can feel the pain from the sunburn already. The tour guide sees me I’m not in a good shape and ask me if I get seasick. My reply in a Thai pun, ไม้ได้เมาคลื่นครับ เมาค้าง (not seasick, just a hangover), just makes her giggle.

I finally get off the boat at Koh Mae Ko and climb up to see the lagoon. It is beautiful. Most visitors hang out that beach entrance and it is pleasant to be in the lagoon by myself for a while, spotting fish and listening to the wilderness.

The next and the final stop is Koh Wau Talab. Climbing to Bua Boke Cave is probably the best thing I do for the day. The route is quite physical. Forget about the cave itself. I find it dull, but getting there enjoyably cures my hangover.

Here, at Koh Wua Talab, is the operational centre of the national park. You can camp or get a cabin to stay here. And it looks like they manage it quite well. The tour guide takes us to see monkeys but I spot a lovely bird, coming down on a table next to me and feeding on a tiny piece of scrap. Mind you, I’m not sure it’s good for its diet.

It’s time to leave the national park and head back to Koh Phangan. There’s tuna baguette waiting for us on board. It’s the first meal I have an appetite for. Wondering it is best one they serve for the day or I am just recovering from the hangover.

By the time we are back at the pier, it is almost 7pm. Everyone seems tired. Well, I am. The same songthaew taxi takes me back to the resort. There’s a big lesson for me to learn here. The hangover is now gone but the sunburn pain will stay with me for days. Tonight is an early night then.

Day One—Daybreak Arrival

Technically, this is the first day of my holiday in Koh Phangan. The night ferryboat arrives the port at 5am and it is still dark. Getting to the resort I booked is quite tricky since it is on the other side in the northeast of the island. Whereas the main town where most tourists, activities, and the port itself are in the southwest.

I manage to get a motorcycle taxi for 300 baht. It is better than to take a songthaew taxi for one for over 1,000 baht or wait to share with others which who knows for how long it would be. The middle part of the road to Thong Nai Pan is rough but, fortunately, it doesn’t rain. Other than that, the ride is decent. The morning jungle breeze touches on my skin. It feels so fresh and this elevated tranquility probably will not happen to me again this trip.

The motorcycle taxi takes me to Dreamland Resort at 6am but the front office is not open until 7am. I got the opportunity to stroll the beach and witness the dawn on the beach. That is why I choose the east side. It is overcast but nice.

Finally, I get to check in the hotel, unpack, and have breakfast at the resort restaurant. The first meal in Koh Phangan is their very own dish, Thongtapan Fried Rice. It is similar to Shrimp Paste Fried Rice, which you have to stir through the element on the dish when served. But instead of shrimp paste they use curry powder with turmeric and mince and the main ingredient in fried rice. It is surprisingly good. To be honest, from traveling experience, I am not expecting much of the food.

I sleep through the rest of the morning and get up again for lunch at the same restaurant. Then it’s time to explore the village. Thong Nai Pan consists of two beach bays: Thong Nai Pan Noi (small) and Thong Nai Pan Yai (Large). I am staying at the latter. It is about 30 minutes walk to the other one via the main road. The hiking route is closed I am told by the resort staff.

There are a number of luxury resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi and lots of hip restaurants. Clearly, there is more going on here than where I stay. While I am having a massage by the beach, it is starting to rain. But by the time my session finishes, it stops. What a good timing for a bit more excursions!

I stop by at a bar for a beer and snack, a seafood basket. The flavour is really lovely but I find that the batter is too thick to overpower calamari, fish, and prawns.

Back in Thong Nai Pan Yai main street, there are fewer shops and bars but more for the locals including a 7-eleven. I know I survive. I have a good walk at the beach here itself. It is beautiful and well maintained.

I try another restaurant for dinner and it is, once again, mundane. At Flip Flop Bar, there are not many customers and I discover that it will get worse next month in monsoon season and will pick up again after that. However, the bartender fixes me very good Long Island Iced Tea and the next pub has a fire show where I lose my conscious.