Tuesday 12 May 2009

It's been emotional. Koh Tao and the English invasion.

Pretty hard to sum up the last few weeks. As you know I met Harriet and Emma here in Bangkok at the beginning of this month. Well it didn't all go entirely to plan. It was good to see both of them again but it didn't work out between me and Harriet.

In all honesty I am not as cut up by it not working as I thought I would be. To be fair I didn't really expect it not to work out but thinking about it now I would expect to be hurting more than I am. Gotta be careful what I write here though, got two peoples feelings to consider.

I'm really glad I met Harriet back in Europe firstly she is a great person and friend but the reason I am glad is that by meeting her and falling for her back then it meant that during the months since I have not had to think about relationships. It was like a part of my life (a particularly difficult part) was all sorted so I could just ride and worry about the trip and not about women. (or maybe I am making excuses)

Apparently Harriet knew after the first day she got here that she didn't feel the same anymore. I thought that was a bit harsh but in a way it is true. It just wasn't the same between us and that was obvious straight away. Anyway, chase and how do I cut to it? I think that we are both ok with how it turned out in the end.

There are parts of this story I can't tell so I won't. I wish things had turned out differently and I wish I had acted better when they didn't. Truth be told I have got myself a bit lost now and need to find the way back or a new way forward. The question on my mind is: Do I carry on? Do I go home? Or do I do something else altogether?

I'll answer that one another day I think.

So back to the trip. Well lets see, after meeting Harriet and Emma in Bangkok they headed south on bus to Koh Tao and I followed on the bike. I (foolishly) left all my luggage in Bangkok and hit the road for a 500km trip south before getting a boat to the island. It took me two very long hours to get out of Bangkok. It has the most difficult road system so far. The traffic moves just fine and there is no real congestion to speak of but navigation is impossible. If you miss your turning you have to ride 2km, do a U turn, ride 4km (yes you have to pass the turning again) and do another U turn then ride 2km and get off. Signposts are completely random. There will be one signpost for, say, Hua Hin and then nothing but you know you have gone too far. Thai people are none too friendly either. They don't even bother trying to help. Eventually I made it out of BKK onto route 4 to southern Thailand. The road isn't much to write home about. It is 500km dual carriageway with perfect tarmac. It is boring. Traffic moves a lot faster here too but at least people do use their mirrors properly.

I got to Champhon at about 8pm and found the hotel where I was planning to leave my bike for 10 days but they didn't have secure parking. I eventually found a decent place that was going to charge me 30 Baht a day for the bike. I left it there and checked into the hotel for the night. In the morning, and not really used to other peoples schedules, I almost missed the boat.

The island is kind of a combination of paradise and Vegas. The main strip on the main beach is full of flashing lights, strip clubs and bars. It would be brilliant for a two week holiday but it wasn't what I (and luckily the girls) were looking for. We found a quieter beach and a decent looking dive school where we agreed a price with a guy called Jess (from Big Bubble) so we got our Open Water diving and accomodation for 9000 Baht. Harriet decided not to dive so the next few days Emma and me would leave early in the morning and g oto class (yes it was like school) watch a video or answer some questions and then we would go diving. In our group was Jess, the instructor, Ben, the trainee instructor, and three Canadian guys. We did 2 or 3 dives a day for three days.

Wish I could describe this one too you but words don't do it. You'll just have to dive for yourselves because it is brilliant. It is, without over exaggerating, entering another world.

After each day we would find Harriet and go for something to eat and maybe a drink or two. Maybe an hour on the beach or maybe just a bit of reading. It was all pretty relaxed and I think Harriet found it difficult doing nothing after being busy back home in England.

We graduated on the third day of our course as open water divers and in the evening we all met up for a couple of drinks before going to the castle party. The party would prove to be my final downfall. We sneaked in a half litre of rum which I promptly stole from the girls, drank by myself and the rest is a blur with some pretty cringeworthy backflashes.

Errr, I did say some nasty things, I did walk out of the party early and I did go skinny dipping at about 1am and then fell asleep in someones boat. When the girls came back and saw my clothes on the beach they figured the worst and started calling my name which woke me up. The final result being that I had to swim back and then walk past the girls and up the beach naked to the room.

(another realisation me+rum = bad) Wasn't too hungover the next day but I had a lot of apologies to make and no-one was kind enough to let the naked part go either.

We were supposed to go to the full moon party together but I figured after showing off my full moon it wasn't going to be a good idea to go to the biggest party of the year for a repeat performance. I was lucky to bump into Juliet and James in Bangkok and they were on the island too so instead of going to the party I stayed in Koh Tao and spent a week doing more diving, playing chess, watching movies and going to the bar. All in it was a good week, ended the chess on 11 wins each and checked off two of the movies “not to watch before you die” It was good to spend time with the J's. A really good couple who, together, equal more than the sum of their two parts. Hopefully I will see them again, it is a small world after all. Safe travelling guys and good luck in NZ.

I've had more time to think now, seeing as this happened ages ago. For starters I am finding it hard to write since the island. Don't ask me why I just am. I kinda figure posting this might get around the writers block. As far as being “lost” goes let me try to explain. Being on the road by myself has some great pluses and minuses. The big minus being that I am on my own. Seeing Harriet and Emma made me realise all the things I left back home. Good friends and fun nights down the pub. A loving family who are there for me when things are down. When the shit hit the fan I was desperate to look into the eyes of someone who I love and who loves me and know that everything is going to be ok. I didn't realise how important that was until I “willingly” left it behind. The real pain is knowing that each day I am on the road I become more separated from the people I love. The effect is that I feel homeless. I am experiencing a million cultures but I no longer have one of my own.

Someone once said all great journeys get lost along the way. I wish he had said it to me before I left so I could at least be prepared for it.

Hope you enjoyed the read and, now I am back on the road, the next post will be purely travel related I promise. I've been through Cambodia and Laos since and have plenty to write about now. So stay safe and (if you don't mind me passing on a little wisdom) let the people you love know it.