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A Koh Samui Tale

Part 1 of 100 or so in a pathetically sized chunk of land somewhere off the eastern
coast of the Thai peninsular (some call it the Gulf of Thailand).

This place has been written about before in many guide books, been recommended by many travel agents to families trying to choose their once a year fortnightly sojourn, been visited and lived in by the famous and is often referred to as Coconut Island..for reasons which I will let you deduce all by yourself.

To get to Coconut Island (C.I / Koh Samui as it will hereby be known), one must firstly land in the Big Mango (Bangkok) and being careful not to step out of the airport, run in the direction of the domestic terminal, where it is common place to hear tourists and locals alike to heartily scream "Get me the fuck out of here!!"

For in my opinion and experience, Bangkok is simply not worth the taxi's ridiculously humid, expensive, it stinks and for the weak willed, there's a few hundred thousand ladies of easy virtue who wait patiently to rid you of your hard earned holiday money..but you may have been saving for 50 weeks of the year to get laid in the Big Mango, in which case, head straight to Soi Nana and ask for Ploy.

That obstacle (Bangkok) negotiated, we should now find ourselves on the one hour flight to Samui, being served up snacks and given ludicrously polite smiles by the air stewardesses.

As soon as cruising altitude is reached the descent starts and as we close in on our destination we realise exactly why Samui is also known as Coconut Island.

A dense canopy of Coconut trees cover every visable part of the island, it's hard to fathom the existance of beach resorts, international pubs and hordes of tourists that are hidden under them.

We touch down on an airstrip that looks like a garden path and collect our luggage in a building that's comparable in size to my Uncle Jeffery's tool short, the airport is ruddy bloody small..nice touch.

Part 2 of however long or short I wish to make it

At 15 km across and down (told you it was small) the best way to traverse Samui is by renting a motorbike or should I say scooter.

The availability of these 100cc death traps is alarming, they are everywhere, you literally can't walk down any street without coming across an often battered up selection of Honda Waves or Clicks.

I'd say they are coming close to giving the coconuts a run for their money in terms of the most abundant thing on the island.

So, we've decided that after checking into our dwellings (bungalow, hotel, resort, the beach, whatever - all depends on our financial situation) our next step is to part with some of beer tokens in exchange for some transport.

In order to appear vigilant in our choice of machine, we don't enter the first, second or even third motorbike shop we see, no, we are sensible and worldly wise don't you know, we decide upon the fourth, it doesn't matter that they are all next to each other, its the thought that counts.

The shop owner greets us with the familiarity of a long lost son and ever so proudly tells us that the price of the bikes per day are 150 Thai Baht (about 4 quid) but a 'special' price for us would be 3000 Baht (about 50 quid) for the whole month!

We agree to the 'special' deal, which of course wasn't special at all, put our beers down, sign the contract and part with our passports (which is the norm in Thailand when renting cars or bikes and sometimes even when checking into hotels or bugalows)

Money excahanged for keys, we are shown our steeds (which look like something a granny with a blue rinse would be seen on pootling round the market back

Right, how do you drive these things then?

Start it up kick it into 1st gear and gently twist on the accelerator.

Ok..sounds easy enough

We pick the bike up off the floor, lick our wounds and profusely appologise to the owner of the market stall we have just knocked down after our dramatic exit from the fourth motorbike shop.

Yes, gently twist on the accelerator....

Part 3 of how many I can be arsed to write

So, we've successfully smashed face first into our first hurdle of the holiday/trip/vacation/hiding place/whatever and learnt through baptism of hot exhaust pipe to inside of right calf exactly how not to ride a motorbike away from the rental shop.

Things can only improve from now on as we jolt our way up the road, the anxious fourth motorbike shop owner frantically checking his insurance policy.

We round the corner and check our map, still in excruciating pain from wounds sustained during the market stall incident.

The map is colourful and boasts attractions such as shooting ranges, go-kart riding, a golf course, crocodile farm, a snake show, a big gold buddha, fishing villages, mummified monks and view points.

We stop at the first pub we come across to further examine the map. That day we don't get more than 100 metres from the fourth motorbike shop..

Still, there's always tomorrow...

Part 4 of however long my motivation lasts

A restless, drunken slumber is concluded when a ridiculously large lizard starts barking at you in the corner of the shabby bungalow that you have chosen as your accommadation.

There are two types of lizard that are commonly seen (and heard)all over Thailand. These are the Gecko, a small reptile, maybe 3-4 inches long and often pale green in colour.

Initially, seeing these in your room can be quite alarming as it is not unusual to have a good half a dozen basking themselves on the mosquito netting on your windows.

But they come in extremly handy and one does not only learn to live and accept them but also to love and cherish them, for if the mosquito net is faulty, which they more often than not are (in cheap bungalows anyway), then the geckos will mop up those who get through, by means of relentless stalking, it's nice to know they're very much fighting for your team.

The slumber concluder is however not so cute, but just as helpful.
These come in the form of what the Thai people call 'Tookays', simply because of the sound they make.

If you have one of these much larger lizards (upto 9 inches in length, very colourful with bulging eyes) in your room (which again, is not uncommon) then you will certainly know all about it..the first time they exercised their vocal chords in my presence I damn near ran for the hills screaming 'the end of the world is nigh'.
They tend to make their 'tookaying' sound normally 4/5 times in a row, so...


In Thai folk lore, it is oft told that should anyone hear them make this sound 7 times in a row then they will recieve very good luck for a long period of time; and if you should hear their utterances 9 times in a row you will be lucky for life...

I heard them 10 times once..I'm still waiting!!

But maybe that was counteracted by the water monitor lizard who decided to pay a visit to my garden a couple of years back, which on the contrary is very bad luck.

Ho hum..such is life

Right, let's go look for some breakfast.

Part 5 of an ever escalating tale of woe

So, door closed on reptiles whom's sole purpose it seems are to cleanse your dwellings of bugs and scare the living buggery out of you in the process, you step outside and deeply inhale the morning (read midday at least) air.

Air that is scented by that of salt from the breath takingly beautiful ocean that is a gecko's throw from your feels good to be here does it not?!

Now, how do folks break fast around these parts?
Do they toast and marmite?
Do they soft boil egg with soldiers for dunking?
Or do they simply replace the tomatoes with a smattering of chilli?

The latter seemed the most likely as we cough our way down the busy soi (street)with a nasal onslaught of the fiery peppers rapidly reducing us to tears and embarrrasing sneezing fits.

We pass several international looking affairs before coming face to face with the owner of the Fourth motorbike shop.
Gestures are made, as in 'exercise' and 'the bike is ok, really' and 'we only live just up there'.

Declining the offers of the many chalk boards outside the international looking affairs, suggesting we go in and gorge ouselves on full English or American breakfasts we stroll on in search of something more local.

Now just what is a Thai breakfast?

Our question is answered some 3 weeks later, when staggering home from a late night disco, we encounter a lively morning market.
Although it is still dark, the place is very much awake with fruit,vegetables, meat and fish changing hands at a lightening pace...

Our attentions are caught by a lively soul offering us a shot glass full of something that looks like water but smells like death..we try it, hold back the vomit as best we can, then hold our glasses out for seconds.

We're drinking something that is known to the locals as Lau Kau (literally, whiskey rice) and although we hate the taste we are getting thoroughly drunk and enjoying ourselves.

Next we are directed to a bowl of rice soup. It contains balls of minced pork and nothing else.
We start eating and are chuckled at by the market dwellers..infront of us are four jars containing different condiments; ground chilli, sugar, chilli vinegar and ground peanuts.
A bottle of fish sauce is also present.

We dump in a spoonful of each and eat heartily.

Before exchanging our farewells with the good people of the market (who were incidently dripping in gold) they made sure another half bottle of of the 'whiskey rice' was deposited down our gullets.

We get home and under a ceiling fan moving at the same rate as a buffalo with a tranquilizer dart up its arse, sleep off our first Thai breakfast.

Part 6 of a rollicking roller-coaster of a ride, with some hot gypsies thrown in.

BREAKFAST severely repeating on us in the form of violent vomit in the bathroom, we accept that beans on toast would be a better option in future.
The bathroom, or so they have the nerve to call it, comprises of a wooden floor with large holes big enough for snakes to get through, a sink and a squat toilet. The toilet is made from porecelain but thats where any resemblence to your comparitively regal throne back home stops.

For a start it is raised about 6 inches from the floor and as oppose to sitting one should use the 2 foot holds on either side of the convenience, squat and release ones bowels.

'Doesn't sound that bad', I hear you try to reason..

All I can say is after you've toppled off the lavatory after losing the balancing battle and your Thai breakfast some 12 inches behind the desired target, don't come running to me for toilet paper...because we're not allowed to use that either..

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