Saturday, March 10, 2007

Day 16: 10 March

Greetings! Long time, no blog. No worries- I haven’t (yet) been scooped up off the sidewalk by a motorcycle taxi driver to be taken into the Thai abyss. Yes, that’s kind of actually a fear I have when I’m walking on the streets and those guys get dangerously and questionably close to me. I have just trotted around a bit, to Koh Phangan (via Koh Samui) and then to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I’m now back in Bangkok. I was on a computer hiatus for nearly a week and it was a great purge. If you are able to take a technological fast, I highly recommend it.

I’m in love with the Thai islands (Thaislands!). Beautiful beyond beautiful. Quiet, peaceful, and still…the antithesis to Bangkok. In Koh Phangan, an island you can only get to via boat, all I could hear while sitting, meditating, and practicing on the balcony or on the beach was ocean waves lapping flowing ebbing morphing being. The sun was fierce, perhaps the hottest sun I’d ever experienced. The villa was perfect, with huge windows (the curtains for which we never once shut) for walls, offering generous views of blue water, blue skies, green vegetation, and the shadowy glimpses of neighboring islands. Sitting on the balcony or lying in bed, there was ocean in front of me, ocean behind me, and ocean to the side of me. Add to that: an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and the beach nearly to ourselves. We had a pet gecko in the room that would periodically make this chirpy squeaky noise, which we presume was him asking us what we were doing in his room. There were lots of sweet dogs (including a Thai Nala look-alike!) and even cats roaming around and hanging out on the beaches. One dog tried to follow us home…so cute and sweet! He must have recognized us from another lifetime or something.

The food in Bangkok is better but!! it was quite wonderful having fresh fruit shakes delivered to the room, poolside, and oceanside, in a plethora of fresh fruit flavors: banana, mango, pineapple, watermelon, and coconut. Also, we drank from the – gasp – Minibar without reservation…ice teas and sodas (yes, this yogi drinks soda) were just 25 baht (less than 75 cents) each!

The Full Moon Party is a big (read: thousands of people big) beach party under – what else – the full moon. Similar to Coachella or a rave, but free!!, there are different DJs/areas of music and other forms of entertainment such as fire dancing (Kenta, you would totally rock it out there!) dotting the shore of the Haad Rin peninsula. The coolest part was when they fired up (literally lit fire to) a 25 foot high or so sign that read Amazing Thailand and had 2 big elephants on it. Grandiose and indulgent. I also enjoyed the assortment of languages we heard as we walked through the crowds- people from all over the world. We made our way home at about midnight, but the party was still going on the next day! As we made our way to Leela Beach (which we went to because my family’s nickname for me is Lela), we could hear the sounds of what could only be the after the-full-moon-party party. Peeps is crazy out here in Thailand!

I think the planes in and out of Koh Samui were the smallest I’d ever taken. (And the cutest- there were little Nemo-like fishies painted on the outside!) Inside, when Jay stood up, his head was just a couple inches away from the ceiling. All the seatbelt and lavatory signs were only about 1.5 inches big. The Koh Samui Airport was also definitely the smallest, simplest airport I’d ever been in…entirely outdoors and equipped with an arrivals terminal and a departures terminal.

While on the islands, I got in touch with my friend Viva, who is currently living in Kuala Lumpur (“K.L.”), Malaysia and decided to hop over for a visit. I went on my own, which was fun but at times unnerving because I had no idea where I was and had no way of contacting anybody. I was swindled by the taxi driver who picked me up at the airport, but I didn’t care because by the time I arrived at Viva’s hotel, I was just grateful that he didn’t kidnap me to make me into a Malaysian concubine. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to follow a random man, who essentially bullied me into agreeing to go with him, into the parking lot (totally not in the official Taxi Line) and get into his car, especially when he didn’t run the meter and he inexplicably circled the parking lot twice before exiting. Immediately upon entering the car, I rolled the window down to make sure I could Budokon my way out of the car if things starting feeling suspicious.

Luckily, all went fine and I arrived safely at the KL Hilton, where Viva is the resident singer, and a very talented singer at that. She was kind enough to let me stay with her at this over-the-top nice hotel. Grandiose and indulgent. Her room overlooked much of the city, which is a beautiful combination of modern-day life – highways, high-rises, and financial districts – and endless shades, layers, and depths of jungle. The Malaysian government makes great efforts to maintain their land’s nature within the city. I spent a lot of time meditating, writing, and musing on the rooftop, on the greatest chair that was ever created. It was a big circular wicker chair-loveseat, with a cushy cushion and cushy pillows and a crescent-shaped ottoman. There were palm trees directly overhead, providing shade and covering from the slight sprinkling that occurred for a few minutes in the late afternoon, something that apparently happens everyday, ensuring that KL stay as alive and green as possible.

I did some touring, the highlight of which was going to the Batu Caves, a sacred place for Hindus, the highlight within the highlight of which – and I hope it isn’t blasphemous that this was my favorite part – were the little monkeys running around eating coconuts. Foods I tasted included native Nona foods, a meat skewers medley (only made more perfect because I was outside, poolside, and on that splendiferous chair), and green tea Tiramisu (only made more perfect because I ended up eating it with my hands out of my carry-on bag because it spilled out of its fancy origami-style to go (or as they say here, “take away”) container).

And in line with the way of the Universe, which always works to bring things into balance, my ride back to the airport was safe, pampering, and without the threat of being hustled or made into a concubine. Friends of Viva’s graciously had me first-class chauffeured. Grandiose and indulgent. Many, many thanks to Viva & co. for their Malay welcome and hospitality!

So, I have about another week or so in Bangkok. My brother is flying in from Seoul (where he currently lives) tomorrow…yay! I’m sure we will cause absolutely no raucous out on the streets of Thailand.

Good day to you, my friends. This little monkey is off to run around and eat coconuts!

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