Thailand

After the thrill of witnessing a traditional Thai wedding, it was time to head off to the island of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand for a week of fun.  Tradition dictated Luke and Jan stay in the Bunyung’s house for two nights after the wedding, so Dan and his then girlfriend, Denis and I, flew out of Ubon Ratchathani on Saturday, the day after the wedding.

We landed at the domestic airport in Bangkok, then had to get a cab to the international airport across town.  There we were to board a small plane to the island.  I tried to keep a calm look on my face as thunder, lightning and buckets of rain streamed down.

However, we boarded and took off, and as you can see, no-one died.  The food on the one-hour flight was amazing, and we commented on the bag of peanuts one is thrown on any Canadian flight of that duration.

We took a cab to our dear resort, called the Secret Garden, which is on Big Buddha Beach.  We each had our own bungalows, and they were adorable.  Mine was #4, and like all of them, had a king sized bed, tiny fridge, nice TV and beautifully clean bathroom.

I believe it is $40 a night there.  As well, the restaurant and bar, all open to the elements all the time except for the thatched roof, were excellent, too.  I’ve never tasted such delicious pina coladas and had them nightly.

In the mornings, I’d walk barefoot the 30 feet or so into the restaurant and order coffee and breakfast.  The beach is right there, so one morning we saw a man leading a water buffalo along the shore.  Often fishermen were there, spreading their nets.

After two days, Luke and Jan arrived, and they were staying in bungalow #1, right on the beach.  The staff had made a heart of red rose petals on their bed.  I was really excited for their arrival, as I love them both so much.  Jan took a photo of the heart.

The next day we made some plans of what to do, and Luke decided to rent a small car.  Dan and his former friend went off and rented motorcycles as that’s the sort of thing a lot of Albertans seem to like to do.

I’ll always treasure those memories in that little car, going around the perimeter of the island of Koh Samui, which takes an hour in total. There they drive on the right, and Luke drove, with Denis in the passenger seat, holding the map.

Jan and I sat in the back seat.  She said she often saw Thai girls with their falang (foreign) husbands and parents in a car, and wondered if that would ever happen to her.  We both beamed happily at each other and I squeezed her hand.

One day I stupidly said, “Hey there’s a waterfall I want to see, let’s go there.”  The four of us drove off, me dressed as usual in a summer sheath, sandals and my handbag.

We parked and began to follow a path of strewn rocks, as we were hiking uphill beside a rushing river.  It was the usual 40 degress or so with the humidity.  Jan, dressed as always in a T shirt and jeans, was dashing ahead not a bead of sweat visible.

After about 30 minutes the climb became more treacherous, as it was the tail-end of rainy season, so some areas were filled with water.  We would go ankle deep through some of it.  At other points the rocks were so large I needed my hands and feet, so put the handle of my purse over my head.

At 60 minutes I said I’d better see a waterfall soon. 90 minutes later we came upon the waterfall.  I asked Denis to use my camera to take a picture of me, the colour of a fire hydrant, the entire head of hair wet.

On Koh Samui we also visited a couple of wats (temples) and at one of them there is a mummified monk.  Luke made a donation and a monk who was sitting there put a bracelet on Luke and said some prayers for him.  I wanted to go, but was already tearing up at that, so felt stupid and didn’t.

One thing I forgot to mention in my story of Luke’s wedding, was that right after the ceremony we had strings tied around our wrists by the guests.  They tied them while saying good wishes and prayers.  We then had to keep these on, and I felt thrilled to be running around with mine.  Denis said it gave us street cred.

Indeed, when locals saw them, they knew we were ‘in’ somehow.  Plus we only greeted poeple by the proper “saw waddee ka” while making the wei with the hands, and said thank you in Thai.  We were not going to be culturally obtuse like some of the ignorant people we had to see there on holidays.

I swam in the Gulf of Thailand, and can verify it’s very warm.  I’ve never swum in a warm ocean before, as I don’t consider the water in Hawaii warm.  As you swim, you easily catch giant sand dollars in your hands.

A good bit of time was spent shopping at Chewang Beach.  I used to remember the name by thinking Cha Ching Beach.  You must barter, and then you must leave knowing you’ve paid double what you should have.  But it’s fun, and I got 3 bags, 4 pairs of sandals, 2 pairs of Thai-style pants, etc.

And then suddenly it was time to leave, and I felt sad to say good-bye to Luke and Jan.  I flew back to Bangkok on my own and spent the night at a cheap hotel near the airport.

The next morning I was off, and had the same fortunate experience as the flight in.  I slept for 8 hours!  I simply couldn’t believe it, and arrived in Vancouver feeling good.

Please do try to visit Thailand in your lifetime, and I mean the real country, too, not just the tourist areas.

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