A Year in Asia 2006- 2007 travel blog

The view from my very own 'house on the hill'

This big grasshopper was just hanging around upside down near the path...

My bungalow is the one in the distance on the hill

Okay, I admit it - I am not a very good solo traveler.

My sun-hat goes off to all those people I know who are currenty, or have in the past gone it alone. I don't know how they do it. The worst for me is dining by myself. I know that part of it is simply adjusting to being apart from Matt after being together 24/7 for the past 11 months and 1 week. Seriously, when in your life have ever spent that much time with someone? I know I hadn't before this adventure. Well, suddenly being on one's own is weird. I can only imagine what it must be like for Matt who although he is surrounded by people, is alone with his thoughts all day, every day.

I spent my first 4 days enjoying the immense comfort of my room at the Buakao Inn in Thong Sala. I splurged a bit and it was worth every baht. I had THE most comfy bed I have ever slept in. I am however willing to admit that I may have just become used to the rock-hard Asian guest house beds of the past year, but this one was so soft and inviting. I had air-conditioning and TV and I spent far too much time catching up on world events from BBC News. I was so amazed at all that is happening (forest fires in Greece, more civil unrest in the Congo, British troops pulling out of Basra in Iraq). I started a list of news items I know Matt will be interested in when I realized that this is really the first time in a year that I have watched the news for more than one day in a row. Sure we have read a few newspapers, but we really have been out of the loop and quite frankly, it has been lovely. I suddenly feel like the world is going all to hell when nothing has really changed that much.

To mitigate the effects of the BBC, I ventured daily to the restaurant in my guest house for a delicious meal (or two). I was consistently very impressed with the food and the service. These people get westerners. I had delicious salads with homemade vinaigrette dressing, nachos, etc. It is such a nice change from the bland food served by indifferent staff at other guest houses. The manager knew that Matt was at the retreat and each meal he checked in with me to see that everything was okay. Very nice man indeed.

One morning however, I ventured out for breakfast at the Yellow Moon café. I always saw lots of people there so I figured it must be good. My food was fine, but halfway through my meal the experience took a turn for the worse: one of the staff women sat doing her hair with a straightening iron in the mirror at the back of the restaurant (not far from my table). Not so bad I guess but she had a horrible cough, and because her hands were so busy atop her head, she never covered up as she spewed god-knows-what nasty germs around the restaurant. Then another woman sat beside her on the floor and proceeded to cut her 10 toenails and her 10 fingernails - GROSS! That was it - my appetite officially destroyed after the first few clicks of the nail clippers. I left my half-eaten breakfast, reluctantly paid my bill (no tip, obviously!) and left. I know that I should have said something, but I never seem to in these situations.

I find myself dreaming of good customer service at restaurants in Vancouver, of people who don't hork up phlegm in the street and of hotels that understand how to make a guest feel welcome.

Next stop Haad Rin. I checked into my new guesthouse and although it is a place we would have been thrilled with in India, I am finding myself getting frustrated with the indifferent staff and the lack of attention to detail in the cleanliness and décor of the rooms. I was looking forward to getting back to Haad Yuan where Matt and I first hung out when we arrived here on Ko Pha-ngan. They are welcoming and friendly and the bungalows are nice. I just had to spend an overnight here in Haad Rin while I made a day-trip to Ko Samui to extend my tourist visa.

I awoke very early to meet my pre-arranged taxi at 6am. I was catching a 7am ferry to Ko Samui where the immigration office is. As I stood in the early morning darkness, a young male tourist tourist staggered up the street toward me wearing a woman's bikini.

"What time is it?" he asks.

"6am" I tell him.

"Why are you out here now?"

"I am catching an early ferry" I explain.

"You're a geek" he exclaims.

Hey, I am not the drunk guy wearing the bikini! What is it with me and crossdressers on this island? I have got to get out of this party town.

Thankfully I arrive in Haad Yuan, a mere 10 minute boat ride, but a million mies from Haad Rin. I set myself up in a bungalow with a view and settle in for six days of pure and utter relaxation. Apparently the room comes with a few roommates. I have a large lizard who drops a daily reminder (or two) of his presence on my bed sheet (luckily lizard crap is dry and it doesn't cause too much of a mess). One afternoon I returned to my bungalow to find a HUGE (and I mean HUGE) spider on the wall by the bathroom door. I went calmly to the restaurant and asked one of the staff if they coud take care of the spider for me. They tried to convince me it wasn't dangerous, but to my mental heath it was. The young man attempted to catch the spider with his hands (ahh!) but he was unsuccessful. He poked around the cracks of the wall and told me it had gone (the bungalow walls have gaps in them that is good for air flow, but bad for unwanted guests. An hour or so later I noticed the curled up, and large remains of the spider as it had fallen out of the crack in the wall. As I am using my air mattress (the longest thing I coud find as I need to keep my distance, you see) to drag the remains outside, it starts to move. Oh crap, it is still alive. I really feel bad for the creature, but I have no other recourse other than to drop a heavy doormat on it. A second one is added for good measure. After all, he was really big.

I receive yet another jellyfish sting, accomplish lots of reading in my beach lounger and get a daily morning power walk in before the heat arrives. It is a tropical paradise and I am lapping up every second of it as I know our time here in Thailand is dwindling.

I have been lonely this past week, but it isn't all bad! I did after all spend the afternoon floating on the clear blue sea while working on my tan. Tonight I am off to the restaurant for a movie and a meal. I just wish my favourite guy was with me...

P.S. I just became a great-aunt the other day when my niece Megan and her husband Aaron had their first baby, Hunter. We are all so excited!!!!

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