Relative Sanity

After the madness of Thailand, I am now cocooned  in the relative sanity of Goa,having arrived here last Wednesday after an overnight flight from Bangkok, which entailed a 5 hour wait in Mumbai (Bombay) domestic terminal for the connecting flight to Goa.

 

My chum Agnelo was at the airport to meet me and take me back to the family house for coffee and a chat with the family; my scooter was waiting, having been cleaned and serviced, so I rode it back to my apartment and Agnelo followed me in his taxi with my luggage.

 

I had a great last day on Koh Chang; a boat trip with my new French friends Benoit and Verginie……………..it was an all day trip, visiting 4 small islands for swimming and snorkeling, diving off of the boat into the translucent waters of the gulf of Thailand, and generally acting like small children; I came second in our 200 meter swimming race from the boat to the beach, soundly beaten by the forty year old Benoit, with the lovely Virginie a few meters behind me; mind you, Benoit cheated, adopting a frenetic, non-stop front-crawl all the way to the beach, whilst Vigrinie and I opted for the serenity of the more leisurely breast-stroke!

 

The trip necessitated a forty five minute ride from the Hotel to the fishing village that the boat left from (see photos on previous post)……….this ride was taken on the back of an open top pick-up truck, specifically converted for the purpose……………..great, on the way there, but on the way back, a rainstorm of immense proportions struck; I’m not sure if it was in anger or frustration, but after about five minutes and at forty miles an hour in the face of the driving rain, Virgine, bless her, decided to open her umbrella…………….quelle catastrophe; the storm continued for the entirety of the trip back to the Hotel and my shorts and tee shirt were still wet when I packed the next morning to bid au revoir à mes nouveaux amis and take the ferry and bus back to Bangkok.

 

It is good to be back in Goa, and see a few old winter friends; Rudolf arrived on the same day as myself and we met on the beach that day; we immediately resumed the friendship and humour that perpetuates between us and in no time at all were mocking each other mercilessly.

 

There has been one very notable change here, the government (Goan) has, in its infinite wisdom, decided to restrict every beach shack to a limit of 5 sun-beds outside of its physical construction…………….Zumbrai shack, where I spent most of my beach days last winter now has just 5 sun-beds compared with about 35 last year; understandably, they are not reserving beds for regulars, so it is get there at 8 o clock if you want a bed and parasol (also restricted to 5 per shack)………….. this restriction is apparently to stop sun-beds overcrowding the beach, which I believe is happening in Calangute and Candolim in north Goa; here in the south however, with the beach being over 20 miles long with a huge intertidal zone that exposes millions of square miles of sand, the implementation of such restrictions is at best, absurd…………….most shacks would normally have 20/30 beds, with some like the Mahal, having upwards of 40…………..this is of course, brilliantly and archetypically the Indian way, why use a small knife to peel a potato when you can use a huge disemboweling cutlass?

 

 

There are a few notable exceptions to these restrictions, Castello’s for example is under the same ownership as the “Coco Huts” behind it, which apparently allows them to have about 15 beds……………Rex’s Place is on land owned by the Church, so has permission for 20 or more, but a daily confessional is de rigour if you want to lie on one of their beds! …………….Hawaii has 20+ and their excuse is that the land is privately owned; so, as you can imagine, it is all very confusing but the restrictions are being implemented rigorously…………Rudolf and I have set up camp at Castello’s, where Manos, who I have known for a few years has agreed to save us both a sun-bed every day.

 

I have my local phone up and running and I have a new dongle for internet connection; unfortunately, my mac book laptop is not very good friends with the dongle and my connection is unbearably slow…………..it prevents me from uploading any photos to the blog, so a few more snaps from Thailand will have to wait until I can organize a decent wi-fi connection somewhere……………………..

P.S. to Koh Chang

The weather in Koh Chang has been for the most part sunny and warm, although there have been several of those one hour cloud-bursting downpours, that are endemic of this regions geographical location; where I am at Hat Sai Khao the beach has a backdrop of  tree clad mountains that rise steeply only a few hundred meters behind the shoreline, hiding any changing weather patterns coming from the east. I rented a kayak out this afternoon, and I was out in the middle of the bay about 500 meters from shore when huge black clouds tumbled over the mountains and preceded to empty their contents into the bay; It was an open kayak and I was only wearing swimming shorts, so I could enjoy being drenched and watching in amazement at the sea, which suddenly became becalmed and completely flat, as innumerable huge raindrops bounced off its surface.

 

When I got back to shore it was still battering down, and people had taken refuge under the canopy of a beachside bar; the tiled floor was suddenly awash with water, which did not bother most people because they were in the main, barefooted; but the waiters, five of them in all, were, to a man, wearing black leather winkle pickers or chisel toed shoes; in unison, to keep their prized footwear dry, they started to walk on the heels of their shoes, providing their bemused audience with a truly comical display; it was one of those impromptu performances that you felt privileged to witness, like a kind of drunken robotic ballet………….god bless the rain!

 

My 100 bhat tip to the maid was obviously bordering on the excessive;  I now have enough toilet paper to endure several bouts of dysentery and my clean towels (that I didn’t really need) were left in another guise……………..see below

A Few Snaps From Koh Chang

 

Finally, some photographs of the beautiful island of Koh Chang; it has taken a while, mainly because I have intermittent internet connectivity here, which is so tiresome; it can be very stressful, you know, all this traveling, laying on the beach and swimming…….pass the Prozac!

I have had to seriously resize my photographs to post them to the blog, hopefully the quality will not suffer too much from the compression.

 

Hey Pang……… thanks for your comment, I hope that it is not too cold in St Margarets and that you have got the heating on in the Thai Pin restaurant (give my love to everyone there please)………………….a few more photos to make you miss home!

These first 2 shots are of the first Hotel that I stayed in, called Banpu Koh Chang; I have now moved after 5 days to Hotel Chang Buri (see below) at Sai Kao beach

I rented a scooter for a few days to take a look around the island; the next few shots were taken at places I stopped at.

   

I eventually arrived at this amazing fishing village called Bang Bao, on the southernmost tip of the island; it is built on a pier jutting out into the sea for more than half a kilometre; it is an entire community living on a pier with lots of shops and restaurants, you can even rent a room there…………..the walkway is quite narrow in places, but the locals ride their scooters and bikes along it and it even has its own lighthouse

The Thai people have a wonderful sense of aesthetics that can be witnessed wherever you look, even on the bow of a fishing boat!

Rooms for rent……….above and below…………..

The next 3 shots were taken at “Lonely beach” on the south west of the island; a beautiful tranquil beach, I will try and rent a room there if I come back to Koh Chang (which is most likely to happen)

 

This is Benoit and Virginie, a lovely couple that I met on the bus from Bangkok to Koh Chang………….they are from Nice and fairly obviously French;  we have been spending quite a lot of time together and we meet for diner every evening; their command of my native tongue is of a similar standard to my French, so our communications with each other have provided much humour and fantastic misunderstandings; they have been great company and tomorrow we are planning a boat trip together!

Mad Englishman choosing his tiger prawns……………..

 

I gave the room maid 100 bhat (circa £1.00) on the first day; the next day I had enough soap and shampoo in the bathroom to last me the rest of my trip, and my clean towels were delivered in the artistic format seen below

That’s about it for now………..hope that everyone is in fine fettle………….

Still Bonkers…………………………………………..Bangkok

Having taken a six hour bus ride from Bangkok to Trat to board the ferry, I am now on the island of Koh Chang (Elephant island)

 

I only spent one full day and two nights in Bangkok before my early morning bus ride, but that was  long enough to realise  that the city that I have not visited for many, many years, is still completely bonkers, but, paradoxically, by that very definition, brilliant!

 

Bangkok is a city of so many devices; there is probably nothing in the world that you cannot taste, experience or acquire in Bangkok……….. culture, history, some of the best food that you will ever eat from a street stall anywhere in the world……………and, of course, fake Gucci, Boss, Armani et al………………. counterfeit watches and imitation love, it’s all there waiting, in this irresistibly mad metropolis.

 

I had forgotten about the mangoes that are grown in Thailand; they are, in my opinion, the best that one could possible find anywhere, they have a remarkable characteristic of staying at peak ripeness for several days without going OTT, rendering expertise in selection superfluous;  they are completely fibre-less and full of juice, they are designed to run down chins, so those (of you) that have encouraged more chins than their birth-rite  allocation should  beware, because eating one (of these) and maintaining a modicum of dignity, is a skill that not many ever master………

     Fish or Chicken, or would you rather have a smoked shirt ?

Swimming pool on the 8th floor of the Amari Watergate Hotel in Bangkok

 

The car is the star in the bar…………..Gulliver’s bar in Bangkok, that was recommended to me by Pledger…………good shout Keith, see you in Goa to take the overnight train for the cricket in Cochin!

 

Fresh coconut juice / milk /water

Those wonderful mangoes…………50 bhat per kilo, meaning that you get 3 or 4 of them, depending on size for about £1.00

Check out the hygiene……..

 

Responding to chums

Hi Liz

Thanks for your comment, and yes, I’m on the island of Koh Chang, in a lovely small beachside hotel; I am just trying to plan a sea-kayaking trip on the other side of the island, so will hopefully post some news and info on the blog in the next few days.

 

Wally, thank you also for your comment; you will hate me for this, but no matter, Pricey and Curly will love me for it…………….I must point out that you omitted the 1st letter “c” from your spelling of “acquiescence” you compounded the error with an incorrect preceding article, using a, instead of an,………….words starting with a vowel (that sound like that vowel) use an, as the preceding article; tricky at times, I’ll admit, union for instance, although starting with a vowel is pronounced with a “y” sound, which is a consonant sound and so uses a, as the preceding article…………better grammar in this particular instance would have been “a period of acquiescence”………….I’m sure it was just a lapse of concentration on your part, but it is an unforgiving world, the internet, as soon as you press send, or enter, you are doomed……………and remember that I can be as smart-arsed as I like to you and you cannot reciprocate; I have complete editorial control over this blog, so any unwanted or unsavory comments will end up on the cutting room floor and will not be posted…Ciao !

Test

Having never set up a blog before, I am testing the mechanics to make sure that I can use it !

In this often brutal, discompassionate and disfigured world…………………. a dog offers mankind a small lesson in humanity.

The dog…………….a kind of additional or subsidiary deity, designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world’s worship