Chaweng: The Party Continues

January 3, 2009 - 8:12 am No Comments

The main road along Chaweng Beach is filled with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, retail stores, every pirated DVD you can imagine. And it’s long. Doug and I walked an hour and a half last night soaking it all in and didn’t even come lose to reaching the end.

Pig, Anyone?

Boy in the Bookstore

Ronald Says "Sawadee"

Every 30 minutes, a truck with obnoxious Thai boxing images and a loudspeaker drove by, sternly advertising the fights in a thick Thai accent.

“Fight tonight. 9pm. Chaweng Stadium. Chaweng Stadium. Big fight. Special fight.”

Chaweng Stadium. Tonight. Tonight.

We spotted a monkey in a guy’s arms and didn’t avert our gaze quickly enough. He hopped over and offered to let me hold the monkey. I didn’t want to, since I knew he wanted to relieve me of some baht. Sure enough, after putting the monkey in my arms, he produces a Fisher Price-looking camera.

“200 baht! 200 baht! Picture for you!”

I decline, but this only makes him try harder. He puts the monkey on my head.

“200 baht! Picture!”

I decline again. At that moment, the monkey bends over and clenches down with his teeth on the top of my head. It hurt. I did not know how to react. Did he make the monkey do it on purpose because I wouldn’t pay? Do I grab the monkey? Do I punch the guy? Is my head bleeding? In the blink of an eye, the guy and his monkey disappear.

“Fight tonight. 9pm. Chaweng Stadium. Chaweng Stadium. Big fight. Special fight.”

Doug and I picked a restaurant for dinner and then set up shop in one of the bars for a few drinks. We ended up sitting at a beach bar for a little while, watching fireworks and sky lanterns float up into the sky, and then hitting the Green Mango, one of the most popular and foul-smelling dance clubs in the area.

Samui Marketing: Subtle

Doug Gets All the Ladies

This morning, Doug and I began sorting out the rest of our trip. We haven’t finished booking everything, but we have a pretty good idea what we’re going to be doing. We’re not going to go back to Koh Phangan. We’re going to stay here in Samui for a couple of extra days (there seems to be a lot to do around here) before going to Chiang Mai and Siem Reap as planned. We are leaning towards going to Laos instead of Vietnam for the last few days of our trip.

This involved changing one of my flights, the one I had booked on Expedia. Trying to make the change has been time consuming and expensive, and I haven’t even been able to change it yet. The first agent did absolutely nothing, and I got disconnected the next two times I called. Note to Expedia: Don’t be completely incompetent every time I speak to you and, when I don’t get disconnected, end your calls with “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

After breakfast, we picked up some scooters and zipped around the island a bit. Great fun. Scooters seem to be popular on tropical islands. I think you can conceptualize how big an island is by how long it would take you to completely circle it on a scooter. Rarotonga took about 20 minutes. Koh Samui would take about an hour and a half.

Hole in the Road

Last One In is a Rotten Egg!

Water Buffalo

Doug’s got a really good sense of direction and has been doing the bulk of the navigating for us. We visited three waterfalls today, Hin Lad being the best of them. We were unprepared for the moderately grueling rock scrambles up to them. Flip-flops are not appropriate attire.

The Way to Waterfall

Doug at Namuang Waterfall

We also stopped at a few viewpoints and went to Hin Ta and Hin Yai, a spot with rocks shaped by the sea to look like a penis and vagina.

Hin Ta

My big-ass camera and tripod are a pain in my ass. I take them almost everywhere: on hikes up to waterfalls, to beaches, on my scooter. And it’s almost always a struggle. I keep reminding myself that I will be thankful for all the effort after I get home, but sometimes I get a little fed up with it.

Doug and I have done a bunch of walking and hiking over the last few days, and both of us are getting a case of backpacker feet. You know, it’s when you get stubbed toes and blisters, and Neosporin-soaked Band-Aids make a sloppy mess in your flip-flops. Doug looks like Kerri Strug with Ace bandages wrapped around his feet. I’m waiting for everything to heal up so that I can start getting my daily foot massages.

Doug's Battered Feet

On days with hectic schedules, Doug and I have been sustaining ourselves with street food. There are little carts everywhere with people selling fried pork, chicken wings, crepes, dried squid, and every kind of meat on a stick. If you enjoy meat on sticks, this is the place to be. Pork, chicken, fish, you name it. Most of those meat sticks are good, but today Doug and I had little balls of chicken that were filled with bone and cartilage fragments. If the meat comes to you in a form that does not occur naturally, you’re taking your chances.

Some general observations about Thailand:

  • Thai people are very friendly, but Doug and I agree there is a silent comtempt for tourists among the Thai. They are all smiles when they might get some money out of you, but Doug and I are sensing something else.
  • Based on the English on all the signage and restaurant menus, you’d think that everyone who deals with tourists daily would speak the language. But that’s not the case. Many struggle, even the taxi drivers when you give them place names. Speaking to them with the same incorrect English that they use with you seems to make the conversations flow a bit better.
  • The average age of tourists here is probably mid-30’s, not early 20’s like I expected. Lots of couples and families.
  • Most of the tourists we see in the streets look grumpy. Not sure why.
  • As I expected (but to Doug’s surprise), we are meeting very few Americans. When anyone finds out that we are from the US, they all want the inside scoop on Obama. “Do you think he will turn things around?” “Will he make a difference?” “Is he the same as Bush?” Then a political but brief discussion occurs before the taxi ride is over or the ferry is ready for boarding.
  • Doug and I need to hit the gym and get tattoos. Beefy, college-aged guys who like to strut around topless and show off their dragon/snake/barbed wire/religious tattoos surround us.
  • Dogs everywhere. Some stand alongside the road just watching cars go by, others lay down. Not sure if the laying down ones are sleeping or dead. Hard to tell the difference.
  • Things are definitely cheap here, but not as cheap as I expected. Speaking with friends who have been to Thailand before, I was under the impression that everything would be dirt cheap. But that’s not the case. I think the days of being in Thailand and living in luxury for US$3 a day are drawing to a close.
    • 10 – 20 baht (US$0.35 – $0.70) is what it costs to park your car or scooter in a private lot
    • 50 – 100 baht (US$1.75 – $3.50) is what a quick snack like chicken balls or pork on a stick costs on the street
    • 100 – 200 baht (US$3.50 – $7) will get you a mixed drink, a cheap meal, or a photo with a monkey on your head
    • 250 baht (US$7.50) will get your feet rubbed for an hour
    • 400 baht (US$14) will get your body rubbed for an hour
    • 2000 baht (US$70) will get you sex for an hour
  • As a few people warned me, there are lots of ladyboys (men dressed as women) around. I think I’ve been pretty good about spotting them, but it seems like some other backpackers are taking the bait.
  • There are easily more 7-11’s than any other store in Thailand.
  • To me, the food here tastes very similar to the Thai I get at home at the local take-out. Which is good, I guess. Just thought it would taste different. For some reason, waiters are never in a rush to bring you the check.
  • There seems to be a shortage of napkins and garbage cans in Thailand.

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