In the morning we went back to the old lady with the crooked teeth for coffee. A man with a floral apron stood by a tiny wagon and sold various dishes of fried rice, so we took one with pork and a fried egg.
Then we packed our thing and waited at the hotel’s lobby until a chubby man showed up and cried “Ko-Chang! Ko-Chang!”. We went followed him to a red double-deck bus with colorful paintings of fish and corals on it. It slowly filled with people – a French couple our age, a bald man with round glasses wearing only white and carrying books, groups of loud young men from different places, a Japanese family wearing a matching green outfit, Chinese tourist, and an Israeli guy named Tom.
I’ve been waiting for this ride to see the country.
The bus slowly crawled in the plugged city, between squares and homeless people, through monstrous highway built in different levels, and eventually outside the city, to the suburbs and the fields.
After about two hours we stopped at a gas station, where I first met the Asian toilets which were just a hole in the floor, and when you’re done you pour water from a bucket standing by. It wasn’t anything exceptional but it made me realize that we are indeed at a totally different place, that even something basic like the toilet is completely different.
After the break, the endless drive continued.
We went through forests and villages as cloudy mountains appeared in the distance. It was raining occasionally, and people rode their bicycles at the roadsides with bright-colored raincoats.
We crossed cities and towns and eventually arrived at another stop. A curvy woman with a big smile and green shoes shaped like frogs greeted us and told us to wait for a minibus, that would take us to the ferry. It arrived after about half an hour and pretty soon I saw the sea, so sparkling it looked almost like snow from a distance.
We got on the ferry and climbed some slippery stairs to the second floor, so we could see the magnificent view – the open sea, big skies, rocky islands in deep-green hues rising from the water.
As we got closer to Ko-Chang the water became bluer and clearer, and you could see big fish swimming calmly. I spotted a bright pink jellyfish examining the surface of the water before disappearing again.
The island, with its beaches and forests got closer and closer, and eventually, the boat stopped with a loud creak.
At the docks, we got on a pick-up truck that would take us to Kai Bae, a quiet and secluded beach. We were eight on the vehicle – the Japanese family, two couples, Tom the Israeli guy, and us. The back of the truck was open so we had to hold tight as it shook and rattled on the crooked roads.
Tom told us he just came to Thailand from India, where he spent the last few months and is coming back home in a few days.
I looked outside, curios – high ever-green trees, cliffs, rich vegetation, village lives, monkeys and elephants.
As I listened to Tom I tried to imagine what it’s like to come back home after a long time. I felt divided, both jealous and feeling sorry for him, altogether. Everything still felt strange, I still had to get used to moving from place to place. On the other hand, I’ve felt so alive.
As if the meaning of life is about moving, and changing.
We got off the truck, every couple or family at a different shore, and eventually we said goodbye to Tom who stayed last.
A twisted dirt path led us to a hotel’s reception – a hut, with a barefoot man who watched a tiny TV set. We went inside spontaneously and spoke with the man and after the check-in, he drove us with a small vehicle towards a nearly empty hotel. We got inside and he took us to a room on the third floor. It was very cute, with a porch facing the sea and a big comfy bed.
After we settled down, we went to explore the island. It was off the tourist season, so all the hotels and restaurants on the beach were empty, which felt strange in the beginning. It was sunset, and orange light bathed everything.
We sat in one of the restaurants and had a comforting meal of lemongrass salad with shrimp, pork noodles, and curry. Lizards ran on the walls and ceilings, hunting for flies.
After we ate and showered, we could enjoy the beach which was getting dark. The sand was greyish and wet, and the thick vegetation went all the way down the turquoise water. The ground seemed to move – hundreds of tiny crabs were digging miniature holes in the sand and hid inside them, creating footprints in strange patterns.
Somebody tied a simple wooden swing to one of the trees.
We took a long walk on the shore, which darkened slowly. We had a ginger-lemon tea at a cafe and sat there for a while.
Curious lizards peeked at us from the walls, making tick sound. The horizon was dotted with lights from fishing boats, that integrated with the many stars above.