We woke up at seven AM and went to get coffee at the old lady with the crooked teeth, and then ate fried rice with pork and fried egg that we bought from a guy with a floral apron who laughed a lot. Afterwards we got our backpacks from the room and waited at the hotel’s lobby until a chubby man arrived and yelled “Ko-Chang! Ko-Chang!”, and we followed after his bike with another Japanese family with green clothes. He led us to a red double-deck bus with colorful paintings of fish and corals. We sat on the red leather sits on the second floor as the bus slowly filled with people, among them a French couple our age, a bold man with round glasses wearing white who brought many books, four noisy Portuguese who tried to hit on the French girl. Aside from them there were mostly Japanese tourists, 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 are just a hole in the floor, and when you’re done you pour water from a bucket standing by. I know it wasn’t anything exceptional but it made me realize that we are indeed at a totally different place, that even something basic like toilet is completely different from everything I know. We had cold coffee and bought a dried banana snack, and continued the endless drive. We went through forests and villages when more and more cloudy mountains appeared in the distance. It was raining occasionally, and people rode their bicycles at the wayside with bright-colored rain coats. We crossed Chantaburi and Trat and eventually arrived at another stop, where a curvy woman with a big smile and green shoes shaped like frogs worked. We waited there for about half an hour and then went on an open minibus, which took us to the ferry. When we arrived at the sea it was so sparkly that for a moment I tought it was snow, and green islands rose in the horizon. We walked up the slippery stairs to the second floor of the boat and looked at the view from there. The water turned from muddy brown to clear blue as we got closer, and we could see various fish and pink jellyfish swimming lazily. We saw the Island with its beaches and forests getting closer and closer, and eventualy we stopped with a loud creak and went downstairs. By the docks there was public transportation and we took a taxi to Kai Bae – a loaded pickup truck with an open back, where you need to hold tight and hope for good. We were eight – the Japanese family from the morning, the French couple, another European couple, and Tom. The truck was shaking and rattling at the crooked roads, between high trees, cliffs, rich vegetation, village lives, monkeys and elephants. Tom told us that he is coming back to Israel after a few months in India, and I tried to think what it’s like to come back home after a long time. Something in me felt sorry for him, and something in me was a bit jealous. At this point of the trip I still felt kind of strange with all the travelings and transitions from place to place, and the unknown cities, and from the other hand I wanted it to last forever.
We went down one by one, every couple or family at a different shore, and eventually said goodbye to Tom who stayed last and went to the Lonely Beach. We descended a twisted path until we reached a hut that stood for a hotel reception, and went inside spontaneously. There was a barefoot apathetic man inside who took us with a small vehicle towards a huge and nearly empty hotel, where he led us to a room in the third floor. It was very cute, with a porch to the sea and a clean comfy bed, so we settled there and went to explore the island.
It was off the tourist season and there was a feeling of strangeness and weirdness. The hotel lobby was big but completely empty and there were a lot of hotels and restaurants on the beach, also desolated. We sat with the sunset’s orange light at a big empty restaurant and had a lemon grass salad with shrimps, pork noodle and a comforting dish of curry. The bill was not served to table but we had to pay at a small room in the restaurant’s output, where lizards ran on the walls and ceilings and hunted for flies, and after the payment we came back to the hotel to take a shower. After we calmed down from the long ride and ate we could enjoy the beach. The sand was greyish and damp and the thick vegetation went all the way down to the turquoise water. If you took a good look at the ground you could see it wash moving and shaking – hundreds of tiny crabs were digging miniature holes in the sand and hid inside them, creating small footprints and strange patterns. Somebody tied a simple wooden swing to one of the trees and the horizon was full of small leafy islands, just like the island we were on. We took a long walk at the shore that darkened slowly. We had ginger and lemon tea at a cafe that was built out of wood with many different levels, and at the entrance you had to take your shoes off and wash the feet with a tap.
A few hours later we came back to the room and sat at the porch, while curious lizards were peeking at as from the walls and making tick sounds, and the calming sound of the waves in the background.