Okay firstly, Elli B: I wanted to send this in a facebook message, but you won’t let me do that. Bully for you, actually, because I wholeheartedly believe in privacy and keeping strangers out of my face. (Unless, apparently, they’re bearing fruit, in which case I’ll thoughtlessly Adam and Eve it and hallucinate my way out of the garden. Wait a second… I’m trying to be a role model. Forget I said that, unless it reminds you never to do it. I wish I hadn’t.) Anyway, I have this rule that I’m not allowed to be friends with any students until they graduate from high school. Even though you weren’t technically a Baxter Houser, and even thought I considered reconsidering because the Japan experience was so separate, I still feel like you’re one of my kids, and that my rule was made for good reason and there’s to be no gray area.
This should not keep you from visiting, or emailing, or sending avocados through your sister. All of those things would be awesome and we’ll be facebook friends in four years!
To the rest of you wankers: why did nobody tell me I was supposed to bring my own toilet paper and soap? You guys should know me better than to think I’d’ve planned for that. I mean, every hotel reservation I’ve made, I’ve made the night before checking in, and every transportation plan I’ve made has consisted of showing the first person I see a photo of my hotel confirmation and trusting that he’ll get me there.
A nice backpacker name Marit-from-Holland had to tell me about the toilet paper, and she was only talking to me because I’m blonde and she wanted to practice her English. That’s actually how she introduced herself. It went a little like this:
(Crazy loud ceremonial Thai music plays and the thousands of people in the bus station abandon their bras, leggings, and crazy fruits and stand solemnly.)
I poke Holland girl and hiss “what… is happening?”
“Oh, hello, yeah! This is for the king, we all stand up. Where are you from? I sat next to you because you’re blonde and I thought you’d speak English with me.”
I paused for a second, taking it in. I knew the king was a really big deal here because I’d seen shrines and pictures for him all over the city, but still, was it a close call that I was so wrapped up in my book that I almost didn’t stand? I didn’t want to end up in a Thai prison looking for Claire Danes because I lacked the local social skills.
“Um, sorry. Yes. I’m from the United States. Wow, thanks for letting me know.”
We proceeded to talk about the things that people talk about when they’re foreign to each other, and it was pleasant. I continue to be grateful that I memorized all of the world caps, btdubs. People automatically think I’m intelligent and feel bonded to me when I know the capital of their home country, even when I’m clearly wearing jeggings.
I eventually boarded my double decker bus and sang Keller Williams for awhile, but then we actually got moving and I got scared all over again. I had bought the vodka solely to wash my hands with- like some kind of spaghetti Western amputee- but I found myself swilling it so I could retreat from the assault of road terrorism and poverty.
I don’t particularly want to talk about it; it was just really sad. It reminded me of driving through South Carolina, once I got past the plantations and the middle class planned neighborhoods; there were emaciated dogs everywhere, and piecemeal houses that adjusted themselves with the wind. It was sad, and it was easy to see why all the buses were overnighters. I don’t know if people would forget seeing that in daylight.
But yes: overnight bus trip, 12 hours. I’d paid for a VIP seat which meant I got a bean bun and some shrimp covered nuts with my trip, so I ate them, drank nothing beyond my few rogue sips of Absolut, and tried to conjure up the sandman.
No go. The roads were bumpy and our center of gravity a pipe dream. The road and bus seemed precarious, and listen: I know what it’s like to drive those things. I’ve manned an Augusta Rec van or two in my day. They’re unwieldy, difficult to stop quickly, and the kid in the back is probably going to eat a Handi Wipe and vomit for the entire SeaDogs game. Not to be trusted.
That said, every time we came to a complete stop in the middle of the dirt road, my head would still pop up like a whack-a-mole’s because I was kind of hoping we’d stopped for an elephant crossing.
No luck. I arrived in Krabi tired, dehydrated, and cranky.
A driver almost instantly shuttled me into the covered cab of his pickup, where I watched an enormous snail climb the walls and where I tried to keep self, shoes, and luggage from flying out the back. He stopped after about ten minutes to get a drink, then left me stymied in the Isuzu while he lounged in a lawn chair under the drugstore’s awning, chatting with his friend. Later he stopped again, so I could watch him drain his weasel on that stucco building. Oh, and he put in nose drops, nice touch. I sat back and played the role of observer because he had complete control of my life, and I don’t like to piss those people off. Another of my rules is to be kind and infinitely forgiving to people who control me: wait staff, housekeeping, and cab drivers in places where I neither speak the language nor know the maps.
He dropped me off at a crossroads.
I sat there for an hour, because the man playing with the monkey told me that I had to wait for eight interested people before he’d shuttle me via longboat to Railay Beach, my final destination. It would have been okay- I mean I was dirty, hungry, and had been traveling for 18 hours, but it would have been okay- but this SHIT of a monkey kept jumping on me for some playful attack.
At first it was funny. Oh! Haha. You’re on my back, now you’re not. Can’t wait to tell people a monkey climbed on me.
Then it wasn’t so funny. Hey! Quit scratching my legs, I’m not made for your shimmying pleasure.
Then I was actively annoyed. That’s my FACE, jackass! Blood’s not funny and you’re not cute anymore.
Finally some Chinese tourists saved me, and I’m judging a billion people on their kindesses: China is awesome, y’all. All that pollution must have been another country setting them up.
The three of them hauled me into their tuk-tuk and dropped me off at a much better boat station, where I almost immediately waded through the ocean to board with my cumbersome baggage. About fifteen minutes later, I arrived.
To paradise, seriously. Paradise. Just look at this place! I have a week here, and I intend to be as happy as people get.