Buckets, Purple Dogs and the Bathroom Devil Goat

A strange, alien noise bellows from your mini bathroom adjacent the cabin. It is the sound of a possessed island goat that has yet to be exorcised or sacrificed. It once again startles the hell out of you as you try once again to discern what kind of animal could possibly be responsible for noise of this chilling calibre and moreover, what its business is in our bathroom. The satanic bathroom goat eventually gives way to a greater spectrum of commotion outside. Whispering, roaring curling ocean water lapping onto the shore and the sound of distance; of being so far away from big cities and home. The sound of one massive expanse of water surrounding you on a small, beautiful island.

Gathering some semblance of meaning after butchering your neuronal network the evening prior, you raise your sore nut and peer outside the window. Suddenly, the consequences of the big night are lessened, as your eyes experience what your ears just heard. Out the window lies that magnificent stretch of beach, glorious, glorious golden sands and shallow, bath temperature water glistening in your immediate view.

You throw on as little clothing as possible without risking being thrown off the island for indecency. You wave at the green Gecko that lives on your roof. You trundle the well trundled path along the magnificent oval curved Sairee Beach, lined with clustered palm trees swaying in the distance up and above around the point. Fruit smoothies and breakfast at a café on the sand in clear view of the ocean, a little internet time down at Chopper’s café, a trundle down the main drag, vying for room next to the plethora of tourists and locals fanging around on quad bikes and two wheelers. The heart of this little village roars with motors, hums with cafes and bars - tropical small time chaos in motion where everyone gets along and life could never be taken too seriously. It is lazy, cruisy, classy yet grungy, the antithesis of nearby islands Ko Phag Nan and Ko Samui, which from all accounts are largely hotbeds of rabid bogans and inebriate poms, legless airheads out to shag anything that moves after vomiting their lot across the main beach. This is especially prevalent around the time of the Full Moon. Thousands upon thousands of tourists flock to these islands for the big ‘Full Moon Party’ where the drink of choice is a ‘Thai bucket’ – a small sand pail blended with Red Bull concentrate (read rocket fuel) and Thai Sangsom brand whiskey (read liquid speed). Needless to articulate, this concoction is as potent as it gets.

After bringing back 8 bottles of the stuff after a trip to Thailand some years ago, my mate Chode copped the full brunt of the bucket one night at a party, losing his trousers on the roof of the house and waking up to find that he’d somehow made it to 7-11 in the middle of the night, intimidating the store clerk in his Y-fronts, before acquiring a full sack of assorted treats which he slept with until the next afternoon. What I’m getting at is that this drink is powerful and will make you lose your mind and your pants. Or make you think you’ve gotten action when all you’re really spooning is a bag of mixed crisps.

The full moon party on Ko Pha Ghan is the place to be for widespread bucket smashing and pants-losing, but after hearing a lot of dodgy stories surrounding the local mafia who run the parties and pretty much the whole show over here, we opted for a quieter more relaxed vibe on Ko Tao. It is an amazing place, everything you crave and desire in a tropical island paradise. And to give it even more cred, that 80’s Brooke Shields flick ‘the Blue Lagoon’ was actually filmed here back in day, Make of that what you will.

Feeling the effects of the cheap booze and diet of Penang curry and Pad Thai, Pete and I made a concerted effort to fight the spare tyre syndrome earlier in the week, hunting out the local Muay Thai kickboxing gym 10 minutes up the concrete road. The next few days we did some great workouts next to the Muay Thai kickboxers, though the glint in their eyes suggested they looked on at us as pansies due to the fact that we weren’t using our legs.

When buckets become anti-social or don’t suffice, Chang beer is the beverage of choice over here, and after acclimatising ourselves with this particular brand of beer in the week leading up to the trip back home, Pete and I can safely declare that a ‘Changover’ is far worse that the ordinary run of the mill ‘Hangover’. Especially when it’s 30 degree heat pretty much the whole time and ongoing perspiration means perpetual dehydration. Chang on!

Through our adopted travel parents the British gals we met another top bloke, Trev, aka Big T from regional England, and pretty much every night this week has been spent at one, or many, of the local bars. The Lotus bar was a highlight, a wooden shack structure planted right on the edge of the water line, where everyone downs a menu of cocktails and dances on coffee table in the tide. The girls leave today, but we will catch up with them in Bangkok when we head there on Sunday. I can’t guarantee we will be able to avoid a Ping Pong show, from all accounts, like a Spanish bullfight, it is a once off must see event. Stay tuned for that one.

One observation I make about this trip is that it feels a great deal different to the last trip overseas. I don’t feel like I am even overseas – perhaps this is because the time zone is barely different, and I’m not yet in the ‘wrong’ hemisphere. The sheen of amazement and awe is not as immediately present as that first amazing trip to the UK and Europe. Perhaps it will reignite once I get my kiester over there. And maybe, just as well, working in the midst of an action packed and never dull backpackers hostel back home has made me feel like the travels never really ended when they did. And in many ways, this is a good thing. It gives way to living immediately in the now, in what’s open to you, and lets you adapt to every waking change.

The other night i walked home by myself after reaching my Chang threshold. I sat on the beach under the tender luminance of a waning moon. I strummed my guitar as five island dogs came along to sleep by my side. Today we will again chill beachside. We’ll traipse the return route along the beach past the multitude of wooden bungalows and palm tree resorts, past bronzing up British bikinites soaking the last rays before London, past the iconic dalmation-cross beachdog that someone dyed purple (first purple dog I have ever seen), and back on home to our little wood balcony. Play some guitar, write a song, eye that magnifique beach some more and let the moment soak into your soul for safe keeping.

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