Travelling Light

Koh Phangan, Thailand: Nothing A Little Antibiotic Won’t Fix (Nov 16-19, 2014)

Erin arrived in Thailand sneezing and coughing, after being  exposed to a pathogen in Sydney or in the air. While the sneezing settled in a couple of days, the coughing got worse, so we went to a pharmacy and got her some cough medicine.

After two days of being high on cough syrup (it contained codeine), she started feeling nauseous, and couldn’t eat without vomiting, so it was time to have a doctor check her over.

Sixty dollars later, she had some antibiotics and anti-cough pills. We got some carbon from the pharmacy for the nausea, and within 24 hours the pink was back in her cheeks.

On Saturday evening, we went into Thong Sala (the biggest town on the island) for the night market. Tom found an interesting photo opportunity provided by one of the local bank branches. We are still not quite sure of the significance of this … er … display … but it was pretty.

We randomly stumbled into what turned out ot be the best restaurant in the street – when we came past on our way home, it was packed to the rafters. Leash had a hamburger that was remarkably good for Thailand.

This macaw spoke both English and Thai, and wanted us to stay and entertain it for longer, but we were on a mission looking for the markets, so we had to move on.

It turns out that the night market in Thong Sala starts right on the beach. Dozens of motorbikes are parked four deep for an entire block leading up to the barricade which marks the start of “Walking Street”, and the market.

The Ao Srithanu beach was Erin and Leash’s favourite place on Koh Phangan, and having secured a bungalow right on the sand, they really didn’t want to move anywhere else, except to get food and cigarettes.

They met and named every dog within a 500m radius, and quite a few cats. They even witnessed the three kittens born in the roof of the Laem Son restaurant building as they came out from under the eaves for their first walk outside.

Erin is picking up Thai words like a pro, and can even order food she likes to eat without having to resort to pointing at pictures in the menu!

We spent Monday gathering all the requirements for our student visa application. Pictures of us outside our house in Thailand (why do you need to be IN Thailand already, when you have to go OUT again to get the visa put in your passport? Ours is not to question why …)

Six copies of every page in our passports that has a stamp. Seriously, Thailand? SIX copies? What are you going to do with all that paper? Ours is not to question why …

Twelve photos of ourselves in business suits (NOT photoshopped). Really? In business suits? Ours is not to question why …

Photocopies of all our academic qualifications, in triplicate. Three, not six? Ours is not to question …

Fill in three multiple-page forms that ask for mostly the same information in a slightly different order. Not even going there. Suck it up and … we have to what? Sign every copy of everything? Hundreds of pages? Seriously? Sigh. Ours is not to …

Three hours of paperwork later (after a trip to Thong Sala to get photos taken – and have awesome iced chocolates while they were developed – and to get our passports photocopied), we were mostly there. All we needed was to make a final payment the next day, because the total course fees and visa fees were more than our daily withdrawal limit.

On our last full day on Koh Phangan, we walked south along the beach to meet a friend for brunch. Smadar was in our Level 1 group at Agama Yoga in March, and is now back keeping her sister company while her sister does Level 1.

We discovered docks, and fishing boats, and a small cove that we had never seen before.
The future of this beach, as with many beaches in Thailand, is under question at the moment. Apparently, the generals in charge (there was a military coup in May) have declared that they will be enforcing a 15-metre deep “public access” strip along all beaches. Nothing can be built within 15 metres of the beach.

Not only is it not entirely clear how “the beach” is defined, but it is also unclear whether the bulldozers will go through retaining walls and other works, or only actual buildings, or only buildings without planning permission.

The uncertainty made it very difficult for us to book accommodation for our six month stay. We are going to have to do it Thai style, at the last minute.

We went to the ATM to withdraw more cash, only to discover that Tom had left the card in the machine the day before and it had been eaten. Phone calls to banks, cancelling and reissuing cards (Tom’s other card has a damaged magnetic strip, and the replacement card has not turned up at any of our Australian addresses) and organising for them to be sent to a friend in Bangkok so we can pick them up in two weeks, and using our first backup card to withdraw cash, and finally we had the money to pay for our Thai language course and student visa.

We had one final swim at Ao Srithanu at sunset, and had a early night in preparation for an early morning. Wednesday’s program was a Thai class at 8am, a song-tao-oo at 9am, a ferry at 10am, and then a bus to Surat Thani.

We have a new favourite hotel in Surat Thani, with air conditioning and hot water, and TOWEL SWANS! It is even more conveniently located than the Chic Hotel.

Ah, poor Chic Hotel, that is nine guest nights you have lost already from being full that one time we wanted to stay. It was nice while it lasted, but we have fallen in love with My Place @ Surat now. Have a nice life.