It’s not all bad here, you know. After going on about the lack of sociable people here, and there certainly is a lack, bunch of stony-faced overtanned boring so-and-so’s, I’m finding it curiously difficult to up sticks and move on to Cambodia. This despite the non-party atmosphere and the constant state of damp sand-encrustedness I have found myself and all of my possessions in (I washed my socks five days ago and they still haven’t dried, and everything feels gritty now, including my bedclothes, which is funny as Simon actually paid for our exfoliating back scrubs in Shanghai and I’m getting mine for free in bed every night). Michael and Carla who I’ve been spending some time with have been doing a great job of keeping me sane.
I hired a motorbike (well, scooter) today to take a ride around the island, while the other residents sat on the beach in their bikinis and shorts hoping for the sun to come out, despite it being the rainy season. After nearly driving it into the sea I got to grips with the throttle, and took myself off round the muggy, thickly wooded hills of Koh Chang. I stopped for lunch in the village of Ban Bang Bao, a fishing village existing almost entirely on a jetty poking out into the water. Ban Bang Bao, much like the rest of the island, had a slightly depressed off-season feel to it, as if to say “Why weren’t you here two months ago when the sun was out? Oh sod yer, do what you like”. Nevertheless I was able to grab lunch in a waterside restaurant accompanied by a gigantic sweaty white guy and his tiny Thai girlfriend, and a cat with massive gonads that miaowed incessantly through my fried shrimps and steamed rice.
Moving on from Ban Bang Bao, I rode to the end of the road on the South side of the island, where I reached a very plush looking holiday resort with a big Stop sign to prevent through traffic. I was thinking of being pushy and demanding access, then decided I couldn’t be bothered, so I rode back towards Lonely Beach, dodging several dogs and a macaque I suspected of being more than up for taking me off my bike and eating my face or stealing my camera. I stopped briefly on the way back at a place that promoted ‘Real Coffee’, having survived on Nescafe coffee-flavoured gloop for the past few days. Breezily I said to the proprietor, a white guy with an attractive Thai wife, “I saw your sign said ‘Real Coffee’, and thought it sounded too good to pass up!”
“Eh?” he says in a stern German accent.
“I saw your sign said ‘Real Coffee’, and [sighs] in there, is it?”
“Yes. Go inside.”
Feeling like I’d been ordered to, I went inside and had a cup of something that reminded me of real coffee while not being remotely like it. Feeling flustered at this, I paid and went back outside to the bike, which I promptly overaccelerated straight into the middle of the road, fortunately not in front of anything.
So despite all of this, I’ve been looking moderately cool in a crash helmet and shades, riding the open road like Boon in some tropical island special Christmas episode, and I’ve ended the active part of my day by eating dragonfruit in a hammock, which has to be a good thing in anybody’s book. Unless you don’t like dragonfruit. Or hammocks.