This is before the tsunami. The fear I felt for my kind friends in Ko Phi Phi- especially Pum*- was indescribable. I had no concept of that kind of destruction. And to know what it was before...I have friends who have volunteered to clean up the island since, and each of them still finds beauty and kindness there. The Thai people are extraordinary.
* Pum has an amazing little Euro-Thai restaruant on the main path along the shoreline of Ko Phi Phi. It has an orange awning and she is a delight- please look for her and wish her well, as I don't think she gets my letters anymore.
October 5, 2002
Flight to Thailand
Last night I was so proud that two weeks of Thailand equaled only 1/3 of my Adidas duffel bag and after double and even triple checking things, I left home convinced I must have forgotten something. In flight from California to Taipai, I congratulated myself for remembering to send Gramma and Grampa their anniversary card of Rhett and Scarlett O’Hara. Then I realized I had forgotten to tell Mom or my grandparents that I was going to Thailand for two weeks.
Oops. Note to self: Must send postcard. Right.
Monday, October 14, 2002
Boatride to Phi Phi
Well, many things have happened in a few brief days, but I won’t bore you with the details- there are pictures for that. We’ve already toured ourselves around Bangkok, shopped ourselves out in Chang Mai, and partied in Phukett. Right now, I’m propped up on a huge boat headed for Phi Phi Island. The sun burns into your skin as if there’s nowhere to hide. I lean into the ocean to feel the wind.
Coming into the island looks like the dreamscape of some fantastical movie. The ocean varies from bright turquoise to deep green to a navy sea blue. The waves glide deep with power from the boatside’s seafoamy surface. Between the islands, everything opens up like a paradisiacal scene of the tropics. Greater than I could have imagined.
Now I sit beneath the shade on the shore of Phi Phi and listen to the shore’s soft swishing at my feet mix with the local bar’s CD of Robbie Williams. Longboats are speeding by, cutting through the perfectly smooth aqua blue sea. It is perfect here. Quiet, calm, peaceful- like a small community of strangers living side by side in small, square bungalows. Everyone we’ve come across is soft-spoken and friendly- quite the change from our experience running away from the city “street rats.”
Men in Thailand will congregate on the streets of the city and alleyways and try to get you to buy their suits/dresses/purses/CD’s/small wooden elephants by calling out,
“Hey, where you from?”
“Hi, hello! Talk to me!”
“You from Australia?”
“How long you here?”
and such barkings sometimes accompanied by clicking noises and always with the kind of stares that make you want to get away. Honestly, for the life of me, I cannot understand how they have come to latch on that these lines actually work. What’s worse, I have such a hard time with walking away- sometimes because I feel rude or cold, and sometimes because I can feel their desperation at attempting to sell. I can sense the same panicking grasps that I feel when I’m losing control of the customer or losing a sale I’ve been talking to for a long time.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
We chose the most horrific day to go snorkeling- right in the middle of a monsoon! It was awesome!!! The waves were so rough the rain fell so hard, that even deep beneath the surface everything was affected by the power of the storm. All life beneath the waves ebbed and flowed due to the wind and rain- it was amazing to see so many brilliant and brightly coloured fish swaying above the coral reef and purple anemones.
Thursday, October 17, 2002. 4am.
After snorkeling we ran into our Irish friends at the local bakery. Jen and Laura went home to take naps and recover. I stayed until a horrible movie came on and I couldn’t stand the violence. I lasted about 20 minutes.
When I got home, the girls were already asleep. It was 5:30pm, so I figured I’d lay down for a quick nap, even though I didn’t’ really feel tired. We woke up at midnight.
Deciding that there was no way we’d sleep again, and feeling somewhat hungry (again), we resolved to go out. Again.
Koa Phi Phi nightlife is like the spring break I never had. All those years of BYU “breaks” sitting at home, playing “games” for FHE and eating potato chips are being made up for now! The thing I like best is that here- everyone is international. It makes me feel like the world isn’t quite so big. And we’re all pretty much the same. Everyone likes music and to dance, and to meet other interesting people. It’s so much fun. It’s great that the first question anyone asks anybody is not, “What’s your name?” but “Where are you from?” I love it here. Paradise beach by day, party extraordinaire at night. Love, love, love it.