Friday, October 06, 2006

A Koh Samui Near Death, Life, And A Floating Soccer Ball

Posted by PicasaThis ball is in tatters. This is an Indonesian boy with a toy in his hands. This is not a wealthy boy. This is a boy with a soccer ball and probably not much else. May he get many hours of enjoyment and heroic goal-scoring out of it. He seems like a nice boy. He deserves to be a winner.

What is not new and shiny is nonetheless a valuable thing. This ball may not make the FIFA circuit, but there are stories to go with this ball. This ball has rolled places. This ball has probably raised more arms in elation than your favorite toy. This ball has air miles worth a trip to Venus. This ball represents the dreams and ululations of many a small child...

Or else it's my goddamn
long-lost soccer ball washed up after all these years...

I was looking at a googled site-- about a place I will never forget, and never go back to. This is what Koh Samui has become in my short lifetime. Another tourist trap "resort" with no magic and all the trappings. A new airport. New resorts with pools that have swim up bars and concrete all over the beaches. Noise and drunks and rental scooters and too much drama. When left to our own devices, this is what we humans deem "enjoyment" and a "vacation paradise".


Yes, I just spit in my Mum's office. I couldn't help it. I get so worked up...

Always the pragmatist, I do realize the benefits to Thai society and the taxes this type of place will collect and the added foreign income to be generated and so on and so forth. I mean, I KNOW why it happens. I just hate that it does.

I spent two months and a few weeks on Koh Samui in about 1983. It was teetering on the edge, then, as word of mouth was spreading and the torrential tourist onslaught was being held back by a lack of infrastructure and logistics. You could feel the swell of a lump in the fabric of places, but it was just a feeling then, not actually a lump.

The day I arrived was the first time in my life I had ever uttered the words "fucking paradise" out loud to anyone, and since then the last. When you sat your butt down on Lamai beach and listened to the lightly lapping waves, you were on vacation. Not only that, you KNEW you were in for a vacation. There were a few huts built above the high tide marks lining the beach. There were spaces in between. Everything was built of coconut wood with thatched roofs. It seemed like the local boys had all been put to work making and building up what was once a simple and beautiful coconut island.

The hippies had been coming here for years. The sixties and seventies must have been amazing here. Just a few huts on a paradisaical island with very little outside world interference. Some huts knocked up on stilts and roofed with coconut fronds. The balmy weather. HUGE amounts of Thai Stick to smoke and nothing but the view and a navel to contemplate. Maybe today would be the day you combed your hair?

Maybe not.

Koh Samui, man. Can you dig it?

OK. If I take it that far, I realize that paradise was lost on a bunch of stoner escapists who took in the magnificence and feel of Koh Samui the way someone like Newt Gingrich or Michael Moore takes in a Big Mac. It just gets by them and drops to the bowels in a hurry.

Not a pretty picture.

But Koh Samui was absolutely beautiful on the day I arrived. Young boys hung out the back of brightly colored pick-ups yelling out the name of the two main beaches as you got off the simple ferry and blinked your eyes and realized that you had landed ashore of a place that had not quite caught up with everything you already thought you knew.

"Lamai Lamai Lamai!" one youth chanted.

"Chewang Chewang Chewang!" another tried.

Funny how a word spoken three times fast can dictate your whole experience for the next couple months of your life. "Chewang!" did nothing for me. But "Lamai"... the words were like a call from the inner self. I listened. I was compelled to the back of a small pick-up with bench seats lining both sides of a canopied back end. I got in without question. I was going to where they sang "Lamai Lamai Lamai..."

I had no idea where I was going, but it sure sounded pretty.

Two other Americans were in the taxi with me. They were both big guys. This annoyed me. I was fighting for leg space I normally owned on my own. Both turned out to be New Yorkers. One was my age, young, and looked like David Duchovney, only before the X-files even existed. The other was a square jawed, good looking guy named "Rev" who looked like a cop and turned out to be an ex-cop running from his demons. He had been here for a month and had just taken a lady to the mainland because they weren't getting along.

"Marina Villa" was his answer to the question the other New Yorker and I were thinking.

"Novy's a doll and they got the greatest banana pancakes I ever tasted. And I went to Nam."

Marina Villa was as good an answer as we both needed. When the taxi pulled into Marina Villa, we all unfolded our legs and climbed out, blinking our eyes again and staring at the sandy spectacle we had unloaded into. A restaurant on a slab, covered in wood framing and palm fronds. To our left were ten by ten "huts" on stilts-- our "rooms". Each had a bed, a fan, and a toilet that probably only went to a hole in the ground. But the toilets had a trap, and they did flush, and there was a cold water shower. All this for about a buck twenty five a day. A dollar if you negotiated with Novy and promised to stay awhile.

I wanted to stay a long while, is what I was thinking.



Novy turnd out to be a small Phillapina woman in her late thirties. She had a head the size of an American child, was my first thought about her. A small head. A tiny face. A small lady with a cute personality that bordered on a firecracker.

Her English was good. As it turned out, she had four years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area under her belt. This got me my one dollar room rate right away. We knew the same places far away. And Rev put in a good word for me and David-- the other New Yorker-- as if we had done more than just knock knees in the back of a crowded truck for twenty minutes.

Novy gave me a bungalow that faced the restaurant and the beach from its tiny front porch. It was the second best bungalow position she had, after the one Rev occupied. She invited me into the restaurant for a chat about the Bay Area and offered me food from her family's table. I don't know how, but I had become one of the "in" guests, in a manner of hours. Well, actually, I do know how. Novy was a bit lonely, married to a Thai gentleman who loved to gamble on cock fights and water buffalo fights and all manner of card games, and she was eager to find a friend with commonalities that were worth talking about. We basically just hit it off at the get go, and I was young and eager to hear about everything someone had to share with me. That's a good combination. A talker and a listener. That kind of verbal dance gets seldomly stepped on. That's a combination I found worked well towards enhancing one's own PDL. People like you when you are interested in THEM. Your luck improves dramatically when people like you.

It's a case of simple logic, really.

Lamai beach was a post card in person. You felt like you were walking inside a post card, all day and all night. You were part of the picturesque nature of what others would see, if they were to check their mail and find you in it.

"Hi Folks.

Here I am. Having an amazing time on this beach with these other folks just walking around in awe and peaceful spirits. Glad y'all aren't here to muck it up..."

Teehee. You felt like that. SPECIAL. Like you were taking part in a secret unfolding of time and you wanted it to be yours and not everybody's. If it were everybody's, then it would no longer be yours. Not only that, everybody would surely ruin it, as has been demonstrated by the fact that everybody eventually did.

But in 1983, you were still part of the special ones who had got there in time.



Lamai beach was long enough to jog from end to end as a young man and return to Marina Villa in the middle tired and ready to eat. You didn't want to go too early, because part of the reason for jogging the beach was to check out the girls scattered about reading and swimming and guy-watching and rubbing oils on exposed body parts. This is what made you hold your gut in and your shoulders back and it was good for a young guy to have to do these things. It kept you fit and gave you purpose. It was also a good opportunity to check out the other small bungalow establishments that had been built along the beach, and their restaurants, and their accomodations.

In 1983, some of the "accomodations" were still just A-framed leantos as if an enormous episode of "Survivor" had been made here and this was the best they all could do. As you looked into them from the beach when their doors were open--which was almost always because they were so small, like tiny lofts, really--you often saw the remnants of what was here before I got here. Long haired and smelly looking guys and gals with Batik sarongs from Bali wrapped around them while they made beaded necklaces and bracelets to sell so they could eat and stay a little longer. I often wondered where it would end for these folks. Back home trying to refit themselves into the city they came from? Or in a Thai jail, for drugs were a second trade many of them traded in?

They would always nod their heads if I waved, because their hands always seemed to be busy doing something in their laps as they stared out into the beautiful sea.

After running it was a quick, cold shower (Oh those girls!) and a saunter into the restaurant where I ordered the same thing. Eggs and toast and banana pancakes with strong Thai coffee. Different days would find me eating alone or with different people. Rev would come in full of energy and give me his scouting report and then ask for mine. Now Rev was probably in his mid-forties then, though he was youthful and fit and had one of those mustaches that make one LOOK like a cop, and I was in my early twenties. My assumption was, what I scouted and what he should have been scouting were two different animals altogether. Not so with Rev. If they were legal they went on the report.

"Three French girls with only one guy four doors down."

"And a big pair of loose tatas down by the rock. Hard to say if they're real but I'd love to find out."

That was Rev's morning scouting report. The man was on a mission of Dog.

David would join me sometimes, as well. He was the other New Yorker who looked like David Duchovney. I didn't notice the resemblance then, because the X-files were yet to air. But David looked like David. Except his hair was curly.

He was more of a conversationalist than Rev. I found out he had saved his money for this round-the-world trip by working on the water taxis in New York City. If you are from NY, you know what I am talking about. The boats that take people from restaurant to bar to night club to where ever, all on the water during the warmer months. David said the tips were amazing and the women were big city classy and superbly dressed, and as a young man just out of high school, you couldn't ask for a better job and I agreed with him. I found out he was from Long Island and that he had been studying Japanese in his spare time and was heading to Japan to work and hang out next, and that he had learned to surf in Bali. David always seemed a bit more organized and well thought out than I ever was, and he was always planning ahead, though he knew how to enjoy the moment with due diligence and a beer, and had a way with the locals who worked the restaurants and cleaned the rooms and was often seen getting a young Thai girl who cooked for Novy red in the face.

The sea that fronted Lamai was a mellow one under most conditions. The waves that came in were small swells that gently lifted the body as you relaxed in its warmth and set you back down. You could swim within the breakers and not hardly notice. You could make out with a girl without losing the romantic moments fighting currents or rogue waves. At night it would be even calmer, as there was no wind to stir the surface. On the nights where there was a small set of waves washing in, you could go to the waters edge and see tiny, blue phosphorescent "stars" that had been deposited by the waves as they lapped in and retreated. These were small jelly-fish that were harmless but that glowed an amazing cobalt blue on the sand and mirrored the stars in the night sky in an eerie and elegant fashion. Koh Samui was an island without much electric power, so in its darkness there was the sky, and mirrored beneath, the blue phosphorescent jelly fish, and the moon and the sound of lapping waves and no cares in the world and people dropping off all their gear and taking a skinny dip and restaurants offering amazing seafood dishes for a dollar and if you had just gotten there before the storm of tourists, you would have felt the magic like no other magic and you would have rolled the memory tapes in your head and tried to hold on to every moment of it.

And twenty three years later, I am sure glad I did.


IV. In 1983 on Koh Samui, I would have to say the balance of tourists and empty spaces was just about right. The fact that young people from around the world were congregating here made it interesting and gave the place texture and depth and a level of entertainment a beach alone could not. I have sat on beaches, for example, up in Queensland where you would never expect to see another living soul. For about an hour, you feel the wonderfulness of isolation and it soaks into your mind like a heat and then intensifies and makes you want to go seek shelter from it.

People need people. We need to share in our moments and have the reflectivity of our places in the universe presented to us to make us feel more comfortable and whole. So having a heavenly paradise populated by an odd and eclectic mix of people made Koh Samui all the more paradisaical to a young man like myself, and the days spent there more memorable and life affirming.

Rev had brought back a volleyball net and a ball he purchased on his last venture to Bangkok. He had physically traded a relationship in for another stab at his youth, as apparently, he had been a collegiate volleyball player before joining the army voluntarily and seeing the last year of the Vietnam War first hand. He set the net up between two coconut trees, and we began to play everyday in the later afternoons. Our lines were drawn in the sand with our feet. Our play was serious and athletic. Eventually, Rev, David, myself and a wonderfully tall Swede from Seattle formed an "American Elite" team, and we put the word out that we challenged all comers, with beer being the incentive to win and the only stipulation was that your team had to be from a single country, but you could have as many people on the court as you wanted. The four of us would take on as many of you as you could find.

This proved to be a good way to get free beer. We were consistent winners, and our reputation started to affect the amount of "takers" that were left on the island. A new group of Aussie guys had got wind of the challenge and in Aussie fashion, had come up with a plan. They brought SIXTEEN blokes along to challenge the four of us. Their thinking was that they could cover every inch of their court and run us ragged.

They brought four cases of beer with them and we went out and matched it by begging Novy to sell us some from her storage and the challenge was on. If you were on Koh Samui in November of 1983, I would bet--unless you were one of the "mushroom people"-- that you heard about this game. Lots of people came to watch.

The Aussies that showed up were a pretty athletic bunch themselves. They lacked our height, but they had way more arms and legs in the mix and it was looking like we were going to get our butts beat. We huddled up. What were we to do?

Rev started talking volleyball strategy. Our tall guy Eric, who was 6-10, was to roam the net like a stalker and I was to pair with him and set for him as much as I could. Rev and David would do the digging and....

I told Rev to shut his angry ass New York mouth up and listen. I had a better plan.

"These are Aussies, right? And we have eight cases of beer..."

You can see where this is going if you've ever been around a bunch of young Australian males.

What we did was this. We decided to go best three out of five. This would give us enough time for the plan to sink in. Before the game even started, the four of us took out four bottles of beer and opened them, then raised them to the Aussie boys and wished them all the best in the match etc... etc...

And of course, this led to the sixteen of them opening up a case and polishing most of it off by sheer number alone. Sixteen beers, down the hatch. Before we had even started.

And of course the four of us were tonguing our beers. We had no chance of winning if we were getting buzzed, and the plan was to get the Aussie boys buzzing along enough to make their sheer numbers work against them.

The first game went predictable enough. We got trounced. The points we scored were from near perfect sets and Eric hitting near perfect slamma jammas. Otherwise, we couldn't get past their defenses. There were thirty two athletic hands waving around covering all corners of their little sandlot, and we had only eight. We had holes that they could find. They were running us around to tire us out. They too, had a plan.

After winning the first game handedly, they all celebrated with a beer. Some of them even cracked another and you could see the eyes of those who weren't on their thirds looking into the cases and thinking about their share. As the second game got underway, most of the boys on the Aussie side were into or finished with their third beer, and I went over and opened up another case of ours as if to say "help yourselves"...

We lost this game too, but by only a few points.

And then more beer went around. And our plan was sinking in to their overheating brains and beginning to take effect.

Game three went our way by two points. We were winning by their mistakes. The crowded nature of their team was starting to wreak havoc as they collided or let the ball fall between them.

"I thought you had it."

"I thought YOU had it."

"Bloody 'ell..."

More beer was ingested and games four and five were a mess. Some of the Aussie boys started pointing fingers and blaming others. A few fights almost broke out. A third of the team opted to sit out and headed over and opened more beer. This led the remaining boys no choice but to keep up, and we won handedly and in fine, egotistical fashion. No point in just winning when you could rub it in...

"Get your grubby hands off our beer, boys!"

"And where the hell is the rest of it?"



In 1983, Koh Samui had been around long enough to have established some patterns for itself. By that I mean, there was a level of expectation about how things were going to play out on a daily basis. Bungalow owners knew the ebb and flow of guests' rates. They knew how many people to hire and what needed to be done to keep their places looking clean and inviting. Guests took a day or two to settle in, then had their favorites on the menu memorized, with pronunciations worked out, and ready to be ordered. People knew there were ganja-cookies behind the counter if you wanted one, they knew how far to walk to find another restaurant serving some amazing seafood dish they learned to love, or where to go to see a video movie played in the evenings. There was not really much to learn on Koh Samui as far as getting along and being involved back in 1983. And you had all day to pick up the little bits and pieces as they hopped from mind to mind during conversations that were as relaxed as cats on window ledges...

Two weeks into my stay on Koh Samui, my curious nature got me asking Novy for one of them "funny cookies".

It made me hungry, so I ordered an afternoon banana pancake and then another funny cookie. I didn't really think one had had any effect on me.

I woke up about six hours later when the tide was pouring in over my head. Apparently, I had walked out to the beach and had a bit of a nap. High tide had arrived and the act of coughing out sea water had sent me groggily back to my bungalow, where, I slept throughout the night. THC equals sleep for me, and in many ways, I am thankful. I never had to get into any of those really long and silly conversations about the existence of amazingness within nothingness while sharing a bong with a buddy...

There was an undercurrent, back then, of mushrooms as well. The kind that make your eyes play tricks on you and your mind feel kinetically sealed within its own pinging bounderies like a trapped hive of thoughts lacking escape routes. (How's that for a description of "frying"?)

There was a day on the beach on my second visit back to Koh Samui in 1985, when a French guy came up to me with his eyes wide and his heart racing and he was speaking to me in French at a kilometer a minute and his hands were gesticulating twice that fast and I could do nothing but wait out his ramblings and at the appropriate moment between his breathing simply ask "What?"

He seemed to recognize this and screwed up his face and concentrated all of his thoughts and looked me in the eyes with a pleading, confused stare; and out of his mouth came an English word he had found while sifting through his scrambled brain like he was rumaging through a pack-rat's attic, the word not very comfortable on his lips and badly mispronounced, but clear enough and quite distressing...

He said-- "Help."

I looked around. How was I to help him, when I didn't speak French and this was the best he could do? I ran away from him, leaving him cursing me in French and went into the restaurant and found a woman I had just met from Switzerland named Ann-- who taught languages-- and got her out to the Frenchman whose name turned out to be Triston and got Ann to figure out what the problem was while Triston had curled himself up into a fetal ball after I had run from him. It was coaxed out of him that he had taken mushrooms and had doubled the recommended "dose", and they weren't agreeing with him whatsoever. In fact, they were arguing with him like trailer park drunks and he had nowhere to run from himself while they did. Ann told me this as she went back and forth from soothing French to matter of fact English. I remember thinking how gosh dern sexy that was while poor Triston seemed to want to breath his last breath and Ann kept the conversation going to try and keep him calm.

I got sent on a mission to try and find a solution to Triston's condition, and I went to Novy who seemed to be a know-all type of gal. She gave me a coconut with a straw in it, and told me to get Triston to drink all of the milk from inside the coconut. Something about enzymes and antidotes and when in Rome...

It turns out, I liked triston better when he was doubled over in hallucenogenic convolutions. Sober, he was a pain in the ass. Everything to Triston was "Stupid" in English.

"They are so STUPID."

"It is so STUPID"

"She was so STUPID."

"Ahhh! That is so STUPID."

Triston wore out my welcome by being stupid...

Ann turned out to be quite a lady. As a young man, I thoroughly enjoyed being grammatically schooled in things I had not yet encountered. Dipthongs and gerunds after dinner under a full moon...




All was not always perfect in this land of beach and sand and quiet calm and foreign girls in tiny swimsuits and Thai cuisine straight from the ocean and banana pancakes to die for.

No. Not perfect at all.

Like all good things, there was always the detractor whose presence was a blight on what would otherwise have been considered idyllic.

The Lizard Man.

Yes, that is right. On Koh Samui in 1983 we too had a Lizard Man and he liked to do Tai Chi in front of the restaurant in the mornings about the time I would come in for my meal after my run, and this led eventually to a confrontation of which I am very proud of, and the Thai girls who worked in the kitchen all approved and giggled and took extra special care with my banana pancakes from there on out.

Ever run across a really skinny blonde dude, old as in almost fifty or older, who insists on spending every moment possible out in the sun trying to connect the wrinkled, leathery freckles he calls skin into something the rest of us call a suntan?

That's a Lizard Man. And on Koh Samui in 1983, in late November going into December, this guy wore a pink banana holster G-string thingy and nothing else. And then he had the audacity to do deep knee bend-overs and all sorts of really unenjoyable visual activities right in front of me before I had had a full cup of coffee and while I was trying to eat.

Imagine that!

His ass was as freckly and wrinkled as the rest of him. His triceps hung down in strands off the backs of his arms, and the stretch marks were visible in many places where he had obviously lost a ton of weight at one point.

His "holster" was a bright pink and looked hand made. Lord help me if he stitched the thing himself!

After a couple of weeks of shaking my head and hearing the names the Thai employees used (lizard, being one) against this guy, I had had enough. There are times in a life when you just have to say something, and as I grew older, those times came quicker and quicker. I mean, who needs to look at THAT when you are trying to eat?

I got up and walked to the edge of the restaurant and yelled something like "Hey Mr. Pink Banana sack! Yeah, you with the wrinkled ass! You got any idea what we're going through in here watching you exercise in that get up while we are trying to eat?"

The guy turned toward me and subconciously covered his pink groin-doiley with his hands like he had suddenly just developed a bit of modesty.

"I mean, holy crap, man. You aren't a very pretty picture to begin with! Why on earth would you think we would want this Show every morning while we're trying to enjoy our food? Huh? HUH?"

(You always have to double "huh" in these situations, so that the person you are confronting knows you are done being pissy, and are looking for a response.)

"I didn't realize I was offending anybody." Lizard Man said politely. "I am sorry if I offended you."

Well, now... huff huff... I mean... er... uh...

"Well you are. And not just me, either. Those girls (I pointed to the young Thai girls who worked the kitchen) are totally grossed out by your butt being in the window everyday. Can't you just go find a quiet little coconut grove to do all that bending over in?"

"I can."

"Well, thank you. We would all appreciate it."

"You're welcome. And thank you for letting me know I was a problem."

"Not a problem."

"Would behind the bungalows be exceptable to you?"

"Uh, sure. That would be fine. Anywhere but where we have to look at you everyday while we eat."

"I understand. Thank you again for bringing this to my attention. I was completely unaware of my affect on you."

"Well, it wasn't just me, you know... Other people said stuff too. They just didn't tell you. And that's probably far enough right over there..."

He walked away tall and proud and leathery and skanky looking and disappeared behind my bungalow as I finally stopped trying to make him feel less like I had originally wanted.

Novy came out and patted my butt from behind and said something like "Way to go, sailor!"

I went back and sat down and enjoyed my banana pancakes with renewed delirium and drank my muddy coffee like it was from Seattle.

I had accomplished alot for a Koh Samui day. I was on a roll...



Intellectually, Koh Samui ranked up there with Harvard and Yale. I am sure of it. Well, at least in 1983 it did. I read Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" and "V" there. I read Joyce's "Ulysses" and Saul Belllow and John Updike and had another run at "Lolita" by shake and cough.

Lolita. Light of my life. Fire of my loins...

All while splaying my toes in the white sand and leaning up against an embankment I had carved a seat into because I had once been a kid and learned about comfort in the wild by making forts and carving out my place in them.

And everybody knew it was my seat too. That was where Scott came to read and look at boobies. It was just an unspoken thing among the guests that came and went while I stayed on like a friend of the family's, pouring through book after book and watching boobie after boobie after boobie bounce amongst the shining seas...

Did I tell you that I was in Heaven?

I was.

And others were intellectual as well. I mean, while drinking coffee and wolfing down a stack of banana pancakes in the late mornings, things were said. Converations were had. Arguments were brought to the fore and were discussed like the great intellects of yore and with the same passion and perspicacity.

"There is NO WAY there are more beautiful girls in Gottenburg, Sweden, per capita than anywhere else. Don't you know about the 10 percent rule?"

That would have been my input into the discussion.

"Dude. Ya gotta go there. I am telling you, man, there are more beautiful girls in Gottenburg Sweden, than in any place in the world. It is uncanny. They are everywhere."

That would have been David's brilliant retort.

"No way, man. Every place on earth falls under the ten percent rule. Ten percent of girls are ugly. You can't help them. And ten percent are beautiful. All the rest fall somewhere in between. It is a natural law like buttered toast or that Murphy fella. And it can't be broken just because you say so."

"Dude. I don't care about any natural law you just made up. I went back to Sweden with my mother, and in Gottenburg, there are so many beautiful girls you feel like popping. You can hardly hang."

Intellectually, he had personal experience on his side. But I was undaunted.

"Nope." I shook my head to accentuate the point. "Ain't buyin' it a bit."

Now the reason I am telling you this tale, which seems almost trite and going nowhere, is because just then, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL I HAVE EVER SEEN IN PERSON walked into the restaurant accompanied by her not so beautiful boyfriend, and David and I stopped with the deep thoughts immediately. Our minds had been lifted and separated from our wranglings in an explosion of stunning beauty. Our minds had been temporarily cleared like a dynamited mine shaft, and man oh man! We were on a different plane altogether.

Holy Cow.

The guy was seeking information, but his English and the girl's English were causing them trouble. They were looking for someone to translate some medical information on the phone. They were just wondering if either David or I could help them.

David had to ask, too. The girl was just too beautiful to not engage in small talk with. She had a 5-9 frame, a golden tan, perfectly balanced and well formed tips on her ears, and the bluest eyes you could ever want in a sea...

She was a Playboy centerfold waiting to sign on the dotted line and strip off the two piece she wore. She was a Goddess waiting to die and go where Goddesses go. She was HOT in ways that caused mercury to dance around in silver balls on a table top. Am I making myself clear? She was all that and more. Plus she spoke English with an accent which just kills me.

And David had to ask...

"Where you from?"

"Gottenburg, Sweden... You know it?"

"Yes." we said. "We do."



The island of Koh Samui was just hilly enough to have presence on the horizon. You weren't looking at King Kong's lair when you approached it by boat, but you weren't looking at a quarter on a blue table cloth either. In 1983, there was one circular road that circumnavigated the perimeter of the island, staying just inland enough to not get any crabs walking across it, and just close enough to the water's edge to service the many little beach bungalow enclaves that had sprang up over the course of a few decades. There was a small "town" on the island, where one could go get a shave and buy medicinals and check into the post office and not much else.

Perhaps grab a meal or buy some trinkets. Or watch the people getting off the ferry.

The only time I went in to town, I got my throat slit.

After that, I took a taxi back to the tranquility of the bungalows, my shirt stained in my own blood, my spirits frozen in the giddiness of a super duper holiday special, and (probably) ordered a banana pancake. I just couldn't get enough of them in those days.

"No, Novy. He didn't try to kill me."

It looks like he went for the "yugu"lar.

"He might have. But I lived."

"Was he drinking?"

"No. But I think I made him nervous."

"That is one crazy slip."

"Yes. Crazy alright."

As November passed, I had been on the island a month. I had my habits. I had my favorite foods. I had my jogging ritual, my reading ritual, my volleyball ritual, and my late evening card game ritual all in order. There were seventeen unimpeded hours in my day, and I filled them up with swimming, eating, talking, reading, eating, playing cards and eating, and other stuff. The other seven hours I mostly slept.

The cut I recieved healed rather quickly, and was not the topic of conversation it had been, the first two days after it happened. People were coming and going, things were in flux all the time, and a slit throat was just part of the mix.

The guy that cut it had done a really good job with my unruly hair already. He had ascertained that I was cowlick bound and in need of choppy locks, and he had navigated the cleft in my chin with an alacritous focus.

But then there was that one little problem with that one little hair that kept bending over for his strop razor...

He tried to get it several times. And in the end, he sliced the hell out of my throat and I bled all over him.



Novy came and got David and I two weeks into December and asked if we'd look at something. We both followed her out to where her sandy driveway began heading out to the road that circled Koh Samui. Parked out there, was an old military jeep looking like better days were behind it.

"I just bought it. I'm thinking I can rent it out..."

David and I looked the thing over and thought about this. Rent it out. Hmmm.

"How does it run?"

"Oh, good," said Novy. "At least my husband says so. You guys wanna check it out for me? You can be my first renters, for free."

"Is there gas in it?"

"Yes, I just filled it."

"Better pack us a lunch, Novy."

"Oh, you boys are just plain trouble."

Novy had one of her girls pack us a lunch and David and I rented the very first jeep rented on Koh Samui that I am aware of. And we did it for free. How is that for PDL?

We circumnavigated the island and looked into its nooks and crannies. We saw nookies and craniums everywhere, and found a few wanting to decorate our jeep with bright bikini colors. We turned inland and followed some of the dirt tracks toward some of the more elevated parts of the island and we tried out the climbing capabilities of the jeep and got it frame hung in some ruts and were stuck in the middle of nowhere with three girls we didn't know whining about getting back to the beach and two packed lunches.

We had no jack and no rope and no tools. No phone and no voice loud enough to carry. We had five people, three of them unknown quantities, and we had a jeep sitting down hard on its frame with its wheels deep in erosion grooves I had suggested to David that he stay out of.

Luckily, those old army jeeps aren't very heavy.

The solution to our dilemma (how not to share our lunch) was to pick the jeep up and set junk under the wheels. We needed volunteers for this and we got them.

"Look, if you girls want to get back to the beach, you're gonna have to help" was enough of an incentive to get two girls helping David and I on a back corner and one girl shoving rocks underneath the space we created beneath a wheel.

Before long, David and I had three dirty girls sitting in the back of a jeep, our lunch still intact, and were heading dwonhill toward the beaches once again.

Little did I know that this jeep was a precursor for things to come. With this jeep, came bunjee jumping and screaming, noisy rental motorcycles and an upsurge in repairing road rasberries at the local clinic. This jeep was an ominous sign that I missed at the time, because I was looking into nooks and crannies. The big picture and the future were still out of my sight, like old age, The Tennesee Titans, and Oregon...



Flat Coke and Flies said...

Come on, tell us the rest!!! You are making me wanna go there....

Anonymous said...

It sounds wonderful. As I said before, somewhere in all of this is a book, and a good one at that. Keep it up. I need the entertainment! Heheheh.


Flat Coke and Flies said...

I guess I am impatient...why should I unpack my bag and not go here ASAP?

Flat Coke and Flies said...

I've got a mental picture of hot, sweaty, tan, "Top Gun" Maverick & Goose guys on the beach...keep going!!

Since I haven't read your entire blog yet...why were you in Thailand? Are you military?

Scott from Oregon said...

Well, Miss Fries. No military for me. If you wanna see the world, lord knows you don't want to be beholden to Uncle Sammy or any other uncle for that matter.

Like Descartes, I had a revelation when young. I thought, "I think, therefore, I am outta here!"

The rest, as they say, are my contrails...

Nikky said...

What I wanna know is when the heck are you going to write a book? I love your writing, I really think you should consider it!!

Scott from Oregon said...

Well, just Nik, if I keep this thing going until I am all told out, it is gonna have the length of a Hemingway or a Vonnegut...

Nikky said...

Nothing wrong with that!
(there is definately something wrong with a Lizard Man during breakfast tho, nice of you to clear the area of creepy things! ewww!)

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Wonderful tales! I'm really loving it. Please keep it up. It's helping me keep my mind off an impending surgery. I can dream that after the surgery I can find this heavenly place you are talking about. I can feel the sand between my toes.


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The first chase sequence in the streets of Bangkok suffers an event flow break. When the container truck carrying both elephants finally manages to break free from traffic,sportsbook the next shot shows Kham giving up the chase though it wasn’t possible for him to know this. This flaw heralds a series of other event flow and logic flaws in the movie. Now how does Kham locate the elephants, he seeks out an old woman who performs an oracle ritual. This oracle ritual is interesting; the oracle woman is seen dowsing using a pendulum while doing a dance to locate the elephants.

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