Solo Travel in Thailand: Out of My Comfort Zone, Part II
This is the second part of a three-part post. Find the first post here.
My soggy bottoms and I walked the entire length of the beach twice, looking for overnight accommodations. After an hour of wandering around aimlessly and wasting daylight, I eventually settled on my own cozy little bungalow set apart from a winding road atop a hill.
Cozy meaning it resembled a rustic cabin accompanied by histamine-triggering insects and a bathroom partially exposed to the outside elements. Rustic in the sense that the only form of technology was a television possibly recycled from a ‘70’s slasher film and a creaky old ceiling fan. After showering off the filth of my hectic commute-filled morning meets afternoon, I set out for exploration.
I stopped in a local café for my first edibles of the day and afterwards began walking the perimeter of the beach. I strolled along in awe of the most captivating natural scenery I had ever bared witness to in person. Periodically pausing to snap a couple poorly timed selfies and landscape pictures that did nothing to capture the raw beauty before me, I noticed three foreign females walking ahead towards the end of the beach. They were attempting to climb the boulders in between bouts of crashing waves. This seemed like an excellent idea so I crept up behind them and followed suit. We all made it through the jagged rock, some requiring more effort than others, and then started up the beaten path.
About five minutes into my flip-flop clad hiking adventure, I started to wonder if perhaps I had not used my best judgment. The three women I was following were trekking back to their hostel on a mysterious parallel side. Between the fear of having to walk the trail alone at night and the local man following me who I had seen urinating on a nearby tree, I decided to abort this mission and turn around.
Having created self-panic, which I do fairly often, I hurriedly tripped down the unsteady slope to safety. By the time I had escaped the wilderness and returned to the opening, the waves had become more violent. I struggled to gain my footing when without warning (disregarding the ominous grey overcast) it started to pour. I managed to make my way through the rocky knee-length whirlpool and sprint to the nearest covering which luckily happened to be a bar. Soaking wet, I ordered a beer, pulled up a stool next to a Canadian wearing a Philadelphia Phillies hat (not a fan, false advertising) and struck up conversation.
A few Heinekens later the rain subsided, and having agreed to meet later, I left to watch the spectacular Railay sun disappear behind the placid water. Since I again needed to change into dry clothes, I retreated to my bungalow to get ready for the evening. Along my walk I met two lost Americans asking me for advice on where to stay. Since I secured my accommodations in the twenty hours I had been in South Thailand, I was clearly a professional on local lodging. Once settled in they met up with me, the Canadelphian, and two sweet California sisters, one of whom was recovering from a vicious feral dog attack suffered in Koh Samui.
We lounged in a quintessential Thai-style lofted bar, sipping drinks and sharing stories before relocating to a livelier venue. I however decided it was my time to make an exit after listening to the Americans’ regurgitated tales of their meaningful parental-funded excursion. Epiphanies of life-changing experiences are difficult to take seriously when told with an alcohol-induced slur over a cloud of smoke, as are travelers in neon Chang singlets repeating “Same same, but different,” in their feeble attempt to connect with the local language.
I strategically and somewhat drunkenly snuck away and claimed a good spot on the dance floor to break out the best of my awkward body shaking moves complete with a twirling maneuver. This mating call must have been a success because instantly a shirtless beer-drenched Aussie was by my side for a duo-dance party.
We soon found ourselves night swimming in a pool directly underneath one of the limestone cliffs towering over us in the star-speckled sky. The slight chill from the water and the impressive size of the rock formation reminded me of the iceberg that took down the Titanic, for no other factor than intentionally always finding reasons to think of the famously doomed ocean liner. The Titanic is a bit of an obsession that regrettably fails whenever I try to bring it up in casual conversation, which oddly occurs more than one might expect.
After my historical reflection, the Aussie and I (I’m inclined to call him Jack, but I might be confusing it with the whiskey I was consuming while pondering sunken ships and blockbuster hits) sat on my bungalow’s front porch and chatted about everything apparently but his first name.
I woke up the next morning with only a slightly pounding headache and several fresh mosquito bites to the melodic tunes of my alarm’s guitar strumming. I haphazardly packed my bags and headed down to the waterside where I had previously purchased another longtail ticket connecting to a dock. Here I was to catch a boat more similar in stature and speed to the Titanic (see?) to further venture to the islands. I arrived on time to learn that my trip was delayed for another two hours because of the perfectly sunny and mild, yet somehow treacherous weather.
The snide young man told me to return at noon so I went back to my bungalow to nap off my impending hangover. I returned with fifteen minutes to spare and was told I had missed the boat, only literally. A couple of heated words were exchanged, but once realizing and accepting this was all an elaborate money-making scheme, I conceded my loss. Internalizing my anger I swallowed my pride, paid again and walked out waist deep into the Andaman Sea to climb onto another longtail and continue my adventure.
Photo credit: Flickr