It's travel day and travel with anyone is challenging; add 12 solid days together with a family member, and it would test the finest relationship, let alone a loving mother and daughter. Self reminder: don't kill her off yet as you will surely perish. She knows that I know that she knows only she can keep me alive.
The flight to Ko Samao was quick but arranging the bus to the subsequent ferry was more challenging. You know when you are being taken, by choosing the first desk you come to because you are in a very big hurry and they tell you there are only two more seats and of course you are traveling in pairs. Bloody hell, I know they are taking advantage of us but we pay. And we did get the ferry so whatever, eh? It's just money!
While we wait for the ferry, I notice that the scenery is spectacular and all sunsetty; it reminds me of Greece. The drawback is, the nearby island has just celebrated their Full Moon Party, (an excuse to party and puke) and while we hoped they would all be too hungover to travel, the Night of Living Dead has become our reality and they are all lined up in various methods of drunkdom. Seriously, some are incapable of walking so they are flung over their friend's shoulder, they must push themselves because there is another Drunken Party walk / Pub Crawl on the next island that is calling them. Oh, it's going to be a long ferry ride. They are all in their 20s and exactly what you don't want your young adults to resemble; the great unwashed, hippies, pants off their commando butts to make a plumber proud, and commando because they would have to do laundry...yes, I know I'm coming off not as the cool mom but a tad judgmental. The ride is rough and I should be puking along side of them but my mind is hellbent on being in top form to rush off the ferry and get the best accommodations before these zombies; I did not have to hurry. I wanted a bungalow on the beach with air conditioning, a luxury none of these travelers would be blessed with, something I should have been more sympathetic about.
The first dive company to overpower us also offered accommodations as they are each affiliated with different places to stay. It was 1000 baht- holy cow, that's alot ($30) and the places sucked. Finally settled on one that was fine, and the mattress was again, petrified stone, the bathroom is dripping, but the AC rocks. Sadly, we are a few hours short of signing up for the open water dive and the mood is low. She rested and I went for a long walk in the dark up endless hills, down thru poverty covered streets, dark roads and full feeling of safety. A young couple of store owners were killing time and one piped up, "How old you". I overestimated a tad for the shock value and said, I'm almost 60 and they both whispered frantically and smiled. I have no idea what that was about but I'm hoping they were thinking how well preserved I was. And the day ended.
Hopefully tomorrow will be a Fun Dive. Poor daughter, no dive, and almost no communication with dad or sister. Traveling lonely sucks.
After a relatively early start, once we realized there was no WiFi as promised, we checked out a day early and funny how they are so welcoming when you arrive for two days but leaving early, "don't waste their their time". Whatever, I get it, but no WiFi, no money. We cabbed to the next town over and checked out three properties and finally settled on the most expensive one, on our own beach with the waves crashing. FINALLY! Why didn't I do this 2 weeks earlier instead of doing the hippy bum thing and saving money.
While she rested from another long night of deserting me and partying, I went into the water and counted my blessings. It looked like the water's edge was full of seaweed but actually, it was a massive school of fish and every time you walk through them, they part and circle around. As I was just present, with only my head above water, the strangest phenomenon happened. All the fish, simultaneously stood on their fins and jumped or flew out of the water towards me as if to attack. Imagine 1000s of tiny killer goldfish attacking you - it was hilarious and spectacular and surreal.
It was right up there with the bio-luminescence of British Columbia. Simply stunning.
Now here is where things get dicey. The really nice dive shop signed us up the previous day. After talking with many shops, they all agreed, if I have gone diving in the last year or two, I probably don't need the refresher...it's about 1000 baht....( I keep getting caught up in the number of zeros and I think, no way, I can't afford that- $30 to save my life. I'm a terrible scuba diver). This company however says within 6 months so I bold face lie and pay just the dive fee. Once back at the room, later that night, I remember I had taken a picture of the details of my last dive. It was four years ago. I was dripping with panic. I have forgotten everything. When we arrived though, they said, if I wanted to just sit in on the course to be with my daughter, it was no problem. OH THANK GOD! Unfortunately, the scrawny English speaking dive instructor was constantly referring to me, Mama, for the right answers and I just didn't have them. I don't do well on the spot so I fell back on, "we don't use that sign in Canada". He rolled his eyes, pretended he believed me and explained it anyway. It was very nerve wracking trying to appear knowledgeable and save $30. So not worth it. Funny thing was, like riding a bike, once you enter the water, it all comes back.
We killed time by walking back to our previous town and shopping, then eating, what else... the same damn thing I've eaten for 17 days.. rice or noodles with our new diving friends. We got outfitted, crammed my body in a wet suit...a truly humiliating experience beside all the bikini clad 20 somethings putting on their sexy second skins. I hate them all. :) They nimbly leapt into the Dragontail boat and I clumsily did the whale asking permission to beach on the boat thing. Off that boat onto the larger dive boat to find the only spot left in the Gulf of Thailand that isn't infested with jellyfish. As we approached Mango Cove, the waves were Titanic and oh so pukey so we had to turn around and find some other spot. We joined all the 1000s of other dive boats and not one jellyfish. Diving was amazing but seeing it thru the eyes of a daughter who has waited all her life to do this, and seeing the sheer joy, was worth every penny. I will live to regret this because I promised, as her Christmas gift, to pay for her certification the next time she is near the area. At least she will be certified for Australia and the Great Barrier Reef where one day I will see her again and dive. Right up there on the bucket list.
But I digress. Daughter signs up for the Pub Crawl and all but telling me in no uncertain terms, I will not be invited, I cannot go, my presence is not required.... and oh, it's for my own good. I would hate it. What an ingrate! She reminded me I could get another massage, eat in a real restaurant and just chill. No longer the cool mom, I see, so I get my $6 Thai massage and witness some of the best massages on the planet and I leave without tipping again because that is what the internet said and my daughter. What is challenging about getting massages after you have taken the course is your mind is always on the current techniques and you can't just relax anymore and just enjoy it. This was the second massage booked with the same person because she was gifted. Then off to another cheap eating dive and while planning to eat overlooking the water, a chatty traveler and I start yakking and solo dining is not to be. He's an Emergency driver from NY so out comes my business card.
We see the drunken queue walking down the street and later, I follow the noise to see fire poi is being twirled on he beach. I know she will be not far but as the drunken masses stand to leave, I see Daughter reach for the poi, and have them set on fire, for her first time, and start spinning like a wild dervish, whatever that is. OMG, this is what she does when I am not around. Stunned at how good she is, I take out my camera and start taking pictures, and when she looked up and saw that she had the memory in print, she just beamed. That was the second top moment of the trip, alongside diving. What I now have to deal with is knowing she enjoys her all night parties, playing with fire, probably running with scissors and when she is sick, there is no one around to get her better. These are hard truths for a mom to learn.
We got up early to swim and finally daughter saw the dancing fish, twice. Damn, and then they reappeared for the old broad as an encore. We walked to the other town for a Canadian Poutine and the weather was 3000 degrees. The couple from Canada were so friendly and desperate for Canadian cheese whiz etc. Remember Seinfeld's sponge worthy episode? Well these two gems were maple syrup worthy and thrilled. They had just received another bottle that was almost empty. He was serving shooters with a slice of Canadian bacon, some booze and maple syrup. Catchy but no. Unfortunately, I asked the owner about tipping in Thailand and he says you should. OMG! I raced back as fast as I could to the massage place and properly take care of her. I felt like poop for all the others. If I believe in coming back to re-live my unresolved conflicts, I guess I will have to come back to Bangkok again, God help me.
My friend Linda back home had asked me to pick her up some Thai yoga pants from the factory but as with the maple syrup, it never happened. As you enter all the identical shops, you ask if there are large and in broken English, they respond, "One size only, Thai size. You too big". Well, in the blink of an eye, I choose three, don't try them on, figure I can let the elastic out and strike a bargain. As I waddle away, I realized that I had paid $7 per pants, normally they would be about $60. Yup, I should have bought many but then I would have to carry many. Back, home, I realized I was part of the one size fits all club. Woohoo!
Back at the beach side bungalow, we wait for our ferry transfers that never arrived. No one is in their stall and we realize they may be on the main road waiting...and waiting and getting very annoyed. Oops. The ferry lineups were long, and we were often in the wrong queue. The ferry was Satanic. Many hours driving into a tsunami, as the boat tossed and turned like a rag doll. Daughter sat on the open deck up top with no seats and two new friends loving every minute. I had relocated to the centre with an airline puke bag glued to my mouth and a green face for hours. Others on the ferry looked at me with pity, each sporting their own misery. After many particularly harrowing boat rocking almost too far right and left, I went in my wallet, took out the only gvt document I was willing to lose, my drivers license and slipped it in a deep pocket. I had heard too many capsized ferry stories lately and I wanted them to know who the foreigner was when the body was washed ashore. Truly, I thought this was my time. All of our knapsacks had been placed on the outside deck and covered in tarp. ALL of the knapsacks were solid laundry that had not gone thru the spin cycle and we would now have no dry clothes for the next 24 hours till my trip home. I wanna go home, not back to Bangkok/ Hades and definitely not back to the first hostel where our suitcases were- Hell on Earth. God help me.
We zombie wandered, yes, I had become one of the masses I loved to hate, and were directed to our bus. Another OMG moment. It was a sardine open backed mini bus/van with 4 benches facing each other. This is the all nighter bus. NOOOOOOOOOOO! Daughter sees the look of panic and reassures me it's only the bus to the depot. Whew! It's another harrowing ride but the wait is worth it. In Thailand, I took my first bus ride that was an all nighter and the best I've ever taken. They gave us each snacks and water, a blankie, pillow, the seat reclined FLAT....it was wonderful. Now, looking like the locals, we head to our last day in Bangkok.
For the record, no one on the planet ever looks as good as she did after diving. Such a rotten daughter making me look bad. We were sharing our song, Stolen Dance by Milky Chance tho and that was the best memory.