Saturday, 27 December 2008

Snake Island: Ko Chang

It's another early start, after a fairly sleepless night of waterfall music. I don't really care, though...on exiting the bungalow it's a hot morning already...with clear blue skies for the first time since Luang Prabang; not a cloud in sight. The Germans with the kilts and tattoos were packed into one bus and left (last I'd see of them), I was bundled into a pickup with a French woman and her English-born husband, who had developed a French twang. He was a diver, too...so we had a good chat. I believe they were off to Phuket.

My boat was at 10am, and we stopped by an ATM; there aren't any on Ko Chang or Ko Phayam. Would my card work? Would it bollocks. I tried both bank cards AND the Barclaycard...to no avail. So, with no cash to spend...I was going nowhere until the cards would give me some dosh. I tried at another bank later on, and thankfully could withdraw enough for a week's stay.

So, 2pm boat over some pretty calm water and I'm on my way. it took about 1.5 hours on a longtail, and we saw some pretty sinister-looking jellyfish on the way over. Bright orange in colour and about 1m wide. Wouldn't fancy swimming into one of those. But never mind that, Garfield had wished me a pleasant stay on Chang with a one-line comment on Facefuck: "Watch out for snakes." Cheers, mate. No, really. He'd told me a story of his visit a few years ago, when a snake decided to pop into one of the bars one night for a drink and a bit of a boogie. Goof said he knew it was a nasty one when all the locals started scream, brandishing chairs and jumping up on the tables. All while he was under the influence of the local Thai grass. Something to look forward to, eh?

There was a lad called Mario on the boat, sat on his own. Everyone else was chatting amongst themselves, so I went and said Hello...as he looked a bit left out. Probably something to do with the Polynesian tattoos covering his entire body, including half of his face. We chatted a little about them, and his reasons for doing it. He couldn't recall the first tattoo, but said he'd consciously decided to go for the full body job.

"Everything?" I asked, arching an eyebrow?
"Everything."
"And...?" with another raised eyebrow.
"Ze penis is completely covered, inside and out. In solid black. It is very surprising, because ze scotum causes more discomfort zan ze glans."

I winced. A little bit more information than I needed, but it certainly painted a picture. Vividly. I didn't probe any further. He referred to his "life partner" doing it, and herself, over 7 years. They aren't together any more, though. So much for life partners, I thought. Probably why he's been living on Koh Chang for the last 4 years. Said he gets less hassle here than he did in India, where he couldn't eat a meal in a cafe without looking up to see camera phones in his face. Understandable, really...it does look a little outlandish, but it's his choice after all. He said he got prejudiced reactions, and sometimes even violence, from people who didn't get it. Not nice, really. Each to their own. He's a nice bloke. I really wanted a picture for the blog. He declined, but thanked me for actually asking first. Mum brought me up proper, after all.

So as the boat pulls up for his stop (there's no cars, bikes or taxis on the island, so the boat drops you on whichever beach you require) a woman asked me if I wanted a bungalow. I said Yes, and she jumped off with one of my bags and carried it up the beach. As I followed up and walked into the bar, who should be sat there but the Bloody Tattooed Germans? I took a deep breath and carried on. The bungalow was nice, so I took it thinking they might be off soon.

How wrong I was.

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