Sunday, 25 January 2009

Last 24 Hours On Lipeh

After an early night for a change, I was up early to catch the sunrise. It was black when I left the bungalow, and I picked my way along the beach by torchlight. Slowly I headed up to the furthest point of the beach. There's a new development there which sums up the way Lipeh, sadly, is heading. It's all glass and stone Art Deco style huts with aircon and double glazing. There are three rows of huts and, according to a local I spoke to, the prices rise according to proximity to the shoreline. £140 a night for the front row. Unbelievable for Thailand; I guess this puts the backpackers firmly out of the picture within the next 2-3 years.

I reflected on this, but my mind went blank as the faint hints of light began to etch outlines to the clouds over Langkawi. It's amazing how quickly dawn breaks. Lilac, rose and orange began to play across the water, the islets in the distance emerging from the gloom. A dog sauntered up the beach and, noticing a large crab poised on the shore, began a pointless dance around it. So relaxing to listen to the waves slap the sides of redundant longtails; watching the fishermen prepare for a day's work. This was my first sunrise proper; I wrung every last second from it.

After an uneventul but relaxing day or reading a book on the beach, it was time to eat and get out for a few beers. I headed over to Sunset, and arrived at the Reggae Bar in time to witness some commotion which again, thankfully, did not involve an Englishman. An Australian chap was being verbally (they hardly do forcefully in Thailand, unless you really upset them) ejected. Apparently for complaining frequently about the relentless reggae music, I was told. Brilliant.

Nothing doing there (Lipeh's pretty dull...too many families) so I went to another place whose name escapes me. Must have been good. I bumped into two German lads I'd spoken to a few times. They were as fanatical about climbing as I am about diving, and I'd started climbing in London. So we talked about how fit you have to be for the respective sports. The lads both had great physiques, I was slightly (terribly) envious. Fabien pulled up his sweater to show off a taut 6-pack. Josef huffed and revealed an 8-pack. I sneered and revealled my 1-pack. All bought and paid for in England. "Odd numbers, you can't beat that..." The lads were off to the Gulf Coast next, but I persuaded them they'd love Chang and Phayam. I should get discount next time I go there, the amount of people I harangued into visiting.

The Thai behind the bar was asking my name...he recognised me from Joker Bar, he was a mate of Song's. It's funny to hear them try and pronounce my name "Lawrence? Laurece? Warrence? Warrenz?" They get there in the end.

Rudi and Bruno turned up, and I introduced them to Fab and Josef. Cue a 4-way conversation in German. Ah, bugger. I noticed a large Brian Blessed lookalike near the entrance. He went to sit in a wicker chair, and it cracked, nearly breaking beneath him. I laughed loudly as he cast a nervous look at the barmen. Nobody noticed. Some fireworks started on the beach, and I went to have a look. It was there I got talking to a pleasant English girl, and she said I should meet her husband and friend. Orlando, the big fella, was her man. Him, myself and Nick got on immediately...a real triple act.

Nick was ripping into me about being Northern. All the unwashed jokes came out, and he asked how I'd got the tin bath through the metal detectors at Heathrow. A funny lad. he told a tale about travelling through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan...all the 'stans, in fact...on a motorbike last year. In a sandstorm one night, he'd made for a remote house and begged for shelter. The woman there let him in from the blizzard, and told him to wait for her husband's return. He hunkered down on a pile of goatskins, and waited. Hubby rocke up with three rough-looking friends in tow. They pulled out a bottle of vodka and insist he drank with them. It wasn't Stolichnaya. They talked amongst themselves, one of the gang motioning at Nick's watch a little too often. They got a little animated, and the husband kept repeating one word. It was the only one Nick understood, and it was "tomorrow". The rest of the evening was spent in a state of perspiration as Nick waited for them to fall asleep before creeping out. He spent the next few hours racing at breakneck speed through the hills, almost crying with relief. It minded me of the time my mate Speckled Jim fell for the old precious stones scam in Thailand, and had to creep out of a hotel room full of heavies, leaving all his belongings behind. You don't get that in Magaluf.

"It was OK at first" said Nick. "I think a lot of those people hadn't seen anyone who looked like me before"
"I can imagine" I jibed.
It went like that all evening.

We wandered off to a techno party further down the beach, where we met a very irritating Dutchman. Well, he annoyed us when we weren't looking at a nearby girl with the best set of legs I've ever seen in my life. Very distracting. Even Orly's missus gave a low whistle of appreciation. Anyway, The Little Dutch Boy comes over, wanting to play Guess Where I Am From? We tired of it quickly after two guesses.

"I am from the country where you can smoke the best weed in the world!?" he cried.
"Yes, and I'm from the country whose people have to come and bloody smoke it for you, you lightweights..."
Finally, he leaves us be.

All in all, I didn't rate Lipeh...as you'll have gathered. I wasn't sorry to go. I met some great people there, but the place just left me cold. No good vibe to the place. You can smell the greed there, and it's not a pleasant aroma. Maybe we've just had it too good, too long? I don't know. I certainly wasn't at all put out that it would be too expensive to stay there and do my DMT for 2-3 months.

Early to bed again. Christ, at this rate I'll be healthy by New Year. If I live that long, that is. When snorkelling, I'd taken a pebble from one of the islands we'd landed on. These beautiful stones were carried up the shoreline over years, and their seams and markings are stunning. I couldn't resist pocketing one, it's the Scouser in me. You're not supposed to take them; so allegedly the island's spirit will be after me now. Oh dear.

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