Well, it had to happen… and tonight is my last night on Koh Phangan, which starts a bit of a mini-vacation for me. One night on Samui, two nights in Bangkok, then I fly back to America.
It was sort of strange when I was done writing the book. I spent another day spell-checking it, reading the last stuff I had written once again, then prepping the files for lulu.com, so I could give it one last read before finally letting friends read it. So, lulu has my draft, and I should have a hardcover version of the book shipped to me shortly after my return.
The inght I finished the book, I rode my rented bicycle as far as I ever have up the west coast of Phangan, to Ananda, a restaurant linked to a yoga retreat. I had this amazing tofu dish, with brown rice, and the part that sticks out is how I’d never had a dish with such a pronounced celery flavor cutting through it. I have to admit, my food bias was ringing through that night, as I had something closer to what I would eat in California, and it did feel like the best meal I’ve had here.
Tangent: I wasn’t as impressed with the food on this trip. And I wish I’d found Ananda sooner, since it was bike-able, unlike the Sanctuary (more on that below), which requires a taxi to Haad Rin and a boat taxi to complete the journey. I had good meals, but it was almost like you could go to any resort and order food, and it would taste the same, since they would use the same green curry paste. However, with a food processor, you could so easily dump the ingredients for green curry paste and have it at the ready in five minutes, so it is strange to feel that I’m eating canned Thai food. Sort of like if I went to Italy and, behind an homestyle Italian restaurant, saw jars of Prego in the trash.
The other factor here is that differentiation would give you *so* much bang for your buck. If I’d found a place grinding their own pastes, and even moreso if they would grind me a vegan paste, I would have gone there more often and paid more for every meal, gladly. But similar to people selling the same items from store to store, the food follows suit. I did notice that Ananda says all of their curries do not include fish sauce, which means they’re grinding their own or found a veggie paste. Since they run veggie cooking classes (I found this out too late to take one, since they are only on Sundays), my guess is grinding. But I think if you grind pastes, people would eat a meal there, get blown away, and when they went to other places, with the jarred pastes, they’d not waste their time again straying away. I look forward to going to eat at the restaurant connected to SITCA on Samui tomorrow, where I took classes last time. I don’t need to take a class and grind my own stuff, though, they can do it for me. Even better if they have paste without fish sauce, but that’s setting the bar high. End tangent.
The next day after finishing the book, I had this strange feeling come over me, which was that I was in Thailand and all of this amazing stuff was available to do. Seriously, this is when it really hit me that I was in Thailand as a tourist, which is appropriate, since it was the first day I felt available to roam around and be one. Heh. Coupled with that feeling was another small voice saying ‘get me home already,’ which I ignored.
The day after that, I spent an afternoon at The Sanctuary, which is where I stayed last time I was on Phangan for a few days, and mainly for the Full Moon Party. As much as I like a place dedicated to veggie food, health, and yoga, for whatever reason, I got the same vibe as last time. It just has this sort of hipster vibe that I can’t digest easily.
Last time, I attributed that feeling to being on Samui in a more Thai environment for so long, a quiet bungalow on the beach, quiet, not as many tourists, and mostly Thai people around me. So, to go from that to a place where it is all white people, and a throbbing dance track permeating everything, and the long haired guys all pulled back into ponytails, with the scruffy faces, and everyone smoking cigarettes, it just never feels like the way I want to experience Thailand. But this time, I was just there for the afternoon, so swimming and veggie food was fine. But considering where I’m staying is about as non-traditional as can be here, with all clean white rooms, and very “California,” as the resort owner next door calls it, it does seem like I just don’t like the vibe of The Sanctuary, irregardless of where I stay beforehand.
On the way back from The Sanctuary, I took a taxi home. The guy who helps the taxi driver is someone I talked to before, his name is Kang, and he is a cute gay boy here. To be clear, by boy I mean he’s 31. So, he sees me and jumps out of the taxi and asks if I’m going home, and I am, so he jumps in back with me and two other tourists and we chat te whole way.
By the time we get to my stop, he tells her to keep driving, and we go all the way to Thong Sala, so that we can jump on his family’s motorcycle and he drives me back to the resort. And, he’s sort of been here ever since. Yesterday, we took a boat trip around the island together, although we got rained out of the best parts, although the tour guide made sure we had the right number of stops and all, so no one cried refund, but the swimming on a great beach and snorkeling up north were both changed to less desirabe places on the east coast. Of course, it was all just fun to be touring around, and not staying on the resort writing.
After our tour, we went for Indian food, which Kang never had before. So, I got him the sampler plate, since I don’t know the good meaty Indian dishes. He’s off now getting his young cousin (not sure of the family tree exactly, but like a 2-year-old girl) and she’ll come swimming with us in the pool for a bit, then we’ll have dinner at Phangan Beach, then we’ll go to the Half Moon Party together, which is sort of my last hurrah on Phangan.
Tomorrow, I wake up and go to Samui in the late morning. Tomorrow night, I see some of the shows at the gay clubs, which should be fun seeing as I met many of the performers hanging out the afternoon I was on Samui. Of course, if I have it figured out right, Britney Spears should be on Samui now… so, will I run into her, or maybe some of her dancers at the gay clubs? We’ll see…