Saturday, October 29, 2011

Australian or Austrian?

  I developed a daily routine of getting breakfast at the hotel restaurant, planning my day with my island map, and reading on the beach near my room. I tried to structure my time in the hopes of keeping myself busy each day on the island. I like having traveling options, but as my schedule became more structured and packed with things to do I realized that I was in fact preventing myself from a chance to relax. The whole point of going to the island by myself was to escape from the structured hustle and bustle of city life and retreat to paradise in solitude. When I caught myself planning out each day on paper I abandoned the idea and decided to reorganize my time around relaxation. Sometimes when our concentration is devoted to school or work (or both) we momentarily forget how to properly separate ourselves from work mode or school mode. 
  On the second day I rode my motorbike back to Chaweng beach to find the girls. Chaweng is the most populated and touristy beach on the island. I found the girls sitting on the beach and talked with them about their plans. Since they planned to have a lazy day on the beach, I said 'aufwiedersehen' and sped off in search of my next hotel. Prior to my beach trip I made plans to stay at the Akyra hotel (as previously mentioned) and I wanted to find out where it was and take a quick tour of the complex. After driving passed it multiple times I found it virtually hidden between two bigger resorts tucked in the side of a hill. I spent most of the day going back and forth between the Mermaid and the Akyra, checking out of one and into the other. The Akyra looked like a pristine modern Japanese village. The grass was perfectly cut around each stone with care and the bamboo bushes were neatly sculpted around each walking path. Every ground-level room had a small wooden outdoor patio that gave the room a more homely feel. I was caught off-guard by all the tourists staying there; maybe I was just used to a quiet hotel. 
  The next day I checked into the Akyra and spent my time reading on the beach and writing in my journal. I was only spending two days and one night there, so I wanted to get my money's worth. "Dinner at the Akyra was tempting, considering my weakness for sushi. However, I decided it would be better to be more frugal. I remembered seeing an Australian bar and grill broadcasting various sports matches when I was out with the German girls. My interest in rugby led me to this place in hopes of catching a match and meeting some new friends in the process. Since I no longer had my motorbike from the Mermaid I jumped on the back of one and paid the driver to take me downtown. During the ride I yelled over his shoulder to take me to an Australian bar. Somehow I knew he had misheard me and I laughed when he pulled over at an Austrian schnitzel haus. The Australian place was just down the street, so I didn't mind walking and window shopping along the way. When I got to the right place I asked if there were any live rugby matches, but sadly they were only showing repeats. I figured this was better than nothing and took a seat. My first instinct was to order a beer if I was going to watch sports. I held off after considering the slight pain in my mouth and my daily doses of antibiotics. After much deliberation I ordered a girly mango shake complete with an orchid perched on the rim of the glass. Great. 
  Desperate for someone to talk to, I started talking with the sun-stained Australian man, Eddie, who greeted me on the way in. He said he moved to Thailand a few years ago, hooked a Thai girlfriend and has been managing the bar ever since. I expressed my interest in Australia and traveling up the southeast coast, to which his first reaction was to tell me to stay in Thailand. As he cackled I knew he'd start talking about Thai girls, the islands and easy living. He has a point. I know Australia is pretty expensive, but there are ways of making it more affordable. For instance, linking up with distant relatives for a place to stay and finding decent hostels through proper research. Eddie seemed smitten by his Thai girlfriend and his new lifestyle, but I enjoyed talking with him about Australia, Thailand and teaching. I finished my drink and thanked Eddie for the conversation, walking out of the bar with the intention of heading back to my hotel. 
  As I was walking along the sidewalk two older European guys approached me and asked for a light in German. I said no immediately, but asked them auf Deutsch if they were German. They replied that they were Austrians - close. It wasn't long before they invited me with them to get a few drinks. I felt a little uneasy because they were already a little drunk, yet I wanted to see where this would take me. Side note: this is the PG version of the story. For the full story, I'll have to tell you in person. Funny enough, we ended up back at the Australian bar and had a few rounds of beers on their tab. During our conversation I did my best to practice my German and they would respond in English. Like most other tourists on the island, they flocked here to let loose before going to Koh Phangan for the full moon party. Since they were in party mode, they were reluctant to talk about their jobs in the catering and hotel business in Europe. Before I knew it we had finished our rounds and they proceeded to buy a bottle of champagne to take back to their hotel bar. They were decent guys, but not worth more than a few drinks. When they invited me back to their hotel bar to pop the bottle I hesitantly agreed. Were they more drunk than I thought? 
  At the hotel bar they asked the bar tender to pop the bottle for them, which would cost them back 300 baht. Pretty ridiculous. Refusing to comply, one guy takes a champagne glass and attempts to pop the bottle by striking the glass against the cork as if lighting a match. The glass starts chipping and spitting pieces of glass all over the floor. All of the timid Thai hotel staff can't stop him, meanwhile I'm acting like I don't know them. Finally, an older European man comes over and grabs the bottle from the Austrian guy. He demands that they pay for the broken champagne glasses before they can have the bottle opened. Again he refuses and has a brief tug-of-war with the champagne bottle. As I'm spectating I can see the pressure building inside the bottle and the cork slowly rising. I keep my distance for the explosion. The tussle ends and the cork bursts while the older man is holding the bottle in one hand. The cork zooms past the Thai bartender's head and bounces off the ceiling, leaving champagne foaming onto the floor. At that point I knew it was my time to bail. I told the other Austrian guy that I was going to the WC and then left without looking back. Actually, I did look over my shoulder many times to make sure they weren't searching for me. I was super paranoid after they made such a scene. I emerged unscathed and retreated back to the Akyra. 

Song of the Day:
  'What's the use in trusting more than we have to?' Especially if the people in question are already intoxicated when you meet them. It was a funny night that I'll always look back on fondly. Appropriately enough, this song is called 'Trust'. It's another beachy song from my Samui playlist. Sometimes when I encounter sketchy people that song line surfaces in my head. Look at these hipsters doing hipster things. 

Generationals - 'Trust'

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