Got the boat to Koh Samui yesterday afternoon. While I was waiting, got chatting to an Australian family. While the teenage daughter played my guitar, I asked about the island. The father told me that it was the place to be thirty years ago, but that they were going on to the next island, Koh Phangan, which is quieter.
They weren't wrong there. Got a minibus to my hotel, which is in a very touristy area indeed. Took the elevator, made by a company called Schindler. It looked like it had been designed by Philippe Starck, with illuminated buttons which don't seem to always work. Can't say that I'm very impressed with Schindler's lift.
The place is not cheap. When I left, I thought that I had a pretty robust budget to see me through six months in the Far East. In fact, Europe seems to be cheap By comparison.
I seem to find myself in a sort of Asian Benidorm. It's a bimbo's paradise, with nail bars every 50 metres and trucks going by every few minutes, announcing everything from Thai boxing to 'Russian Showgirls,' on massive sound systems. Anglo-Saxon types are everywhere, all with the standard classy look: shirtless, to reveal the tattoos and topped off with a baseball cap. Wanna buy a selfie stick? This is the place to be.
Not that the actual beach here is too bad. The water is warm, with big waves to get bashed about in and body surf. Surprisingly, not too crowded either. Only problem is that like all such super touristy places the World over, there are beer cans and fag ends all over the place. Had a great lunch there though. There's an old lady with a barbecue selling chicken brochettes and a type of evil looking fish, resembling a small shark about a foot long. I'm not a great fan of shark meat, but this was absolutely delicious. Finally got a bargain; the whole lot with a tasty, spicy salad, all for 3€.
Whilst wandering through this contemporary Hieronymous Bosch landscape,I saw a tourist shop selling trips to Penang. Admittedly, it's a thirteen hour trip by boat and train, but I can catch up with my old Malaysian mate Tapa, who is at his place there until the 26th, before returning to Paris with his son, Farid. I've always wanted to go to Penang and I'm sure that with time and money I could find an island here that was more to my taste, but I think it's time to regroup. It's also much easier to get to Cambodia from Penang, with flights costing only 30$ from Kuala Lumpur. I have a feeling that Cambodia is more likely to have the types of beach I'm looking for.
The New Year started tonight. Everywhere you go, people throw water over you, which is rather pleasant in the heat. Even when completely soaked, you dry out in about ten minutes. Have worked out a strategy to film the real action, which is all day tomorrow. Saw two middle aged ladies earlier on, probably Brits. They were getting very grumpy about all this foreign water business. What did they expect? There are very few things funnier than people who lack a sense of humour/fun.
It's a bit like Thai people complaining about the noise of Christmas Carols, or vegetarians getting upset with Americans eating turkey for Thanksgiving.
One small blip is that I only bought four shirts with me. I've been alternating them in the fierce heat, having failed to find anywhere to get my laundry done until today. Unfortunately, everything is closed tomorrow, so I'll have to bluff it out. The last couple of days, I've been self-conscious to the point of mild paranoia, waiting for people to keel over as I pass them in the street. I tried to get some tee shirts, but they all had logos of fashion houses YSL, Emporio Armani etc. If I'm going to wear something like that, I want to be paid for advertising their product, David Beckham does,after all.
I finally found one that said: 'Fuck everything. Become a pirate.' What that means,I'm not sure, but it was a toss up between that and 'Drugs saved my life.' As I'm heading to Malaysia in three days, I didn't think that that was a good idea.
The food here is outstanding. Suckling pigs on spits, lobster the size of...well, lobsters and wonderful, fish everywhere. I'm living on a diet of cold beer and fish. Tomorrow, I'll get very wet and hopefully get some good shots of the festivities.
HAPPY NEW YEAR.