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Trouble in Paradise

Koh Phi Phi
11/9/07

The rain was pouring down on paradise. Alex did not want to get up. For once, I was hungry and Alex wasn’t. Did his tapeworm finally die? I set off on my own to find breakfast. There were very few people up this early. I found a place open and ate a honey-banana crepe. Although I was eating alone, I did not feel lonely.

Two Australian guys who were still drunk from the night before soon joined me. We exchanged the usual travel banter. The pair had slowly been working their way south through the islands of Thailand over the past month. When I told them where I had been in that time they asked if I was on speed. I laughed, “You can say that!” I was jealous they spent more time at their stops. The Aussies were only moderately jealous of where I had been. One said in his sexy accent, “Ah. No worries. We’ll get there soon enough.”

When I went to check on Alex, he was up. I noticed his bag was packed but said nothing on our walk to breakfast. I ordered another Thai crack coffee. After a few sips of caffeine, Alex started to rant about why he considered this island hell on earth. Ugh! I vastly preferred my previous easy-going companions over this uptight bastard. He told me that we would be leaving on the next ferry. I informed he would be taking it by himself since I planned on staying. I left the cafe and headed to farthest internet cafe away from him I could find.

Inside people chatted with friends or family via Skype. I overheard several complaints about the rain forecasted for today and tomorrow. After checking e-mail, I looked into my logistical options. Within 15 minutes, I figured out the ferry schedule to Krabi and determined there were several flights back to Bangkok over the next few days. Alex makes each leg of travel way more complicated than it needs to be. I’m not leaving today!

The rain stopped but the gray clouds loomed overhead. I returned to the bungalow to change into my bathing suit. Alex was waiting on the front porch. It was 11:55. Check-out was at noon. I changed and got money to pay for another night. Alex said, “No, I am putting my foot down. We are leaving now.” Did he really think that would work? I said, “Good put your other foot down in front and repeat until you get to the dock. I am not coming.” I left to go pay the mamasan who owned the bungalows for another night and continued onward to the beach. It started to rain again. Damn!

As I returned to the bungalow to grab my book and read on the porch. Alex was running around trying to find me. In the end, he used logic to explain why we should go. He begged me not to throw 10 years away but we did end up losing 100B. The mamasan returned the nights fee minus 100B for late check-out and excess drama.

Alex literally dragged me from the Koh Phi Phi. The 2.5 hour ferry ride was tranquil. Much needed after a rise in blood pressure. I sat on the top deck without Alex. I watched all the cliff formations as we passed. One looked like Stonehenge, if it were flooded.

Traveling on trains, planes, boats, buses, airplanes or while waiting for transport, provides downtime to reflect on things. The song Unwritten was on repeat in my head today. I think this is my theme song for the year, the beginning of my 30‘s.

“Today is where the book begins..the rest is still unwritten…”

This is how I feel each morning of this journey because it is a new day with new possibilities. I had the choice to stay or go today and hoped I did not make the wrong decision. Alex eventually joined me for the last hour of the trip. We made up. .

Disembarking the ferry at Krabi, we were greeted by thousands of dragonflies instead of touts. Alex was looking for the bus to Krabi. I saw several come and go but he did not believe me. He forgot buses come in many forms in Thailand. Serenity now! While we waited 45 minutes. I tried to keep calm by watching an army of ants carrying a green bean the size of my thumb across the street. I saw my first Asian frog hop along that was not destined for the Thai dinner table. Finally, Alex went to ask one of the ferry attendants about when and where to find the bus for Krabi. The young Thai man smiled, “Bus here” and pointed at the songtheaw, “There.” The buses were song-theaws that ran on a set route. I gave Alex a “I told you so” look. You can apologize and admit I was right anytime now…

I was confused to be driving away from the coast. Krabi was supposed to have beautiful beaches framed by amazing cliff walls. There was kayaking, scuba diving and rock climbing. Perhaps we have to go through town to get there. Alex told me we were staying in Krabi Town. This is the administrative capital for the region up river from the coast with no beaches. What the fuck! He tricked me! I had enough and forgot to keep a cool heart. I went postal on Alex for dragging me off a tranquil island and continuing to make my life miserable.

When we arrived at our guesthouse ended up embarrassing myself by almost bitch-slapping the owner. I thought he was a tout trying to grab my bag. Welcome to Krabi Town. I was indeed feeling downright crabby!

I dropped my bags off and took off without Alex. Who was I more pissed off at? Alex? Or Myself? I am an idiot! I feel trapped. Today, I could have become free. I made the wrong decision. Why did I listen to Alex? Why did I board the ferry?

I walked along the water and saw the 2 large karst rocks that mirror each other in the distance. It was tranquil and beautiful but could not match what I left. Taking a break from walking, I sat by the water and watched locals queue up to catch their longboats to transport them out of this dreary town past the mangrove forest.

Along my walk, I passed Alex 3 times. Once with my knowledge, I saw him inside an internet cafe. Twice unbeknownst to me as I cruised the food stalls where I ended up drank a large Chang beer to accompany a mound of mussels. I felt a bit buzzed. Alex somehow sensed it was finally safe to approach me. We walked around town together and found the night market.

At the night market, I had my first taste of durian. The Thai woman seemed excited I was eager to try. We bought 40 baht worth of the hacked open insides of the stinky spiky fruit. A group of Germans not up for the task, snapped photos of me and Alex as we took our first bite. Others told me they could not describe the taste. After my first bite, I agreed it was an odd taste to describe. The fruit was fleshy neither juicy nor rubbery.  My tongue noted a texture similar to goat cheese as well as the taste. It was also mixed with hint of sweetness and nuttiness with one other element I cannot put my finger on. It had the aftertaste of sweet roasted garlic. I liked it. Why had I been so intimidated by the durian? There has to be some intoxicating properties. Despite having a buzz from my beer, I felt drunk off the durian. It almost made me forget the drama of the day.

For some reason, Alex felt compelled to bring the pit back with us to the hotel. In the middle of the night I woke up to a horrible stench of raw sewage. I thought the toilet had overflowed. It turned out to be the seed of the durian. Now I know why it is banned on Singapore’s MRT. Alex threw the seed far out of the window.

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