I was determined to see a beach. It was really all that I had craved for after being in land-locked country for so long. Even though we Michiganders may only enjoy the privileges of a warm waterfront for 3 months a year, we still relish our time with water. The common ritual is to roast our bodies to a crisp before submerging ourselves into the cold waters of Lake Michigan.
For my trip I decided on Koh Samet, a popular weekend resort of Bangkok residents. It was a reasonable 3 hour drive from Bangkok. Before leaving, I was warned about my adventures:
It’s a holiday weekend it’s going to be really busy. You don’t have a reservation?
You’re going alone to Koh Samet? Nobody goes a lone. Well it is a popular gay island, don’t worry you’ll have friends!
None of this phased me as I booked my ticket for luxurious 3-hour ride to the coast, which I imagined would be similar to the buses I took to Chiang Mai. I was wrong. As my driver led me to the place of departure, I was guided towards a mini-van. The only seat left was a nice tin space in the back with leg space for an over 6 footer. Memories of Nepal rushed into my brain. Well, at least this van was air-conditioned. As I quickly found out, the vans in Thailand are renowned for blasting comedy-talk shows are the highest volume possible. Also, the backseats are really bumpy – like, fly-off-your-seat-a-foot-into-the-air kind of bumpy. It was a fun ride.
In the van, I was immediately befriended by the other white passenger aboard, an energetic South African named Ringo. As we started small talk, Ringo informed me that there was not a single reservation available on the island. Not one. It was a full moon party weekend of course! How foolish I was; that was the holiday my Bangkok friends were talking about. Ringo was in the same situation as me, but he was meeting up with friends who lived on the coast. He assured me there would be someplace I could stay. I decided then to become friends with Ringo.
Suddenly, I’m in drinking rum in the back of a pick-up truck racing towards Koh Sumet Island. My new companions were all English teachers recently relocated in Thailand, from the US and England, (and of course the South African). When we reached the pier to Koh Samet, we had the choice between taking a ferry and a speedboat. We opted for the Speedboat. There’s nothing like an introduction to a tropic island like hopping waves on in the front of a speedboat.
The party began as soon as I hit the beach. My new friends let me store my baggage in their single reserved room, thank god. The only sleeping tonight would be on the beach, if at all. The drinking began in the later afternoon, and didn’t stop until the late morning of the next day. It was quite the party. Most of the time was spent hopping for one beach party to the next, meeting other travelers and locals as we went. This continued on until about 5am.
The highlight of the night came sometime after midnight. As the parties raged on, we stripped our clothes and dove into the dark ocean. We swam under the moonlight, but we were not alone. Amidst the three foot waves, large strings of salp bumped into us in every direction. It was truly an ethereal experience.
(Note: I had to steal pictures for this post, since my electronics were locked safely away the whole time I was on the island)