All the blog entries that I've managed to scratch down, while travelling around the world.
You can view these blog entries in reverse chronological order (below), or you can browse them in a monthly archive. You may find the monthly archive more convenient for catching up on older entries, or for finding specific entries or ranges of entries.
I'm usually not too bad at absorbing useful snippets of the local language, wherever I go. But the Thai language is a different story: it's Really Hard™ to learn. So far, I've been going at a rate of about one commonly-spoken word per week, and I'm struggling to maintain even that. I've got kop-khun khap ("thank you") down pat, as well as the famous sawadee-khap ("hello" / "goodbye"). I'm working on sabadee-mai ("how are you"), sabadee ("I'm fine"), and sabai ("good"). Also picked up a few food-related words, such as gai ("chicken"), goong ("shrimp"), khao ("rice"), and kha ("coconut"). Plus, being here on the island has helped me pick up some geographical terms, such as hat ("beach"), ao ("bay"), and of course ko ("island"). But it's slow going, and the Thai words have a habit of being awfully slippery against my memory.
In case I haven't yet had my full dose of Austrians, tonight Ko Tao delivered me yet more of them! Iris and Andrea are two lovely girls from Vienna, who are (like myself) currently on a world trip — although theirs is significantly shorter than mine. They've already been to Australia, where the only place they visited was Sydney (they reckon it was so much fun, they got stuck there for two weeks — go figure). They're currently taking their sweet time getting through Thailand's glorious south, after which they'll keep heading north, and eventually home. I bumped into them at the hippie bar next-door to my room this evening, where I shared a few drinks with them.
"No name" vegetables is a crunchy Thai appetiser, which consists of chopped-up mixed vegies, that are battered and deep-fried into little snackable pieces. Best eaten dipped in sweet 'n' sour sauce. Not sure if they have it elsewhere in Thailand — I don't recall seeing it in Bangkok or in the north — but here in Ko Tao, most restaurants list it on their menu. At the remote restaurant this afternoon (after bashing through the jungle), my friend Robert introduced me to this dish, which I've never tried before, but which I hope to sample again.
Piece of advice: never take directions from a gay Austrian. If only I'd followed it. After spending this morning once again chilling on Moondance beach, today I tagged along with my friend Robert, who wanted to show me the next beach along on the island, where he claimed there was nice swimming and a great restaurant. Only problem was, Robert thought he could take a "shortcut" up the hillside, and onto the main track that leads to this beach. And as anyone (named Murphy) can tell you, a shortcut is the longest possible distance between two points. Several steep cliffs, spiky ferns, bulging ant-nests, enveloping spiderwebs, and thick bush-clumps later, the truth of this rule was quite thoroughly proven. Although our intensive bush-bashing did eventually pay off: at long last, we finally found the road that we were looking for. Nice views along the way, too.
Today I discovered Moondance beach, and now I'm officially done exploring Ko Tao. Why keep searching for paradise, when you've already found it? Situated on the other side of the western headland of Chalok Baan Kao — just a 10-minute walk from my pad at Taraporn — this tiny beach is home to just two resorts, called Sunset and Moondance (respectively). Moondance beach (I forget its proper name) is calm, sandy and serene. Today, I spent the better part of the day chilling here: just swimming, reading, sunbaking and sleeping, all day long. Life here on Ko Tao is just getting harder and harder.
Robert is an Austrian fellow — another Austrian from the city of Graz. He is, like, sooo gay: I'm sure he's not the only gay on the island; although he could very well be the only gay on tiny, secluded moondance beach. Robert runs a company that organises large, mainly homosexual parties and functions in Graz, and he's a very friendly and interesting guy. He's here in Ko Tao for a month (he's not going anywhere else in Thailand), where he's doing absolutely nothing, aside from lying on the beach and working on his tan.
I bumped into this group of three at Chalok this morning, where they were scouring the beach for accommodation. Martin and Flores are two Dutch boys, and Justine is an Indonesian girl who has hooked up with Martin. The three of them have been living and studying in Shanghai, China, on exchange for the past 6 months; and now, they're down in Thailand for a holiday. They're all business / economics students: and after this, they're headed home to continue their university studies. I joined them for dinner and drinks this evening, after my Ko Tao walkabout.
I continued my exploration of greater Ko Tao today; but unlike yesterday's adventures, today I just wandered around on foot. From my new base at Chalok, I donned my hiking boots (which I haven't been wearing much, of late), and covered some serious ground. Ko Tao's a pretty small island, and virtually everywhere is reasonably accessible on foot: this makes walking a good option for reaching most places, especially considering how much safer it is than motorbike-riding on those horrific dirt roads.
With the dive course now finished, it's time to get out of Sairee, and to start exploring a bit more of Ko Tao. To kick off the exploration, today Adam and I rented a quad bike, and took it for a spin. A quad bike costs a fair bit more than a regular scooter motorbike to rent — but it's a much safer option, if you plan to tackle the shockingly poor-quality dirt roads that criss-cross most of the island. Short of running them off the road, quad bikes are extremely difficult to crash or to damage — whereas you can easily (and people regularly do) damage a scooter on a poor road, in which case you'll likely be facing a hefty repair bill. As I was still very much recovering from last night, Adam did most of the driving.
Having now finished my four-day diving course, today I said goodbye to Ban's, and to Sairee beach. I've moved down to Chalok, the second-largest beach on the island, where it's much quieter and more relaxed than Sairee, and where accommodation is much cheaper (I couldn't afford to stay at Ban's, without the complimentary room-for-four-nights deal that they gave us). I'm staying at Taraporn resort, where the bar-slash-restaurant looks out onto the gorgeous bay of Chalok Baan Kao, and where I have a cheap room that's right on the beach, as well as next to a mellow nighttime hippie bar. Now that I'm here, it's time to slow things down a bit, and to do nothing but sit on the beach and swallow a few good books.