After two full days of rock-climbing, today I decided to pause my three-day course, and to relax and have a rest day. Three days in a row is simply too much: I'm tired and aching all over just from two; and I can't go on without a bit of time to catch my breath.
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.
Everyone's dream is to find a bar where you order one drink, and where they insist on refilling that one drink for free, all night long. Tonight, that's exactly what I found: I ordered one whisky and coke; and the lady behind the bar just kept topping it up again and again. Not a bad deal! The place in question was the "quintessential dodgy Thai bar" — quite a sight in itself. Deplorable Thai pop music playing non-stop. Ladyboys hanging out on the benches. Rickety old pool table with awkward legs and chipped balls. And to top it off, a z-grade horror-slash-porn movie on the TV (monsters exploding out of the stomachs of naked women, every 2 minutes or so). Why don't we have places like this back home?
Written by world-renowned environmentalist and UCLA professor Jared Diamond, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is a brilliant and eye-opening book, that analyses the reasons (particularly the environmental reasons) why various past and present societies have collapsed (or are collapsing), and that presents some conclusions about how humanity's current global society can avoid a similar such tragedy. Seeing as how I've been stripped even of my reading material this weekend, I couldn't resist buying this book in Rome: and already, it's proving to be an amazing read.
Before I scooted off out of England this afternoon, I managed to duck into one of London's big bookstores, and to stock up on some literary resources that I'll need for Italy et al. For my planned trip to Sicily, I grabbed a copy of the Nat Geo Sicily guide, as well as a detailed (as in 1:200,000) map of Sicily, and another map of Southern Italy (from Naples to the tip). Additionally, I threw in the LP Italian phrasebook; and for my journeying in Central Europe, the LP German phrasebook. Hopefully, all that will get me through the next few months in Europe.
I haven't bought any novels for a long time: so far on my trip, I've been subsisting on whatever paperbacks I can scrounge up at hostel book exchanges. This is all well and good, but the quality at those exchanges is generally somewhat lacking. I walked past a second-hand fair in Bristol this afternoon, and I couldn't resist buying a few quality novels. Grabbed myself "The Big Mango", by Norman Kelley; and "Blast from the Past", by Ben Elton. Seeing as I won't be in England again for a while, I managed to justify this little luxury to myself.
Well, old chaps, I'm going to commence my British Blogging in a decidedly, well, English way: by moaning about the weather. It seems that every person I've ever met in my life, who's been to England, was 100% right: the weather really is s$%# here. And no, that garbled 4-letter sequence does not translate to "spantabulous"; guess again. Today's weather in London is about as English as any weather I could imagine: cold, overcast, drizzly, and unbelievably gloomy. I guess that's why the Chili Peppers sing about London in the summer time; because now that it's Autumn, there's nothing to sing about at all. Nevertheless, it's still good to be here.
My dad and I went for a wander in the Harvard "Coop" bookshop this afternoon — after Paul's tour — and while there, I couldn't resist buying just one more geeky book. The Art of SQL is a very impressive text, that explains practical problems to some of the most common problems related to SQL querying, SQL data manipulation, and database design. The section on dealing with hierarchical data in a relational environment looks particularly interesting. And as with the drupal book that I bought a few days ago, this one also earned a much-coveted Slashdot review.
When I met John and Matt, back at DrupalCon Sunnyvale in March, they were still in the final stages of writing Pro Drupal Development. But now it's out. And there's no doubt at all: this is the book on Drupal. It's so good, it even scored a Slashdot review (and that's no small feat). This book really does have everything the professional Drupal developer needs to know. Pereonally, I like the final chapters most (on security and performance), and I'm confident that they'll be a reference asset to me for years to come. Got the book today in Boston, as it will undoubtedly be more expensive back home than it is here in the USA.
Seeing that yesterday evening, I discovered my foot was painfully injured — and that this morning it wasn't feeling much better — today I decided to just take it easy, and to relax on the beach in Abraão, with a book and a sandy towel. I didn't have much choice, really: I could barely walk! So it was a bit of gentle wandering today, and a bit of eating; but mostly, just sitting on the sand and reading. Nice weather today — those clouds have all but cleared up — so I had plenty of sun to keep me company. Well, it was nice to unwind and to take it easy anyhow — but hopefully the 'ol foot will heal up soon, so that I can be back in action for the end of my time here in Brazil.