For my absolute final entry on this blog (I swear, this is it!), I would like to take a few moments and a few kilobytes to thank everyone that was part of this trip, or that made it possible, in any and every shape and form. The previous entry was really the last page; so think of this as the epilogue, or simply as the credits. If there's one thing I've learned on this trip, it's that it's not where you go, it's who you meet; and that it's not places, but people, that make a big trip (and life in general, really) such an amazing experience. I hope I've remembered everyone of import here; but if I've missed you out, then I deeply apologise — and feel free to post a scathing comment, in which you make yourself and your significance known for all eternity. We do ask that you remain seated, and that you leave your mobile phones switched off, until the blog has come to a complete stop in front of the terminal building. Once again, thank you for flying with Jaza's World Trip, and we hope you enjoyed the flight.
Karen and Nick are a super-chilled Canadian couple: Nick's been here on Ton Sai for a few weeks already; and Karen just rocked up today (not sure if they're together, or just friends, or what-have-you). Nick is apparently "extremely short on cash": as such, he's sleeping in a tent instead of renting a bungalow (can't afford $7/night — ouch). I met the two of them while having dinner this evening, and I later went out and had a few drinks with them, at the Chill Out bar on the beach. Saw plenty of other folks at the beach bars tonight as well — great, pleasant way to end my time in Ton Sai.
Yu's an interesting guy: his heritage is 100% Thai, but he's been living in Canada for the past few years, and he's planning to go back there, in the hope of obtaining residency. As such, he speaks much better English than most do most Thais (it's quite rare for Thai locals to have travelled internationally). As my buddy Let was away today, and as Yu just arrived back in Ton Sai (and in Thailand!) this morning, he was my instructor for the final stint of my climbing course today. He's strict and extremely thorough, but he's a great guy and an excellent climber.
Stewie's a great bloke, who's originally from sheeped-in-history Kiwiland, but who now lives in Brisbane as a high-school science teacher. Stewie's just been up in Laos, and the guy absolutely will not stop raving about the place: if he can be believed, then Laos is truly the most kick-a$$ place in the world, and at an unbelievably low price. Stewie's a lethal party animal; and like everyone else here on Ton Sai, he's here mainly to enjoy the amazing climbing to be found on this rather rocky ol' peninsula.
Randomness is part of travelness. And as travelness goes, tonight was filled with randomness. I bumped into a group of six (newly-acquainted) people this evening: four Germans, and two Austrians. Just walked past them on my way down to towards the beach, here at Ton Sai; and next thing I knew, I was off to "The Kasbah" with them, to join in on dinner and drinks. Then, what do you know: just after dinner, it was happy hour — 2-for-1 on Sang Som (Thai whisky) and coke — so out poured the rounds. And what's more: amidst the rainbow-coloured décor and the haze of weed smoke, we managed to find a Jenga set; and we enjoyed several hilarious rounds of this game (always funnier after a few drinks). Strange night, but good times.
Like the famous tennis player, Martina is a thin, athletic girl from the fair realm of Switzerland. Martina hails from a small mountain village in the south-eastern region of Switzerland, where she's lucky enough to have been skiing her entire life. She now spends most of her winter months in a ski town in the country's Italian region, where she pays her way by working as a café waitress. Martina is fluent in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish — an impressive repertoire, even by (the not-too-shabby) Swiss standards. Martina climbed with me during this afternoon's session, where she blew us all away by conquering a climb that no-one else could.
This dude's real name is "Let", and he's my main instructor for the three-day climbing course that I'm doing here at Ton Sai. When I told Let that my name was "Jeremy", he had a lot of difficulty pronouncing it — the closest he could get was "Jet Li", and so that is now my official rock-climbing pseudonym. Let's a really nice guy: he's only been rock-climbing himself (let alone instructing!) for the past six months; before that, he spent ten years as a chef in a glamorous hotel restaurant in Phuket. His ability and his fitness levels are remarkable, considering how new he is to the sport; and after only six months of working with farangs, his English ain't so bad either.
Mathias is a quiet guy from Germany, who's spent most of his life as a musician in one form or another, and who's currently about to start work as a sound producer. That is: if you ever wondered who composes all those cheesy little sounds that are the intros to TV quiz shows and news bulletins, it's him. Mathias is in Thailand for about a month, where he's relaxing on various beaches and enjoying the warm, un-European weather. I met him this evening, when we realised that we were sharing the "emergency room" at Kiew Thao, here in Ton Sai, while waiting for our own respective bungalows to become available.
I met this girl on the bus to Krabi today. She's told me her name a zillion times: but I'm afraid it's all Dutch to me. She's been living in a small village near Ranong for the past 6 weeks, where she was volunteering as an English teacher at the local primary school. I hung out with her this evening in Krabi, and then we kept bumping into each other over the next few days, since we both continued on to Ton Sai. She's a bit daunted by all the farangs, after being in a remote Thai village for so long — but she's gradually getting used to seeing Westerners everywhere once again.
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.