Thailand, Thailand, Thailand . . . where to begin, but at the beginning? 12 hours before we were due to leave we got a call letting us know that our flight to Bangkok had been cancelled, but we were assured our return flight was a-okay. So we can't get there, but we can get home? Thanks? After a few hours of stress new flights were sorted and we were on hour way about 12 hours later than we were due to have gone. We had taken a gamble on booking a domestic flight which left only a few hours after we would have arrived, so that flight had to be cancelled and re-booked at our expense. In all, over two and a half weeks of traveling we had a total of ten flights; seven of which were cancelled or significantly delayed. 'Tis the season, I suppose. In any case, after a cancellation, a delay, and another delay we finally made it to our first destination.
Koh Chang was, in my opinion, unremarkable. I realized too late that there are in fact *two* islands in Thailand called Koh Chang, and the one that had been recommended to us was not the one we ended up on. It was nice enough, warm, pleasant beach, but nothing special. It was a resort town. It could have been anywhere. It was, also, the location of a good chunk of our travel troubles... I had my first motorcycle driving lesson. About thirty seconds later I crashed a motorcycle into a ditch for the first time, leaving both me and the bike pretty scratched up. This became a big source of stress as the rental place had Paul's passport, and I'd read all kinds of horror stories about tourists having to pay huge amounts of money to get their passports back for the most minor damage on rental bikes, and I was worried that my stupidity was going to ruin our entire trip. Later that night I tripped and fell on a dirt road and scraped the heck out of the leg that wasn't already scraped up from the motorcycle incident. The next morning I woke up sick. Really sick. Unable to leave our bungalow and can't even keep water down for the better part of a day and a half kind of sick. Later that night Paul joined in on the fun, and in the middle of the night as we were lying in bed enjoying a brief respite from our competition for the bathroom, we heard a rustling in our bungalow. At first we thought we were hearing things, delirious from our sickness. Paul thought he saw something run across the floor, but convinced himself he must be hallucinating. Then the rustling got louder. We got up and turned on the light and as we did so our garbage can gave a frantic shake. Bloody hell. We moved all of the food and garbage in our room outside onto the balcony and told ourselves that if it could get in, it could get out, and went back to bed. Not the most restful of nights.
The next morning Paul got up and went for a 90 minute run in the heat. I dragged my ass to the nearest restaurant and had a fresh coconut (I figured I needed the electrolytes) and some dry toast. Everybody deals with being sick differently, I suppose. We took it pretty easy for the rest of the time in Koh Chang, having some beach naps, going to see a waterfall, cruising around to different parts of the island on the motorcycle. That night we took our tender tummies out for pizza, and on that let me say this: I believe firmly in eating the food of a place, food is such a huge part of the travel experience for me. I eat tapas in Spain, casados in Costa Rica, Thai food in Thailand, and I have always looked scornfully at the western tourists going out for pizza (or whatever) when they should be eating the local cuisine. Folks, I will judge no more. Although we were only violently ill the one time, our stomachs never really settled on this trip. We ate plenty of Thai food in venues ranging from swanky restaurants to holes in the wall to sketchy looking street food. And then we'd need to give our upset stomachs a break, so we'd look for something safe and neutral, something we knew would go down easy and stay down. I won't tell you how many times we had pizza on this trip, but I will tell you it was quite a few. Like I said, I will judge no more.
Our last morning on Koh Chang and it is time to return the rented bike. This moment had been keeping me up at night. We took it back to the family shop and of course they spotted the damage right away. A flurry of conversation in Thai and a few questions for us, then flipping through a catalog to check on the prices of the damaged parts. The fine? 300 Bhat (around $9). Ohmygodtherelief! Phew! Bike returned, Paul's passport secured, and we are on our way. Next up: Chiang Mai.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012