Unlike Koh Tao, Koh Samui has a real physician (at Bangkok Hospital Samui) and this (now third) opinion of the recalcitrant spider bite includes prescription for:
- Diclocil (antibiotic) 500mg 4x/day x 7days
- Voltaren (anti-inflammation) 25mg 3x/day x 7days
- Prednisolome (immune / steroid?) 30mg 3x/day x 2days
Friendly Thai receptionist "Em" mopeds us to outdoor Thai market for quick, spicy dinner before revealing motel near hospital. 700B/night is twice my Koh Tao oven, but reliable electricity & AC justify it, despite its view (PHOTO pending)
Museli and espresso at "AKWA" improve me.
Flight home is April 17 via mileage-based biz-class BKK-SIN-LAX but United says "Change date or itinerary, and lose your ticket". Since I'm a whore for business class, I might have to stay another three weeks in Asia for the pleasure of freely preserving 16 hours of legroom.
Former Vignette buddy Robert Knickman in Singapore invites me for two days, but short coach flights start at $500, which is just outside rationalization range, even to visit him. I'm sorry Knicky, but we still have the Singapore airport (2pm-3pm April 17) where story jars will be full.
Crosshairs aim now for liveaboard diving in one of:
- The Great Barrier Reef (the long flight nixes it)
- Papua New Guinea ($3000 BKK-POM-BKK flight nixes it)
- The Maldives (if I can find cheap accomodations, at high season)
Researching flights and liveaboard options in the Maldives, I consider Bangkok -> Male -> Bangkok and a week of liveaboard diving. Perhaps my OW/Rescue/DM instructor friend Linda Sue Dingel can find otions?
Although this will put a hurt on the pocketbook, we have only one life. To preserve mine, I'll navigate the 100% Muslim population better than the Koh Tao Moped Front Brake Downhill Slalom.
Dinner at a nice (Chinese) restaurant (first nice one in a month) Retreat to my gloriously AC-powered room to read.
Transferring gear from hospital to motel, my Samui transition is nearly complete. Riding the island on a (200B/day) moped, discovering lessons about...
- Arising before dawn maximizes daylight and coolness
- Reading in the AC beats everything else except...
- Getting eight hours sleep
- Tropical heat and humidity easily exhausts me
- I miss unprocessed food (veggies/fruits/fiber)
- I need regular exercise to preserve mental energy
- Wounds need prompt/full/accurate medical treatment
- Inexpensive rooms are good only if quiet
- Negative outweighs positive only when allowed
Reading map roadside, another moped rider pulls off 10m ahead, and waits for me to approach. During our short chat, the stranger is friendlier than most, so I keep looking over my shoulder for his accomplice as he "distracts" me with questions and compliments about my grasp of Thai language. I soon bid friendly farewell, but as I ride off, I realize no such accomplice existed, and that my paranoia had overrun me.
It shouldn't seem strange when others are friendly.
The moving moped cools almost as effectively as my room's AC, and it's great to have both on demand. But neither reduces my carbon footprint, so simply being in this climate zone causes mild guilt. Besides, riding "two-up" on the moped would be more fun.
During my full island circuit, I stop half-way around, at Hin Lad waterfall. Considering the rocky tramp ahead, I decide against the hike, ride away, and suddenly feel old. So I return, disembark into the woods, and navigate slippery rocks upstream. Slowly realizing I've made the the right decision, six or seven Thai children (ages 5-10) appear, playing on rocks and jumping and sliding into the water around me. Happiness abounds in their element.
My spirit joins them.
Placing my backpack on a nearby rock (and watching it like a hawk) the only Farang melts into the soothing, cool, murky water. One other adult watches from the water near me. Kids start playing with me, sliding, smiling, teasing, splashing, surprising, swimming, laughing, and during the next 45 minutes, I feel I've known them for days.
I realize, after a while, that my fear (of being ripped off) is unwarranted, as it had also been earlier today. I've been conditioned by "home base" friends and U.S. society to be paranoid. Although precaution and skepticism can be healthy, I've encountered so many native Thai's who've surprised me on the upside. I only see negative attitude from Thai's when they've had frequent contact with touristy Farang. Most offer smiling, happy help, and I believe that's their true nature.
Reading "Flow" from my good friend Seth Alsbury. Down the street, the "AKWA cafe" serves up:
- Museli with fruit and yogurt
- "In My Life" from Rubber Soul by the Beatles
- Free and reliable (but slow) Internet access points
Costs run high for diving in The Maldives:
- $1000 for flight (BKK-MLE-BKK on Bangkok Airways)
- $1700 for seven days/nights liveaboard diving
- $1200 for three nights room & board
From home, I most miss:
- crisp weather
- air-conditioned gyms
- fresh healthy food
- fast networks
- my bicycle
- friends and family
- shallow American media sold to the lowest common denominator
- demotion of the Moped in modern society
- "did you see xyz on TV last night?"
- mix of spiritual orientations
- distance from home and required self-reliance
- frontier spirit and lax law enforcement
- disorientation and constant access to danger
- eclectic mix of people who come out at night, after the heat passes
- chaotic freedom of movement, on two-wheeled vehicles
- art cars (think "motorcycle-meets-pancake-wagon")
- shortage of reliable drinking water
Contemplating the return home, through Bangkok, where I can finally detach from 30kg backpack of IDC-related books/binders I've shlepped through:
- Hermosa Beach
- Kata Big Rock
- Khao Luk
- Koh Tao
- Koh Samui
Zooming around Koh Samui on finely-tuned moped, learning more lessons...
- Maintain mental independence from commercial media
- Always explore the dirty core of a country (not touristy areas)
- Treat others as well as you treat yourself.
- Trust, but verify
- Be grateful for all the good fortune
- Ensure effect of my life is positive re: psychic/social legacy