To the surprise of everyone, myself included, I’ve survived my 23rd* year. To all my friends, you’re welcome. To all my foes, try harder. I’m looking at right at you, mosquitos. That nasty bout of dengue fever last week was a solid attempt, but I’m not letting you bloodsuckers bring me down. That said, I must recommend to everyone to avoid getting dengue fever. It’s a brutal headache, gnawing body aches, and your eyes feel like they’re being twisted in a vice grip. It might not have even been dengue – a pediatrician staying at the resort said it could have just been some nonspecific viral infection – but I wasn’t paying any hospital fees to find out for sure. So long as I didn’t end up with a purple body rash, I was just going to remain in bed, chugging water and bemoaning consciousness. Also, a word from the now-older and slightly-wiser Barbara: get travel insurance before you go on a trip. Shit is balls to work out when you’re already abroad, if you can even do it.
On lighter notes, I had a lovely birthday despite being on the recovery from dengue. It was incidentally my last day at work, and my employers brought out an adorable Pooh Bear cake while I was designing logos for them. I got my hair hacked off by a devil-may-care Thai woman with scissors, and she washed my eyebrows (??) and got all up in my ears with her soapy fingers (DID NOT ENJOY THIS PART). I ended up in an international motorbike gang from my resort when I got back and we grilled meat Thai BBQ style. They got me surprise birthday muffins with 23 candles, a postcard of Samui and a big bottle of beer. Cutesy!
I spent two days in Koh Phagnan on a secluded beach called Haad Yuan, and the only way to get there is a 200 baht taxi boat from Haad Rin (Full Moon Party beach, which I went to, by the way. It was everything I expected – overrated, filled with drunk Australians in neon, and tastelessly hedonistic – but still an all right time). Getting off the taxi boat, I fell and dunked my daypack into the ocean. Good thing I got that protection plan for the Nook because it is notttt turning on anymore. What will I read for the next few weeks?!?! Judging by the bookshops I’ve seen, the only books people read when traveling are trashy romance novels or Dan Brown. Whyyyyyyy.
I stayed in Eden’s Garden, a secluded bar with bungalows, beach views, and blacklights, and I danced and drank and debauched myself into a day of hangover hammocking on Sunday. I went from reading Richard Feynman in that hammock to drinking on a boat in the middle of the ocean with three Thai fishermen that night. Why not. I caught six fish and an eel! They had a whole food set-up going and made an appetizer of lime-garlic-chili fish/squid (one guy reached overboard, snatched up a fish, carved it up, and threw it into this sauce he mortar-and-pestled together – pretty fucking cool) and squid soup with squid they just caught. They didn’t speak much English. I’m not sure how I ended up on that boat, but hey, free dinner and beer.
Now, I’m on Koh Tao at a fancy-pantsy resort learning to scuba dive. We’ve been watching cheesy videos from the 90s, learning diving theory, and practicing in a pool. In an hour, we go out to sea for two 12-meter dives, and by Friday, I should be certified to dive up to 18 meters. It’s whale shark season here – the biggest fish in the world, apparently – so hopefully I can see one in my silly scuba gear. I’ll be schlepping back up to Bangkok this weekend to catch a flight to Sri Lanka on Monday morning, and I’ll be prancing around there for about three weeks. Still not entirely sure what I’ll be doing there, but there will hopefully be diving, hiking, checking out some ancient villages, and eating lots of delicious food. Until then, I’m eating all the Thai food I can and drinking as many coconut shakes as I can handle before I leave Thailand indefinitely.