Monday, 2 January 2012

Ko Wai to Lonely Beach

In which we are tormented by jetski riders and stay in a construction site
Starring a taxi driver’s dog and a woman whose surname was Beer!

There is nothing lonely about Lonely Beach.  I’m sure it might once have been a sleepy beach haven dusted with a scattering of stilted huts, but now, it’s the party capital of Ko Chang – so this was where set off for, the day before New Year’s Eve.  We had tried to book somewhere to stay – calling at least four places who either roared with laughter or huffed that they didn’t take reservations and we should come and see them when we got there – but in the end just accepted that it was all going to be a bit of a trial.

The ferry from Ko Wai back to the mainland goes once a day at about 13:00 so we had just enough time for a last swim in the sea and a laid back lunch.  It was absolutely packed when it arrived – having been picking up other passengers all through the archipelago. We ended up sitting on top of the luggage in the hold.

From the harbour we jumped into a songwetha – jeeps that have been converted into taxis – and roared over the hills to the Lonely Beach where the long trek to find somewhere to stay began.  We walked up and down the whole strip asking at every single place – even the most disgusting of them.  Eventually having found somewhere for one night, we walked to the next village and there found not one, but two, brand new huts at Tarzan Island which had literally just opened that day. The mattresses were wrapped in plastic and the whole garden was still a construction site, literally with piles of rubble lying around and rubbish on fire.  But it was somewhere to stay.

The accommodation exercise had taken us the entire afternoon so we quickly retired to a cliff top restaurant for sundowners before doing some quite extensive testing of the mojito selections on offer in town. 

We spent the next day relaxing on Lonely Beach – mainly lolling about reading – but finally in a spurt of unprecedented energy, hiring a pedalo and setting off around the bay. It was considerably more tiring that it looked but we made it quite far despite the efforts of the jetski riders who would roar past howling with laughter as we rocked helplessly in their wake. 

The New Year’s eve parties in town were not the kind to fill the spirit with goodwill for the year to come.  Every place we tried was full of 20-something Brits and Aussies in extremely little clothing downing buckets (really – a bucket each with straws) of cocktails which they were given free on presentation of a flyer.  We did not have any flyers.  Nor indeed, any desire to drink out of a bucket.  We eventually set off for the beach where it was all a lot better – the resorts had set up bars on the beach and people were sitting round on mats. We joined a group sitting one of the mats and got chatting.  One of the girls lived in Jakarta and was very aptly, called Helena Beer.  At midnight they set a huge Happy New Year sign on fire and let off a few fireworks.  We stood in the sea and said: “Hey, we’re standing in the sea on New Year’s eve drinking beer”.  It was great. 

Unfortunately because I had been expecting to start work in KL on the 3rd of Jan (but had since turned down the job) we had to head back to Bangkok rather early on New Year ’s Day so that I could make my flight.  It’s was a rather arduous journey that started with a 45 minute songwetha ride over hilly Ko Chang which was punctuated with stops at the veterinary clinic to pick up the drivers dog and for one of the Canadian girls to vomit into the bushes.  Then an hour on the ferry, then an hour sitting around, and then another 6 or so hours to Bangkok.  At some point along the way I left my hiking boots behind, making a nice round set of three things lost on this bit of the trip (including the sunglasses and towel).  That kicked off a bout of self-fury that was only appeased with two more mojitos at a very nice little place around the corner from the Khao San Road.  We did have to sit with our feet up on our chairs though as there were an unnerving number of oversized cockroaches and one giant rat all at large on the bar floor.  

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