Dear yolomimo fans – our small but very dedicated group aka the “fomomimo club” – I would like to excuse myself for the dearth of blog entries in the last three days. Since arriving in Ko Tao, I’ve been busy with diving school which includes a fair amount of reading and homework every night (yes, homework, what?) We’re now getting through the backlog, enjoy!
On Day 11, our first full day in Ko Phangan, we did our routine early morning beach stroll. The wind was strong and the tide was high. The sky was also gray and cloudy.
Then we came back to First Villa’s restaurant to have breakfast. We asked our very bubbly and friendly hotel receptionist Bobo what activities to do for the day. She recommended renting scooters to explore the island only if we were already very comfortable riding motorcycles. I’m very risk averse so I completely agreed with her and crossed that off my list, Maurice was harder to convince. Barring that, she mentioned we can rent bikes and drew us a map of sites to check out: a nearby temple inland in the hills, an herbal steam sauna and the largest Yang Na Yai tree on the island.
While we were speaking, Bobo told me I sound like a rapper. She then proceeds to demonstrate by pumping her hand in rhythm and rapping some random lines uhh yeah yeah. She said I spoke English with confidence (did she mean swagger?) unlike other Chinese Americans she had met. Me? I sound like a rapper? Ok I guess I’ll take that as a compliment!
I noticed a trend. While traveling around Thailand, a few non-Americans (and that includes other English speakers like Brits and Aussies) have mentioned how they like the American accent. I guess it reminds them of either Hollywood or hip hop. To me, I always thought the “BBC” British accents were better, sounding more authoritative and intelligent no matter the content matter. Perhaps because I forget how pervasive American culture is everywhere in the world. At least according to Bobo, my American accent lends itself more to hip hop than Hollywood.
We first walked over to the Big C Supermarket on Ko Phangan’s main road to load up on sunscreen and snacks, then walked to the bike rental shop across from our resort. We rented two bikes for 100 THB per person for 24 hours. Then we were on our way. I suggested to Maurice we bike further southeast to Haad Rin, the area of Ko Phangan notorious for its monthly full moon parties.
Only about ten minutes into our ride, I rode over a stretch of asphalt that had many intentional potholes flanking my lane each hole was about 8 inches in diameter, spaced 3 feet apart on my left and right. These columns started and ended with deep rectangular holes about 8 feet across and 8 inches wide. These freaked me out plus it was my first time riding a “men’s bike” with the bar in front that runs straight across to your seat rather than diagonal like a “women’s bike” which would allow “ladies” to hop over the front with their long skirts on. Maurice saw that I was shaken by the holes and told me to get off that section of road and ride on the dusty side of the road instead. When I saw my chance, I turned to my left, braked and tried to swing my right leg over the bar in front of me. However, I miscalculated how short my legs are and I really should have swung my right leg over the back of my bike. So I fell sideways like a tree being cut down in the forest, scraping my left knee, shin and elbow.
I quickly righted myself and literally dusted myself off, embarrassed that I fell off a bicycle that was not even in motion. I fell off after I braked and came to a completely stop. Many people passed me on their motorbikes and pickup trucks looking shocked at how I fell, but seeing that Maurice came over to help me out, they kept on moving.
“I’m fine, I’m fine, it’s fine” I told Maurice as I got back on the bike and we continued riding until the road met the beach and we made a brief stop. That’s when I looked down and noticed how much I was bleeding.
Maurice took a dip in the ocean while I cleaned my knee with some bottled water. It looked worse than it actually felt. We then continued riding until it got extremely difficult with steeper and steeper hills, Harlem Hill in NYC’s Central Park is a joke compared to these guys. We had to walk the bikes much of the way. Made worse by the fact that we were both wearing flip flops.
People riding cars, trucks and motorbikes stared at us like we were in over our heads. (We were). We were rewarded with great views of the ocean with Ko Samui a dark blob in the distance.
I was still pretty shaken with my fall earlier in the day so I even walked my bike down the steeper hills when Maurice just braked his way down. Looking at the map later that night we noticed in red front “Dangerous Steep Paths” marking the curvy road we took up those hills. Should have paid more attention at those!
After we made it back to flat roads near Baan Tai village, we had lunch at a hole in the wall restaurant across the street from a large coconut plantation where a dozen workers were removing husks from coconuts and loading them onto trucks.
At the restaurant, one lady did all the cooking and sold various fresh coconuts and different types of coconut oil. We were her only customers for well over an hour.
The food was simple but very good homestyle Thai food. We drank and ate four very fresh coconuts between the two of us. Not to mention mango and watermelon shakes as well.
It was a long day so I was very glad to chill at the pool at sunset. With my cleaned and bandaged knee hanging off the side of the pool of course. It was very windy all day which made the sea cold and the waves choppy. Likewise both the pool and the jacuzzi were cold, we left only ten minutes after dunking our bodies in.
We had dinner at First Villa’s on-site restaurant. We talked to Bobo to hook us up with a day trip out to Ang Thong Marine National Park tomorrow. She recommended not going because the sea was rough and the boats usually cancel the day of if they think it’s unsafe to make the journey. Maurice also embarassed me further by showing off my bandaged knee to Bobo telling her “See you were right, it’s a good thing we didn’t rent motorbikes!”
We decided tomorrow we’ll stay on Ko Phangan. We still had our bikes until noon so we used them to explore another part of the island. No more steep hills this time!