Although I generally avoid going to the same country twice, Thailand was beautiful enough and the food is good enough to visit it a second time. This time instead of traveling around the entire time I was there I was lucky enough to settle down for over a week on the island of Koh Phag Nan and kiteboard for most of my visit.
Getting there was a little tricky, not once but twice we boarded a flight then were kicked off due to technical difficulties. In all my years of flying this has never happened to me even once, so it was something of a shock to have it happen twice on the same trip in different cities. Many other travelers were quite disheartened but Sun and I did a good job of taking everything in stride. The airport put us up in Tokyo in a very nice hotel with an amazing breakfast buffet. We were amazed by the efficiency of the Japanese and their very nice flush toilets with 15 different buttons for assorted butt-washes, deodorizers and even a fake flushing noise.
As we arrived at Bankok the tensions were high and we spent a very long time waiting for the bus to come. As it turns out the protesters had blocked the road to the airport and were coming in mass to shut it down. We were lucky with our most excellent timing.
We caught an overnight train down to Chumpoon then the high speed ferry to the island. There were huge waves and the boat was going wicked fast so most of the people on the boat were throwing up into plastic bags. It was a sight to see, even Sun got sick. I was giddy with excitement so it was hard for me to not make light of the situation.
The island was pretty windy, but the place we were staying at Haad Rin the wind was terrible. It was 5-25 mph with not much in between. I tried launching my big kite but it was so scary I pulled the release and went back to shore. The next morning I packed up my kite and board and harness in a backpack and went hiking up this huge hill on the island. After 5 hours of jungle trekking I came upon a Thai man with nothing but a loincloth and a machete. I was lost, he clearly didn’t speak any English. I had my spaceman kite helmet on as well as my kite and kiteboard strapped to my back. I can only imagine what he was thinking. After another hour or so of trekking down an overgrown creek-bed I came to a beach where the wind was equally crappy. I tried to launch but it was so bad the kite got knocked out of the sky. I gave up and packed everything on my back and actually spent 2 hours swimming back to the town with my kite. I was so frustrated I had sat on the beach crying, but then I doubled my resolve and rented a scooter and started driving. After 30 minutes of driving north I found a kite school and they let me know where the good places to go were. I drove another 30 minutes or so north getting terribly lost without a map and finally found a great spot with clean wind and other kiters there! I was stoked and rode 3 hours till it was pitch dark and everyone else had long gone. By the time I made it back to Haad Rin Sun was pretty worried because I had bailed without leaving a note and she had no idea where I was. The next 5 days I drove up to that same spot, a resort called Malibu beach on the north side of the island and rode for a total of 25 hours over 7 days. One day was epic and I was overpowered on my 12 Speed 2 the entire day, jumping 25-30 feet high several times on every tack. One of the days I lost all my money and had to borrow $1 to get gas for my scooter to get home, but I ended up borrowing it from a Canadian kiter so all was well.
Sun spent 10am – 5pm most days studying Thai massage while I tooled around the island on my awesome Honda scooter. Thailand is a great place for motorcycle riding, lots of twists and turns and scooters make up 90% of the road traffic so it’s not as scary as riding a scooter in the states. There was basically no one there the entire time we were there and many Thais were talking about the airport sit in and how it was hurting their economy. As it got closer and closer to the time of our departure and it was still unclear if we were going to be able to leave I switched the tickets to Singapore instead and bought bus tickets to fly from Singapore. The last day we were there was Sun’s only free day so we spent the day together and toured around the island on the scooter. We went to a Chinese temple and tried to do an elephant ride with a very uncooperative elephant. We ended up turning the elephant around and giving up after only moving about 100 yards in 15 minutes of intense encouragement. There was a monkey that Sun loved to play with and that attacked me. Then we went to have lunch on the beach where I had kiteboarded every day. It was a very nice day that ended with her getting a tattoo of a lotus flower on her heart.
The drive back through Malasia was totally cool. I didn’t realize that everyone pretty much in Malaysia was Muslim and it was far less ghetto than I had expected. Singapore was spotless and clean in most of the city, except for Little India where we were staying where it was dirty, noisy and intense. Just the way we like it.
It was a great trip, lots of traveling and a little bit of rest and relaxation. There were times during the trip where I ran the entire gambit of emotions but all in all it was a very positive experience. It was amazing watching the Thais non-violently non-cooperate and make very real change in their government. It made me happy to be able to contribute to their protest by rearranging my travel plans. I felt bad for the 250,000 travelers who were inconvenienced but in the end I think that it was the right thing for the Thai people to do.