Koh Phayam: Nothing, Nothing At All.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I went to an island in Thailand called Koh Phayam for a little under a month. 

I knew Thailand had some really beautiful beaches and islands and also that some of them were teeming with douchebags who wanted nothing more than to party their faces off. So I looked at a list of which islands you could surf in and Thailand and chose the least douche-baggey sounding one on the list. 

And it was a good choice. The beaches are beautiful, wide stretches with few people on them (although people who have been coming to the island regularly are complaining that this is changing rapidly), clear water that gradates into a blueish green. Only downside of the water (what?!) is that there are jellyfish tentacles kicking around, so you'll be happily floating along and then all of the sudden feel that sudden prickly jolt for a few minutes. 

The island produces rubber, so you'd see lots of trees like this.

And cashew nuts. 

Mangroves on the island too. 

The water recedes like crazy on one of the beaches. It was hilarious/embarrassing: one day I decided, I am going to kayak on this beach. The instant I got in the kayak I was like, wait, do I even know how to kayak? I had only been once before and it was with someone else and I remembered it being fairly easy. And the concept of kayaking is pretty straightforward too, just stick the paddles in and you move. But I was already kind of hungry, the sun was blaring down, and I had pretty much no upper arm strength and I was so awkward at first. Eventually I got pretty far out (when I asked where I could kayak, the man renting it out to me just waved at the ocean and said vaguely, 'there') and I decided I needed to go back and I guess I was pretty weak at this point because I would paddle for 5 minutes and not have moved an inch. I was beginning to panic. And so I paddled as hard as I could and finally began to move slowly to the shore. Eventually a man in a speedboat came by and asked me if I was okay, and at the time I was and I had said yes, and when he left, I was like, man why didn't I say I needed his help? As I was getting close to the shore, I also was like, wait, where on the shore did I leave from? I couldn't remember that either. But as you can see, I made it. And I told someone about my kayak struggle and they're like, you know when the tide is low in the afternoon you can just walk to where you kayaked out to?

Ugh, for real?

This was the first time I had seen this - little crabs making these sand balls on the beach. It kind of weirded me out - it was like crop circles for beaches. 

Pretty shells everywhere. 

Beach dogs. 

Here is this guy sleeping in a couple of ways:

And then him kissing/getting unwillingly licked by another dog:

Kids on the island:

This fell on me one day and I thought it was nice:

It should rain flowers on people more. 

I was such a noob in a lot of ways before I came to the island. I had never manually flushed a toilet before (I now completely understand the word 'flushing' now), had electricity for limited amounts of time (makes me realize how much I took it for granted and never really gave it much thought), taken cold showers straight, burned my own garbage (this can't be good), etc. I wasn't prepared for that stuff at all, and it's funny because back in Vancouver, I remember trying to seek out places on the islands where it was more simple living where you didn't have electricity 24/7, have to shower outdoors, etc, etc. I romanticized simple living so much and when I had to actually do it, I kind of railed against it at first and was like, man I only want these things in a certain perfect way that isn't real. But a lot of people that moved themselves to the island from developed places like Bangkok, it seemed like one of the reasons why they liked the island so much was that they had to work for those functional aspects of a day. That they earned their existence there and made it themselves. 

haha the inside of the motorbike I rented while I was on the island. It was hard to take this thing seriously at first. After being in Chiang Mai, all of the sudden I just wanted to learn how to ride a motorbike. This island was the perfect place to do it because there's not many people driving around and when you do, they're going at like 30, 40 km at the most. Before we think that I am kind of cool (and if you didn't, that's cool too) - I rode an automatic motorbike - and really there is not much to learn except to just turn it on and sit there and sometimes accelerate and brake. Although because I was completely new to riding on one, when I first got it, I didn't even know how to turn it on and the guy I was renting it from was like, are you for real? And then I awkwardly hobbled off with the bike and the man was just like, whoooooo did I just rent this to and am I going to get this thing back in one piece.

But once you get the hang of it, zooming along the island was one of the best parts of the trip. You're just surrounded by lush trees and tropical plants and the wind is blowing against you and man you feel so great and don't want it to end.  

I had come to the island to surf but being the doofus that I am, I came at the wrong month (I figured that there might not be great waves all the time, but there's gotta be some waves for the month that I am there) and it was completely flat the entire time. I had no idea what to do on the island then and I began asking people, "So...what do you do here?" and most of them replied, "Nothing."

And it was hard to let go and to not do much and not feel guilty about it.  To not feel that you were wasting time. But at the same time getting mad at yourself for thinking you're wasting time because here you are on this beautiful island, thinking it's a waste to do nothing and this is a nice and lucky thing to be here and the last thing you should do is complain about it or think it's dumb to just be there.

But eventually I allowed nothingness to take over as much as I could. I would wake up, read (I read more books in that month that I had in probably a year - this and this were particularly good), maybe paint, go find a place to eat lunch, hang out on the beach for a few hours, read some more, make dinner, and watch some shows or a movie on my laptop. I would also perfect my candle setup in my place at night (because it had this awful depressing fluorescent lighting) - but I think in the process I just actually ended up perfecting the perfect setup for a mayfly infestation. Man that was gross. 

The island also made me like Thailand even more, almost love it really. Which is funny cause I felt ambivalent towards it at first and at times, hated it. The nothingness gave me space, to let me see how good everything is so far and thank you thank you thank you.

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