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Posts Tagged ‘Amsterdam Resort’

Perfection (barring jellies and tsunamis)

February 8, 2010 4 comments

We knew when we were herded onto the open truck with a couple of Poles and all of our gear that we weren’t getting to Khao Lak that night.  The bus station, as the man at the Surat Thani information desk had warned us, was an overpriced Tourist Agency that didn’t even sell tickets to our location.  We had gone irrevocably downtown away from the bus station, and by that point so had the sun.

We crossed the street in a bit of a huff, I refused to pay the cab driver (and miraculously got away with it–possibly because we stomped away while he hassled the Poles).  There, however, we were drawn back to another agency where a polite woman named Ahn convinced us to spend the night at a low cost backpacker hostel and then take the 7am bus the next day.

Surat Thani is like the Kettleman City of Southern Thailand, albeit slightly larger.  It’s a juncture from which one can head to a multitude of different spots of interest.  It’s got the cheap In&Out burgers (or Pad Thai, rather), but it doesn’t have much else.  We lay in the hostel watching a Jessica Alba movie until we fell asleep.  It was a bit of a disappointment, as we’d been on the train from Bangkok for eight hours that day and had spent our final day in Bangkok in air conditioned markets or indoors hiding from the rabid street vendors and Ladyboys.  In our defense, though, Zhuhai does not have the National Geographic channel.

So until today we had been feeling a bit disillusioned, a bit tired of temples and pretending to pray to gods we didn’t feel any connection to, and a bit disappointed in ourselves as travelers.  We got on the bus, and fell right back to sleep.

Five hours later we got off the bus and were in Paradise.  I mean the city of Khao Lak on the Southwest Coast of Thailand.  We’d read about it on travelfish.com and seen that it was very small, friendly, and was trying to recover from the devastation of the 2004 Tsunami.  If ever there was an opposite to Bangkok, this was it.  We sat down in the “D-Time Bar” where the servers saw our backpacks and immediately called our hotel for us.

As we sat, sipping cool drinks and staring at the emerald-green mountains, a lanky farang (foreigner) with a fanny pack stalked up to us.

“You speak English or Sprechen sie deutcshe?”  He told us that he was Kees and would be taking us to the Amsterdam Resort.

Don’t let “Resort” fool you–I’m far from a high roller.  What we got was a simple bungalow with a fan and a mosquito net.  We did find out, however, that Kees is in charge of the place itself.  He likes to sit at a table in the center of the open-air restaraunt giving free travel advice and adding up totals on a clacky-keyed calculator.

We ran straight into the ocean, and then straight back out, after Brian was stung by a jellyfish.  After that incident we decided to take it easy and wade across the lagoon to a beach shack called the Sunset Bar, where we sat, quietly, until sunset.  Nop, the owner, came to us with a brown paper folder full of before and after pictures from the tsunami.  He apparently, had the bar for years before.  There had once been evergreen trees surrounding it.  There had not been any lagoon.

We promised to come back, tonight, for dinner.

Brian and I spent the day cycling on the left side of the road to witness white sand beaches and step over dead jellies lying in beds of shells.  Tomorrow we’re going to hike to a waterfall.  Right now, though, we’ve got a date with Nop, a Sunset, and squid.

Suck on that, Bangkok.