I’m sitting on the beach on the island of Koh Pangan. The sun will soon set. There are a lot of clouds. A taxi boat is going by. It’s a long wooden thing manned by one man who drops people off where the water is knee deep. There aren’t many people on this beach. It is very peaceful. We have a couple of small wooden bungalows. Somewhat authentic, these bungalows are made entirely of coconut trees; the wooden frame made of the trunk, and the roof and walls made of the leaves. At night it is very dark, one or two light bulbs flickering on our side of the beach and it is also very windy. I came here with a couple of friends I met while living in Japan.
Yesterday, I went to town. I walked a little ways through the coconut trees to the dirt road. It was a nice walk. There was a school with its open windows and children inside. I passed by a barber shop which consisted of an old barber’s chair, one wall and a roof. A man was lying on the barber chair while another was shaving him. They both watched me pass by. There were wooden shack houses along the way with people sitting in front of them, eating, watching me go by. “Hello!” A Motorcycle would go by every now and then. The mid-day sun was quite intense. Eventually, one guy on a motorcycle stopped and asked with sign language if I wanted a ride. I hopped on and it was fun! We quickly got to the town which was a few wooden buildings with items on sale in them; clothes and food. There were a lot of tourists; may-be twenty all together. There was a really nice outdoor restaurant right on the water. I asked for some coconut water but the waiter said he didn’t have any so I pointed to all the coconut trees. “You want I get??” he asked in amazement. He then explained that most of the trees didn’t belong to the people of the island, but to some companies that make oil. He was really nice and had a wonderful sense of humor.
Later, Caiseal, Etsuko and I went back to “town”. We got rides on two motorcycles. Etsuko and I were on the back of one and Caiseal on the back of another. It is not uncommon to see three or four people on a bike. In fact the first guy wanted all three of us to get on the bike with him. We went back to the restaurant for dinner. The same waiter sat at our table and talked to us for a while.
Afterwards Caiseal was teaching me how to ride one of the two motorbikes we had rented before dinner. We practiced on this small clear lot near the restaurant. I was not coordinated enough and fell off the bike hurting my leg. The sun was setting. People were watching us now. I wanted to give up. The bikes needed fuel. We decided to go get some. But the nice waiter was worried about me so he offered to take me on the bike to the gas station with Caiseal following behind, Etsuko on the back. We rode down this pitch dark trail to the petrol stand: a young guy behind a wooden counter with a glass container of red liquid with lines for liters marked on it. We took two liters from a rubber hose.
Chai, the waiter, helped us get the money back for the bike that I had by now given up on. He then took me home on the back of his dirt bike with Caiseal and Etsuko following behind on the rented bike. Chai is such a great guy, he has an unlimited amount of energy and goodwill, makes us laugh all the time and he finds a way to say “never mind” in every sentence.
Yesterday morning we all three got on Caiseal’s bike and went back to Chai’s restaurant. After some mangos and papayas, Caiseal got on the bike which was parked on the little dirt lot next to the outdoor restaurant. There was a deep ditch and she couldn’t stop in time so down the ditch went Caiseal. The bike turned over, gasoline and water spilling out. Chai came to the rescue again. He picked up the bike, cleaned it up, and hosed it down while Caiseal went into the ocean to rinse off. By now many villagers were gathered around talking about what happened. The guy that owned the bike, still a little upset that we had returned the other bike the day before came by to see what was going on. We got out of there, all three of us on the bike with some of the villagers clapping as we rode by them. They were congratulating us on finally being able to ride the bike!