I decided to splurge and do the whole tourist thing on my day off. I took the ferry to Ko Samet (ko = island) and got a room at a resort. It was 700 baht... cheap if you're making $$ but it's about two hours of teaching for me.
I'm standing right outside my room, and look - there's the ocean!
It was overcast, and kind of cool - I was glad I'd brought my jacket. I spent the better part of the day just sitting in a lounge chair eating pineapple, drinking a frou frou drink and getting my nails done. It's just entirely too easy to spend money without leaving your chair. It was relaxing if not as warm as I would have liked. My view of the ocean was marred only by the nearly endless stream of old and/or overweight Europeans in bikinis and speedos. On the one hand, I applaud their body confidence, on the other hand... I'd almost rather see them naked than squished up in unflattering swimwear.
Eventually I got up and wandered around a bit along the main stretch of road from the pier to the resorts. Just a lot of guest houses, shops and restaurants. There was a pizza place that looked promising - I'll have to try it next time. The vibe was definitely 'dirty backpacker' rather than 'tropical paradise' and people were drinking as they walked down the street. And by "people" I am of course including myself. ;)
After my little bit of exploring, I showered, changed & pre-funked a bit more before going out to check out the nightlife.
I mostly hung out at the Ploy bar, then walked around the beach some more. The fire dancer show caught my attention though, so I came back. There were a few old Thai guys next to me watching the show and one or the other of us tried to communicate a bit.... it just wasn't happening. They shared their whiskey with me though... can't complain. Eventually I sat down at one of the tables and had dinner. At the next table there were a bunch of Fins and the son of a Liberian diplomat... or you know, a really good liar. ;) I chatted a bit with them... but didn't like join their group or anything. That's all a lot harder than it looks in the movies. But I made an attempt.
And for that attempt... I gave myself some props.
The next morning I got up pretty early and went for another walk around the beach. As soon as the restaurants opened, I went up and ordered a big ol' American breakfast. A few monks were already there getting their morning alms, and I got to hear them chant a bit before they left.
I ate my breakfast on the beach, under the watchful eyes of a hungry dog.
Unfortunately for poochy I've drawn a firm line on this issue - I refuse to feed the dogs that wander around begging.
At around 10am the clouds finally started to clear and it warmed up considerably. I'd planned to leave at around noon, so I only got a good hour or so of warm sunny beach time before I had to get ready to go. But I enjoyed it thouroughly.
Going to a resort while I'm living essentially in the same town was a weird experience. First off, it was strange to still be in Thailand but have most people speak English. I'm so used to struggling through transactions. I felt really lazy and weird just going up and ordering food etc. in English. It was flat out SURREAL to sit at the bar and watch English girls come up and rattle off their drink orders and/or flirt with the bartenders all in drunk-girl English (which is vastly different from the teacher-English I usually speak.... very-slowly-very-clearly-fewest-number-of words-possible) I just found myself laughing ... at them, at myself, I don't know.
I did not feel at all like I fit in with the European holiday-makers, but I didn't feel much like I fit in with the backpacker scene either. There were a couple of dirty dread-locked guys sitting at a table behind me smoking & exuding enui. Sooo not my thing. But I'm certainly not a local either. I've only been here three months and my language skills are quite pitiful. So it was just strange. The Liberian diplomat's son & the Finnish guys were students from Bangkok... I guess that's more my style.... semi-permanent, semi-local and in Thailand for some purpose other than partying on the beach.
All in all it was a good, if expensive, trip. Any time I get to spend the day at the beach is a good day. Again, it would have been more fun if I'd had a friend with me. I don't understand how other people can go into a situation like that and end up with travel buddies and further adventures. Maybe it just happens in books. I don't know.
The trip gets a Code Mango, but I had a fairly harsh reentry into reality when I got back. My schedule was all messed up and I had to teach a class that wasn't on my schedule and for which I was not even remotely prepared... oh and I was half an hour late because I didn't know about it. That's a serious buzz kill. Then my plans for New Years got thwarted, all the busses to Chiang Mai are full. And now the airport situation has gone from interesting to disturbing. I was talking to Rod & Tod and they didn't seem to think the airports would reopen any time soon. So despite all the awesomeness of Ko Samet, I'm hovering at Code Bananas and while I'm not checking for flights home, I did go check the Dept. of State's travel alert. I'm still safe, but no one knows how this whole thing is going to play out.