So I haven’t mentioned this but the island has been sending me emails since I got here.
It’s cute. They write in broken english in all caps. I think it’s Barrett because it seems like his kind of game. But when the first one was sent (from gmail) both Andy and Ryan where online at the time. So they where first targets. Pete has god speak in all caps in his book (which I still haven’t read, sorry Pete I’m a bad person!) so that implicates him. And the most recent bit feels a little ‘Yes Man’ which I know Alan has read, and I think he’s read Pete’s book as well. So he’s on the list. Anyway all the emails come out at extremely late hours thai-time when any respecting Island would be asleep. Listen here: I expect the next one to be sent at 3 in the morning your time or I will not be impressed!
The first few where all like ‘justify your existance on the island’ (kind of red dwarf style, which I know Alan has seen, and Ryan has recently made other refrences to). But then I put them on the defensive for a while (more easily than expected which leans against Pete and Alan who, being younger brothers, are masters of the rhetorical argument). The most recent one has, in a clumbsy attempt to regain the upper hand, sent me on a quest. To Wat somethingorother. I don’t remember the name and as I write this the intertubes are clogged (probably with online gambling and too many internets). A Wat on the island that features on only one of the six maps we have checked of the island.
So OK, if the emails are going to be interesting I figure I might as well play along. The Island asked me for photographic proof that I had visited the Wat and I was tempted to just drive out to the high-school or something and click a picture there knowing that whoever was behind this would be none the wiser but what the hell.
So I set off alone (Sarah wasn’t so into the random task, or should I call it an odd job?). I have been down the road that the Wat is supposed to be on. It’s the road to the Phaeng Waterfalls that are so lack-luster (a middle-aged couple from campbell river we met earlier in the day and then again in the falls parking-lot agreed). I didn’t remember passing any temples last time we where on the road.
So I dutifully drive out there, along a cross road I have never been on before through some very nice palm plantations. And get to the falls having seen nothing like a Wat. I drive up and down the stretch of road it’s supposed to be on a couple of times to no avail. I end up just taking a picture of this big house on the road, deciding to claim that was the Wat. I could have photoshopped in some monks or something after the fact. So I had plan B under my belt but I wasn’t going to give up the search that easily. I rode back along the road very slowly peering through the jungle/palm plantaions and just managed to pick out a rocky spire 100 meters off the road. So I parked my bike and hiked through the jungle/palm plantation towards the spire. I got a decent view of it from the other side of a barbed wire fence. And snapped a picture. Which I’m sure would have saisified whoever, but as long as I’m here I might as well check the place out. So I walked along the barbed wire fence figuring hopping the fence into the place of Buddhist medatation in a 90% Buddhist country was a bad idea. Lukily through someone’s back yeard I found a gap.
There are definitely perks to the camera. I feel pretty confortable wandering around anywhere. If someone stops me and asks me why the hell I’m wandering through their back-yard I figure I can just hold up the camera and be like I’m taking pictures of birds or something. Plus I have learned that people really enjoy having their picture taken so if your next move is pointing at them with the international ‘can I take your picture’ motion then your out of any trouble you were in and well on your way to getting a lift back into town.
So noone asked my I was in their back-yard or their jungle/palm plantation so my occasional half-hearted show of taking pictures of plants was unecessary.
Yes so wandering into the Wat complex I noticed the big stone building, the temple proper, a nice fancy bell, and some out-buildings. All seemed abandoned. I took some pictures of some very pretty stuff and was walking along the side of the temple and woke up a monk sleeping on the balcony of a little wooden bungalow. I said Sawat Dee Krap and he offered my a drink of water and a place to sit on the balcony. Well you don’t say no to that!
So my afternoon was pretty cool. I ended up talking to Pon for quite a while. He’s a really cool guy, monk. He used to be quite the hell-raiser. He lived on Koh Tao working for a restaurant. But on the side he sold Marajuana, Mushrooms, Opium (!) and a few other things I can’t remember. He says it’s a good thing he became a monk or he’d probably be dead from drinking or fighting. It was a good conversation. We laughed alot. He broke down the pricing structure of mushrooms and marajuana on the various islands in southern thailand (information I will not be availing myself of due to a proper upbringing… and draconian thai drug laws).
He has a girldfriend in Germany named Anna but a monkey ate his sim card so he hasn’t been able to call her. This distresses him greatly. He showed me the 1/2 eaten sim card and asked if I thought someone in an office somewhere could get her number off of it. I said I doubted it. Although if Anna from Munich kept a blog of her trip to Koh Phangan I might be able to find her. Worth a try when the tubes are clear again.
You know monks here can’t eat after 10 am? Good god. Pon says it’s hard for the first three months. He also says it’s no good to have a fat monk.
Apparently alot of people spend a year or two as a monk. Pon is doing two because ‘he needs it’. He says he isn’t going to go back to selling and boozing. He’s going to rent a nice big plot of land from his family and put up a bungalo.
Fun time. I am also pleased to say that the third cigarete I have ever smoked was offered my by a Buddhist monk (hand rolled by a Buddhist monk in coconut bark, take that cuban maiden’s thigh!)
On the way back I was feeling pretty pleased with the world. I even managed to help some lost french tourists on the way back home. And used french for the first time ever talking to a french person: ‘bon chance’.
What I can’t figure out though is if the quest means I should become a Buddhist monk or I should take up smoking.