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Bangkok and The Beatles

So before going home to Indonesia I went for a quick detour in Thailand where I hadn’t set foot in ages. But friends convinced me to make the trip, to see them rather than to see Thailand really, if I am honest. Although Thai food is totally worth a detour, it has to be said.

I had a nice memory of Bangkok from my last visit 10 years ago, and it turned out that Bangkok was indeed very pleasant. Super awesome street food, tons of stuff to do like little galleries and places to wonder around, bloody good shopping, nice coffee shops to hang out while sipping coffee and eating cake. And cheap foot massages to top it off, everything that one needs really.

I was provided with an awesome guest bedroom with ensuite bathroom in the fancy area of Bangkok thanks to my friends, which was of course super convenient and comfy.

It turned out after I booked the flights that I found out online that Belle & Sebastian were playing in Bangkok while I was there. It also turns out I quite enjoyed their new record, unlike the one before, so I was keen to go. Greg did not take much convincing so off we went the three of us to the concert…in a mall. Yup, there are lots of malls in Bangkok and in that one the last floor had a bar and chill out area and then a venue for gigs and stuff. It was pretty nice, sound was good, it was way too big for the audience that was there, but it was nice. After Caribou for opening who were pretty good, B&S walked in all cheerful and bouncy and gave us a very good gig. If we consider it’s probably the 10th time or so I see them in the last 17 years, it is a bit like seeing old friends every once in a while. You think “Stuart seems cheerful, Chris wears his hair shorter”, that kind of stuff. It was a good night.

After Bangkok, I made my way to Koh Tao. Here the reasonable solution would have been to fly, except that thanks to Chinese New Year holidays all flights were bloody expensive, so I treated myself with a 9 hours bus ride + 2 hours boat ride and a fair amount of sitting around. Long and smelly that was. It wasn’t until I got to the pier where 5 buses parked that I realized the full extent of what I was getting myself into. Dozens of people waiting to get on the gigantic boat, dozens of them walking off the boat in Koh Tao like I did. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people but high concentration of them in touristic areas usually makes me uneasy. I sort of knew what to expect but I think I did not quite understand the full extend of it until I got to the island. Bars, restaurants, dive shops, that covers about 90% of the businesses there. Gigantic dive shops, bars filled with people every night, and as the place has a reputation for cheap and cheerful it doesn’t exactly attract only the classiest tourists. It is all about parties and cheap diving and mixing body fluids. I think in retrospect what really got to me the most was how rude locals were in general. The general feeling they convey is “Get out of my way you the 125th tourist I have seen today, you are spoiling my place and I can’t take it no more yet I can’t get rid of you and pretty much all of us live off your back”. Not super pleasant, quite abrupt when you live in Indonesia where people smile most of the time and where asking questions is a national sport that people practice anywhere when you look Westerner with a hug smile and a genuine interest.

Anyway, I consider myself lucky because unlike people I chatted to during the ride I got to see the good side of it, as in staying in a lovely little house up on the hill in the jungle forest with my friend Marie who has been there for years and knows all the nice places to go, so we had a couple of nice beach days in places not too busy. Apparently, that was getting into low season, it is 12 buses in high season…

All in all, I have to say I am glad I did it so I can say I know what Koh Tao is like, but it is clearly not my favorite place in the world.

I spent the last weekend in Bangkok, so we talked about books and music and random stuff and Greg ended up lending me “Shout!”, a biography of the Beatles. I have been on it for the last 10 days and I am really enjoying it. There is tons of stuff I didn’t know and I felt like I knew more stuff than the average person. Greg mentioned this video below while we talked about the book and I thought I would share it, first because it is interesting and funny, and also because as I am about to finish that book it appears that I thought Lennon all the way for the last couple of decades but after all, maybe McCartney. That is quite a life changing revelation; I might need to see a shrink.

I am as a consequence playing The Beatles all day long which results in me humming “Lady Madonna” or “Let it be” underwater. I think the fish might get bored of the Beatles soon enough.

I also discovered that when you listened to vinyl records as a kid (that is if you were a kid in the 80’s obviously and your parents played music), you know all the words to all the songs of the first half of the record because it was Side A, but not all of it from Side B because Dad had gone do something in another room and no one was flipping the record to Side B. For example, I can sing without hesitation all Side A of “Abbey Road” but not all Side B.

Finally, after this little holiday within the holiday, it was time to fly back to Bali and then jump on a boat onto my island to go back HOME. It turns out that new home was also all taken care of by my awesome housemate Jo who sorted out our new place. Three bedrooms, the girl’s compound, a kitchen is being finished this week and it is nice and quiet and cosy. Hammock is up so the most important is done really.

On this note, back to work, the next post should be diving related I hope!

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