Instead of writing an account of everything I do every day on the island, I figure it's more appropriate to walk you through the details of one day on Koh Phangan. The typical day deserves a bit of detail to be fully appreciated.
In the morning, I wake up at who-knows-what-time. I don't pay attention to clocks here. I rise when I feel it is time to rise. I open my eyes, stretch, roll over a couple times before finally deciding to get up, and I make my way out of the mosquito-netted bed. I walk over the spaced wood planks to the bathroom, where toilet paper goes in a bin instead of the toilet, and a "flush" really is just a manual flushing of the bowl with a bucket of water. I walk out to the porch and plop into the hammock, taking in the surroundings of palm tree-covered hills, the sea breeze, and the sun just barely starting to break through the thin cloud cover. Nik is making instant coffee with the homemade campstove he engineered with 2 empty beer cans, some denatured alcohol, and an empty oatmeal can as a pot. I sip my coffee and let the day start at a nice, easy, slow pace. There is no rush to a day in which the only objective is to enjoy life to the fullest.
After our cups of coffee, we venture 20 meters away to pick a coconut off the ground, shaking it to make sure there's a decent amount of milk in it. We crack it open and pour the milk into the oatmeal-can-pot to be heated for our oatmeal breakfast. We cook the oatmeal in the fresh coconut milk, and slice in a few small, sweet, fresh bananas. I sit back on our simple bungalow porch and enjoy my breakfast of champions while rocking back and forth in the hammock. It's going to be another great day.
The makings of our beautiful breakfast
After a fair amount of time just rocking back and forth, I decide to head down to the beach, 40 meters down from our bungalow. The lifestyle asks for nothing more than a bikini, a sarong, and bare feet. I willingly oblige. By now, the sun has broken through the clouds in full strength, and it's spreading its golden happiness over the palm trees, the white sands, the crystal blue shallow waters, straight across the dark tint of my sunglasses to the guiltless broad smile that stretches across my face without me even realizing it. I step out onto the fine sand, where a few other travelers have thrown their sarongs out to soak up the sun. The bright blue water and perfect white sand that lies a meter below the water's surface stretches across the bay for several hundred meters before fading into a deeper blue, where the sand on the bottom can no longer be seen from the shore.
I walk along the beach to a little covered wooden structure that looks out over the gorgeous bay. A wooden platform with four posts, a thatched roof of palm frawns, and a little mattress with a pillow. The sign on the post reads: "Thai massage - 250 baht/hour." I decide the day calls for a splurge of $7.50, so I walk up to the hut where the little Thai woman greets me with a genuinely friendly smile and a "Sah wah dee kah," in the sing-song rhythm of the Thai language. She motions for me to lie down on the inviting pillows. I settle in, facing the vast blue, and thus begins the most satisfying $8 (including tip) I think I've ever spent.
I am trying to keep this blog to less than Dickens' novel-length, but this massage deserves a moment's pause to portray the amazingosity of it. You know when you have an itch on your back, and you try to get someone else to scratch it for you, but they just can't quite get the right spot, or the right pressure, and then the itch starts "running" and you don't know how to direct the person to "chase" it? Well, imagine the satisfying feeling of someone knowing exactly where and how hard to scratch... and then they continue to scratch itches that you didn't even know existed until you realize how good it feels for them to scratch it. You follow? Yeah, this massage is like that. Every muscle is given attention at the right pressure, muscles I didn't even know existed, muscles I've never felt massaged before. Everything is given some lovin. Toes, fingers, scalp, ear lobes... Thai massage incorporates stretching into the routine so as to access hidden muscles. And it is incredible.
So anyway, after this magical hour of Thai massage in a wooden hut overlooking the beach, I saunter back to my bungalow in a daze of happiness and liquid contentment. I plop back into the hammock and sway for an indefinite period of time, basking in the success of the day's mission thus far. Enjoy life to the fullest: check. After some time, Nik comes out onto the porch and announces his state of hunger. My stomach smiles at the thought of more unbeatable Thai curry dishes. So we head to the open air beach-front restaurant and enjoy a sunny afternoon of amazing Thai food and Thai beers.
Nik enjoying the good life
Once we've sat and enjoyed the view for a while, it's time to succumb to the inviting blue waters. We then manage to spend the next several hours splashing about in the warm ocean, jumping and diving and floating, playing with our waterproof cameras, and generally just loving life. The aim of the day continues to be successfully fulfilled.
The rest of the day and evening sort of become a wash of more of the same dream: more great Thai food, more lounging on our bungalow porch in the hammock, maybe another beer in the laid-back, open air bar, and then ending the day by retiring to our bungalow whenever the heck our bodies feel like doing so.