Monday 25th December 2000 Day 13

We woke up when our bodies wanted to wake up. No alarm, no early morning wake up call, just a wonderful, natural awakening! It was about 8am. Not technically a lie-in, but it felt so good. Happy Christmas! We went up for breakfast, which was even better today because they had mashed potato to have with our eggs, and those small scotch pancakes drowned in honey were amazing! We popped to the lobby to sort a few things out. We changed Hannah's manicure appointment into a pedicure appointment, and moved it until later in the day. We saw the Kuoni rep and checked when our transfer to Phi Phi on Wednesday, would be. Apparently we should receive a fax tomorrow, but he reckons it would be an early start.

And finally, on the way out we checked what time our taxi boat left for Rai Leh tomorrow.

So after all of that we went down to the beach at 10:45am. It was a beautiful morning. The best weather we had since being down in Southern Thailand.

With a high tide, and clear blue skies, this beach had been transformed into the picture postcard we were expecting.

We walked along the beach until we reached a stretch of coconut trees, a good distance away from the small crowd clustered near the resort.

It was worthwhile to make the effort to walk a bit further as we enjoyed our secluded spot. It was short lived however as half an hour later twelve Germans invaded. Our privacy lost!

Soon afterwards some local kids were climbing the trees to harvest the coconuts! It was amazing watching them cling to the tree trunk. They were like monkeys! And I do mean that in the nicest possible way! Midday was fast approaching, and it was getting very hot, and as we weren't mad dogs nor English, we didn't stay out in it for long. We left the beach at 12:10pm and took Hannah up to the salon for her little bit of pampering. We were told the pedicure would last an hour so Julie and I returned to our room, and chilled on the balcony. Julie counted how many insect bites she had so far. It was only five! Not bad for the juicy one they all go for!

After Hannah finished we went to the pool to show off her cured toes, all perfectly cut and varnished purple! We were then treated to another comical moment, one that was funnier than our singing frog! We had just sat down at the poolside on our loungers, ready to order some lunch. By now it must have been nearly 2pm, and we were starving.

The pool attendant came towards us, carrying a tray with two coconut drinks and a plateful of chips. We tried to explain to him that they mustn't be our chips, because we hadn't ordered anything yet. He tried to tell us that he knew we hadn't ordered, but the lines of communication weren't exactly flowing. He was just nodding and smiling. He put the tray down on a low table, between Hannah and Julie. Again we tried in vain to explain that they weren't ours. That's when I asked if they were complimentary? Hannah hadn't been paying attention to what was going on, and just caught the end of the conversation. By know I had gathered that they weren't ours, but before we could say anything Hannah had picked up this long chip, and bit the end off. Both Julie and I were waving our hands, and shouting "NO!" I said, "They're not ours!" Well, the shock on her face was a picture! She was then in a dilemma as what to do with the other half of the chip?

She didn't want to be rude and place it back on someone else's plate, so she stuffed it quickly in her mouth. Julie had already realised that the plate wasn't exactly full.

My penny dropped soon after I noticed the sheer disbelief in the pool attendant's open-mouthed expression. They were somebody else's leftovers!

All of this happened within seconds, but looking back it seems like it was in slow motion! When she realised that she had just eaten left over chips, we all cracked! Even the pool attendant could hardly stand. He was bent double with laughter! It was just so hilarious!

Hannah could only feel glad that she had taken a disliking to coconut otherwise she would have taken a swig of the drink as well! We did eventually have lunch by the pool, and Hannah did get her chips, whilst Julie and I stuck to cheese and onion toasties. Very nice they were to.

We stayed for quite a while as the strongest sun passed by. With tears in our eyes we re-visited what had just happened for at least an hour afterwards. At 3pm we nipped down to the beach, but I must have caught the sun this morning, as they felt a bit pink. I slapped on the factor 25 and sat in the shade writing postcards, and of course writing about the "Chip Incident" in my travel journal. I was chuckling to myself as I wrote it! At 4:45pm we went back to the lobby and phoned home to wish everyone a Happy Christmas! Julie phoned her mum first, and then I phoned Nain's number, knowing that it was almost 10am in Caergeiliog, and they'd all be over at my grandmother's house opening her presents with her. Nain thanked us for her cordless phone. She said that Julie must have read her mind! It was so good to speak to them all. Tears welled up in Hannah and Julie's eyes as they were both missing everybody!

We had a shower and changed to go out for the evening. The hotel did a shuttle bus service to the nearest town, which was called Ao Nang. It's famous amongst travellers as the best place to hangout. The place had become a victim of its own success though. Those pioneers who truly seek the unspoilt would not find it here! Julie reckoned that it won't be too long before a satellite TV channel will be doing an expose documentary on the area. Ao Nang Uncovered! It certainly had the feel of a sleazy tourist trap. The beachfront area was full of cheap and nasty shops selling you those essential items, such as inflatable sharks, sunglasses and baseball caps, beach balls and flip-flops. Their total lack of charm didn't however stop us from spending money on a snorkelling set for Hannah, and they weren't cheap either! I was also approached by a bunch of dodgy geezers asking me if I'd be interested in seeing a Lady Boy show. I politely turned down their offer.

Having not been impressed by the town, the solution was to turn our back on it! And then cross the road onto the beach. You knew instantly that you were looking at the unmistakeable beauty of Thailand!

The sun was setting, silhouetting the longtail boats, and painting the limestone cliffs a fantastic colour. We sat on the beach, watched the people go by, and watched the sun literally falling from the sky. It only took 3 minutes from the moment it started to disappear on the horizon until it vanished completely.

Watching the sunset was incredible, a memorable experience in its own right. Julie phoned Steven from her mobile, to wish him a Happy Christmas, and to tell him exactly where we were and what we were doing! At home it was now 11:30am, and he was busy cooking dinner.

It was difficult to believe that today was Christmas, and there we were, sitting on a beach, being hypnotised by a stunning sun setting before our eyes.

Once the show was over we went to look for some food.

We walked up and down the strip, but they all looked nasty. They were either seafood or pizza places, but all were potential viral breeding grounds.

We eventually found one, a little further up from the beachfront called Tanta's Restaurant. It had a traditional Thai menu, and the board outside boasted "Clean Food, Great Taste"!

The food was unbelievably cheap. It cost us £9 (545 Baht) for all three of us, including a beer each! Julie had half a BBQ Chicken from the roadside spit. She did say that it was so delicious she wouldn't care if it gave her an upset stomach. In fact her words were "It would be worth every squirt"! Hannah had a Musanan Curry and I went for the tame choice of Sweet and Sour Veg. Hannah's curry was delicious, but for mine I'm convinced I bit into a mange tout that had all the 'sour' and none of the sweet!

We had 15 minutes left before the shuttle bus came to pick us up, so we ran around a local mini mart filling the basket with a pile of crisps, chocolate, and a 30plus sun lotion as my legs had officially been declared burnt!

Hannah's back and arms had also caught the sun, and Julie's leg was a red rash all over? We also bought a bottle of Sparkling Wine to toast our Xmas celebration!

We just made it to the pick up point by 8pm. There would have been a later bus at 10:30pm but we couldn't see how we could occupy ourselves for another two and a half hours in this dump!

We got back to our resort and crashed out on the bed, watching 'Shakespear In Love' on the telly. I lay there, knees apart, lotioned to oblivion, because I'd suffered 3rd degree burns on my inside leg! They also ached like hell after yesterday's 1237 steps took their toll. Today was as far from a traditional Christmas day as you could possibly get. But we did watch the Queen's Speech, (live) at 10pm! We don't even usually watch it at home! The evening ended on us all wetting ourselves as Julie read out aloud the Left Over Chip Incident from this journal.

I was feeling very dehydrated, and had to drink loads of water instead of the four cans of Singha beer we bought to celebrate Xmas. I was fading in and out of consciousness whilst watching a Denzil Washington film. I then lay awake all night playing this totally illogical game with my legs. As if my limbs were part of a Rubik's puzzle that had to be solved before I was allowed to go to sleep! I wouldn't be surprised if I was nearing a state of delirium by then! I was quite feverish.

Florence Nightingale had no sympathy for me because of course it was all self inflicted!

Day 14>>

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