Day 225: Hat Trick

Well today was certainly an emotional roller coaster, particularly for Ann and Sarah at least. After seeing how Ann reacted on the crazy boat crossing I saw where Sarah gets it from. Today saw us packing up and moving on from Lembongan and heading for Kuta. This was the nearest port of call for Ann and Simon to get to the airport, and rather than stay on the island, Sarah and I returned with them. The rest of the day was pretty straightforward after that, we checked in to our hotel, went into town, and finished the evening with a beer at the hotel. Now lets go over what else happened on this wet and stormy day…

I finally got that lie in I’d been craving. Sarah got up ahead of me and began packing her bags. The time must have been around 7:30 when she started. On and off I could hear her rustling about in the background, but was so tired that I kept drifting back off. It was 8:45am by the time I eventually woke up, and Sarah was nowhere in sight. I had only been awake for 5 minutes before she came back. I’d just started packing my bag when she told me “we” are all going for breakfast. I told her to go on ahead with her parents, and I’d be down in 5 minutes when I’d be both finished and more awake. This wasn’t good enough, so to prevent an argument I chucked on some shorts and we all sat around the table. I wasn’t feeling too chatty on accounts of being a little sleepy, but I soon perked up after the Bali coffee. Again, the four of us ate pancakes, then immediately afterwards I returned to the room to pack the last of my things.

It took longer than I’d anticipated, because we were heading to Australia next my bag was bursting at the seams with additional clothing. When I’d finished I returned to the pool to lie on a lounger beside Sarah. I read over the previous days blog and uploaded it to the server, then Sarah returned to the room to pack the last of her things. Simon and Ann were efficient enough to have packed their bags already and went out for a morning stroll. The bags were then stored beside the bar area. As we spent some more time beside the pool a slight disagreement ensued over the return boat times. Seeing as we had a return ticket all we had to do was pick one of three times: 9:30am, 11am, or 3:30pm. Sarah would have preferred the 11am one because of how bad the morning ride was last time, and she feared there would be a storm later that afternoon. How right she was. As we sat around the pool small droplets of rain began to fall. We deemed that a good enough excuse as any to leave and go for dinner. We chose a resort 50m away from ours.

It was getting on for 1pm when we sat to eat. Seeing as we still had a couple hours to burn, and the saying “you never know where your next meal will be coming from” was on my mind, I ordered two dinners. The food was ok, and the views of the crashing waves were delightful, but the constant swarms of flies annoyed us to no end. We couldn’t take a single bite of our meals without having one pitch on our arms. The whole time we sat eating Sarah wound herself up something chronic.
“Oh god, look at those waves”,
“Oh no, look in the distance. Those rain clouds are blocking out the mountains and they’re heading this way”,
“Why didn’t we just get the earlier boat”.
This went on for sometime, and no level of rationalisation helped her nerves. If it wasn’t for the bad experience on the way over she’d have been fine, but because the boat nearly tipped, she feared there would be a repeat performance. Near the end of our meals the weather worsened, causing Sarah to be completely beside herself. After dinner we still had half an hour or so before the boat was scheduled to leave, so we returned to our resort to wait with our bags.

A miracle happened when the storm passed and the sea became as still as a peaceful lake. For a moment it appeared as though Sarah’s worrying had been for nothing… that was until we were about to leave. The shuttle bus arrived 10 minutes early, and no sooner than we grabbed our bags the storm came back with a vengeance. Heavier and faster than before the rain poured down. They even brought their friend thunder along for the ride. The staff helped us throw our bags aboard and guided us out under umbrellas, but when we were seated it got a lot worse. There were no rain guards or plastic sheeting to keep us dry, the rain from the cab roof bounced back into the truck where we were. Sarah and I put the rain covers over our bags, and I held an umbrella up against the gap to prevent any more aquatic onslaught. Ultimately there was little we could do, there was just too much water. The rain was coming down so fast that it sounded like a million Michael Flatly’s dancing on the roof. When we arrived at the beach we were told to wait at a nearby restaurant while the crew prepared the boat. It was a nightmare, Sarah was becoming more and more agitated by the ever increasing bad weather. The road around the shuttle bus was completely flooded, making walking with my bag damn near impossible. There were people helping to carry them, but I didn’t like them doing it when I was perfectly capable. We had to wait all of 15 minutes while they added fuel to the engines and made space for the bags. By now Sarah was fuming, she kept looking out over the sea and felt sick with worry whenever she looked at the fast coming waves. I found the whole thing funny like I always do. There was nothing that could be done about our situation bar see it through, so in my opinion there was no point in worrying about it. I spent the time taking pictures of the bad weather and Sarah’s grumpy face. It wasn’t just Sarah who was worried, Ann was equally as nervous. She hated the first ride so much that she had managed to pass those fears on to her daughter. Simon was just as relaxed about our situation as me, if not more so because of all his years experience at sea from the times he’d gone sailing with his friends. Eventually the boat was primed and ready, and unlike last time, it was a darn sight easier to get aboard.

The waves weren’t pushing the boat left, right, and centre this time around, and everyone got on without falling over. Also unlike last time, there weren’t as many people. There can’t have been any more than 10 of us, during the first trip there were closer to 40. The passengers had to be shifted about for weight displacement purposes before we could go anywhere, then the captain struggled to get the engines going, this didn’t help Sarah relax at all.
“Why isn’t it working?”
“We’re stuck in the middle of the sea now, come on, why isn’t it working?!?!”
First of all we weren’t in the middle of the sea, we were 20ft from the shoreline, secondly he got the engines going in under 5 minutes. Then the real fun began.
BOOM, BANG, WOLLOP!!!!
These were the sounds and feelings as we came crashing down atop the concrete like waves. At the speeds we were going it certainly felt like concrete at least. Occasionally I looked over to see Sarah and Ann, only to be amused each time. Ann had her hands firmly gripped on the seat in front, and her eyes closed and head down. Sarah had her fingers in her ears and also had her eyes closed. I couldn’t help but laugh, there was nothing to worry about. Had sarah not looked at reviews online, or read about the boat journey in the Lonely Planet, she’d be laughing too. Additional sights that made me laugh were the captain and his right hand man. All around the boat were “no smoking” signs, and there they both were puffing away, even the passenger behind me pointed and chuckled. Somewhere close to the halfway mark there was a large wave which hit us side on, this was the only time you could say there was cause for alarm. The boat tipped to one side to quite an extreme degree. This caused Ann and Sarah to both begin crying and fearing for their lives, I think Ann may have even started praying at one point. The captain did extremely well to navigate us through without anything bad happening to us. Even now as I write about it I am impressed with his skills behind the wheel. He reminded me of Denzel Washington in the movie “Flight”, keeping a cool head under pressure. When we reached the mainland it was nothing like the first time at all, there were no big waves, just small gentle ones that lapped lazily against the shore.

On the beach the porters ran back and forth unloading the passengers bags. When one man brought both mine and Sarah’s to us, he stood waiting with an open hand out repeating the word “tip”.
“Tip the porter?” He said over and over, and was quite persistent about it as well. I paid him 10,000 rupiah (80p) for unloading my bag, only for him to ask for more money when he unloaded Sarah’s. When her parent’s bags were unloaded by a different man, that man also demanded money. We pointed to the first man we’d already given 20,000 to and he turned to him to demand some of it. They were like vultures. I didn’t really understand the situation, from what I could gather it appeared as though they charged per bag not per group. Somehow in all the confusion, one of Ann and Simon’s suitcases went missing. Another porter was wheeling it off down the street, but he wasn’t stealing it, he was just helping get it up the stairs. When we caught up and thanked him, he then asked for some money. We explained how we’d already paid a fortune back at the beach, then guiltily took the suitcase from him. They’re like fish after bread, throw a piece in the water and they’ll fight it out amongst themselves. It was sad to see, as clearly this was their way of making money, but we couldn’t exactly give them all money otherwise we’d have paid a fortune to get our bags carried from the boat to the beach.

We had the same driver as before when reached the booking office. However, he didn’t recognise the name of the resort we’d pre booked, after having a word with the people inside, he was clued up and ready to go. I was a little disappointed with the driver today because he wasn’t as chatty as last time, and I wanted to hear his voice again. The way he sounded and the way he rolled his R’s, I could just imagine him being the voice of a charismatic cartoon villain. After 15 minutes driving we ended up in a traffic jam. We were out during rush hour, everyone had finished work and the traffic was gridlocked. Eventually the police came to usher vehicles around, as nobody would let anyone move, this caused junctions to be blocked and scooters to weave in and out of stationary traffic. The driver had to make a couple stops along the way to ask others where Sun Boutique Hotel was, after the third stop we were back on track. I briefly looked out the window at one point and spotted it. He did a quick u-turn at the end of the road (narrowly missing other road users) and dropped us off outside reception.

After checking in we were each given a welcome drink. It didn’t taste nice, but as to not appear rude, I drank both mine and Sarah’s. We were then shown to our large, spacious, futuristic looking rooms. In fact the whole place looked years ahead of its time, even the elevator had touch screen controls. Before heading to our rooms we asked reception if they’d mind ordering a taxi for us for 20 minutes time. Somehow Sarah thought she’d have enough time to shower and blow dry her hair – WRONG. It ended up taking her to 35 minutes to get ready. When we got downstairs there he was, our blue chariot was waiting for us outside. We explained to the driver that we wanted to go to a market, so he took us towards Poppy’s street in Kuta town. We didn’t think he was very happy when we arrived because of how little a distance he ended up driving. Seeing as he was phoned in to collect us, it meant we had to pay the minimum call out fare of 25,000 rupiah (just under £2), even though the meter read only 19,000. We then got out and began exploring.

Kuta was a place for drinking, dining, and shopping. The streets were filled with bars and restaurants, and best of all… market stalls. I didn’t mind shopping here so much as there were no longer tacky items like oils and statues. The stalls resembled those of Thailand, with such items on offer as hats, vests, and shorts. Granted every stall sold the same garments in various shades, but it still beat the markets of Ubud. During our time walking the never ending market stalls, I couldn’t keep my wallet in my pocket. I ended up buying not one, not two, but three new hats (and that’s where today’s title comes from). I couldn’t help myself. There were so many hats in so many different colours, and they were all of good quality like my original one from Malaysia. Sarah also bought some new items, a top and bottoms, and a couple pairs of sunglasses. Even Simon splashed out and bought himself a pair of knock off Ray Ban sunglasses, more commonly known as “Ray Ben” seeing as it was printed on the lenses. Simon also bought another item, but he did it on the sly. He haggled with a stall owner to buy me a new pair of headphones to replace my pair that had broken. I wasn’t expecting it at all, so once again thanks for that Simon, it was very kind of you.

At the end of the street of market stalls was a large shopping complex containing fast food joints, established restaurants, designer shopping outlets, and a cinema. We all had a quick look around but didn’t buy anything. It made me laugh, the whole way around Sarah was complaining about being hungry, yet whenever a shiny new item of clothing appeared, she’d forget about being hungry entirely. When we eventually managed to pry her away, we stopped in a nearby restaurant to look at their menu. This place looked very fancy and was part of the even fancier looking resort it was attached to. The whole fancy factor was completely destroyed when we sat at a table. Instead of relaxing, gentle music you’d associate with such a place, there was loud hardcore rap music in the background. It was so loud that we had to shout to communicate with each other. In the end we decided against eating there and found a quieter, and cheaper place around the corner.

This was our last evening meal together. To commemorate the occasion I enjoyed a mouth watering king sized burger and had a Singapore Sling along with Ann and Sarah, although non of us enjoyed it. For once, I had a burger that stayed together until the last bite. It was perfect, and Sarah impressed me when she ordered a steak instead of a salad like usual. After eating it was straight back out into the world of shopping. We decided we were done with the markets, so instead we went back to the mall. We had to walk through metal detectors this time, Sarah informed us these were put in place because a little while ago there was a bombing in Bali which killed over 100 people. Damn terrorists, you can’t even go shopping now without those jerks spoiling the fun. During our second visit to the Beachwalk shopping mall Sarah made another purchase. She went into one of her favourite girly shops and found the dress her parents couldn’t back home. Fancy that, everywhere Ann and Simon looked it was sold out, yet halfway across the world there it was in all its black and white Aztec glory. We stopped briefly in a Dairy Queen so sarah could show her parents the franchise’s upside down ice cream trick, then after spending a further hour or so wandering around aimlessly, we hailed a taxi back to Sun Boutique.

When we got in Sarah was exhausted, but came through for her parents by helping them check in online for their flight home the next day. Afterwards both her and Ann retired to their rooms, while Simon and I transferred the last of my photos to a flash drive for him to take home. While I was halfway through the process Ann came back downstairs to tell me Sarah and I had to change rooms. The reason being the roof above our bed was leaking, and the bed sheets had become completely drenched. When I got upstairs all my bags were packed outside the room, then an employee came up to take us to our new home on the second floor. This move was much to Sarah’s distaste. When she’d booked the rooms online she requested they be far away from the busy street outside. Our first room on the third floor was, but the second room looked out directly on to it. Whenever a beeping car, or a whizzing scooter passed by, it made one hell of a racket. Luckily for Sarah she had some earplugs, and luckily for me I can sleep through anything. When the bags were dropped off I went back down to Simon to find there was only 5 seconds of the transfer left. When it finished I could relax, as I had officially backed up all our photos since Vietnam – I just hope I haven’t spoken too soon by writing that, maybe I should delete that last sentence just in case.

With the photos saved we returned the laptop and retired to our rooms. Our room was lovely, it was even more spacious than the last. I spent a long time going through the evening rituals, shaving my face, and taking a shower, before getting into bed around 12:30am. I then began typing the blog feeling only slightly tired. Now that I’ve finished at 2:36am, I am very very tired. It’s been a great day, but it’s sad to think this was Ann and Simon’s last, their three week holiday has flown by. It only feels like yesterday that they arrived in Singapore. Just where does the time go?

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Day 198: I Am Shoppingman

By comparison to Pai today was action packed from beginning to end. It started at 5:30am and didn’t finish until gone 11:30pm. We did various activities including shopping, eating out, shopping, cinema, shopping, sharing a taxi with a stranger, shopping, and not necessarily in that order. Now read on as I try to condense a very busy day into several paragraphs.

• Continuing on from the coach trip. It dropped us off just outside Koah San Road. Our Canadian friend didn’t know the way, luckily we had been there before and were able to locate it from memory. Seeing as we already had accommodation booked we headed there right away. When we reached the front doors of Green House hotel we pointed our friend in the right direction for other hostels, hotels, or guesthouse’s, depending on her preference. When we reached reception we were given the bad news that we couldn’t check in until 1pm. We were allowed to put our bags in storage however. Storage being a loose term, what it actually was, was an alcove sheltered by a 3 foot high brick wall atop some stairs. We ditched holdalls but kept my day bag on us, as it contained all our expensive items. We then went looking for some breakfast.

• After walking around the various roads for anywhere that might be open, we learned that everywhere was cleaning up after the night animals who’d been out partying. We decided it was best (and cheapest) to eat at our hotel. We were then told we’d have to wait some more time for their kitchen to open at 7am. Seeing as we had an hour to play with, we sat in the restaurant trying to use their Internet. After several attempts to connect to their router I went to speak with the receptionist. Wether it was because he’d just finished a night shift, or if he was rude by nature, either way, when I made the point of telling him he was quite short with me. All he did was show me his phone and said “it’s working, see”. So I returned to my seat a defeated man, I may as well have spoken to the wall. After a while Sarah also had enough, and went to have a word. He tried giving Sarah the same response, and even tried making a joke that it was probably because our devices were English. HA, the joke was on him, the iPhone was purchased in Thailand, that was Sarah’s retort to the ******. He then messed about with the router, and after a while we connected.

• When 7 o’clock rolled around we ordered two large breakfasts. With me eating the lions share when Sarah couldn’t finish hers. After that we moved over to the cafe area and watched the tv fixed to the wall. The HBO channel was playing back to back movies all day, and the film that kept us entertained was an oldie called “It Takes Two”. It starred a young Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. The film itself bared an uncanny resemblance to the movie “Parent Trap”. I think it was because we were sleep deprived, but the pair of us actually enjoyed it. Near the end of the movie we noticed a backpacker checking in, seeing as it was only 10am, Sarah went over to see if we could do the same. Fortunately for us the night shift guy had left and was replaced with a younger, happier lady. She gave us a key, we paid the deposit, then I carried the holdalls to our room.

• We were in desperate need of a shower. After having travelled overnight on the bus it left us feeling a little clammy and dirty, a shower was the perfect remedy to freshen up. It was then we discovered our bags had been rifled through on the bus, or at the very least that’s what it looked like. Sarah strictly remembered tying a double knot in the straps, but noticed they were undone. Her items inside were also in new positions, as were mine. As well as that my side pocket fastening straps were undone, although I couldn’t remember if I did them up or not in the first place. Luckily nothing had been taken, but as a precaution for future bus rides we moved a memory card (containing all our photos) from the container in my holdall, to the safety of my day bag. When we knew for sure that everything was still with us we had those showers. It’s a small thing that makes a huge difference when you’re backpacking. Nothing beats a refreshing shower after an all nighter.

• The plan for the afternoon was to look around the stalls for clothes, then head to the large MBK complex for more shopping, and the cinema. It all went to plan, we looked around Koah San road and its neighbouring Rambuttri for various garments, but to no avail. It was early after all, and the stalls tended to have more items later in the day. It was then we decided to hail a taxi to the MBK super mall. While we were waiting we befriended another Canadian, this time we got their name. He was called Oliver, and he told us he’d been travelling Thailand for the past 6 weeks, but was heading home the next day. He had very distinctive features, a tattoo creeping out the top of his Tshirt on his back, two large flesh earrings, and had a septum piercing. At first no taxi would take us on the meter, I think it took 4 before one agreed. He was an elderly gentleman, and he spoke very little English, which made it quite funny at times. So long as he understood MBK that was all that mattered, the small things he couldn’t understand just made us laugh. For example when Sarah asked him,
“Is it close?”
He said,
“No, it’s open. It’s open all week”.
Bless him. When we arrived the fare was only 69 baht, all the taxis before wouldn’t have taken us for anything less than 150. It was at the front doors we parted ways from our new Canadian friend, and went inside to browse.

• MBK had 7 floors, each varying in the products they sold, from decorative household items through to technology. We explored the clothing levels for a good hour – hour and a half, but didn’t buy anything. Although there was so much to look at that it was probably more a case of being spoiled for choice than not liking anything. After a while we thought it best to have dinner, so when we managed to find the food court that’s what we did. Honestly, there’s no floor plan in those places which makes it so easy to get lost. The food court ran on a coupon system, in exchange for money you got the equivalent value in coupons. I had the pad Thai and Sarah ordered chicken and rice, afterwards she grabbed an apple shake, then we went up one floor to the cinema.

• The film I wanted to see was Ironman 3. It had been teasing me ever since I saw the trailer back in January. When we arrived it looked as though everyone else also had the same idea. The queue snaked around the barriers they had set up, and stretched far along the spacious fifth floor. This must have had something to do with the fact it was May Day, and it looked as though most of Bangkok had the day off. It was ten to 2 by this point, and the next screening was 2pm. When we got to the counter we discovered there were still seats available for that showing, but they were too close to the screen. So we decided to leave it until the 2:55pm one instead. To waste the time we explored some more clothing stalls. Again, we didn’t buy anything, and at 2:30 we headed back to the cinema. For a total of £9 we managed to buy two adult tickets, a large bucket of popcorn (and I mean large) and two large drinks. In England you can just about buy one adult ticket for that price.

• They let us in to our screen at 2:55pm and not a minute sooner. As we walked in, the trailers were already playing. After that the tv commercials came on, then we had to do the obligatory stand for the king, where we learned they had updated the footage again. Because the movie was in 3d, so was the video of the king. I felt a little let down by the movie if I’m honest, it was made a little too lighthearted for my liking. I prefer the comic movies to be a little darker, I guess that’s why I am such a fan of the anti-hero Batman. The movie was still entertaining all the same, but I felt as though it was missing something. When it finished we were ushered through the fire exit, then Sarah and I made our way outside. Down and down the many escalators we went until we reached the front doors and had to embrace the humidity again. It was outside that we noticed a large gathering of people being held back by a single police officer. What was even stranger was the fact the streets were empty. Ten seconds later we found out why. There was a police escort of at least 6 cars, behind them were 10 vehicles filled with political members, as well as several cars with tinted windows. Particular ones had flags on the front, which is what gave them away. When they’d all passed, a few more police cars tailed them. Then the streets went back to their manic ways and the pedestrians were allowed to walk across the overpass.

• Just when I thought we were heading back to our hotel, Sarah found a small alleyway filled wall to wall with more clothing stalls. We slowly passed trough it, looking at each item and piece of jewellery as we went, then tried to find a taxi to take us back. We had to wave on every tuktuk driver, as there was no way I was stopping at any suit shop, or jewellery store, just to get back to Khoa San at a cheaper rate. It took three taxis before one agreed to take us back. But unlike the ride to MBK we had to pay a fixed rate, it was deemed too busy for them to run the meter. Fifteen minutes later we were dropped off at the busy end of Khoa San. We then went around 4 different travel shops until we found one selling tickets to Koh Lak for a reasonable price. This would be the final resting place for us before we flew from Phuket to meet Sarah’s parents. With that sorted we returned to our room to relax for a while.

• I used that time to write the days blog, and Sarah watched one of her many tv shows. Around 8pm we went back out to look at the market stalls. I was in one of those moods as we looked around. I knew I had enough t shirts in my holdall, but couldn’t shake the feeling I needed to buy something. I almost bought a couple vests and a t shirt, but I was deterred by the high price tag. It was close to £12, which isn’t that much, but I didn’t like them enough to deem spending that much money. In fact I didn’t like any of the tops I found. All the images were the same as every other top I’d seen since arriving in Asia. There was only one item in particular I did like, a red pair of Abercrombie cotton shorts. It took me three different stalls before I found one woman who would budge on the price. She initially wanted 750 baht (£15) – which was too much, even if they were a copy. She claimed they were good quality, and then the bartering dance began. I never like bartering because at some point you meet at loggerheads and nobody wins. I was adamant I wouldn’t budge from 500, and at first I walked away. When I learned no one else would go that low, I returned with my tail between my legs. I said I’d go to 550, but she’d go no lower than 600.
“Sold!”
I bought them there and then, to which she was extremely grateful I returned to buy them from her shop. Also they’d come in handy for the gym in Australia, plus they looked good and felt comfy. It was a good purchase. We continued looking around the stalls, but didn’t buy anything else other than food. We bought a pad thai each and ate it on the walk back to Green House. It took us a while to get through it all on accounts of how much we were given. When we finished we went inside to use the Internet (which was shockingly awful) before retiring to our room. From the comfort of my bed I finished the days post, then closed my eyes for a nice cool nights sleep. It was good to have a/c again.

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Day 188: Riders Of The Storm

Today will be a real quick one guys. We had breakfast first thing, chilled by the pool all day, and went into town for tea. That is quite literally all that happened. As I’ve said before, Pai is a place where you really don’t have to do much to feel as though you’ve done a lot. If you’re the sort of person that likes going on holiday to get away from a hectic world and just relax, then Pai really is the place for you. It works at a different pace to anywhere else and won’t change for anybody, kind of like a stubborn old man, but a lot prettier. For everyone’s entertainment, as well as my own personal log, here’s what else happened on another lazy day in Pai.

• I woke up before Sarah this morning, around 9:30am. I spent the next 40 minutes transferring my blogs to WordPress, and with the final ten pages uploaded I felt a sense of relief. Now they were secured online in the digital world, I was able to go about my day without having to check over old work. For this day at least, I was free of my blog. When Sarah woke up around 10:30am, we led in bed watching the finest tv shows America has to offer. God bless travelling, if you’re not seeing the sights you’re watching tv shows or movies in bed. It’s a great lifestyle, I recommend it to anyone.

• Now we were feeling slightly more awake, we decided to venture into town for breakfast. Aqua resort had two push bikes which were free for its guests to use. Granted they weren’t the best of bikes, but they were free, and it beat walking. Sarah had the smaller of the two, the seat was higher than the handle bars, and the wheels were so small that it looked more like a child’s bike. Mine looked similar to Sarah’s, except it had larger thinner wheels, and every rotation of the peddles caused the chain to slip. Also, Sarah’s had gears, whereas mine was fixed, this made the hills somewhat tricky. Getting to town was a breeze because it was mostly downhill, but coming back was a different story. When we got there, we decided to eat at a place called “The Witching Well”.

• They sell really god food for an acceptable price. You can also buy several different teas which have witty names, such as the “Love Potion”. They offer the drinker various benefits from energy to relaxation. The Witching Well sells really good desserts too. For our breakfasts I had a chicken burger, and Sarah ordered a really tasty mushroom crepe. At one point a girl with really, really large breasts came in and sat down (apparently because she was fat it didn’t count). It just so happened that I was looking in that direction, when she entered my field of vision (your honour) but Sarah busted me. She looked at me with a smile on her face and said “oh dear Ben!” I’d like to go on record saying I wasn’t looking, but if I was, I’d like to go on record saying, IT LOOKED LIKE SHE HAD TWO HUMAN HEADS DOWN HER TOP!!!!

• After breakfast we returned to our resort, peddling really hard up the hills. Because of the difference in wheel size I left Sarah quite a bit in the distance. I had to stop a few times to wait, but eventually we got back to Aqua. I let Sarah go on to the pool without me, while I returned to the room to grab our things. When I got back I had to jump in the pool to cool down, it was so hot that even the white wooden boards made me hop on the spot. The cold water made it a lot easier to sit in the sun when I got out. But I realised I’d forgotten to apply suntan lotion, so I ran back and applied some. Wether or not this was the cause for what happened next I don’t know. When I returned with a book in tow, I led on the bench beside Sarah and began reading. It was the book I’d found in the hostel in Chiang Mai. After reading for 30 or 40 minutes, the sun disappeared behind the clouds, and the trees began rustling. Much like that one episode of Lost where something came through the jungle, moving the trees violently as it came closer. We didn’t know what it was, at first all we could hear were trees in the distance blowing around, then one by one the trees were blown more and more aggressively until the winds reached us. I honestly thought a hurricane was coming, it turned out it was just a mild storm, but the end result was a lot of debris landing in the pool. Sarah and I retreated to the room, as in climates like Thailand’s, you get very little warning before a downpour occurs. Had I not put on the suntan lotion I doubt it would have happened. Sod’s law.

• We stayed there for around 20 minutes until the storm blew over, Sarah went back before me, as I stayed to finish the chapter I was on in my book. I then returned to the pool with my iPod in hand. Sarah had taken my phone with her and FaceTimed her sister briefly. I led in the hammock the whole time, swinging side to side listening to podcasts. My best friend Steve then responded to my message from earlier that day, and I FaceTimed the little munchkin. Sarah came over to join me in the hammock, and Steve began showing us around his house. It was kind of like an interactive MTV cribs. His house looked really spacious, he even had two spare bedrooms. Fancy owning a 3 bedroom house at only 25. He then showed us the cutest thing ever, he and his fiancé Beth had bought an adorable puppy named Lunar. She is a border collie, and is split down the middle in colour. The front half of her body is white (making her look like a polar bear) and the back end is black. She looks to be very boisterous, and has already had a chew on the corner of a wall. It was great to be able to speak with a friend from home, and for a second I felt homesick when he showed us outside. We must have spoken for close to an hour, and by the time we’d finished, our batteries were nearly exhausted on our phones. After saying goodbye we got out of the hammock to return to our room, looking like two roasted hams thanks to the rope digging into our backs.

• We watched more tv shows like usual, this was something we could do for a long time if you hadn’t guessed by now. Not just because we liked it, but thanks to having good Internet in the cities again we now had 32gb of entertainment at our disposal. Somewhere around 6:45pm we took a stroll into town for tea. The bikes had already been taken by someone else, but given how dark the roads are at night, it wouldn’t have been safe anyway.

• I was in the mood for pizza, and because Sarah had no preference, we found an Italian restaurant. Their fruit shakes were a bit too sugary to be enjoyable, but the pizza was good. Sarah ordered the filling meal of a salad. After we settled the bill, we headed to the 7Eleven so I could grab a big gulp. Seeing as they didn’t sell slurpees, the strawberry Fanta was the next best thing. They were out of bottled water, so we made a quick stop to a different convenience store, grabbed one, and called it a night.

• No sooner than we stepped foot out the door of the shop, it began to rain. All evening we could hear thunder in the distance, but there was no sign of any precipitation. As we continued along the dark lanes to our resort, we were thrilled by the lightning in the far away skies. It continued to illuminate the sky a bright purple colour, and if we were lucky, we could see long forks stabbing at the ground. Almost as if Zeus himself were providing the entertainment. Sarah began to get paranoid, as the closer to our resort we got, the more she feared we were getting closer to the storm. She was worried about the wiring in her bra, claiming should she get struck it could cause a real problem, I joked she might get larger breasts and superpowers. She didn’t laugh, tough crowd.

• We managed to get back to our room just in time, the second we locked the doors and climbed into bed, the heavens opened. The rain bashed on our roof like someone playing the drums. We were slightly concerned about the small hole in the roof above our pillows, should the rain get through we could end up with a waterbed, and not in a good way. Earlier on that day I tried to plug it, but couldn’t reach. I examined it from the outside, and it looked as though the tiles were stacked in a way that they’d prevent any leaks. We’d just have to wait and see what happened.

• Sarah then Skyped her parents for about an hour. After talking nonsense with her niece, she eventually got around to the true motive of her phone call. She got her mum and sister to show her the wardrobe in her bedroom, this was so she could pick out the clothes she wanted them to bring out. Honestly, is there ever a limit to how many clothes a girl can own? By the time she’d finished with my phone not only was the battery nearly flat, but I was too tired to do any writing. I fell asleep pretty early, leaving Sarah to stay awake watching more tv shows.

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