Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Freewheelin’ in S.E.A - Day 28: Operation: Sky High Supplies

I was at a festival in Victoria Park, it was dark, and Kings of Leon were playing to a cage full of people. My best friends, Mike and Sav, weren’t impressed, we were all big fans of the band in their formative years, but once they swapped their screaming rock and roll roots and tenderly delivered metaphors for catchy indie trite with pop sensibilities, like most of their original fans, we switched off. God knows why we were there, and he wasn’t talking. Then the music took a good turn, and the opening notes of ‘Tranny’, a song from their debut LP, blasted out from the speakers, exciting the gathered masses. I crowd surfed across the top, towards a gang of little, pasty faced, rude boys, wearing backwards caps and hoods, who started having a go at me for crowd surfing. I came down beside them, then spent the next few minutes explaining to them why you should always carry and catch kids who are crowd surfing, and how I once saw someone end up paralysed because I couldn’t be bothered to reach out and catch them (which was a lie). They got where I was coming from, picked me up, and passed me back onto my bed where I awoke beside my Queen of Dion.

I washed my face by diving head-first into the pool outside our room, spent half an hour swimming, then went back to pack and checkout. Sarah returned our scooter and we marched up the road in the heat of a bright, mid-afternoon, lugging our luggage lethargically. After fifteen minutes we were at the dock, sweating and dehydrated like we’d just crossed the Sahara. I got us some water and a big corn on the cob and we sat waiting for our ferry, with a sticker stuck on us which read ‘Koh Phangan’. We boarded with a bunch of other young adults and a few families, and sat at the outside back part of the boat, discussing where to stay and admiring the island views from the middle of the water. I decided I wanted to write, so went and sat in the cool comfort of the air-conditioned top deck to spill a previous dream onto page. Time flew by and we arrived at the island most famed for its drug and alcohol fuelled full-moon parties. Funnily enough, this is originally what put us off of coming here, Sarah not enthused by the stories she’d heard of such gatherings, vomit, death and decadence. I’d heard similar stories, but the sound of a wild party in honour of my glorious Moon at her fullest still sounded like something to experience. I often feel like it’s my duty to see and experience as much as possible, in order to have more to draw from in my future writing, this is why I’d been on my quest for YES! and although it is not always the best to put yourself through things in which you doubt, if you don’t go, you’ll never know. Everyone has different opinions on things, sometimes you speak to the guy who hates the smell of flowers, other times the one who fills his house with them. I wasn’t too bothered that we’d missed the full moon; instead it would be half full. At least we weren’t seeing it as half empty.

Due to having nowhere to stay we referenced a passage in the bible on Koh Phangan, and picked a spot in-between the place where we were told we could score weed and mushrooms, and the place where the half-moon party would be taking place the following evening. After a short drive we were dropped off at Macs Bay Beach Resort, on Ban Tai beach. It was a big, relatively fancy resort, which had a strip of simple and much less fancy beach huts along the sand, facing the sea. This was much more up our sandy street. I haggled the price of a hut down to roughly £10 a night for two nights, then chose the one which was furthest from the main resort, as they also had building works going and I didn’t want to have my peace ceased at 8am again. I hung my hammock between two beams and tied it tightly, testing its strength successfully using my body as a crash test dummy before relinquishing my spot to Sarah whilst I went for a swim in the sea. The water was a lot murkier here, you couldn’t see that clearly beneath you, and after a while, my paranoia brought me back ashore. What lies beneath is beyond most men, my imagination runs wild. We took a walk towards the pool, which was right next to the building works, and spent some time doing what we do when doing nothing, before showering, hiring yet another scooter from the manager of our place in order to go out on our evenings mission, Operation Sky High Supplies.
The view from our beach hut
It had been a few days without weed, but we knew we were in a much safer spot to score than before so we headed towards Haad Rin, where the full-moon parties usually take place. Unfortunately, what the map didn’t tell us was that the five kilometre drive was riddled with mountainous peaks and equally steep drops, nor was we informed by the bike owner that he was renting us a clapped out piece of shit that had trouble just starting, let alone navigating this kind of road. I’ve been in car crashes that were less scary than these summits which we struggled to overcome each time we reached one. We were literally cheering on our weak engined warrior to make it up each time, which it did, but not without its fair share of struggle and panic. By the time we reached Haad Rin Sarah was shaken up, as was I, and we were both fearing the forthcoming ride home. I saw a hostel with a bar and pool table, so I went and bought a beer and then got chatting to the guy behind the bar, a Mauritian named Robbie who was on a working holiday. He advised us on the best place to pick up some love, a place called Magic Reggae Bar. Who would’ve thought? He also told us a good place to get some nice, decent priced food, called the Crazy Elephant, so we went down the road where he’d directed us. After a few minutes a blonde Dutch guy called Morten who was at the bar with Robbie came in and said that he was off to get some weed, so could get some for us. I trusted his story so gave him 1000 baht and off he went, returning just as our meals did, with a small package to deliver. We thanked him, and then continued with our meal. As simple as that.
This is how the world looks on good acid.
We still wanted to find some mushrooms so, feeling replenished, we rode along the beach for a few minutes, then got off when there was no more rode and walked a few steps to the reggae spot. It was a shack facing the beach that was full of ultra violet lights and covered from floor to ceiling in quotes, people’s names and messages, obviously added to over time by patrons of the place. We enquired about mushrooms but the main man wasn’t there, so we were invited to wait and have a beer, and offered to buy joints, which we declined. We didn’t smoke any of our own as we had the death ride to endure and Sarah obviously didn’t want to do that stoned, so instead we had a drink and a chat, taking it in turns to find empty spaces, which we filled with messages of our own. Sarah first painted  Gandhi’s ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’ on the wide leg of a table, then I wrote the most important piece of advice that I offer to everybody and anybody, simply ‘Love Yourself’, in bright yellow across a ceiling beam. The second most important piece of advice I always offer is ‘Make sure you sniff water and properly clean your nose after a night of snorting drugs’. That may seem somewhat comical advice, but some of the shit I’ve expelled after a heavy night has looked like somebody’s had a home abortion in my bathroom sink, so take note. After about an hour, just as we were getting antsy, the employee returned saying that his boss was back, and handed us two small paper cups, half-filled with mushy ‘shrooms. We tipped them into a plastic bag, thanked our friend, giving him 1000 baht and retreated gleefully to our vehicle.

My simple advice

Perhaps it’s because we were expecting it, or perhaps it’s because we’d already experienced it, but for whatever reason, the drive back wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the one there. We still had to navigate numerous ups and down, but it was more downs then ups this time so it didn’t seem so much of a struggle. We picked up some munchies from the 7-Eleven and rode our spluttering bike back to our hut, where I tied the bag of ‘shrooms to our fan to keep them cool, and cut up the weed with some nail scissors. We had a fair bit more than we’d got from Richard in Chiang Mai, but still less than in London, which I think is crazy considering it’s grown around there in mass amounts. Regardless, we were pleased with our haul, rolled up some seaweed, and hit the beach in all its dark beauty to celebrate before bed. BOOM-BAT! Just as Sarah dropped off, I realised that Arsenal would be starting their Champions League match against Schalke at 2.45am local time, so I did some writing until then, and spent the next two hours trying to stream it on my crappy excuse for a laptop, with a crappy internet connection somehow reaching our little hut. The written updates on my phone informed that we were 2-0 up at one point, only to go back to 2-2 by the end of the game. The only brief spell of video I saw lasted roughly 30 seconds, and blasted out of my speakers unexpectedly, just enough of a clip to wake my sleeping girlfriend, then disappear again. Quality. 5am, nothing watched, a restless lover and a draw. What a way to waste a sleep. Still, even paradise comes with its downsides.

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