Koh Jum the island in the sun.

22 Mar

Ok, I realise in my previous Thailand posts I have been using the words relaxed and chilled like a 10 year old boy uses swear words to impress his mates. Buuutttttttt, I’m going to have to use them again. Koh Jum is the epitome of these words. Actually I might try a new adjective out for size, “Tranquil”, bugger it, I’m getting the thesaurus out; restful, soothing, unruffled, unperturbed, serene, placid, peaceful. Take your pick. All I know is that it was fucking chilled and relaxing. Sorry, I don’t use the f word much, but it does the job way better than boring old “very”.

It was so laid back that even the ice guy–who is like the milkman, but deals in ice—ambles along in the midday sun, totally oblivious to his merchandise leaving a river of water behind his scooter.

It’s like the island has a law that everything has to be done on relaxed island time. The first night we arrived, time got away from us, you know life’s so hectic these days with sunset watching etc. It was 9.30pm, and we went out to have dinner. Mandy gave up after the first 3 restaurants when we were greeted with “sorry, kitchen closed”.

I had worms to feed, so like any good parasite carrier I went in search of food. After a kilometre of beach and 5 more “sorry, kitchen closed”, I pulled out the last resort. Like an innocent man begging for his life on death row, I did the universal begging sign to the little old Thai ladies and best puppy dog face. They probably thought to themselves “poor kid, looks like he hasn’t eaten for a month, his ribs stick out more than the stray dogs”.

So an hour later I return to our bungalow triumphant from my conquest to my adoring damsel. Two polystyrene containers full of plain white fluffy rice, with a gourmet fried egg on top. Plain rice has never tasted so good.

So you have the point, the island was laid-back.

The tourist attracted to the island was different. There weren’t the backpackers I was used to. There was a real cross section, from the German gay couple that looked like dumb and dumber in Speedos, to the group of Polish university students, to the sun-ripened old men who looked like they had taken one too many sleeping pills while in the sun bed. And there weren’t that many, refreshingly more locals than tourists.

The beauty of the tourists was that everybody seemed to be there for the same reason, to escape, to have a holiday from a holiday, to get away from the constant hassles that come with being a tourist, the bargaining, getting ripped off, pestered – ohhhh lifes sooo hard. Everybody was in their own little bubble, content to keep to themselves. It wasn’t until the last night that I actually got past conversational first base with a fellow tourist.

We spent our mornings eating breakfast laying on the deck chairs reading books. Our afternoons spent cruising the dirt roads on our hired scooter. We would have lunch “downtown” by the pier. Downtown comprised of a peaceful little concrete road that wanders through the Thai shops and stalls. Not an internet café, chain store, travel agent insight.

The locals were great. They wouldn’t hassle you, they went about their business but always had a smile for you. Riding past the local school, the kids were hanging out the classroom window shouting out “hello” with the enthusiasm of an American Idol contestant. Driving through the village the ladies sitting on the floor of the neighbours veranda gossiping would give you a wave as if you were the lady from down the road returning from a days’ work.

It was special the morning we left. The family who owned the bungalows stood on the steps and waved the departing guests good-bye until the long-tail boat was out of sight. One of the long tail boat boys who I had played beach soccer with the night before came and gave me a hug good-bye and a “see you next year”.

It was great to experience Koh Jum before the hordes of tourists, hawkers and high prices come to town. And they will, as all travellers like myself are in search of that tranquil paradise, and Koh Jum was just that.

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