American Mind in Conflict with Thai Experience – Thailand

American Mind in Conflict with Thai Experience


Lamai Beach, Ko Samui, Thailand
Lamai Beach, Ko Samui, Thailand
I was surrounded by symbols that my mind was unable to decipher. I suffocated in the noise of the traffic as the cars honked and the tut-tut vehicles sputtered down the street; six lanes on each side and four lanes encircling the roundabout. The drivers wore surgical masks. Street vendors shouted for your attention to purchase their goods. I was sinking into a pit of visual and auditory stimulation overload. I stood on the corner absorbing the sites and sounds as I was breathing the brown, stale, muggy air that draped over the chaotic hum of the city. “This is Bangkok,” I thought to myself, “Get me out of here!” I left as soon as I booked my travel arrangements.

I traveled by train to the southern region of Thailand. A twelve-hour overnight train ride was only the beginning of a very long journey to the island of Ko Samui. This train ride was clearly not the Orient Express. The ticket I purchased included a bed, but there was no cabin on the train. I soon realized the seats folded out and the beds folded down from the top of the train to create a bunk bed style accommodation.

Beds were properly made with sheets, blankets, a pillow and even a curtain to keep out the light. However, I am not sure if sleep was a possible component to my train ride due to the several stops, no announcer, and lack of signs posted at the stations. Sometimes I awoke as the train slowed to a stop. I’d peak my head out but the other trains heading in the same direction were not moving. The worse was when I awoke after the train had started to lurch forward. I would jump up in a slight panic to think I missed my stop. Eventually, I decided to pass out until someone woke me.

I did not reach my destination after twelve hours; another two-hour bus ride to the water was required. The buses I was most familiar with only held two people on each side of the aisle. This bus, though, held four people on one side and two on the other, along with the passengers sitting in the aisle. I was “lucky” to find a seat with other travelers sitting in the very last row of the bus. The roads were harsh on my bottom as the back of the bus clamored and jumped through each dent in the road. The hot sun embraced the bus; I was lulled to sleep based on my state of sleep deprivation. I awoke in time for a quick bite before boarding the two-hour ferry ride.

The boat was barely big enough to hold the people, then the bags and luggage were piled on board – no system, no order – except to squish every possible person. The cracked windows in the cabin below the deck provided the salt water with an entryway to the inside. “I’m a sardine on a sinking raft!” This was no boat cruise around the bay! People without a seat, seats with luggage spilling onto the passengers sitting in the aisle, no room to walk, no fresh air in the cabin below – my American mind screamed, “I paid for this?”

My beach hut
Mmy beach hut
Arriving in Ko Samui was not the end of the line. A truck imitating a taxi loaded everyone into the back and drove towards Lamai, a small quiet town on the beach. I jumped off the back of the truck and was standing on the main drag, which consisted of a small family restaurant, an internet café, a travel site, and two driveways that led to resorts on the beach. I arrived at a tropical beach resort only sixteen and half-hours after leaving Bangkok.

The beach hut accommodation cost about three American dollars. The most important thing I learned while traveling in Thailand was to CHECK THE BED BEFORE PAYING! I went to lie down for a nap and the two-inch padding that was placed on the wooden bed frame felt exactly like a two-inch pad on a wooden frame. After tossing and turning, I walked to the beachfront gazebo and experienced my first Thai massage. My American mind was no longer in conflict.

The journey was worth the sacrifice. The bungalow was on the beach and I was enjoying the simplicity of life away from the chaos of the city. The beach was simple, remote, and palm trees sprang forth from the edge of my view to create a picture perfect postcard layout. I would travel 16 hours to get to Ko Samui any day!

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