22 September 2005

A second skin of sand

Mmmm…Ko Samet…dark green island, lined with shining white beaches, swimming in a sea the color of envy. The roads are mud, colored paper lanterns grow on the trees, there's a dozen stray dogs for every person, and insect repellent is your best friend. By day, tourists lounge and burn in the warm sun, roaming peddlers wander the shore looking for victims, and every white, balding, flabby, middle-aged man has a cute Thai girl (or boy) in his arms. By night, music from the bars drips through the air, cocktails are served in buckets, whirling fire lights the beaches, and lady boys close their souvenir shops to step out and join the dancing and karaoke.

Alana and Nikesha hit the beach.

Why I'm studying away—Exhibit A:

Mmmm… crab with lime chili sauce for dinner...mai tais, long island iced teas, pina coladas, followed by a pleasant drunken glow and a short hike down the island to go dancing. It was raining lightly when we arrived, and as the night progressed, the rain intensified exponentially. I danced madly (and foolishly, I'm sure) because it had been such a long time since I'd had the chance to move my body to music. I miss tango and swing so bad it hurts. I danced almost every night this past summer, and the bar dancing was a welcome relief from the withdrawal symptoms. By the time I staggered home, the road had turned into a river. The stretch between the bar and our bungalows was deserted, dark, and surrounded by jungle. There were frogs everywhere, and they filled the wet air with the sound of an army of dying record players. As I stumbled through the dark and the mud, soaked to the bone from the rain and high from dancing, I paused in a knee-deep puddle and realized that I was intensely happy. "Hell yeah," I thought, "I'm in Thailand…"

The next night karaoke, more dancing and, the fire guys on the beach let me twirl some. Good times.

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