When Ian told me he was going to Thailand for the second phase of his documentary project, I jumped at the chance to join him. The last time I was there was in 2000 with my Thai flight attendant friend OnAree when I was working for Northwest. We had traveled inland via bus up to Chiang Mai to go to the famous lantern festival. It was intensely beautiful, I wish I still had photos from that trip, but they are lost somewhere amongst the dozens of boxes which have dragged along beside me on my many migrations from city to city. This time, I was excited to follow the course south where we would experience true Thai relaxation on the white sandy shores of the islands. It was also my opportunity to see what he was doing there, and delve deeper into this project that his heart had so fully embraced.
We'd both had enough of airplanes, so we decided to rent a car and go on a road trip! At first, we had plans to drive eight hours south to Krabbi, spend three days there, then drive back in time for my flight out. But once we hit the road (in our tiny car with bright green elephants on the side) we realized we were on the wrong road heading to the opposite coast. I quickly pulled out the iphone to see if there were any good spots on that road, and found a nice sounding island called Koh Samet. So, changing plans on a dime, we smiled and headed east for the shorter, two hour trek to the coastal town of Raylong where we would then jump off of to our island retreat.
Koh Samet was stunning, filled with a soft mixture of local vacationers and foreign tourists, swimming in the morning waters for sunrise and drinking cold Leos in the afternoon as they ducked out of the heat. I deemed it the "island of small cats", as they were everywhere; one in particular who would greet us in the mornings with her scratchy meow and come cuddle with us in bed.
As much as we loved the sun & sand, we are restless souls who need to keep moving, so we hopped off the island after the third night and drove straight into the heart of Bangkok. If anyone is wondering if they should do the same -rent a car in Bangkok- the answer is an overwhelming "hell no!" It is the most terrible thing you can imagine, there are no rules except for: 'push your way through however you can'. Our gps showed a travel time of 13 minutes, which ended up taking us over 2 hours, and we even changed course to stop closer than we had planned. Ian turned to me as I was groaning with hunger, frustration, and having to pee, and said "If we can get through this, we can get through anything Angel!" I laughed and had to agree.
That night, after settling in to our hotel, we grabbed cameras and ventured off to Na Na Street. Now, Na Na is a place you go if: You are a "falong" (foreigner) who wants to buy some nookie with a Thai girl/boy/girlyboy; You are a falong who thinks the girl/boy/girlyboy really likes you and thinks you are handsome and will fall in love with you; You want to buy a bunch of shit made in Asia that you think is a good deal but will not work when you get home; You want some amazing Indian food; Or for us, you want to capture this place on film so you can share it with the world in a documentary about the truths of the child sex trade. We had amazing Indian food as well.
It was a short night out. We got some good footage, great Indian food, and some items from the street market (one of which did not work when I got home), then found our way to a moped taxi, which was the most insanely fun/scary/impressive forms of transportation I have ever experienced. So, a little paradise, a little hell, and a lotta fun! Can't wait for the next adventure... or to just be sitting in the quiet bush together sipping a cold beer at sunset.