Wednesday, October 26, 2005

October 14: Ko Samui

(1) There's a reason why Charlie's Huts is so highly regarded online by travelers - it's a beautiful, beachside property with tidy little huts. Of course, my hut (#24) wasn't worth a damn, but that was really my own fault. I was actually advised by somebody on the boards to go ahead and get the slightly upgraded room because there's nothing slight about the difference in quality. So, my first item of business on the 14th was going from the 350 Baht room to the 500 Baht room. Let me just say that, while C-11 wasn't anything ultra special, as far as I was concerned it was friggin' Xanadu.

(2) I decided to spend my first day on Samui doing absolutely nothing. With a perfect, white-sand beach just a few hundred feet from my hut, it was easy to wander over to the water's edge whenever I felt inspired to continue the process of turning myself into a bronze god. As you will find in all of Thailand, the beach outside Charlie's Huts is swarming with stray dogs like this guy. They're friendly, for certain, and their modus operandi seems not to be too different from that of the tourists. All these pups are really interested in is a nice, shady spot on the beach, and whatever leftovers you might be willing to part with.

(3) The big sport in Thailand is Thai boxing. When I arrived in Samui, I was inundated with advertising for this evening's event and convinced that this was going to be a great experience. When 9pm rolled around, I walked over to Chaweng Stadium to get in on the action. That's when something struck me. The ticket prices were outrageous, starting at about 800 Baht. It occured to me that this was not a price afordable to everyday Thais. Something didn't seem quite right. I hung around the stadium for a while, and noticed two other things. The first thing was that the stadium happened to be located in the same general area as Samui's go go bars - tourist central. I also noticed that all the announcements coming from within the stadium were in English only. If this was an authentic display of Thai boxing, wouldn't they offer both English and Thai? I concluded that this was just a scam to rake in tourist dollars, and left it alone. I would find my suspicion to be correct, as everyday on Samui brought the exact same advertising in the form of newly printed posters and recorded messages blasting from the loudspeakers on a constant barrage of trucks and boats: "Tonight! Tonight! Best match! Best match! World Champion! World Champion! Nine o'clock! Nine o'clock! Tonight! Tonight!" I would later learn that, even in Bangkok, where authentic fights can be seen on certain nights of the week, the tourists still pay a much higher ticket price from a separate foreigners' window. Thai's are able to purchase a discounted ticket because of a sports subsidy provided by the goverment.

(4) So, instead of watching Thai boxing, I ventured off to Soi Green Mango, a large, outdoor party plaza, where I threw back a bunch of Singha beers with some crazy British girls (by the way, to save money, purchase your drinks at the 7-11 next door). On the way home I decided to eat some street meat. This was a very, very bad idea. Immediately after biting into my beef on a stick, I could tell that I was going to be sick. Street food is very popular for travelers in Thailand, but I would be gun shy for the remainder of my trip.

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