Writing and Procrastination

Writing can be an extremely slow process – especially when trying to write for a large project that requires a high level of research and formality.  Currently I am working on my PhD thesis and I am struggling.  Breaking the thesis down to bite sized chunks is really important but doing that and keeping the chunk within the framework of the big picture often brings out the worst acts of procrastination.  I seem to spend so much time thinking about what I want to write and planning when I am going to write that I forget, become distracted or run out of time to actually take up the task of writing.

Earlier this semester, having decided to end avoiding the inevitable, I reached out to the university’s research department and signed up to a couple of seminars.  As an external student, I felt that surrounding myself with other academically minded people would help to inspire me with purpose to take up writing – and it did, in a small way until I realised that the washing needed to be done, the boys picked up from school and I had to have coffee with my girlfriend.

I then followed up with some of the advice that was offered during the seminar:  the Pomodoro Technique and reading about writing a thesis starting out at The Thesis Whisperer‘s blog.  I bought myself an egg-timer to start implementing some discipline.  I confess I have not gotten too far, but I will, once I get started on my writing again!  Today, however, was my day to start writing a blog.  Another step along the procrastination journey?  Maybe, but it also means that I am writing.

This week gone, I started to say no to coffee – both in the literal sense and in the cultural sense.  I have started to say to myself, ‘no you are not texting your friends to tell them you are in town, nor are you popping in to the coffee shop to do some reading while you deep down hope a friend or two might interrupt you’.  I have a perfect home that is conducive to reading, writing and contemplation.  My discipline is starting with the concept of getting up every morning at 6.30am so that I am ready to start writing by 9.00am.  I still have days when I have to take my sons to school and spend the day in town, but I am beginning to avoid the coffee shops and am choosing to maximise an opportunity to read and write in a space a friend has offered for me to use.

Writing a thesis is a discipline and it requires the student to make that personal, academic journey with the utmost persistence and determination.  It can also be a lonely journey where I can pretend I am working, but then the only person I am truly deceiving is myself.  The honest truth is that I have spent hours avoiding writing because it means a commitment to my ideas; it means I might actually achieve my dream; it means turning my back on seeing myself as a failure and valuing the journey of achievement.  Yes, the PhD is more than an academic journey.  It is a spiritual and emotional journey that is taking me to a space where I must believe in my worth in order to achieve.  Knowing something and believing something can be two very different things, but having faith in my capacity to achieve requires inordinate strength, courage and persistence.

Around the 20 March 2014, I have to have completed a revision of a paper that has been accepted for publication later this year and I have to complete a near final draft of my methods chapter, so that when I go to Canberra, my supervisor and I can work together on the next step towards putting my thesis together.  Just thinking about it, raises my anxiety levels.  Can I really do that?  It’s too much, I can’t!  Then I tell myself, ‘I’ll just check Facebook…’.

Until next week…Happy reading!

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Day 8 – wet…then to Bophut Fisherman’s Village markets

Today l woke up to a thunderstorm and throughout the night it had just rained almost non-stop. Outside everything was so wet; water was flowing whenever it could and there was nowhere you could go and not get wet.

Today I was feeling a bit exhausted after yesterday and I thought it would be a good day to do some more reading and to get my blogs up to date. But first breakfast and yes today I broke with my usual breaky order and ordered French toast, banana and honey plus a glass of yoghurt, muesli and mixed fruit.

That was the beginning of my day and it continued in a similar vein – eating, reading, coffee, Crosswords, shake, Sudoku, eating and blogging.

With so much rain and stormy shorelines, there weren’t many people popping into the restaurant and the place was very quiet until finally the rain stopped long enough for people to feel confident to start walking about.

After a while Sue came to By Beach and we got chatting. Apparently they were all heading do Bophut, to the Fisherman’s Village markets. Sue was confident that the weather would hold out so I decided I would organise a taxi for myself and also go!

First I wanted to finish my blog and have another taste of the fried bananas. Who would have thought they could taste so good! But this time they were served with honey. I never realised how good banana and honey were together!

The drive into Bophut usually took about 15 minutes but tonight I was in the taxi for nearly an hour! I have never seen the road so busy; mind you I had actually not ventured out in Koh Samui at night either. Thankfully, my fee was a set fee of 400 baht regardless of how long it took.

Arriving at the markets it was clearly an extremely busy place so I took off in the general direction trying to skirt past the crowds so that I could purvey my surroundings before setting off properly. In the process I walked through this part that looked like an abandoned mall. As I came out the other side, I spotted a shop with the most magnificent materials and beading. The initial piece that caught my eye was 5000 baht (197 AUD). Yes, the stones were beautiful but I was not spending that much – especially not at the beginning of the night! That said, if you had the money, this would be the place to get yourself something very special.

As I kept walking, my senses were bombarded with loud music from the many restaurants and eating places. A cacophony of geese was more appealing! That said, again it started to rain and I briefly regretted not bring the umbrella Koi from the office at By Beach had offered me. The rain did not last long, but I was extremely grateful that I had elected to wear my sneakers and sports socks; there were puddles everywhere. Really it was just massive amounts of water lining the streets; so much so that I ended up just walking through and not worrying about how wet my feet were.

The shops at these markets were absolutely beautiful and the Indian man who’s shop was similar to the one I have just described, was somewhat more affordable but I still declined to make a purchase. After that I mainly focused on the stalls and they were just a visual buffet of amazing! Jade, pearls, trinkets, bags, cosmetics, clothes, mobile covers, sunglasses, watches, headphones and speakers, jewelry, scarfs, linen, material – it was incredible. The bartering was fierce and if you were luck enough to be a first purchase, then you could get a great deal. That said, there was a limit and sometimes I saw people calculating their profit margin if they accepted the price. This made me realise that while it is great to barter, it also needs to be conducted in respect for the seller as this is their livelihood and there is no minimum wage akin to what we receive in Australia supporting their everyday expenses.

The food along the streets was also amazing and I did enjoy eating some chicken kebabs of different marinades for only 20 baht each (less than $1). One novelty I did notice was that you could buy and drink cocktails while walking around the markets, like you would purchase soft drinks. I did not realise how accustomed I had become to the non-drinking of alcohol in public places. I also spotted a fabulous way of doing eggs – quail eggs no less!

But no, I did not try them as by this stage I  finally had the opportunity to try the ‘rolled ice-cream’. The process fascinated me, as you can tell and I did enjoy eating the ice-cream, although it was slightly icy!

Again, once the shopping was finished I went to find a taxi. As I approached the entrance to the markets, the traffic was still hectic and there where ‘lollipop’ traffic guys working hard to create space for cars to move into the traffic and for people to cross the road. Again, I took a taxi home and noted that the ride back for the driver was going to be horrendous as traffic conditions had not subsided. So after paying him the 400 baht, I gave him an extra 20 baht just to say thank you. I do hope he got to keep that for himself! It really was a lovely way to end the day after such a long day of doing very little.

Day 7- Scootering around Koh Samui

Today, I had decided that I was going to attempt to ride around the island of Koh Samui. I came down to By Beach Restaurant to have breaky and one of the English ladies from next door was sitting and having breakfast with her 2 yo daughter. The 2 yo was enjoying dippy-eggs and her mum was having what looked like a sundae but was in fact yogurt, mixed fruit and muesli. I ordered my usual and we sat and shared stories. Her sister-in-law, Sue, who was from New Zealand also joined us for a few minutes before they all left for their tour of the island. They had hired a mini-bus that would take all 13 of them. They were in for a big day.

After they left I too made my preparations, got on my scooter and started riding. Like when I ride my bike, there is a thrill feeling the wind on my face and watching the world go by. I was riding with more confidence now. The traffic is really accommodating. Nothing seems to phase anyone – just the occasional toot if you have forgotten or not realised they are behind you wanting to pass or if they think you have darted out in front of them when you should have waited – but none of the rage, frustration and intolerance that we experience back home.

As I was riding along, I noted the places we had visited the day before and on the advice of Sam, at By Beach the night before, I thought I would visit the waterfall. when I arrived this man showed me where to park my bike and indicated where I could find the waterfall. I wandered into this area where all I could hear was the sound of water falling. The sound was amazing and here at the bottom of the stream it was just beautiful. Over the stream, a bridge took you to a modest Buddhist temple and to the right you could walk over these large flattened rocks to get closer to the stream. As I wandered and took photos this black dog joined me and in some ways, seemed to show me where to go.

I was however disappointed not to find the waterfall itself or for that matter a path that led to the waterfall. I did find these lovely welcome statues and then headed back out. Mind you, I have no idea what the fascination is with sheep statues but they are everywhere!

As I came out the man asked about the waterfall and I said I couldn’t find it. He gave me diections for the path, telling me it was a 2km walk through the jungle. Well, I thought, that’s like walking around the lake in Shepparton! Wrong! It was nothing like the lake! Before I knew it I was climbing over rocks, boulders and massive amounts of tree roots up this massive hill…

…and feeling very much like a cooked steam dim sim!

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I had to stop wearing my glasses because they were too fogged up. As I climbed I was very grateful for all the gym work I had done before Christmas. Although as I said earlier this week I really should have spent more time doing squats as much of the climbing involved quite literally lifting myself up and over steep step-ups.

The higher I climbed the more I questioned the wisdom of this venture given that I had no water or Aeroguard with me. While it felt like I had been climbing for ages, I was sure I had not even reached half way. There were signs that people had tried to inhabit the area even if only to set up a watering hole. However much of that seemed abandoned although it did seem that someone looked after the plants in the vicinity. The sea of pink as I approached was somehow reassuring.

Not long after that the climb seemed to be getting harder and again I questioned the logic of the venture and decided it was time to turn back. While I may not have made it, I was pleased with my efforts but absolutely exhausted. The climb down was just as tough; trying to avoid falling forward and slipping. At one point I saw a lizard scamper over the rock I was about to put my hand on. It was then I started thinking about snakes and leeches.

Once again I was reminded of the constant battle between humanity and the natural environment.

Needless to say I made it down safely but hankering for some water. When I saw the lady selling water I immediately said yes please when she called out. She laughed when I said I didn’t make it! And she proceeded to take me over to the big poster to show me. Again I said that I did not see it and then I showed her a photo of how far I got and she seemed impressed.

Then I turned around and saw the man who told me about the 2 kms. Still laughing from the conversation with the other lady I shook my finger at him and told him off for not telling me how hard the climb was. He laughed and indicated a smooth path. I shook my head and said no way and used my hands to show how squiggly and steep it was. He chuckled and used his hands to say that the climb would do me the world of good; help me to slim down! Well of course in typical Janet fashion I showed him an old picture of me. His eyes nearly popped out of his head and suddenly he was impressed with what he saw. So much so he started telling the other lady. It really was an awesome conversation of joking around with each other particularly given the language challenges.

Off on the scooter again and once more I felt the thrill of the ride and not knowing exactly where I was going. After about half an hour or 40 minutes I came across a beach so I stopped to explore and take some photos. It was beautiful and once again I realised how different the terrain was as you moved around the island.

I then noticed the heavy dark rain clouds coming in so stopped for a coffee. I ended up also having an early lunch as the rain continued to pour down. The Phad Thai was nice but the one I had at By Beach was much better.

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Once the rain stopped I was off again. Following my nose took me yet to another beach and resort area. It just looked magnificent!

Then I was heading up, over and through amazingly lush green mountainous terrain. Then it was into busy traffic territory and the very popular tourist spot of Lamai Beach. Needless to say I just continued riding and negotiating the vehicles and the people. As you pass through Lamai you head into Chaweng. This is like the city hub of Koh Samui and there is traffic everywhere. Suddenly I pulled off to the side of the road. This was a photo opportunity that located my position. True, if I had turned right here it would have been like driving down Swanston St in Melbourne – and there was no way I was doing that.

I just got going again when I came across the French bakery – La Fabrique – I had spotted from my taxi rides. So quickly I pulled over and wandered in. Okay, so it wasn’t quite like les boulangerie or les patisserie of France, but I still decided to have a coffee and cake.

Well, I have to say, this lemon merinque was the best I have ever tasted! There was a light crispiness to the top of the meringue but underneath it was soft and marshmallowy. The lemon part was like a thick, tangy custard and the pasty just melted in your mouth. To top it off, the coffee was the best I have had in Koh Samui.

That was it, I thought. Time to fuel up and return to By Beach. Before I realised, however, I had passed some street markets that I had also seen from are taxi and decided I would turn around and go back.

The traffic to get back across the road was hectic so I did what I had seen others do – I rode in the scooter lane the wrong way! Such a non-Janet thing to do – but I did!!! It was only a short distance but I am so glad I stopped. It was a food market and there was so much food there that I had never seen before!

At one point I watched this man make what I soon found to be “desserts”. He let me try the different noodle pieces.

It was so different but the food looked absolutely amazing. I am so glad I stopped.

Finally I made it back. Tonight, Gene and I enjoyed another feast and ordered a bottle of wine. What amazed me was that when Sam bought the wine over he suddenly became this highly professional waiter, formally showing me the wine, pouring and waiting for me to taste the wine before he began do pour both glasses. I was so amazed to receive such ‘posh’ treatment here at By Beach because it is such a casual, everyday place where often guests are still in shorts and bare feet. Once again the food was delicious and we enjoyed an evening of much laughter.

Gene even showed me some photos of where she lived in Taiwan and I had never realised how beautiful it was. Another trip to add to my growing list.

Even now as I write this I still feel in awe of this amazing day exploring the island riding on a motor scooter.

Day 6 – a new adventure 

Still no internet! It still looks like more rain and nothing to do but read! 

While not actually a bad option I was starting to feel anxious that I could not contact my family nor they me. Logic tells me not to be silly but I was worried that they might be getting worried that they could contact me. I can hear my fried Rosie saying ‘it’s not all about you Janet!!!’

Anyway I went to have breakfast and Gene joined me. Again we had a lovely chat and decided that I needed to try her scooter to see if I might be able to handle it. Levi always said I would enjoy it but I knew I needed to have someone with me for the first time and Gene was it! Alas, just as we decided to go riding it started to rain. So we canned that idea and went back to our respective rooms.

As I sat there trying to start another book the thought occured to me that the two of us might like to go somewhere and share the taxi fare; if not for anything else but to access the Internet. Fifteen minutes later By Beach is buzzing! Janet has just hired a scooter, it’s bright red…

…and Gene and I are going exploring in the rain! Song and Sam, the restaurant staff thought we were mad because of the rain and Song was also worried about our safety. I was so excited. I had never ridden a scooter before (much less a motorbike) and here I was giving it a go! One of the guys called out “Come back healthy” and I quipped back, ” what’s the worse thing that could happen? I end up in hospital?”. We all laughed but on a more serious note, I knew that I was not going to try anything risky or travel very fast. I had also been watching the traffic as I walked and travelled by taxi and was aware of how the traffic moved. In any case, we turned right at the By Beach entrance and headed towards the quieter part of are island.

As we road out, I felt elated. Wow! What an amazing experience! Admittedly I did struggle a bit with corners at first until I remembered what it was like on my bike! A slight lean and the knee out and it was all good. Gene led the way and I was happy to follow. She kept an eye out for me and we rode for about 20 minutes or so until we found this port. Here we parked the scooters and walked around the street looking at everything. 

Down the end of the beach area we found this lovely cafe and as we sat down it began to rain. It was here that we were finally able to hook up to the internet. Phew! We were happy.

After we finished our drinks the rain had subsided and so we decided we would wander back and try one of the places we had seen earlier. Not five minutes into the wide and the rain began pouring down. By the time we had reached The Mud Restaurant we were both soaked and my glasses were fogged up! 

As we sat down the waiter bought as both a towel to dry ourselves and we then used it as a blanket to warm up a bit. As we sat there going through the menu, the rain began pelting down even harder. To be honest I began to wonder if it would ever stop!

Gene and I decided to share our plates and so we chose three dishes. Rice in coconut milk, vegetable green curry, chicken and lemongrass and fried pork a lime balls. The food was absolutely amazing! Everything was so fresh and the flavours in your mouth were magnificent! Even Gene’s jasmine tea was made with actual jasmine! By the end of all this we were so full.

By now are rain had stopped again and so we headed off again. But before we did we captured some shots of this amazing place which we found out when we got back to By Beach was owned by the same people. No wonder the menus seemed so similar.

This time Gene took his exploring down all these different roads in search of a nice place to have coffee on the beach. We did find some amazing places off the main road…

…and even came across a buddhist Temple. There was a lot of construction happening but the artwork was amazing! 

After that we ended up at Anna Kuhn’s restaurant where we both engaged a coffee and a juice within are beautiful ambience of a moat. 

Again it rained but lightly this time but we were able to make back to By Beach safely – and the internet was back on!

That night Gene and I also ended up having tea together and enjoying a couple of wines. She also showed me where she lined in Taiwan and it’s a beautiful place. Maybe that’s another place I can add do my travels!

Day 5 – Lazing 

Have just gotten up to have breakfast and am greeted by a balmy 26 degrees, windy and threatening rain. The ocean has become tumultuous again – tumultuous for a beach that is normally flat – and the waves keep pounding away. The tide is almost to the retaining wall and there is a heap of seaweed floating around. For my Thai hosts, they are freezing but for the sake of maintaining the resort’s appearances they persist wearing the grey t-shirts. Me? It still feels very much like a cloudy summertime day!

I spent time listening to my favorite radio station earlier – ABC Radio National – and apparently there is a typhoon hitting Vietnam. According to Song, the restaurant manager, the weather we are experiencing is due to the impacts of the typhoon. She also suggested we might get some rain and more stormy weather later. While I hope and assume the typhoon won’t hit us directly it would be interesting to experience some rain here in the tropics. 

Introduced a change to my breaky routine! I added bacon! Mmm mmm!

Well we have just been moved inside – that is behind the plastic blind – as rain is on its way.

Disaster hit today and not only the weather. The internet went down! I had no idea how attached to it I was. It was also my only medium for contacting home and my family and friends.  Anyway,  with that I started to read and read and read! Yes, by the end of the day I had completely finished ‘Chocolat’, completed numerous puzzles including cross words and sudokos and completed some jigsaws and games of Carcassonne on an app on my tablet! The one good thing about the day, however was the reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve just sat and read like that! And I enjoyed it! 

In between all of that I moved about By Beach. Sometimes sitting on the beach, in the restaurant, on my porch or in my room. I ended up eating all my meals there today because it also was raining most of the day and so I couldn’t just go off walking and I didn’t want to have to pay for a taxi. I also didn’t really know where to go and couldn’t find out because there was no Internet. 

At lunchtime today I decided to try drinking a coconut shake. They looked good but it wasn’t my cup of tea! And yes I succombed to eating chips and shrimp spring rolls for lunch. I enjoyed that!

Later, after a dinner of chicken satay and massaman curry fried rice…

a fellow By Beach lodger started asking about the internet. I was able to fill her in. Needless to say, we ended up chatting and sharing stories. Gene is an American who lives and teaches un Taiwan and who, for most of her adult life has worked overseas. It’s actually amazing the different countries she has lived in. Anyway it is Gene I have to thank for encouraging me to ride the scooters here – but that’s another story for tomorrow…

Day 4 – A walk and a swim on Christmas day 

Last night the party ended at a reasonable hour – around 10 pm. When I woke at 4 am indie background all I could hear was duff-duff music playing in the distance. Eventually I fell back to sleep and woke again just before 7am. As I was deciding to go back to sleep I remembered that the tide was out first thing – well on it’s way back in but far enough out to be able to walk along the beach. So with that I decided to go walking. The morning was beautiful, hot and very, very still. It was very quiet out, except for my silence broken by a passing fishing boat.

As I walked along the beach, in between the resorts and villas there were houses. These were private houses that I also assumed for the most part may have been holiday rentals. However occasionally there were signs of everyday living and I began to wonder what it would be like to live so close to the sea…

I also spotted a watermelon outdoor setting and of course I had to take a photograph to add to the ‘odd outdoor settings’ I seem to be encountering!

By the time I had returned to By Beach the perspiration was pouring from me and l decided to test the water. It was very still and very cooling. I didn’t stay in for long – just enough to cool off. The sun was rising and the heat searing.

I wanted to call the boys for Christmas before the took off to their respective girlfriends’ family Christmases. Daniel had finally downloaded Viber and we were able to chat and also I managed to speak with David + Soraya. Happy now, I sat down and enjoyed what has become my typical breakfast!

After sitting and reading for a while – yes I finally opened the pages of a book!

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‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris – a great read.

I then decided to go for a walk. I needed more money and I wanted to stock up on some water. Trying to get my head around the money and what baht means in dollars has not come easy. Sometimes I get it right and then other times it just bamboozles me completely. You would think that 25 baht equalling $1 aud would be easy enough but when you start to add the zeros I get lost. Also I still wanted to get something special for the boys for Christmas. Soraya was already done! Actually buying for girls is so easy here!

First step was to walk to a Family Mart where there was an ATM. I didn’t get very far when a taxi tooted and I decided that with money, I could go back into Chaweng and find some markets. As it turned out I met a beautiful lady taxi driver who’s name was Poo (not as in poo-poo, as she informed me!!!). Poo was 45yo and a single mum to a 6yo daughter. Three weeks ago she had picked up an Australian woman who she took all around the island. At the end of the day, the passenger asked Poo to take her to Poo’s bank. You see Poo was paying the taxi off and had two payments to go before she owned the taxi herself. This passenger paid the final two payments. Poo was still overwhelmed by the generosity of such a gift. She also taught me that metered taxis are cheaper than ordinary taxis – and just because the taxi says ‘metered taxi’ on the top of the car it doesn’t mean that they are metered – and yes I found out the hard was. Poo’s trip cost 375 baht; my trip that afternoon was 500 baht.

Anyway Poo drove me to Chaweng and took me to the market area – away from the shopping centres. As I began exploring I swear I had a big sign on me saying ‘gullible’. So I battled it out as best I could. Mind you I did pick up some bargains especially as first buyer for luck! Mind you this was 1pm in the afternoon. By the end of my time shopping I began to realise that maybe most shops don’t open first thing in the morning?

Realising I was hungry I wandered across the street to a rather large open-setting restaurant that was reasonably well priced. Being Christmas Day, they also had a special Christmas menu. For 990 baht you could order a four course western Christmas lunch. I still wanted Thai! I ordered satay chicken, yellow curry – mild – and steamed rice. It was absolutely delicious.

With a full belly it was time to try to get something for Daniel. So off I wandered. As I walked I discovered these alleys filled with stalls. So I began wandering down then. With shopping in my hand I didn’t seem to be pestered as much. Also I suspect different nationalities accost differently. Anyway as I walked down one alley, towards the end I spotted some speakers. I have been thinking about getting myself some for my room. Needless to say, the bargain I got came with a proviso that is the saleswoman could fit me with a dress that I buy it. Of course I agreed. Well then I came away with seven items, and she threw in a little gift for Soraya and an absolute beautiful throw-over top for me! Was I happy!

As I left the shop I met their two year old daughter. Her birthday had been two days earlier and so because of the way they had gifted me, I gave her 20 baht as a birthday present and there were smiles all round! Actually when I first saw the daughter and I smiled and said hello, she went all shy and hid her face. Realising that she didn’t understand English I said hello in Thai – swadikah! You should have seen her face light up! She was all smiles and very cute.

With that I went to a 7-11 and bought my water 13 baht for 1.5L and then found what I thought was a metered taxi. Oh well, thems the breaks. As we drove, I was confident I could find the entrance to By Beach, how ever everything appeared different. At first I thought the driver might be taking me in a different direction. But no, there were familiar signs about just a heap of things I had not seen before – she possibly didn’t. I started thinking about the time of day. This was when it occurred to me that maybe the shops don’t really open up until later in the day. Maybe this was ‘after lunch’ trade. Then I thought about the signs that said open 10am or 11am till 10pm. Even the quiet roads I had walked the day before were busy. There is so much to learn.

Later that night, there was live music again with dinner and so l sat back to enjoy a quiet night listening do the music. As usual I ordered a cocktail – a sexy blue tonight and enjoyed some Thai shrimp cakes and the Thai spicy fried rice.

Just as I finished my meal, the English and New Zealand family arrived for ice-creams. I ended up joining then for a catch up and it was lovely. I partially enjoyed chatting with the young teenager who was aspiring to become an author. I would so have loved her to meet by sister-in-law, Jane. Anyway we chatted for a while about the subjects she was doing. She also loved her fine-arts subject and began telling me how because of a school change she had ended up studying “natural art” for too years and how she was so over drawing leaves! This year she was starting on people and was busy practicing how to draw eyes. Her young cousin, patiently sat there, with her “Harry Potter” glasses writing up Harry Potter quiz questions. The two girls were massive Harry Potter fans.

After they left, I sat and listened the rest of the performance and went to bed.
A very different kind of Christmas Day!

Day 3 – Exploring

Today was the day I had decided was going to be a day where I went exploring. Levi had given me instructions about what I could find to the left and the right of By Beach and now was the day to put it to the test! Mind you, today was also sunnier and therefore hotter and more humid than it had been so this was really going to test my stamina.

This time however, I was going to protect my feet and it worked! Out came the bandaids, socks and sneakers. A much better way to get about the place. My first stop was to check out the little grocery store at the entrance to the resort. Once again I was faced with the challenge of being in an environment where I didn’t speak or read the language! What I could understand was branding! After all Pringles still looks like Pringles even if the writing is in Thai. That said in a world where nations – especially industrialised, colonising nations – tend to take a very ethnocentric position over others it would seem that when it comes to money and capitalism, such nations are more than happy to “share”!

There are also many beautiful shrines and symbols associated with Buddhism. The funny thing is yesterday it was the bottle of soft drink in the shrine that helped me to recognise that I was in the right place!

Anyway, today was a day for exploring and that I did. First I wandered west for about 15 minutes until I came across a Family Mart. This is a supermarket that is larger than the little grocery store I mentioned earlier but only about the size of a 7-11 back home. Here I bought some water and some snacks. I don’t really know what they are but thought I’d give them ago. I’m actually glad I bought the water because I ended up walking further east than I expected and was able to use it to refill my water-bottle.

As I walked I noticed once again just how high the hills rose in the centre of the island. Where the built up areas are located is clearly at the bottom and there seems to be a clear demarcation between civilisation and the wild rain forests. It reminded me of the book “One hundred years of solitude” where civilisation battled to keep nature from taking over.

As per usual I ended up walking east further than I had anticipated but along the way enjoyed the sights. I found the infamous shell shop. When Levi first told me about this shop I did wonder how good it could really be. It was beautiful and there was so much to see. I did make some purchases including a simple but lovely pair of pearl earings.

I also discovered the cutest table and chair set – yes sheep! I had to sit there and enjoy a ‘health smoothie’. And how delicious and refreshing – honey, coconut, banana, milk and something else but hey, it was great! And yes the humidity…

My next adventure was lunch. It really was pot luck! One of those places where they cook on the street. Well it was actually a very delicious meal. The chicken was to die for. I have no idea what they marinated it in but it was the best chicken I’ve eaten yet. The veggies on the other hand were so hot that I had to eat the cucumber between each mouthful! The poor lady who prepared the food profusely apologized adding she only used one chilli!!! I laughed and reassured her it was me. She laughed too!

By that time I was ready to return to By Beach. So I grabbed a taxi and got back to my air conditioned room. Very quickly I realized that the remnants of the storm had passed and the high tide was much calmer. So I donned on the togs and spent the afternoon sitting at the edge of the retaining wall lazing around. There are moments when I feel I should be doing something but I am so so enjoying doing nothing.

Oh the staff here are currently having bubble fights to see who can blow the biggest and most bubbles! Now they’re taking photos with the bubbles and balloons! Anyone would think it was Christmas and they were getting ready for tonight’s Christmas party! Of course I had to help them out with a photo so they could all be in it! And yes tonight they are all in red and even the chefs are wearing bright floral shirts!

My cocktail tonight is a ‘long island’ as recommended by Sam, the waiter and yes it packs a punch!

Now the musician has started. It’s really going to be a lovely night. I really do need to get myself a guitar again.

Now for one of my favorite meals – satay chicken and spicy Thai fried rice.

 

Day 2 – Off to find Yves Rocher!

After a good nights sleep I woke up to another beautiful day! The weather seems so mild. Even now it is suppose to be 30 degrees yet it feels like 25 degrees – mind you I am out of the sun and that does help! Mind you it is humid, but bearable except when walking in sandles and no socks! Yes I have blisters all over my feet.

I did try to go exploring along the beach before breakfast however I didn’t get very far. the tide was on it’s way in and I didn’t want to get caught because I still didn’t know what the entrance was like to get back the other way.

So l did wander back to By Beach for breaky – and it was amazing! I ordered a vegetable omelette and I cannot tell you how amazing it tasted. Firstly it was the lightest and fluffiest omelette I have ever experienced. Then with each bite there were these flavours almost popping in my mouth like popping candy. The food tastes so fresh and flavours are incredible. The fruit smoothies are also delicious!

Today I travelled over the north of Koh Samui. My fist visit was to a resort called Mai Samui to drop off some gifts for a friend back home. One of the girls was at work this morning and I managed to get a few moments to say hi! She was delighted to see me and to receive the gifts. l had a photo taken and boy did I feel like a giant especially when I looked at the photo later!

And then it was off to a major shopping centre over on the very eastern side of the island to see if I could find Yves Rocher; and I did!

Needless to say I had a wonderful time stocking up on my favorite skin care and cosmetics. In typical Yves Rocher style I received lots of lovely gifts and a 30% discount.

After that I started to wander around and just loote I have everyking. Very slowly I began to realise that even within the shopping centre there were different ways of shopping. Stores like Yves Rocher tend to have a set price whereas some of the stores in the carts set their price but were open to a discount. I was a bit slow of the mark today but eventually started working it out. I ate lunch in like a Food market and the choice available was incredible! l ended up going with the Shanghai Duck and ate something I have never had before and yes, my eating experiences continue to be incredible!

Just before leaving the shopping centre I came across this little cart. It seemed to be selling these buns that had different fillings in them. But as I looked I discovered that they also sold ice-cream! I was sold immediately! One scoop of raspberry sherbet and one scoop of blueberries and cream.

After that I began walking down the street. I really don’t know how to describe how much I enjoy exploring new places. It’s like my eyes can’t see enough! The streets look rough.The concrete is cracked, stepping down to the road is a deep step and the footpaths are narrow. There are cars, scooters and motor bikes everywhere that make it a challenge to cross the road when you spot a shop you want to look at. Anyway as I walked it dawned on me that these were the shops I was looking for – where you get designer copies at great prices! I did manage to pick up something for Soraya that I hope she likes! Nevertheless it was only at that point that I realised I was supposed to barter. I still managed to get a good price but now I am looking forward to trying again when I next go shopping!

Not long after this l realised that there was something wrong with my feet – blisters. Next thing I know they are coming out in about four different places. So I found a taxi and between the three of us – two taxi drivers and me – we worked out approximately where to go! But they didn’t count on me not knowing what the entrance looked like. Needless to say, we managed it!

Since then I’ve just sat here at the restaurant by the beach. I must say the coffee here is great! Before I knew it, the sun was setting and it was time for a Cocktail. Tonight’s dinner was pork massaman and yes it was delicious.

I have just found out that tomorrow night they are having a Christmas party here so I am looking forward to that. And yes, Min, Sam and I had some fun around the Christmas tree too!