local time: sunday, september 26, 2010, 2:20 p.m.
i haven't done much since i last posted. i had booked an excursion for yesterday that was to include elephant trekking, snorkeling off one of the island's other beaches, and a trip to one of the waterfalls, but i somehow managed to sleep through my alarm and woke up at 10:00 a.m. - an hour after my tour's departure time. i was disappointed, and the strict no refund policy means that it's not in my budget to re-book the tour, but it felt really good to finally sleep in, and i ended up enjoying yet another languid afternoon on the beach. in some ways, i feel a bit guilty about the laziness of my time on ko phangan. i mean, this may be a once in a lifetime trip. i should be seeing and doing as much as i possibly can, right? but here i am on my fifth day on this island, and i haven't left thong nai pan yai. i came all this way, and i don't have much to show for it - just two books read, a nice tan, and a few photos (all taken from the same beach). oh, and one other small thing: a fantastic new love affair - with myself.
it's taken a long time to get started - almost 32 years, in fact. i've been dancing around it for the last couple of years; getting close and then withdrawing as old fears and feelings of inadequacy doused the early flames of love and self-acceptance. but over the last few days in this ridiculously romantic corner of paradise, i've gradually realized just how much i enjoy my own company, and that love i've been pushing away for so long has finally come to fruition.
it hit me like a ton of bricks last night. i was walking the length of the beach at sunset - something i've done every evening before dinner while on ko phangan. there were other people on the beach, of course; variations on the same theme every night: a couple walking hand-in-hand in front of me; a couple walking hand-in-hand behind me; a couple enjoying sunset cocktails and a quiet chat at one of the beachside bars; a couple making out in the shallows a la from here to eternity. you get the picture, i'm sure. couples, couples everywhere, and i the only singleton in the bunch. on previous evenings, i'd found it all a little depressing. though i felt strong and proud eating dinner at my table for one after these walks, i also felt sad that i didn't have someone with whom to share all of the incredible beauty and seduction of this place. but last night, as i waded in the surf (well away from the aforementioned amorous couple, of course), a thought came to me seemingly out of nowhere: "hold on a sec, silly goose. you are sharing all of this with someone; someone who will always be here; someone who will never let you down unless you expressly allow it; someone who, if you let go and let it happen, will love you unconditionally and just as you are for the rest of your life: YOU!"
it sounds so cheesey and sappy as i write it, but that's how it happened. that's how, after months of claiming to be happy on my own but not really meaning it deep in my soul, i finally fell in love with myself. some readers are probably groaning at this point. "come on, rach, this is supposed to be a travel blog. enough with this airy fairy stuff." sorry, guys. deal with it. yes, this is a travel blog. and it just so happens that this portion of my travel has been the catalyst for a monumental moment of self-recognition, self-acceptance, and self-love, and the beginning of an affair that - with regular care and attention from me - will last a lifetime. besides, i haven't gotten my butt off the beach for anything other than a walk to the village store or the internet cafe, so it was either this post or no post at all.
anyway . . .
i walked back to the restaurant at the dolphin, unable to wipe the smile off of my face. they serve drinks and tapas there in the evening, and while i've really enjoyed all the thai food i've been eating, i was in the mood for something a little different. i ordered a mojito and perused the tapas menu, eventually selecting garlic bread, steamed prawns with garlic, herbs, and red chili flakes (yes folks, i've developed a tolerance for a small amount of spice), and the "cheese platter (for 2)," as it's listed on the menu. my waiter looked pointedly at the empty seat across from me, but i just smiled and assured him that yes, that was what i wanted. over the next hour and a half, i enjoyed another mojito and ate every piece of that cheese, relishing each bite.
i'm staying on ko phangan until wednesday, when i'll head to krabi provence and the beaches and islands of the andaman coast. between now and then i might take a boat taxi to hat rin or bottle beach or other parts of the island. i might see if a motorbike taxi can take me to a temple or to a trail up to a waterfall. or i might just stick to "my" beach at thong nai pan yai and let this be my experience of ko phangan. i'm going to see how i feel in the mornings and just play it by ear. whatever i decide, at least there is now no doubt that i'll enjoy the company.