local time: saturday, october 9, 2010, 11:50 a.m.
yes, i'm back in thong nai pan! i ended up taking a bus and the night boat on wednesday. i thought that the boat would just be a regular ferry that runs at night, but it was actually a big wooden cargo ship. the bottom deck was full of all of the stuff being shipped to the island, and on the top deck there was a row of futon-type mattresses and pillows along each wall. i found my assigned bunk and, thinking that i wouldn't be able to sleep very well, settled in with a book. but i was wrong. the bed was actually fairly comfortable, and once the boat started the rhythm of the engine noise was oddly soothing. i didn't even make it through one chapter before falling asleep. next thing i knew, the ship's horn was blowing to announce our arrival at the pier at thong sala on ko phangan.
i got a taxi to thong nai pan and, since it was only 7:30 a.m. - too early to check into a bungalow - i asked the driver to just drop me off at one of the paths that goes from the little town down to the beach. i walked the few hundred yards to the sand, and just like that i was back - and so happy to be here.
tanja, the german woman that i met before i left, is still here, so we met for breakfast. i told her about what i'd see and done in and around krabi, and she caught me up on the goings on around here. then i went for a long swim in the beautiful bay that i'd missed so much.
the soccer tournament was still going on, so that afternoon i cheered my favorite team to victory in their semi-final match. then, after a nap and a delicious dinner at my friend pookie's restaurant, tanja and i headed over to yai bar. most of the thai people that i'd befriended were there, and i was greeted by a chorus of "rachel! you back!" and laughter and nods of approval when i explained that i just loved this place too much to stay away. my friend zin made his way over, grinned, and said "but now you know." i headed back to my bungalow after a couple of singhas and fell asleep listening to the ocean, the frogs and night birds, and the faint sounds people talking and laughing a bit farther down the beach, feeling so lucky and completely blissed out to be back here.
yesterday was the final match of the soccer tournament. everyone from thong nai pan and the surrounding area was there, and the atmosphere was even more festive than it had been at the other games. after the match (my team won. yay!) and the awards ceremony there was a big party on the beach. drinks flowed freely, and thai dance music played until the wee hours of the morning. it was a great night, and i really felt like part of the community here.
today the sun is shining and there's a nice cool breeze. my beach towel and my book are calling me. i'll be spending the afternoon sunbathing, swimming, and chatting with friends if they stop by. and trying - most likely unsuccessfully - to wipe the silly grin that i've had since i returned here off my face.