That's what I'm thinking, tail tucked between my legs, as I scamper out of Thailand. Back in October, I spent the month on Koh Phangan, an island best known for its wild Full Moon parties and cult-like yoga retreats. It was supposed to be a month of relaxation, of days spent writing in my hammock, drinking beers around bonfires on the beach, and scooting around the island in search of coconut ice cream.
Koh Phangan had other plans for me. It started out innocently enough. First came the geckos. Not the tiny ones that flit around your baseboards, conveniently sucking up spiders and mosquitos. I'm talking about Tokay Geckos, a lizard so loud you can hear it through your earplugs, and so large that its poop rivals my dog's in size. I draw the line at reptiles longer than my forearm — if it's large enough to eat a rat, I'm not cohabiting with it.
Then came the scooter accident. Luckily it left me only slightly banged up and the rental store only charged me about $30 in damages, but the memory of flying through the air, across a busy highway no less, left me petrified. I spent the rest of the month clumsily manually walking my scooter through any tight space to avoid accidentally gunning it into anything or anyone.
Then there was that rogue wave that leapt up out of the ocean and sprinkled my MacBook Air with just enough saltwater that it immediately conked out. And then, because I'm an idiot, I further ruined any chance of salvaging my livelihood by turning it on. Twice. Luckily, this sort of thing happens quite a bit on the island, so finding a expat repairman who can fix it cheaply is pretty easy. For future reference, if your repair guy has a long ponytail, works out of a dusty garage or storage unit full of dated appliance parts, trust. He's your man.
Then came the boat breakdown. Motion sickness has been a growing problem for me over the past few years, and recently it's become more of an urgent ok-I-need-to-fix-this issue with the more buses, boats, and hammocks I find myself in (yes, I get queasy in a hammock). This time, I showed up prepared. I had the Transderm patch behind my ear, I had eaten a small carb-y breakfast, and I had also taken the awesome Thai version of Dramamine that worked miracles on a recent bus ride from the Perhentians to Penang. I was ready to dive!
That is, until we started actually moving. 30 minutes into the boat ride to Sail Rock and I could barely look down without wanting to hurl. Instead of calming down, I full-on freaked out — ugly cried, refused to get in the water, the whole bit. My poor dive instructor didn't know what to do with me, and I couldn't really explain what I was feeling either — except that it probably meant I should hold on off completing my dive certification (I was just one dive away!) The most disappointing part is that I had waited a year to dive at Sail Rock, and if I had gone through with it, I would have spent the next few days diving with whale sharks.
Last, but definitely not least, my trip to Amsterdam Bar (read into that what you will). While walking down the "stairs" — really just random uneven rocks set into a very steep hill — my right ankle rolled and down I went. I heard a very loud crack and I knew as soon it happened that it was bad, bad, bad. After flying to Bangkok so I could see an orthopedic doctor, I earned my final Koh Phangan badge of honor: a severe ankle sprain and six weeks of wearing an air cast, just in time for my trip to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap followed by a week-long trip around Myanmar.
The funny part is, I'm not the only one who got their ass kicked on Koh Phangan. Five of us got bit by dogs. Probably a dozen crashed their scooters. Two were hospitalized for Dengue. I'm pretty sure nearly everyone in my 75-person Remote Year crew had some sort of come-to-Jesus moment that challenged them on a mental or physical level. And all of this came with a moody backdrop of country-wide mourning, as King Bhumibol Adulyadej died in mid October.
But none of it should have come as a surprise. It's said the island, known as the crystal island to some, has an energy that tends "to bring things up," as one local spiritual healer told us. So chances are whatever's stuck, on Koh Phangan it'll become unstuck pretty fast.