16.05.2011 - 26.05.2011 32 °C
I thought I'd left the troubles with flights behind in Zanzibar, yet on arrival at Kathmandu airport, I was told my flight to Bangkok had been cancelled. After much waiting and worrying, I was informed that I'd been moved onto Ranu's flight, which left at 9:00am, in half an hour. A mad dash through the airport then took place to make sure I made it in time. As thing turned out, this flight had been delayed by an hour anyway. I made it in plenty of time and we were soon in the air on our way to Thailand, the land of the perfect beaches, Full Moon Parties and ladyboys.
My first port of call upon arrival in Bangkok was the hospital. My stomach had, well let's just say, been a little more active than usual for the last few days, and I decided that I needed a course of antibiotics to sort myself out once and for all. I walked into the foyer to be greeted by Thai ladies roller blading around the hospital transporting documents from desk to desk. It really was a surreal introduction to Thailand.
With the antibiotics prescribed, I returned to the hotel to discover a bus / boat combo could get us to Ko Phangan a full 12 hours earlier than originally expected. This did mean, though, that for the second morning in a row we'd be up at the ungodly hour of 5:00am. Bleary eyed, we stumbled into the bus, where we were immediately back into a deep sleep until we arrived for the catamaran ferry to take us onto Ko Phangan. The second leg of our journey revealed the beaches and blue seas nestled in the Gulf of Thailand. The final mode of transport was reminiscent of the Tanzanian dalla dallas, as 15 of us squeezed into a pick-up truck headed for Haad Yao, on the north-eastern coast of the island.
Ranu and I didn't even care that we'd be ripped off at the first hotel we came to. We paid for one night's accommodation, dropped our bags and headed straight to the beach for a cold beer as we watched the sun set. This was what I came to Thailand for. As the sea lapped at our feet, we tucked into a delicious meal, hoping that the next few days were going to be as good as this.
The next day, Ranu checked into her hotel, which was ever so slightly out of my price range... Not a problem, however, as I picked up a beach bungalow with sea views and a hammock on the balcony for peanuts. The early mornings had taken their toll on me, and I snoozed in the hammock before lying on the beach with a pineapple lassi. Then came the preparations for the infamous Full Moon Party. Donning my trueLAD t-shirt, Ranu and I shared a bucket - yes, you heard me right, a bucket - of Sang Som rum, Red Bull and coke with dinner overlooking Haad Yao bay. I really think the bucket idea could take off back in England...
Once again, we were hopping into the back of a pick-up truck, but this time we were off to Haad Rin, where the beach festivities had already commenced. With my Full Moon Party wristband securely strapped on, the craziest sight revealed itself to us. Literally thousands of people were dancing away on the beach and on raised stages, covered in fluorescent paint and taking big gulps from their buckets. I couldn't help but gawp for a while at the madness ensuing all around. Pretty soon, though, I was off to be coated in fluoro paint and grab myself a bucket.
The surreal nature of the party continued as people attempted to leap over blazing skipping ropes doused in petrol. Trying to take it all in at once was impossible, but I had an irreversible grin on my face all night as I danced and drank.
Where am I? What happened? Where's my trueLAD t-shirt?! These were the questions buzzing through my head as I awoke groggily. Apparently I told the nurses I was fine, and that I needed to go back to my accomodation in Haad Yao. I was oblivious to the huge gash on my forehead. The nurses, understandably, took my into a separate room, where a surgeon stood waiting to fix the hole that had appeared on my head. I still had no idea where I was or what was happening. They must have given me something to numb the pain, as I could feel nothing but the occasional tug from the needle as 14 internal stitches and 10 external were put into my forehead. I lay deadly still, still not quite understanding the severity of it all. How could I? I didn't know what had happened and I hadn't seen the open wound on my forehead.
After I was all patched up, I was taken to a room where I went straight back to sleep. I woke mid-afternoon as the nurse came in to change my drip. I still had a thousand unanswered questions, but many were quickly dispelled with a glance in the mirror. Underneath plasters was obviously the gash, but the skin had ballooned up all around my left eye, obscuring my vision.
Hobbling through to reception, carrying the drip above my head, I was determined to find some answers. Nick, the Scottish doctor, was the man to see. He said I was brought in at 1am by two Thai guys. I wasn't with any friends at the time of the incident, and a cursory glance at my phone told me Ranu didn't know what had happened. Her text read, "I've gone back to Haad Yao. Tried to find you but you're obviously having a good night! Enjoy it!" That's all the information that I found out. Oh, and that I'd probably be in hospital for a week or so. Marvelous...
To compound my misery, my trueLAD t-shirt was thrown out by the nurses, as it was soaked in blood. It did mean, though, that I got another post on trueLAD. (Speaking of trueLAD, head onto the website to vote for the picture of Stringer and I on Kili. I really want to win this competition! Thanks! http://www.truelad.com/True-Lad-Competition.php )
I was knackered - probably all the drugs they'd given me - so I headed back to get some sleep. I opened the bathroom door and a massive millipede was scuttling around on the floor. Probably a foot long and an inch thick, it's jet black skin looked ominous. The nurse came to have a look and immediately yelped, jumping back and shouting "poisonous, poisonous!" She returned less than minute later with a big, metal rod and began smashing the millipede repeatedly, but still it held on for life. After a good two minutes, it eventually went limp and she brushed it outside. So along with the head wound, I now had the remains of millipede smeared all over my bathroom floor. As I said, I was knackered, but it took a long time to get to sleep that first night.
I was soon moved into a room with Stevo, an Aussie who cut his feet whilst walking back from the Full Moon Party. It was great to eventually have some company. After just two days in my room, I was beginning to go stir crazy! The sheer number of movies we watched was ridiculous - the DVD player was an absolute godsend.
When the drip finally came out, I had so much more mobility. I could walk around without having to hold the packet of fluid above my head! Having the drip out also meant that I could leave the confines of the hospital. I was straight out to explore Haad Yao and walk around for ages. I did, however, have to stay in hospital until the 26th May, so that I could get the wound cleaned daily.
I managed to be quite productive on my first day out of hospital, too. I booked return flights to Bali, where I'm going to learn to surf and pushed my flight home back a week to 17th June. My trip now has a definitive end, but I don't want to start thinking about that yet!
Slowly but surely, Paul and Stevo were allowed to leave the hospital for little trips too. Stevo had to walk painfully slow due to a cut within a millimetre of his achilles tendon and Paul also had a foot injury, so our 'great escape' from the hospital was always flawed... The sight of the three of us walking down the road must have been rather interesting for everyone in Haad Yao!
The last couple of nights we even made it as far as the beach, where we had a couple of beers whilst watching the various entertainment. They had the obligatory flaming skipping rope, but also a basketball contest where if you shot a hoop, you won a free drink. The best game, by far and away, was the balloon game. With a balloon strapped to your leg by an elastic band, the object is the hop around and pop other people's balloons with your feet whilst keeping your balloon out of harms way. When 'Jump Around' is played, it's the signal for the game to begin. After watching on the first night in hysterics, I thought I'd give it a go. I failed miserably and was one of the first to be knocked out.
With that, my time in Ko Phangan was over. Would I do it again? Hell yes! I'd certainly come back to the Full Moon Party, but I'd make sure to stay safe. It's a shame that I couldn't really appreciate Ko Phangan, but it's not all bad. I'm off to Ko Phi Phi for a while before I hop over to Bali, where I'll learn to surf. That is, if I don't end up in hospital again...
P.S. A massive, massive thanks to the guys at Bandon Clinic. You're all incredible people and thanks for taking care of me! Thanks, too, to Ranu for bringing all my bags to the hospital and being an awesome travel buddy!