Monday, March 7, 2011

Fortunately, even paradise needs a sewer system.

“Paradise is exactly like where you are right now… only much, much better."

-Laurie Anderson

Fortunately, even paradise needs a sewer system.

Cambodia is an entirely different, far more haggard and hard-edged animal than Thailand, but that’s for a later entry. You’re still in Ko Phi Phi, always straggling days behind. Like Lance Armstong devoid of blood doping. You know it’s not cheating if everyone is doing it, right?

I appreciate your integrity. So to the islands we go.

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand refers to a collection of 6 islands, the only of which is inhabited is Ko Phi Phi Don, the largest. As per the Lonely Planet guidebook, “Ko Phi Phi could sweep all the global beach ‘best’ categories and everyone knows it.” My first day on the island ended clambering up a hill to watch the sunset. I won’t try to encapsulate the splendor. Words would be inane. Okay, fine, but I’m no Hemingway. I’m not even Hemingway’s mole on his left shoulder that he had removed fourteen years before suicide-by-shotgun. How about: a picture perfect paradise so stunning pictures are incapable of capturing it. Why fumble around with a camera when photographs are as inept as words? A complete and comprehensive failure. Worse than my efforts not to ogle the opposite sex on the beach.

A glance, a double or even a triple take, that’s socially acceptable. A fourth gander borderline. An unyielding ogling, a tongue connected to the collar bone, a saliva sweat line, this reeks of indecency

Hello, officer. No sir, no one’s been stalking here. We both just happened to be lost and were wondering around in identical misdirection. What? She spent the last hour trying to lose me? Please, it’s only been forty-five minutes.

Similar to the surroundings, describing the women in Ko Phi Phi is unfeasible for an amateur writer. I’m no Hugh Heffner. I have much better taste. These aren’t creatures of the peroxide and silicone variety, but natural international sun-kissed beauties glistening in the humidity. It’s as if only the world’s most beautiful people were allowed onto the world’s most beautiful collection of isles and I managed to sneak in through the sewer system. It was well worth it, even though after seven showers my upper lip still smells like whatever it is you last flushed down.

Urine, feces, or a combination of both is an appropriate segue when transitioning into on my budget ‘accommodations.’ At 300 baht a night (about $10) this is about the most I’ve paid for a room since I started, the cheapest in Ko Phi Phi. It is also the most appalling. The mattress and walls have tiny dark stains, indicative of old blood. The deduction: bedbugs, Dr. Watson. So it’s time to tip the mattress against the wall, lay down a towel, and use a pair of pants for a pillow. Yes, I did indeed sneak through the sewer system. For a rat I am alarmingly close to the beach, the view of the ocean “inspired”. (I am unsure as to what this means, but many elegant men have used the term in such instances and so, to distance myself from the other filth floating around in the drainage, I employ it too.) How can a room like this, the square footage and squalor of which make a prison cell superior, be situated in a place like this?

The perfect day. One of those where, by mid-afternoon, you’re thinking, ‘this is it.’ The reason I’ve been inhaling and exhaling since the caesarian section. Whatever, it was only a snorkeling trip. A full day for only 350 baht (less than $12), lunch and pineapple snack included. I was situated on the boat next to a pleasant French girl, shy in demeanor yet daringly extroverted in beach dress. As if swimsuit material were spun from gold and she was on the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale. We toured around sheer limestone crags jutting out of the sea, a landscape as dramatic as the Grand Canyon. Except, of course, in the opposite direction. A snorkeling odyssey from island to cove to inlet, from places like Monkey Beach to Maya Bay to Shark’s Point. Lunch on the beach from, well, you know, The Beach. It ended with a sunset. A red-orange sphere melding into the ocean, eventually swallowed by limestone cliff silhouettes.

To want nothing more is how a man should feel on his wedding day. I’m unsure if I should be proposing to the French girl or the scenery.

Whatever happens with these Ko Phi-Phi natural international sun-kissed beauties, well, that’s for the personal journal. Yes, bitter failures go into the personal journal. Yes, the ‘s’ at the end of ‘failure’ indicates there was a multitude. Yes, you’re unusually perceptive, it was upwards of fifty-seven. Okay, it was ninety-two. And yes, I tried the ‘Did it hurt when you fell from heaven line?’, but it didn’t make sense. I’m there. There is no where to fall from.

Not until I get back to my budget ‘accommodations.’

Keep drifting.

A snorkeling Shangri-la.

To the left, Ko Phi Phi Ley, home of The Beach.

A Ko Phi Phi Don sunset; what may appear to be an adequate picture until viewing it in the flesh.

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