“Island Hopping” (Nang Yuan, Thailand)

Island Hopping

Nang Yuan, Thailand – October 19, 2017

After my day of rest, I was again ready for a wild ride through the countryside with the Dutch guys. They kept singing, “She’s Alena! Whoa, whoa, whoa, she’s Alena,” to the tune of Tom Jones’ “Shes a Lady.” They were really such funny guys, always singing, dancing, joking and laughing. We rented some shoddy plateless bikes from a nearby salesman. He assured us that if we got pulled over by the local police for unregistered driving, all we’d need to do is show them the rental agreement papers. They’re so laissez faire with their vehicle laws here. Cars are falling apart; people are packed into the back of trailers, arms and legs flailing around through the metal grates; big dogs are seated below people’s feet on the foot-stands of motorbikes; and children ride on the front of mopeds singing and giggling with their parents, tiny hands wrapped around the bike’s rear-view mirrors, no helmet covering their sleek black pigtailed hair.

We rocketed along the steep ocean paths that twisted and turned up and down the coastline. There’s no “ring-road” sort of thing that takes you all over the island like it did in Koh Samui, so you have to go from the center of town in order to take all the branching roads out to all the separate beaches. I almost got in a wreck in the center of town when two huge muzzled doggies jumped in front of my bike to attack each other. I slammed on my breaks and was almost then slammed by the 10 bikers behind me. I laid on my horn and they ran off the road, fur standing straight on edge down their backs. Luckily people here are so used to driving with distractions like these causing traffic hazards, and luckily they were muzzled because they didn’t look too keen on me as they glared at me with their goopy eyes, mangy mane and scabby skin.

One road we followed took us to a sunny spot on the beach with thatched umbrellas covering 100 baht beach cabanas. We took a seat by the shore and daydreamed about living in one of the little houses perched on the cliffs. They live closer with nature here it seems, and I think this is really how humans are meant to live. We always build boxes around our beings in order to “protect” ourselves from nature, when really we’re supposed to be integrated in it. I took my first snorkel of the trip through some beautiful under-the-sea scenery and couldn’t believe how buoyant I felt in this water. It’s like you could literally kick for hours, not moving, floating atop beautiful coral and fish as you focused on breathing through the mouth of the snorkel.

After coming through a tunnel that was formed by a huge boulder that had fallen over the road, we paid 100 baht to enter an expensive resort on the north side of the island. Here we purchased an overpriced meal and then booked an even more unreasonable longtail ride to Nang Yuan, the famous two islands that are connected by a thin strip of white sand. We boarded the boat over a dock that was made from thin strips of bamboo that were literally zip-tied to the metal underbearings of the platform. It hovered a few inches over the water, and waves would slap against it, causing water to splash and spray up in your face as you boarded the boat. The captain held out a hand for us to grab as our toes slipped across the soapy slick bamboo.

On the island, again we were asked for 100 baht to enter the national park. They have lots of little tricks like this in Thailand, where they make you pay to get in somewhere to then pay for transportation to get there, to then pay for actually getting in once you’ve arrived… I think traveling in Thailand has actually made me become cheaper because you’re so used to paying 60 baht for an entire meal so when they ask 500 baht to go somewhere you’re like “whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up…” but it’s still only like $15 and then you feel embarrassed about making a fuss to your friends. And I did make a fuss… but mostly because I’ve been locked out of my account and haven’t been able to check my money situation since Prague. At the lunch table, I was finally able to log in to discover that I should really be good for the next few months. Fewf!!

We docked attached about 15 other longtail taxis and had to hop from one boat to the next to make it to the pier. The little brown boat drivers smiled brightly as they grabbed onto you with their tiny pruney hands to help you jump in and out of their boats. Though it was pricey, Nang Yuan was well worth the price we paid. There was sweet little wooden boardwalk with fat fraying rope railings that wrapped around the beautiful islands and connected the tiny little Oceanside cottages to the port. A beach bar mixed mango mojitos for sunburnt visitors while asking people to not lay on towels or blankets as the beach is slowly losing its sand every year and becoming one with the sea. We hiked up to a viewpoint a along a concrete stair that cloaked the edge of the cliffs, winding all the way up with one seamless set of zig-zagged concrete stairs. We looked back on the islands, scuba boats bobbing on both sides, honeymooners hanging from their tree-top balconies, feeling like there’s no way the life we’re living is real.


Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato

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