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22 December 2002, Ko Phi Phi

Today was our Sabbath—our day of rest. Our plans had originally called for us to take an afternoon ferry back to Krabi and then a bus to Phang Nga, but the combination of sunburn and travel fatigue made the decision for us—we would be staying put. Up until then we had been on the run continuously, or occupied with one thing or another, and had not had the chance to really rest. What better place to rest, we thought, than a tropical island beach before a sparkling blue sea?

The day started off later than usual, as there was no need for us to wake up early. We decided to give Sunla restaurant a try for some more typical Thai food—I had the fried rice, which was very good. After finishing the meal, though, we went down to the main street and I had an orange shake. In terms of the “four constitutions” of Eastern medicine, I am a so eum (literally, “small yin,” as in “yin and yang”), which means (among other things) that cold foods are not good for my digestion. You would think after all these years I would learn, but no.

We found our way down to the beach, where we stayed for the next few hours, lying in the shade of a big tree. I spent much of the time catching up on this journal, which was nice. I don’t actually get the chance to write every day, and end up writing in spurts during downtime like this. We stayed on the beach until lunchtime, when we went back to the Sunla/Fatty’s intersection. We decided to try something different, so we went to one of the places on the street east of Sunla’s. My stomach was not feeling well (Thank you, cold orange shake), so I just watched while Hyunjin suffered through what she called the worst rice noodles she has ever had.

With that unpleasantness out of the way we went back down to the beach, and after resting a little while we went swimming for a bit. That was pretty much how the afternoon went: resting, swimming, resting, swimming. When the tide went out we walked out onto the tidal flat. By that point most of the daytime denizens had retreated to their bungalows and resorts, and the neighborhood kids came out to play football on the now wide expanse of sand. I was surprised to see that most of them had uniforms, but it was impossible to distinguish teams—each boy wore the uniform of his favorite player.

There is some coral on the east side of the bay (the same coral we almost got stuck in while kayaking), and when the tide goes out it sticks out above the water. That area was our destination, and on the way we saw tons of crabs scurrying about the shallow waters. There appeared to be two types of crabs, which we quickly learned to distinguish: those that held their pincer arms bent in toward their bodies, and those that held them straight out to the sides. The former would scurry away and bury themselves in the sand when we approached, leaving only their eyes poking out, but the latter would dart toward us and actually try to attack us. Despite our overwhelming size advantage, it’s still kind of freaky to see a tiny, clawed menace flashing across the sand toward your unprotected feet. We quickly learned to avoid these aggressive fellows.

Another interesting thing we saw were what looked like tiny, wispy flowers poking out of hollow stems. When we approached, though, the “flowers” would quickly disappear into the stems. After a short while they would slowly start to emerge again. Hyunjin was convinced that they were animals because of their reactions, and they probably were, but I’ve seen plants that react, too. I don’t know much about marine life, but judging from what I’ve seen on the Discovery channel, they were probably some sort of animal.

On our way back in from the coral the sun began to set, and shortly thereafter we made our way to Sunla for dinner. Again we decided on seafood, and since it was our last night we decided to spend a little more and have one of the lobsters that had just arrived. This was supplemented by red snapper, and Hyunjin ordered a bowl of rice noodles to erase the trauma of lunch. As we had come to expect, the food was very good, and even with the lobster it only came to a little over 700 baht for the both of us. Granted, it’s more than we would usually spend on a meal here, but it’s nothing compared to what we would have paid for lobster back in Korea (or elsewhere). Sunla may not look like much (in fact, it looks like a large shack with some chairs and tables), but the food is very good—the best Thai food we had on the island.

After dinner we walked back down to the main street and headed east, past Carlito's Bar, to a place called the Apache Bar. We had seen it during the day and decided to give it a try. Its primary charm, though, seems to be its view of Ton Sai Bay, and that was pretty much cancelled out at night. The sign outside advertised Singha for 50 baht, but the menu said 70 baht, and only after we protested did the waiter “remember” the correct price. It was fortunate that we cleared this up before ordering, though—the two girls at the table next to us only discovered the price difference when the check came, and they spent quite a bit of energy arguing with the waiter. On top of that, Hyunjin’s 50 baht(!) pineapple juice wasn’t even fresh—it was canned. It was a very disappointing experience, and made me wish we had just stuck with Fatty’s. Fatty’s is much cleaner and quieter, and has a nicer atmosphere and better service. Experimenting is good, but sometimes you’re better off sticking with what you know. I guess the catch is figuring out when you should experiment and when you should stick.

We went back down to the empty beach, watched the moon over the ocean, and listened to the gentle waves wash across the sand. Then we went back to the guesthouse to sleep in anticipation of a morning ferry back to Krabi.

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