It was bound to happen. After 18 years together, 12 years married and almost 4 years on the road joined at the hip for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week...
Neda and I hardly talk to each other any more.
At least not in any language that resembles English! There's lots of of communication. How can you not, when there are border crossings, accommodations, groceries, laundromats to seek out in new and foreign places. How can you not convey to each other the wonder, the beauty... and yes, even the frustrations of roaming the earth, free-form style on motorcycles?
But in all that time, we've developed a kind of marital shorthand between us, which involves dropping pronouns (and a lot of nouns and verbs as well), using made up words, which in our case is a mix of Croatian, Spanish and half-made up words. Sometimes I grunt and wave my hands. No, not sometimes. I actually do that a lot. It's like we're little kids that have our own secret language that nobody else eavesdropping would understand.
We even complete each other's sentences, or just leave out the second half, trailing off after the first few words - relying mainly on telepathy. Which works most of the time. And when it doesn't... Well, that's how the fight started, your honour...
Sure, we can fake speaking English when we're out for the evening with other people. But at the end of the night, our minds and tongues relax and we revert back into the gibberish-spouting infants that we really are.
It's gotten even worse in Thailand. For the last four months we don't even put our English-speaking skills to use in public anymore. Instead we speak the simplified, pigeon English so the locals can understand us, and we pepper it with the only two Thai phrases we know:
"Sawatdee khrap. Pad Thai. One. Kob khun khrap."
So it's with a mixture of anticipation and dread that we're going to spend a couple of weeks with our friends from Canada who are flying in to Thailand to visit us!
Can we pretend to be literate human beings for that long? On top of this, Neda also reminds me that we have to watch our behaviour, and not do the things that we normally do when we're only in each other's company. For me, that's making sure I wear pants inside the house.
OMG, so much pressure not to screw up!
We're going to visit the Islands!
Ordinarily, we would have ridden anywhere in Thailand to meet up with Anton and Mel. But because we had to be in Buriram for the motorcycle race last weekend, it didn't give us enough time to ride all the way down to the islands, where we were planning to meet up.
We greeted our friends at Bangkok International. It was so good to see familiar faces again! But I warned them almost immediately, "English not good. No speak good. No practice. So sorry, okay?"
Anton smirked and replied, "Dude, I'm Tamil. I speak Immigrant real good".
I grunted in relief and waved my hands a little bit. And then I looked down. I'm wearing pants. The trip is going very well so far.
Getting all Namaste in the lobby of our very swanky resort/hotel
It's a short one hour flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui, but when we stepped out of the airplane, we were greeted with a warm, pleasant island breeze. It's the same temperature as Bangkok, but because of the constant airflow, there's very little humidity and it's so comfortable. The air is a lot less hazy than Northern Thailand as well. So nice to have escaped the clutches of the Burning Season.
Anton and Mel are treating us to a few days stay at the Renaissance Hotel and when we pulled up in the taxi, Neda and I were wowed by the opulence and luxury. After living in tents, hostels, friends couches and AirBnBs for the last four years, our eyes bugged at how nice everything was!
This was our room! I cried when I saw that the nightlights that lit up the path to the bathroom were little tea candles...
Hmmm, shall we hang out at this pool just outside our rooms....?
Or head down to the beach and drink some beers while sitting in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand?
Even with my lack of verbal skills, I was able to make a new friend down at the second pool
The beach by our hotel
Sun, sand and suds. This is the life!
This is what Thailand is famous for and after four months, we've finally experienced it. What a difference from the mountains in the north. We love it here!
Screw Chiang Mai. We're going to live here instead!
We just have to figure out how we're going to be able to afford this very lavish lifestyle...
Vendors sell gasoline by the bottle. Are there no gas stations here?
For the evening, we decide to head down to Lamai Beach to check out the action. It's about a couple of kms away from the resort and we took our time and walked all the way there, chatting about all the peculiarities of Thai culture that Anton and Mel had discovered in their short time here. Although we're definitely not old hands here yet, it was still interesting seeing Thailand from a brand new set of eyes!
Also, it was nice speaking English again. And joking around in English. I really miss that. A lot.
The main strip of Lamai Beach. So touristy!
The strip is littered with restaurants, pubs and of course, go-go bars. This one was called The Sexy Sex. I wonder what goes on in there...?
After seeing so much of Thailand, it's unfortunate that this is what farangs know about the country.
We head down to the beach for a seafood dinner. Anton is picking out the crabs and fish we'll be eating. I sense that Neda is hungry...
We gorge on so much crab and red snapper! SOOO GOOOD!
Good food with great company! It's so nice when friends visit us while we're on the road. This is Mel's second time coming to see us. She rode out to Nova Scotia way back at the beginning of our trip to ride the east coast of Canada with us!
Another beautiful day hanging out at our hotel
They had a mixer at the hotel bar. With free massages and cocktails!
The next day, we booked a kayak tour of the Ang Thong National Marine Park. The Park is actually an archipelago of 42 islands, some of them very small, so the actual number varies by how you define an island. We spend two hours by boat getting there, enjoying the tropical weather and salt-water breeze on our faces. This felt like such a vacation. Then it struck me that coming to Thailand in the first place was a vacation from our vacation. So really, this short trip to the islands was a vacation from our vacation from our vacation.... 555!
The boat anchors off one of the bigger islands and we're off to do some kayaking!
Some of the interestingly shaped islands in the Ang Thong Park
The park is about 50 square kms and the islands are really these huge limestone formations that jut out of the water. Time, weather and erosion have carved amazing nooks and crannies in the rock above the waterline, and kayaking into these naturally-formed grottos, shelves and hidden lagoons is a popular tourist activity.
Neda paddles out of one of the caves while I take a picture of her strange hat. I made her paddle in and out until I got the shot just right...
Neda paddles our kayak under these neat shelves that the tides have cut into the limestone while I take more pictures
Neda paddles out to one of the more unusual rock formations. I take a picture of the cool sharp jagged edges right at the top.
Neda paddles our kayak into a small lagoon inside one of the caves. I take a picture of our fellow kayakers
The boat takes us to a couple of different islands and we can stop and walk around some of the secluded beaches.
Neda and Mel getting some girl-time in. I think Neda really misses female company.
Back out on the kayaks, Neda paddles us out through some narrow canyons. I take more pictures.
By the end of the day, Neda is asleep on the boat ride back to the Koh Samui. That girl is so lazy.