Buckets of vodka and breasts like weapons
I was young until I went to Ko Phi Phi. I was young with cups of čai on Turkish wharves, and the same when I danced in Lithuanian discotheques. But faced with buckets of vodka and twerking on Phi Phi’s shores, I felt old. I wanted to go to bed, if only those darn kids would turn their music down. You kids need condoms, I need ear plugs.
Once it was late enough not to feel like a complete loser, I went back to my room, where a book waited for me, thinking again “I should have started traveling 10 years earlier.” And “As long as I didn’t get spiderwebs tattooed on my elbows.”
But Thai blue water is Thai blue water and karst cliffs are undeniable, so I stayed another grandfatherly day to hike around the island. The first few minutes had “Dude, bro…” and “OMG, I was like, so shitfaced last night!” but soon I heard only leaves and patient wind, birds and insects. Jungles have a way of filling the world, barricading you from everything outside, capable of blocking even the most insipid house music.
In the green alleys I felt removed from that party-soaked island, which itself seemed distant from SE Asia. I wanted to escape the former, and return to the latter. I’d catch a boat tomorrow, but for now, was I still even in Thailand? As far as I could tell, this island was about as Asian as Cancun is Mexican.
The verdancy relaxed into something like a clearing, where a woman was waiting for me. She had excellent posture, and the dark red cloth of her top was pushed into a shelf by mythic breasts with nipples like missiles. Realization that it was a statue came with a side order of relief, followed by a pause. Recalled from my whining dissatisfaction with the beach party scene, with its excess, superficiality, and inaccessibility, I stood and looked at her as raindrops began to fall on my warm shoulders, her cold ones, and the gifts and offerings spread around her.
Incense drifted among the orchids, a candle burned safely under glass, and a pair of luscious apples stood close at her hand, beside a glass of clear water and a can of ubiquitous coke. Not exactly Shwedagon Pagoda, she was still a moment of calm, a gesture towards the supernatural/spiritual, and I decided with a smile that I was still in Asia after all, as the monsoon began in earnest.
Ko Phi Phi remains in my mind as a great destination…for youngsters. But even in that place of mechanical bulls and automatic bullshit, beautiful moments popped up: like the open-sided hut of hammocks where I waited out the rain, and the abandoned beach at morning tide that showed no ill will toward past or future festivities. If I came away fond of Ko Phi Phi, I can’t wait to see what happens in Cambodia.
Cambodia was the winner of my last poll and my lady and I will be there in less than three weeks. We don’t have as much time as I’d like (shocking), but if y’all have any Cambodian recommendations, I’d love to hear them.