Under Construction

Unfortunately, the wonderful effects of being lazy for 10 days in Thailand were pretty much wiped out the second we got back. Actually, before we even took off, Ksenia got sick as a dog with high fever. We arrived in Mumbai at 11pm, Ksenia looking like she was about to die, and the hot and stinking dust of Mumbai didn’t help matters either. But it got a lot worse: When we got home to our apartment, we realized that we had returned to a construction site. The landlord had started renovating our apartment to get rid of the mold, and of course our ten days in Thailand were by far not enough to get the job done.

We had pretty much expected that this would be a quick patch-up job, maybe some paint here and there. Instead, the landlord’s contractor had basically drilled open every single wall, presumably to waterproof them. Needless to say, the apartment looked like an unmitigated disaster zone. So we looked around a bit and then started driving around town in search of a hotel. At about 2am, after having been turned down by a number of hotels, Ksenia had enough and insisted that there’s no way the Grand Hyatt wouldn’t have a spare room for a woman on the verge of expiration. So we got a $210 room for the evening. Presumably, we were expected to be grateful.

We still don’t know why neither our landlord nor our relocation guy thought it necessary to let us know in advance that we’d be returning from Thailand to a construction site, nevermind arranging for a hotel in advance. In any event, we’ve been back from Thailand for two weeks today, and we are still in the hotel. The construction crew just finished waterproofing the walls; some time over the next two weeks they will re-paint the apartment. Ksenia was sick in bed for the first week; then it was my turn to have high fever and stay in bed.

In other words: Mumbai has been giving us a fucking headache recently; we could use some vacation again. Ah well…

Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand

So, rather than trying to get some relaxing vacation done in India, we buggered off to Thailand. A quick four hour flight to Bangkok, then another hour flight to Koh Samui, and there we were, on a tiny little airport with conveyor belts under a bamboo roof. A little boat brought us to Koh Pha Ngan, where we switch to an even smaller boat, and finally we get to a little beach, a couple of nice huts, a small restaurant, Thai massages, steam baths, peace and quiet – exactly what the doctor ordered.

I took us a couple of days until the fact sunk in that Thailand ain’t India. While we cannot walk five meters in Mumbai without getting stared at, without getting harassed about something or other, Thais apparently couldn’t care less about their tourists – and that’s A Good Thing. Nobody trying to sell us anything, nobody yelling “Hello Foreigner!”, no retarded young boys running around all giggly, holding hands, or driving around in their Tata trucks with Bollywood music blasting out of the open windows. Instead, people are quiet, calm, reserved. The streets and shops are amazingly clean and organized. What little we saw of Bangkok from the air looked like a well-functioning modern city. No potholes, for a change. Roads actually have markings. Real cars instead of rickshaws.

In short, compared to Mumbai, Thailand was pure paradise. I didn’t even mind that I was sick as a dog for two days when we got there. A couple of days later, we were cruising around the island on a dirt bike, visiting a crazy Buddhist monk in his little temple, checked out some other beaches, and tried snorkeling. We gave up on snorkeling very quickly, because the water was full of slightly stinging fish eggs in jelly (or whatever it was), but who cares. The Thai massages were fantastic, the steam room was great, the restaurant food was not too bad, and the other guests were mostly bearable. We passed on a number of party events and instead slept forever and were generally obscenely lazy.