Kho Pu / April / 2019
So I went to Thailand... Not much because of an intrinsic intention, but rather because of the implicit obligation: "you are in Australia, how are you not going to visit Southeast Asia" ...
Much about it was also the fact that a very special friend I met in Australia was traveling through these places for more than 5 months, and two months ago she had been stuck -by choice- in one of the islands of southern Thailand.
She was returning to her native Italy from Bangkok, and the most certain possibility of seeing each other was, well ... in that country.
Then, and after thinking about it, rethinking it and postponing it maybe too much, I decided to go into what has been my -hopefully- first of many adventures in the Southeast Asia.
Arrival to the island; a whole journey:
After taking three planes to save me a couple of dollars, I arrived at my destination, which instead of taking me about 8 hours in total took 12.
I passed by the Kuala Mampur airport; a place that sounded aboriginal to me, to underdevelopment, and to be honest, I didn't even know what country it was in. In my upside-down head I imagined a very poor airport, but - once again - reality slaps my unfounded pride.
I arrived at an amazing Kuala Lumpur, to wait on an 8-hour stop for my next flight (from that experience I learned that it is definitely better to value time than a couple of dollars, due that -as people say out there- "time is money "). However, I had plenty of minutes to observe these Muslim women and their pride behind a burqa. They never cease to amaze me. Nor intrigue me. And that country where I only stopped was not far behind ...
As in the first plane, I had 3 lonely seats ... the Eden of the traveler. If it had not been for that luck / blessing, without a doubt the whole trip would have been nothing more than a reason for complaints ...
I finally reached my destination, after the stages: Sydney-Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok-Krabi
There I met my friend Giada ...
The hug always full of emotion of a friend is one of those that fill the heart with joy.
You do not contain so much joy and your body simply responds with a pathetic mixture between crying and laughing.
We took a ... how to call it ... tuk tuk, which is basically a truck with a roof of the material that is at hand and some tables that serve as benches in the pick up. There we "found" (for those coincidences that, as I said in other posts, I think don't exist) with an old woman, very beautiful, covered in her burqa, who finally became our travel guide and even invited us Food: sticky rice filled with sweet coconut wrapped in palm leaves and a shake of something like tea ... new and exotic flavors; my addiction.
The woman took us from the right tuk tuk to our island, but prior to that we lived the experience of taking a real "boat" with Thai People.
In this area of Thailand the inhabitants are a mixture between Buddhists and Muslims. That already caught my attention deeply and, of course, not understanding absolutely any word of their language and not even being able to read the signs.
Given the above, the trip was basically based on observation: of customs and ways of relating, of the little and nothing with which they manage to live and of my curious eyes crossing the eyes of genuinely good people.
The boat that took us to Kho Jum Island was mostly to transport natives and people from the area. It was not luxurious, on the contrary, it was quite far from any type of comfort and I will never forget that in that boat full of people from the islands that went to Krabi to buy merchandise and how much they needed (vegetables and kitchen products that they do not find in their islands) there was also a woman who had given birth 3 days ago to a child who was in the arms of her companion... She didn't look very happy, but I don't think it had to do with her mode of transport ...
Thailand is precarious.
People live without much because they apparently do not need; the houses have no protection against the cold, because the cold does not exist. The sea water is warm, so it does not serve to cool off. Nothing of that.
After a long day, nothing better and less expected than tasty Thai food in what would be our Bungalow for a couple of days ...
Away from the agreed paradise to know the unconventional paradise: Kho Jum
My experience was far from the anecdotes I had heard from Thailand.
Mine was rather authentically inserted with locals.
I did not go to the island of the movie "The Beach" of Di Caprio to take a picture for Instagram, nor to the resort for little money, but to the real coexistence with the culture of those who inhabit Kho Jum, one of the least tourist islands of Thailand.
Kho Jum is located in the south of the country and is part of the province of Krabi. It is not a tourist destination, rather it is kept out - still - of possibly being used for commerce of any kind.
In Kho Jum there is only Thais and an occasional European who decided to stay lost forever in one of those places that are found on the maps, but they remain far from the disrruptive world. Here, in Kho Jum, people have come leaving everything behind to win everything they lost or maybe forgot ...
The true contact with nature.
Meet the silence, and with themselves.
Meeting with everything and nothing simultaneously.
Without wifi network. No cell signal. Without even electricity.
To be honest, in this part of the planet there is a few residents willing to be friends living in a fishing village,
all the nature of the island for you
and you. Just by yourself.
The bungalows complex I stayed in (about 5 bungalows) were very basic "constructions" made by a few tables with a roof above and private bathroom. The windows were the spaces that had been left between the tiles and the boards, given the way they were built.
Electricity is given from 7 to 10 PM.
After that, it was implicitly agreed that tourists and the owner of the place (an older Thai woman with the most welcoming smile I have ever seen, characteristic of Thais) remain in space common outdoors, taking the flashlight of the cell phone to light up the notes of the song that the guitar chooses to play and everyone chants what they know of a campfire melody or revel in the vocalizations of the locals.
Thus the night passes in the most perfect place for healing the soul in the company of loneliness or the elective of those people who, like me and my friend, chose to stop time and get lost for a while.
The sunrise on that eternal beach is simply wonderful, with the sky of more than five different colors and tranquility also reflected the state and interior conformity of the Thais.
They do not ask for or expect anything, as the book "The Little Prince" says, they are happy to accept what comes their way. And the peace of his soul becomes contagious.
It sounds cliché but it's real. I haven't met people more conforming of the air, the sea and the blessing of everyday life and simple things like those who inhabit Kho Jum.
Footprints of the shallow paradise
A small great detail that certainly does not stop being colorful and can not be overlooked is the amount of garbage that is presented on the island. Not precisely because of what is produced or discarded in it, but rather because of what comes from the most visited islands such as Kho Tao or Phi Phi Island, much more tourist and visited sites that clearly dispose of their waste at sea and That way he always manages to stay neat. The consequences do not reach them, but appear in Kho Jum.
Really, that amount of trash moves even the most impassive. I will never forget the plastic bags and glasses of 7eleven, a commercial place that is not even found on this island. All these wastes correspond to what other use and threw away keeping your viewing radius clean. But nothing is eliminated, it only transforms or reaches another coast.
The natives say that the sea is angry, that the rage of nature is expected and again they accept it like that without further ado. It is what must happen. So it has to be. It is the minimum expected response from a living planet.
From the beach to the small town where the "commerce" is concentrated on the island (a couple of houses that offer some food and serve as a restaurant, a market and a call center) you must go through the dirt road and in between a lot of virgin green; Palm trees and bush.
Once in the markets and restaurant, the Thai culture and its customs caresses you again; To enter a market or restaurant, you must be barefoot, even if the floor of this is of the same material that you were previously walking on, land or concrete. Here what cousin is something else. It's about respect.
Return to Bangkok: the cheapest and the real Thailand:
And now I see myself here, writing from the floor of the third class train that goes from Suritanni to Bangkok. Beside me, feet of a sleeping child, occupying two seats, one that belonged to his mother and the other side to his father (who had previously gave it to me).
I gave the seat to the child's mother as I saw so much devotion on her by spending the night standing to not interrupt her child's dream.
For 15 hours.
I wonder ... what am I doing here ...
I would love to express in the right words the tone of people's eyes when they see us enter. Curiosity above all and then, grief. Too bad for us, "those people who come from the first world, but here are literally nothing and it doesn't matter how much we have in our pockets, right now we are third class in Thailand.
We travelled by train.
The train is full.
People sleep on the floor or wherever they can; on some awkward benches obviously with zero possibility of recline.
"If you don't plan, get ready to fail." We didn't plan, when we decided what would be the day we would finally go to Bangkok the night before and we waited the next day for Yat, Giada's Thai friend, to pick us up to take us to the boat that would take us from the island to Krabi.
He went to look for us on his motorcycle with a carriage -one of the most insecure ways to travel- and we went away.
Yat's farewell with Giada was sad, because in no time they became best friends... and it is very easy to know the heart of a Thai and they, in a strange and non-invasive way, go deep and rebuild yours.
But my thoughts come back to reality. They land in the place from where I write ...
When they observe us, I recognize in their eyes the feeling of pity, "they should not be living this", they feel sorry for us because they know that it is not what we are used to and they feel that we do not deserve it.
I think they don't either.
What I see is the most denigrating way to travel. A train that never turned off its lights during the 15 hours we were in it.
The place smells foul of sweat, food, resignation and contempt.
In this train classes are respected, as I imagine throughout Thailand, where if you are rich you will probably never know about these forms of travel. A police officer cautiously guards you to stay in the car of the class that "corresponds", and it is a penalty to jail to change cars or use a seat you did not buy.
The truth is that they simply help me to see with my own eyes and experience their reality with my own experience.
Helped me to become more grateful
and taught me with their example how happy you can be just enjoying the life itself.
How wonderful can be to really open the eyes to the nature, the air and the sea. Looking and respecting them as alive beings.
I will always be grateful of them.
Those who do not ask, those who do not wait, those who accept with their hearts what life gives them 💚
Kapunkhá Kho Pu.