I have turned into my mother.
Before I realised it, I found myself chiding the 20 year old Australian girl on my recent sailing trip for not wearing sun factor. She had the most amazing alabaster skin, but wanted to “look Australian” when she arrived in the UK, her next destination. I watched her go red and blotchy, knowing how that wouldn’t be tan, it would be sunburn followed by peel, which in any event would be covered up in the UK winter. I genuinely had to resist the urge to spray her surreptitiously whilst she sunbathed. Those of you reading this thinking me massively hypocritical given my factor 2 carrot oil days…. well that is my point – I have changed. I am getting old. Like I say, I have turned into my mother. I crave a proper cup of tea, prefer to avoid a hangover (although Mum only has to sniff alcohol to get a headache – god help me if I ever get to that stage). At one point on the boat I even found myself thinking “please turn the music down” ….. having said that, it was largely due to the fact it was One Direction blaring at high volume.
Thailand was the perfect antidote to the fairly intense and tiring Burma trip. I spent a few days chilling out in Phuket before spending a week aboard a catamaran sailing round the Thai islands. There isn’t much to tell you about it – you can imagine how terrible it was, lying on the deck, swimming in turquoise waters, snorkelling, kayaking into caves, bonfires on the beach and eating amazing thai food cooked by our legendary onboard chef, Doh. It did rain sometimes mind you – I think I should get some money back for that. I witnessed my first tropical storm the day before I got on the boat – it was amazing and terrifying in equal measure.
I loved it, fun people, a captain who got us in and out of places before the hordes arrived, and nothing to do but relax.
Over the week, stories were told about different group experiences which has once again filled me with horror at the prospect of what my new families will be like for my forthcoming trips through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. One girl’s (British) roommate had been kicked off their trip for trying to throttle a fellow traveller and also throwing a drink over another. Our captain told us a story of (another British!) girl who got so drunk she told him that “you work for me, I insist you turn around!” when trying get him to take her back to land to find her shoes that she had left in a nightclub at Railay beach. HHHmmmm.
I never did describe why the dynamic on my Burma trip was a difficult one. Let me set the scene. We were a real range of ages – several in their 60s, including one Australian couple (let’s call them the bad cops) and a set of Australian cousins (the good cops). We also had a couple of lovely, very unassuming, quiet Swiss guys. As you may recall from a previous blog, one of our early journeys was an overnight boat trip to Mandalay. The top deck was our only social space and also doubled up as the sleeping area. Bad cops went to bed at 7, wanting the double mattress and as such the bed closest to where we were all sitting having a beer. During the evening one of the good cops fell off his chair (because it broke, not because he had drunk too much) and fell close to the bad cops, waking them. Rather than take it in good humour, man bad cop abused the other good cop cousin when he made a joke about it. Later that evening (but only around 10) when most of us had gone to bed, man bad cop shone his torch on his watch and shouted at the (very quietly spoken) Swiss guys something along the lines of “You f***ing Swiss you are all the same, shut the f*** up”. I think he meant to say “Sorry guys, do you mind keeping it down, we are trying to sleep here”.
So the man bad cop rubbed several people up the wrong way, and people weren’t too forgiving. At breakfast a couple of days later I asked good cop cousin if he was ok. Man bad cop was sitting the other side of me. Good cop cousin said, deliberately loudly “I am fine Sharon. The problem is that f***ing obnoxious twat sat on the other side of you”. Oh, where to look!?! Suffice to say the ensuing days turned into tactical assessments about seating arrangements at dinner and other such matters which do not lend themselves to a relaxed atmosphere.
All in all I am really looking forward to meeting my Laos family tomorrow!
I left the boat on Saturday and headed straight to Singapore for a few days with an old work friend, Faye. I have to say it has been nice to have a first world city interlude, as well as catching up with old friends. I have enjoyed simple pleasures here – living in a home not a hotel, using the washing machine, eating marmite on toast, a civilised underground system – although I am not sure I could ever get used to the humidity. I am shortly off to Raffles hotel (got to be done) and then am going to cook supper (again, simple pleasures!), before catching a flight back to Bangkok in the morning and starting a 5 week trip through Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Which, despite my travelling family fears, I am very excited about.
Thank you to those of you who have commented on the blog and been in touch separately – I really appreciate it and love that the power of wifi means that I can keep in touch. As much as I am entirely happy in my own company and am having an amazing time, I do miss my friends and it is great to hear from you x