Sunday, March 11, 2007

Salad days and a foot scab

On a snorkelling safari in Koh Phangan

View from my bungalow

Our favourite place to eat in all of thailand is a small gilligans island style open air hut run by a man only known to us as "Mr food stall" (though I think his name is Ong) and his lovely wife. Mr food stall is known for the fact that he always looks like he's had one too many Thai whiskeys, gets around shirtless on many an occassion and cooks some of the best food I've ever eaten.

Although we were loyal customers when we were on the island last year Mr Food stall didn't really remember me or Ed BUT he did remember Jan and seemed quite taken with him so much so that on our last night he told us to come up for a special meal - he was going to cook for us. We rocked up and he did and it was delish - then he was so sweet he wouldn't charge us for the meal. Mr food stall was even cool enough to take a call from Jans brother Kennett in Sweden even though his english isn't too great and he didn't have a clue who Kennett was. My favourite line uttered down the line was "I said I'm sending you KARma - not a CAMera!" - bless you Mr Food Stall - may we grace your little food stall another day.
Ed, me and Swedish hitman Jan then thought in the interests of research we would check out another part of the island. Last time we did this we ended up on an ill fated jounrey to the bloody awful shanty town of Bottle Beach where the days highlights included eating in an empty restaurant serviced by stoned guys and having to swim back out to our boat in big waves, cutting our feet on the rocks and me losing my camera. Undeterred we tried another adventure - Ed and I had heard that a beach called Had Salad was a bit of winner - apart from it's most excellent silly name there were supposed to nice sunsets. After a ride in the back of a truck driven by a psychotic old man at about 100ks an hour on dirt roads we arrived.

It's just amazing what people think is nice if they don't know any better. After our lovely beach to my eyes Haad Salad was a small, grotty, messy looking little bay of shallow water flanked by some ugly looking concrete bungalows and a bit too much construction work. the tourists there though happily perched the 2 metres of sand that passed for a beach looking thrilled. One night in the worlds tallest and most badly designed bungalow was enough and it was time to head to Koh Samui.
Samui, as the lonely planet legend would have it saw the arrival of it's first tourists on a coconut boat from bangkok in 1971. A paradise of palm trees and white sandy beaches it quickly became a travellers favourite. Fast forward to the present and there is now an airport, hourly ferries from the mainland, more swanky resorts that you can poke a stick at and more big german tourists sporting big tattoos and sunburn than you'd have time to poke a stick at. It sure is a different world Samui - while the beaches are still lovely you can't even see them from the main street as each resort has claimed their patch of real estate, there are Starbucks, McDonalds, girlie bars and gift shops. It reminded me of Kuta in Bali - fun but more than a little bit tacky. Ed and I decided that if you can't beat 'em join 'em and booked dinner later than night in a gorgeous resort restaurant called Poppies, in the meantime I thought we should test out one of the millions of massage and beauty joints on the main strip. We choose one and a menu of epic proportions is thrust into our hands, facials, manicures, pedicures, body scrubs etc etc - I thought we should try something different and in a panic chose a "foot scrub" - earlier I had spied another stall advertising something called a "Foot Scab" - I guess I should have been warned then...

We were taken upstairs, told to lie down and the Foot scab began. First some kind of alcohol was applied to our feet, not so relaxing for Ed who had a cut on his foot so he lay there whimpering and eyes watering. Then the ladies started attacking our tender soles with what felt like sandpaper and a file. In between bouts of foot sandpapering we were 'massaged' which meant for me having my head and ears prodded vigorously and for Ed it meant basically being attacked and shoved into a variety of unnatural positions. At this point he whispers that he's not having a good time, "don't worry" I assure him "once it's over you will have feet as soft as a little girls." His indignant reply was "I'm a man, a don't want f**king feet like a little girl." ah yes - hadn't thought of that.

My feet were lovely and soft afterwards I have to say - although a week later they started to peel and flake. Ed, after his 'massage' had a stiff neck for a couple of days. Lovely.

Ed in shock after his foot scab


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