One day, in the midst of doing hippie things (i.e. wearing long skirts, skipping the shower and watching poi while we laid in hammocks), we met two Austrians. Before you get judgmental, allow me to remind you that we were staying at the “hippie bungalows,” so this was acceptable behavior. Oh, and our “shower” was a hose above the toilet. Anyways, we first met Radu on the terrace of the Idol Bar playing poi (of course). At first, we thought he was traveling alone. It turns out he came with a friend, Mike, who was notorious for going to bed early (it was literally 8pm). It should be against the law to go to bed that early on vacation, so we did the only thing that made sense and woke him up. I’d be curious to know what Mike’s first impression of us was. If I woke up to two crazy Austrian men jumping on my bed, I think I would: A) have a heart attack and B) decide they must be mental and try to get rid of them ASAP. Luckily, Mike didn’t think like a rational person and decided to hang out with us.
The boys turned out to be great companions. For the next four days, we fell into a comfortable routine like old friends. We would wake up, go to the Khunpen restaurant for great food and crappy service, take the motorbikes out, lay out on the beach, go BACK to the Khunpen, and end the day on the hammocks at the Idol Bar. Looking back, I’m pretty sure we couldn’t have dreamed up two better people to travel with.
Mike was an incredibly prepared and resourceful traveler. He carried around this magic backpack that had everything you would ever need – bug spray, aloe vera, a Thailand travel book, a Thai phrase book, an ENGLISH phrase book, water bottles… I mean everything. If you needed it, Mike probably had it. Mike was also the “navigator” of the trip, meaning he had all the maps and told us where to go. Definitely an important job when you’re in a different country.
Radu is the guy that your dad hopes you will meet when you are travelling. He knows countless forms of martial arts, which he tried to teach me without much luck. More than once, I found myself on my back on the beach with the wind knocked out of me. I tried to restore my pride by teaching him something I was sure he couldn’t do, yoga, which he mastered in a matter of minutes. Ugh. So then I thought maybe I would impress him with the fact that I had two high school track records… to which he responded that he had set the record for some sort of army training in Austria. Dammit, I give up.
Although Mike and Radu were great at English, their accents and occasional phonetic hiccups were a constant source of entertainment. For example:
Beach was pronounced “bitch” (Ex. “Let’s go find some beautiful bitches today”)
Crappy was pronounced “crabby” (Ex. “This restaurant is totally crabby”)
Puppy was pronounced “poopy” (Ex. “Did you see those cute little poopies??”)
And watermelon was waterLEMON… and so on and so forth. You get the picture. It was great.
When we weren’t giggling at their accents or laying out on the beach, we actually DID do some pretty cool things with the boys. One day, we took the motorbikes out to explore the island and did a day trip to Haad Rin on south side. By the end of the day, Alli and I had mastered our motorbike skills (fist pump!) and Mike had gotten worse. At one point, we watched him nearly drive off a cliff. The locals were screaming at us and calling us idiots for letting him drive so we decided that we should let Radu teach him a different time.
Skills Acquired in Week 1: Driving a motorbike and two martial arts moves… which I promptly forgot. I also learned a little bit of poi. If you want to watch me swing around some tennis balls attached to string and hit myself in the head a few times, I’d love to show you my moves.