Christmas has come and gone already for another year. I hardly seen it creep up (as is always the way, no matter where you "celebrate" it) but made the best decision in coming back to Kho Phangang all the same, as I had an amazing day.
It's a kind of Christmas I've never experienced before. We were hanging out on the beach, from 08.00am.. Sitting around, chatting and sharing Christmas stories and past experiences that would come with the festive season. Usually this kind of talk would trigger the Christmas vibe, but it didn't really. It's a good thing though. Because I remember my first Christmas away from home, and it was almost tragic..or so it felt at the time. It was when I was Austria, and I actually was working from 08.00am in the office, alone on the 25th!! I couldn't believe how miserable I felt - I can still vividly remember how sorry I was feeling for myself as I stood behind the photocopier, working away (with a hangover) while the rest of the world..or just the family..were all together, sitting around the Christmas tree, being festive, opening presents, eating food and having a jolly old time. This Christmas I'm referring to, was back in 2004. Wouw, 5 years ago!! Since then, any Christmas I've been away from home, hasn't felt as devastating. Not even my first Ozzie Christmas in 2006..as I sat near the beach drinking beer in the sun and had a kebab for Christmas dinner.
I think what makes the homesickness easier to bear is, not only the people you're around of course, but also to know that when Christmas morning starts here on this side of the world, everyone back at home is still asleep. The day hasn't started yet, so I don't have to think about what I'm missing out on, at that exact moment in time. And once the day is underway on this side of the world, everything is fine, as we would already been having our own Christmas drinks from the afternoon onwards, which always eases the longing for Christmas and lightens the mood..
Well, that's how most Christmases are anyhow. This year I was even less switched-on. As we lay on the beach and moved lazily to the bar in the afternoon, it was strange to see the odd (usually British) tourist walking down the beach with a Santy hat on. Then I would obviously be reminded that it was Christmas day. And still I was grand! All was so perfect! So all we really did was hang out on the beach and bar, chatting and drinking and chatting some more. Suddenly a reality check: I realized.. oh oh.. My flight back to Oz is on the 27th of December (of course I knew this..I know, I might be away with the fairies alot of the times, but I did remember I had to be flying back to Oz within a few days) and what I didn't realize was that the journey I had to be making back down to Kuala Lumper from the island would take 24 hours by bus.. Oops.. This meant that there was a moment of panic (of course, there's always a moment of panic, where I'm concerned, nothing every runs as smoothly as I potentially could do) as I was trying to book a seat on the bus that was leaving on the 26th in the evening. And, much to my disappointment, it was full.. The only option I had was to leave at 06.00am from the bungalow the following morning, so the 26th.. What a bummer that was, to realize this. So suddenly I had to get my bags packed again, after 3 nights and 2 days of being back on Bottle Beach on the north side of Kho Phangang. We were all gutted. But, the journey I made up to island, was well worth it.. I didn't regret it for a single moment!
The fact that I was leaving the next morning, didn't ruin Christmas day one bit. If anything it made me savour the day even more. And we continued to drink and eat. Actually, all we did all day was TALK about how amazing the Christmas dinner was going to be - we were going to have fresh fish from the bbq - how nice this was going to be! So, the whole day we were building up the expectations as to how yummy our Christmas dinner should taste. And when it was finally time to eat, we were all a little disappointed.. There were 6of us at this stage (all Italian by the way, very interesting, but so much fun at the same time..not that I understood all of what was going on around me, but the whisky might have had a little bit to do with that too), we all had red snapper and king prawns with rice and salad. Well, if it wasn't for the fresh green raw chillies I was eating, I wouldn't have classed it as an amazing Christmas dinner at all.. Normal Thai dishes from the menu would have been so much more satisfying. And then, we didn't even have dessert! What's going on??!! That's when I started "demanding" some chocolate bars!! That helped a little.. What I'm doing now, is me just analyzing the Christmas dinner, as we did at the dinner table in the restaurant (this is apparently a typical Italian trait, to always either give out or comment on the food..very rarely is it a compliment, especially seeing as though half of the table were cooks!!). Other than that, everything was just perfect!! It really was a great day.. the perfect way to end my trip properly..
Yes, because now the journey back to where I started from, is already in full-swing. The morning after Christmas, I woke at 05.30am, stressed out, slightly hungover and had to have a cold shower and finish my packing.. 20 minutes later I was in the back of the jeep, after saying goodbye once last time and after telling each other that we will definitely all meet again (or else goodbyes can become a little painful), someday somewhere.. It was all a mad rush, as I was dropped off at the wrong peer and was overcharged by a guy on a moped who was willing to scoot me over the other side of the peer.. My god, I had visions of me being destined to never leave this island..(a beautiful thought, but not when I was considering the cost of missing buses and flights..) but thankfully it did all fall into place. I went from a jeep, to a moped. Then from onto a ferry to the mainland to catch a coach and from there to an overcrowded minibus followed by another minibus with a stop at a food place to finally start the last leg of the journey, which was a freezing coach - they always put on the airconditioning full blast and never give any blankets..so annoying..How is a person supposed to sleep in the freezing cold?? The simple answer is: not! and I didn't. I drifted around in space for 2 hours - and 24 hours later, at 05.00am this morning I found myself back where my Asia trip began 4 weeks ago: Kuala Lumpur.
A moment of reflection for you guys xxx