There is something universal about beach towns. If it weren’t for the palm trees, the motorbikes, the “gentlemen’s clubs,” the numerous tailors who will make you a tuxedo in less than 24 hours, and, oh yeah, the elephants, I could have sworn I’d been here before.
I’m not sure why that is… maybe it’s the walking back from the beach all sandy to a room with a fan working overtime. The familiar feeling of–despite all your best efforts–getting burned by the sun. (I swear I wore a hat, Mom!) Maybe it’s the other tourists that make it seem familiar. (Though I have definitely heard some languages here I have never heard before. Isaure and I were seated at a table next to a very large group of very loud, entitled young men yesterday, and we found ourselves guessing in whispered French what country might have had the misfortune to have produced them. Turkey? Kazakhstan? Egypt? Then we saw them again last night, whipping through the town on motorbikes at speeds much too fast to be safe for pedestrians. I suppose it’s good for us as we get older to see people who make youth seem so unattractive.)
Our second day in Koh Chang was very much like the first, except with the addition of a much-improved Khalid. We went straight to the beach (pausing only for Isaure to buy a small inner tube—which sent her somersaulting under the water the moment she sat on it. Being Isaure, she came up laughing.)
We had brunch at one of the seaside resorts. Their restaurant looks like something out of a Club Med brochure—ocean front terrace with white cotton tablecloths and handmade-looking wooden chairs.
We took another walk down the shore, past rope-and-wood swings over the ocean, some sand castles, an enormous, beautiful tree that created almost a hut with it’s low-hanging branches and made me wish once again that I knew something about botany, a local landmark called Porn’s (apparently a common Thai name) which looks exactly like the jungle tree house in “Swiss Family Robinson” and is therefore the place I am most excited to eat dinner.
Back on our beach, we ate a quick lunch then went back in the water and swam and floated and talked and talked. Then we sat on our towels and watched the sun set over the water. In Chiang Mai we saw almost no stars—we couldn’t figure out if that was because of light pollution or pollution pollution—but from the beach we could see thousands and thousands. I found myself wondering if they were the same stars we could see in Boston (I thought they should be, since we were in the same hemisphere), but I couldn’t find the Big Dipper. Khalid of course immediately pulled out his star-finding app, but the Big Dipper was not where it told us it should be. I spent the next few minutes turning in slow circles on the sand, trying to find stars that were not there.