20. Koh Chang (Continued)
I have found an establishment that can cater for my hangovers. Up until now I have been ignoring L when she knocks on our door at 10.00, pausing for 10 minutes or so and then moping off to the local store and for crisps and Gatorade (or my colleague has gone – we’ve been taking it in turns). Then I’ve been taking a cold shower, and, finally, I’ve been going to Cookies and battling with an American Breakfast. But even the mighty American Breakfast has been coming up short of late. I must have seen something at 15 Palms last night I liked, or maybe I just can’t be bothered to walk any further (IT’S SO HOT!!), but that’s where I find myself seeking succour today.
So here it goes: 1 bacon and egg roll, 1 serving of fries (with chilli sauce to taste), 1 lime and mint shake and 1 cup of coffee. If I can get the egg and bacon roll down my throat before my gag reflex kicks in then I’m home and dry (fries are so mild a foodstuff I could manage them under almost any circumstance, and the chilli sauce merely adds flavour). Solids ingested, I get to work on the lime and mint shake. I’ve been drinking shakes on an almost daily basis since I chanced upon them in Bangkok. They’re a great form of rehydration and hugely refreshing. Made from crushed ice and real fruit juice, they’re like healthy Slush Puppies. Some folk prefer a Lassi, which adds yoghurt to the mix, but I do not find these to be as rejuvenating. Then I finish off with my coffee, which hopefully hasn’t gone completely cold by now.
Like some sort of bonus feature, 15 Palms also plays Mezzanine by Massive Attack and Once in a Lifetime – The Best of Talking Heads without fail, and sometimes on the bounce. This will ensure that from now on I will take breakfast here every day regardless of my physical state of being. [Incidentally, O’s parents had been friends with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz – the bass player and drummer from Talking Heads respectively – and O has childhood memories that involved their presence. The music in 15 Palms, and my fondness for it, enabled him to reveal this fact to me with a gratifyingly insouciant air.]
After those first two nights of intense revelry things began to settle down a bit. As a group we’d be pretty fragmented by day. Welsh L, K and her brother, G, hired a motorbike at one point and ventured off to explore the island’s interior. My colleague and I attempted a long walk but found nothing of particular note, so spent most of the time reading or playing cards with whoever was about. I recall that I struggled with dinner at a place called Tonsai but quite enjoyed the barbequed fish at one of the pop-up restaurants on the beach, and was very glad when we made one last trip back to Thor’s place – especially so when it prompted a final night of heavy drinking and the construction of man-traps with a very inebriated Welsh L and G. (Just like O and F before him, G was proving a most welcome addition to our entourage.)
And then, on our sixth full day on the island, L parted company having finally realised than the rest of us had our hearts set on traveling to Cambodia. The skirmishes on the border seemed to have abated, but there was no time now to launch an offensive into Vietnam. I was relieved that she was gone if only because her presence seemed to scare off Welsh L & K, and I very much wanted for them to accompany us to Cambodia – at least until I got a handle on the place.
But was it as simple as that, now that L was out of the way, so to speak? We made it clear to our friends that we were ready to leave and that it was to Cambodia that we would be traveling, and we’d probably be catching the earliest ferry back to the mainland the next day. Yet no invitations were extended and no plans were shared. Maybe it wasn’t L who was the problem after all?