As a unit, the Peacock Hostel rolls out on foot. Two Americans, a French, a Swiss, a German, two British and five Belgians stroll down the streets of Saladan, a narrow tourist strip of Koh Lanta. The streets are quiet. It's the shoulder season, a rainy season without rain. We head to an unknown beach rumored to have bio-luminescent plankton. What we find is a canal. As we wade through it, the creamy blue life blinks in and out of existence.
Across the crick is the world's largest sandbar. With the crescent moon on a cloud-filled night, it's desert as far as the eye can see. I turn to the Swiss and say, "Follow me. 40 years tops". Shortly we arrive at the sea when I'm struck by the sudden realization that I have not been in the water al naturale since arriving. So I pull off my clothes and jump into the water as one of the British girls says - and use your internal accent here - Is he naked? After a few splashes, a fishing boat appears not far away by turning on its bow-side light. Thinking it might be the Naked Police - they're everywhere - my wild butt cheeks and I flee, taking cover behind the tall German, where I clumsily put my swim-suit on.
We take that as our cue to leave and 80% of the Belgians return to the hostel, along with the Brits. But a few from the group venture further on to see if the plankton are any more plentiful. The rest of us return to a pile of sandals, taking all but one, which we leave as bait. When we hear the other group approaching, we lay flat on the sand , knowing we cannot be seen. They get closer. 50 feet. 40. 30. When the time is right, I nod to Julian and we scream out in the most foreign authority we can think of. It works, and they are spooked briefly before we start our way back.
Standing in front of us defiantly is a fancy hotel that looks to have three rooms rented out of 50. I remark to Kiesha that we haven't yet snuck into anything and lo, a beautiful pool appeared before us. I am the first to wade in and soon the others follow, some making more noise than others. Up ahead, a couple dines and our volume catches the attention of the waiter/guard. He turns his head and starts to motion to us, saying only "Hello! hello!" in an excited Thai tone. People begin to file out of the pool, but I am at the far end and swim to get out a slower than I should. WaiterGuard begins to run, still saying "Hello, hello!" in a louder voice. A thousand years later I reach the steps and clamor out. By now he is quite close, but I can't see exactly where between the dark sky and palm trees.
I look to Kiesha and issue a single command: RUN. I stop to grab my sandals but in the dark find only one. I take off and belong long we are on the main street. Amazingly, and unexpectedly, WaiterGuard is still chasing us. His motives unknown, I tuck my sole sandal into my bifurcated buttcrack and activate Beast Mode, passing Usain Bolt who is out for a night run. Neighbors stand outside and take in the nightly news. Instinctively I know we need to split up and duck down an alley with Kiesha and Piero, the remaining Belgian. We run up a path and dart left, pausing to see if the enemy is close enough to order another round.
We hear a motorbike and excited voices coming our way. Not knowing if WaiterGuard grabbed people, bikes and arms, we hurry around the back of a house which is backed up to a canal. Kiesha, channeling her inner Mexican, immediately jumps into the water and floats across like Muhammed Ali. I start to follow but Piero grabs my arms and says it's just a family on the bike. We start to go to the front of the house but they walk toward us - it's their house. We wait for them to go inside and walk out to the path, smooth as fuck. Five seconds later WaiterGuard appears in front of us are we are caught. "You come, you come", he beckons. We walk in the street and he grabs my arm. Not knowing how grievous a crime pool-hopping in Thailand is, I shake him off and Piero, with perfect timing, says it is not our culture to be grabbed like that, and so WaiterGuard relents. We fall behind him and walk at a normal pace to destinations unknown. Piero looks to me and asks what now. "We split up and run" is what I say and as soon as another alley appears I bolt. I feel bad leaving him, but he can't catch all of us and hopefully he runs too. I am quickly dead-ended and step through someone's backyard as they no doubt wonder just what in the hell is going on tonight. I jump into tall grass with trepidation, knowing a snake will taste my ankle, but I climb to higher ground and after wading through Buddha-knows-what I find an open street and sprint down it. Being a barefooted, bare-chested white guy, I don't stick out at all.
I reach the main street and duck behind a motorbike when I see a car's headlights approaching, knowing they have machine gun turrets and spotlights trained on my Hurley board shorts. I cross the street and try to somehow look casual. People seem to be buying it. I find an alley that should be a shortcut but it looks like someone's house and I decide to stop pressing my luck this evening. I turn back to the street just in time to see and hear three huge, rabid dogs barking and running towards me. Hotel dogs no doubt. I don't run but stay where I am to see three normal stray dogs run past to fight and eat trash and hump. My walk resumes, I reach the pier, turn the corner and enter the hostel, where some people have returned. A half hour later Kiesha returns with takeaway dinner, as she strategically popped into a restaurant and had a drink. A bit later and everyone is back, safe and sound, drunk on adventure and beer. We sit at the back of the hostel, above the sea, laughing and bonding as six nationalities.
hello, hello! RUN!
you pay one-thousand baht
or we run away