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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The story of the missing shoe

Landing in Melbourne at 6am, I managed to get an hour's sleep before getting up to go start the day and get everything done. And the shock to my body after spending two months in 30-odd degrees with maximum humidity to come home to 7 degrees was intense! I was FREEZING!!!
I had to get my hair, nails and waxing done before going back to mine to pack yet another bag with summer clothes - about the only clothing that I had left in the wardrobe at this stage!
It was all non-stop and with our flights having been pushed from midnight to the following morning, at least it meant that I was getting a night's sleep in between the two long-haul flights I had to do. 
Next morning we set off for the airport - Neil and my first holiday together; I wonder how long it would take before he killed me?! THE most independent and self-contained person I knew, I hoped that he wouldn't be running for the hills until the wedding was over at least...

We flew the 8 hours from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpar, with my taking something to knock me out; if only to avoid the killing of any innocent passengers who would possibly be preventing me from sleeping. Neil could sleep standing up in a hurricane, so he dropped off and slept most of the way too. We arrived in KL and had three hours to kill before the next leg to Phuket; so we got some Burger King (it was weird to not see it as Hungry Jack's again!); but not before my body did its usual trick of not being able to regulate its temperature and suddenly I was boiling. I'm always cold. ALWAYS. And if I'm not cold, then I'm roasting. There is no in between for me. This time I was fanning myself with something waiting to sign the card receipt for the girl at the till, when I suddenly couldn't see what I was writing and almost passed out. Swaying to and fro to the bathroom, I took off some of the many layers I had on and all was well with the world again. 

A quick plane ride landed us in a stormy Phuket, but luckily we had just missed it. We immediately saw the pushy and noisy culture upon exiting the airport when the pushy taxi men all try to get you to choose their taxi. And then I had the pleasure of being introduced to what they think "driving" is. When we got into the minibus, I was convinced we wouldn't make it out alive. Racing on the wrong side of the road, overtaking on a blind bend, weaving in and out of traffic that wasn't even in lanes; this was my idea of Hell. These people mustn't live very long. And since I was in the front seat, I was already thinking I wouldn't get to wear the shoes I had almost remortgaged my house for!

We finally arrive in one piece at our destination; which I had booked with my Work-Wife in Singapore - choosing it because it was literally across the road from the bus we were going to have to get in the morning. Getting into the room, I could see why it only cost a total of $20 a night. The smell was like we were sleeping in the sewer and there were loads of mosquitos. In the knowledge that it was only for the night, we set the alarm for the morning to allow time for brekkie and then crashed.
Next morning, when we checked out, we said we'd find the Bus and Ferry company before we went to go and get something to eat. And lucky we did. We walked up and down the street and couldn't find the place anywhere. "The Phuket Garden Hotel" was where we had stayed, and we checked with a couple of locals before we went back to the hotel to ask them to Google the Bus and Ferry company. A MASSIVE fail on my part, I had checked us in at "The Phuket Garden Hotel" and should have checked us in at "The Garden Phuket Hotel" instead. Why the hell would you have two hotels pretty much called the same thing in the same town, I have no idea; but they did, and so we jumped into a taxi and screeched the 20 min drive to the location where we should have been at. To add insult to injury the hotel we should have booked looked AMAZING in comparison to the dump where we had stayed. Go figure. The holiday spirit was well and truly wearing thin at this stage.

Eventually on the bus, which was leaking water from the roof (minor detail), I entertained myself for five hours listening to music, while Neil - The Sleepinator - continued to act dead. We arrive two hours early (which could have been spent in bed!) to the port and had to sit in the baking heat with our bags, waiting for the boat to arrive. Eventually it shows up and we drag our sweaty selves onto it for the short 45 min trek to Koh Samui island; all freckles and gleaming white skin amongst a boat full of the most tanned white people you have ever come across. I would like to say that it was "easy to see who had just arrived", but the fact of the matter being that we would be the same shade of pale leaving as we had landed.

Another long taxi ride and we arrive - after two days of travelling (special thanks to Air Asia for messing up our flights originally and leading to this "experience") - at our hotel in Koh Samui, A quick text to all from the lobby of the hotel and they said they were getting ready for dinner and we were to shower, change and meet them. We quickly do so and head off, dressed up, to meet the family. Calling a taxi from the hotel, my sister tells us to meet them at "The Shamrock"...Kind of a weird name for a nice restaurant I thought.
A souped-up black car, lowered and with Recaro Bucket seats, alloys on low-profile tyres and with neon blue lighting under the fairings pulls up and toots at us to get in. We stand staring at the crazy teenager who was clearly on something if he thought he could just turn up and pick up tourists. a minute later the hotel concierge tells us that this is - of course - our taxi! At this stage I'm already getting used to being shocked at everything, so we don't ask any questions and jump in. The 12-year-old "taxi driver" brings us to the approximate area to where we're looking to go, but doesn't know the exact restaurant, so drops us off on the street and expects us to find our way. With no internet or phones. Cheers mate.
Luckily we soon come across the establishment, which is AN IRISH PUB and find ourselves awkwardly overdressed upon seeing the rest of my family in shorts and singlets or beach dresses! Apparently it was my soon-to-be brother-in-law who came up with the ingenious idea of meeting in an Irish pub; something that we don't ever do when we're abroad. The staff were loving us; obsessed with little Izzy and Dad was pointing out a photo of Killybegs, his home town, that was on the wall of the bar. They probably hadn't actually ever seen a real Irish person despite working in an "Irish bar"!

Mam, Dad, Bhany, Luke and Izzy went home early, and Kev, Neilee and I decided to head off for a few before heading home for an early night before the Big Day which was the next day. And therein lies the first mistake.
From the Irish bar we headed across the road to an Aussie bar (we were clearly as unimaginative as they get!) and had a couple of drinks. It was here that the boys pointed the girls across the road out to me as they danced on the bar. They looked like girls; they had long black straight hair, had very little clothes on, but could carry it off with the bodies that they had...but they were men! I was amazed, but couldn't see properly without my glasses, so we said we'd cross the road when we were done and get a bit of a closer look.
That was mistake number two.

Crossing the road, one of the bars that was full of (real) girls started screaming at us, so we said we'd take a seat. We start drinking; Kev matching a whiskey and beer for every Jack that Neilee had. After some chatting, I could soon see the music was getting to Kev and he was itching to get up and dance. A while later cue Kev who is swinging around the pole in the middle of the bar, dancing with two of the girls who are loving it and Neil turns to me and says "So... I've met Kev then".
The drinks continue to flow for the two of them (I held off when I could see how hard they were going) and next thing Kev is trying to teach one of the bar girls how to jive. All the rest of the bar girls are now lined up waiting to be next, even including a Lady-Boy who had sneaked in on the fun. This is clearly not an every day occurrence. A few minutes later Kev is holding his head and there's blood flowing from it as he was too tall for the tiny Thai bar and he had hit his head off the top of it. I am left holding tissues and antiseptic wipes onto his cuts while I instruct a very intoxicated Neil to settle the bill cos we were going. Needless to say trying to get the two of them to do as they were told was like herding cats. It's 1am and I finally manage to pay the bill and practically fireman's lift Kev into a taxi who ripped me off getting the two incoherent drunks home. I manhandle Kev out of the taxi and, still wearing my heels, proceed to carry him down the very steep hill to the room where he is staying. Kev, who isn't exactly a small boy, has his full weight on me and is losing a shoe. Neilee is a few metres behind us and is continuing to be absolutely useless barring the fact that he is holding my handbag. Keep up the good work Neilee. At one stage Kev leans too much to the left and falls off the path into a bush pulling me with him. Both of us literally fly head-first into the bush and I'm not sure that Neilee even notices until I scream at him to help me out. After performing a Mr. Universe effort on getting Kev into his room, I put him to bed and lock the door behind me in case he tries to follow us. Yes; it is THAT bad. Finally I have to lead the other stumbling drunkard home so I can at least go to sleep knowing they were safely (locked) indoors.

Up the next morning at 9am, a hungover Neilee couldn't move from the bed that early, so I showered and got changed and then headed up to make sure Kev was alive and accounted for. Upon entering his room, Kev is inspecting his head in the bathroom mirror, completely oblivious as to what happened the night before. Not a touch of a hangover on him, but he was asking if I knew what happened his head. I described some of the bar scene from the night before and sent him the video I had kindly taken to remind him of his pole dancing. I'm good like that. We decide to go to the lobby to text the family and see what's going on and then Kev says "I'm ready, I just can't find my shoe...". Without blinking, I immediately get a brainwave and head out the door and up the path. I can hear him saying how he only has the one pair with him and can't find it anywhere in his room. He then follows me to the front door and I can hear the "what the ...?!" as he sees me getting into the bush and rummaging around. A couple of other guests go by staring in amazement at the crazy lady who is crawling in a bush at 10am on a Friday. I come out with said missing shoe in hand and leaves in my hair. I hand the prized shoe to him and tell him to put it on, laughing at his completely puzzled expression on how the hell it got there and even worse; how the hell I knew it was there. Now I can appreciate why you can come across a random shoe in the street, or on a tram and wonder how the hell someone can lose a single shoe. It all makes sense now...


The wedding was beautiful. I wasn't too sure how I was going to take it to be honest, but apart from tears and hand shaking at the beginning, I got over it and focused on how happy my little sister looked! I took refuge from the baking sun in Bhany's room until I had to leave. Mam, Bhany, Izzy and I got ready in the room while the boys had some drinks with Luke and his family at the bar. Bhany looked absolutely stunning. I think she is gorgeous anyway, but she just looked so happy and laid back on her Big Day that it was so heart warming to see. The colours of the day were amazing; blue sea to the left, blue sky above, yellow flowers, white dress, brown decking - it was such a beautiful setting and she was brought down to the ceremony by traditional drums and dancers.
The ceremony was lovely; Kev read and Luke's brother Cameron had the rings. I held Bhany's flowers and Izzy, who was quiet as a mouse for the whole thing. And like that, it was done! Bruno Mars "I think I wanna marry you" sang out and everyone clapped and threw yellow petals on them as they left - it was really something special and something completely different! Despite it being a 5pm wedding, the sweat was pouring out of me and my hair was stuck to my back. It is next to impossible to be in any way attractive in a hot country, I am sure of it! If you didn't have natural beauty you were screwed! We had food and drinks for the rest of the evening and by 11pm everyone called it a night and headed home. I noted Kev had volunteered to bring Izzy up to bed to sleep and didn't come back - could it be that someone wasn't exactly 100% hangover free???


The next day Neilee, Dad, Kev and I headed off snorkelling just a few metres from where the wedding ceremony was at Bhany's hotel. I brought the GoPro and we headed off in the crystal clear sea; fish-watching for hours. I tried - and failed - to master the art of diving without your head exploding; which Dad kindly caught on camera for me. I thought I had managed to get about 3 or 4 metres down, whereas the GoPro shows me barely skimming the surface of the water! Does fat make you float...??!
A great few hours spent in the water and then back to the hotel for a snack and a swim in the pool. We all head home to get ready for dinner that night and head out to "The Cliff" (http://www.thecliffsamui.com/) where we treat Mam and Dad to dinner. From here it's back to the hotel to pack and we're off again!
Morning comes, so we go to the hotel to say our goodbyes to Bhany, Luke and Mam but not before I lose my prescription sunnies and smash the screen on my new iPhone 6. What a great way to start the day.

Neil, Kev and I head to watch the Pacquiao v Mayweather fight in a small bar somewhere in Koh Samui. We watch "Money" dodge and retreat,walk around the ring or defend himself against the ropes to justify himself as the highest paid athlete in the world. It's a disgrace. I already don't like boxing, never mind the fact that he is classed as having won that fight?! How can you win if you don't box? I can't imagine what people who paid to see the fight on TV feel like, never mind those who wasted money going to the actual event?! I was fuming about having wasted the 30 minutes of my life I would never get back again watching that!

From here we say our goodbyes to Kev (and his shoes) and Dad, before Neil and I head to the airport for some more travelling - destination Phuket.


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