There’s basically one main paved road on the small island of Ko Lanta, Thailand. All the rest seemed to be different densities of dirt of which I puttered and skid along, or got stuck or crashed, on my remarkably under-powered rental scooter.
It was the tail end of what ended up being my 3-month walkabout of Thailand. I went there alone, not knowing the language, not knowing what I was going to do once I got off the plane, and without a ticket home. I had no intention of doing the tourist thing. I was going to immerse myself with the locals.
My scooter and I asynchronously bounced down a rutted hill into a small grass clearing surrounded by tall, thick vegetation. A thatched hut on bamboo stilts was to my right. Wrinkled and worn a woman sat on it’s stoop, legs crossed underneath her, chewing a leaf.
“Hallooo.” To my left, from a sort of bamboo and thatch gazebo structure, a man in camouflage pants called towards me. The old woman smiled. I butchered a Thai greeting but the camouflaged man responded politely. I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter how much you may suck at speaking a foreign language, the locals appreciate and respect your efforts of trying to learn and speak their tongue.
We spoke for the next ten minutes or so which really just consisted of me flipping through a dictionary/phrase book in between my further slaughter of the few Thai phrases I had picked up. He, on the other hand, had passable English. Good enough to convince me to follow him into the jungle to see a cool cave. Here’s what happened…