Yesterday, in between my aforementioned massage training and laid-back island lifestyle, I accepted a mission from a friend back home, to find a friend of hers who works as a dive instructor on the island somewhere. I only had a Christian name to go on, but that was enough to track him down after mentioning his name to some of the divers I’ve met here:
“Stefan? Oh yes, him and his missus run the End of The World Cafe at Chakloklum pier.” Guess the diving community is fairly small here, or at least very friendly.
So, on my two hour lunch break, I found myself hopping onto one of the communal taxis that drive circuits of the island, picking up and dropping off passengers on their way. We headed up to the village of Chaloklum, right at the north of the island, past coconut mountains and elephants at the side of the road, which in fact is where I went to catch the boat to Sail Rock, but I hadn’t realised that at the time (probably too busy hyperventilating at the thought of the imminent boat trip and dives).
Chaloklum makes Thong Sala seem like a buzzing metropolis. Sleepy doesn’t even cover it – try comatose. I felt immediately relaxed as I stepped off the taxi and into the intense heat of the dusty road. Locals sprawled in hammocks, crammed into the limited shade, and the few cafes and bars along the edge of the road were propped open by a skeleton quiet-season crew of laid-back paper-browsers and chin-waggers, both western and thai.
It was easy to find The End of the World cafe in such a small place, and a very appropriate name too, as it teeters on the edge of the island, right by where the boats launch from. There I immediately met Lotte, Stefan’s Swedish partner, who runs the cafe with a friend. I explained my rather random presence and she sat down with me and we had a good chat about our respective paths that had led us to this place at this time. Unfortunately Stefan was out working (as a freelance dive guide and underwater photographer – cool), although he did fly past on a scooter at one point, but Lotte’s wailed hail failed to register with him (nice inadevertant internal rhymes there, if I may say so).
Meg, this photo is for you – there’s Lotte in the stripy top – she remembers the last time she saw you, at your 30th party. Sorry no picture of Stefan, although we’ve since been in touch and will try again to meet up, and possibly I might go out for a dive with him next week if I get time – thanks for putting us in touch!
Nevertheless, having found the cafe and espied the elusive Stefan, albeit as a high-speed blur, I considered my mission accomplished, and rewarded myself with a rather fine quiche and salad with a gorgeous caramel and chocolate home-made cookie to follow, courtesy of Lotte’s excellent catering skills. If anyone else ever finds themselves at this particular end of the world, I can highly recommend the fodder. I even had time to continue with my other, literary, mission – over a chai latte, don’t you know:
Anna, almost despatched. Really glad I made the effort to read it – Tolstoy was definitely a genius, with a brilliant mind spanning politics, sociology, early agricultural techniques and a surprisingly ‘female’ empathetic grasp of the ups and downs of relationships, not to mention spot-on observations of the diversity of the human psyche, with all its quirks.
Today has seen me come full circle in Koh Phagnan, as I went to the Walking Market this evening, which is how I started my stay on the island last Saturday. The rain held off this week, though, allowing me time to sample some amazing street food. Photos of some of it below (waistline DEFINITELY expanding in thailand, d’oh):
I’m still not sure what these are, or indeed if they are classed as sweet or savoury, and that’s after having eaten one of each. Definitely coconut involved, but also, bizarrely, very salty fish. Hmmm, tastebuds are confused…
A banana leaf full of tiny, salty fried quail eggs covered in a kind of soy-style sauce – simple yet delicious.
Yummy steamed chicken dumpling thingies – I didn’t eat all of these, I’d just like to point out.
And finally, I thought I’d cleanse my palate after my feast with a light fruit salad – errr… HELLO?! This is what I received, for the billy-bargain price of £1. I love Thailand.