The second I stepped out of the long-tail boat onto the beach at Tonsai, all the stress and annoyance of Phi Phi and getting off that island completely evaporated.
You could feel the difference. People were here to chill and just take life as it comes. It was beautiful.
First things first: found a tent to chuck my stuff in, with a shower and the ever-present pour-water-down-it-to-flush toilet up the hill. And a massive spider at the entrance to the tent village.
I would go back to Tonsai just to visit the guys who ran the place where I stayed. A couple mornings on my way down the hill, I’d stop and hang out with the guy who worked the counter the most. We’d swap English and Thai words, and I’d admire his hair.
Tonsai is a bit of a climbing mecca (which is why it’s so different from the islands–doesn’t attract the “typical tourist”). I wasn’t really at the level where I could take advantage of that, but I managed to get my hands on a few rocks.
The main reason, though, that I was so close to bailing on my contract and just moving in was the people, and just the freedom of the place.
The night of the full moon, the crowd I was with started out the evening “stoopin’ it”–hanging out by the side of the dirt road, then moving down to a set of steps that faced the beach.
Lisa and I were the only girls in our little crew, and as she towered above me it was a bit funny that we spent so much time together. But we shared a passion for yoga, as many people around the rocks did, and that night we were both in the mood for dancing.
Once on the beach, she and I very quickly ditched the guys. There were all of two bars open on the beach, and the bar next door–meaning you walked a few steps across the sand and sat in a boat used for seating instead of standing next to a hammock–was playing music you could actually dance to.
So we danced.
I have to say, that night is the most…I don’t even know; satisfied, happy, carefree, whatever! that I’ve been in a while.
At the start, it was just us in front of the DJ booth. A tall Austrian in a floor-length hippie skirt and a short American in a pair of cloth shorts and a bright blue shirt. Odd pair, on the surface.
We swayed and stepped and moved and it was beautiful. Every couple songs we’d take a break, then head back out. Gradually, little by little, people started to join us until finally, the party didn’t stop when we took one of our breaks.
It still felt early when Lisa headed back up to her bungalow, but I wasn’t ready to stop.
So I kept dancing.
Every now and then I crossed paths with a man and joined him for a few beats, half a song, a few steps, whatever. A group of Spaniards were celebrating their last night, so they were highly entertaining and also very fun to dance with. But for the most part, I was just doing what I wanted, without too much concern for the people around me.
Sometime after three, the long days of diving and the stress of traveling caught up to me. I left the dance floor, feeling a little tired, and thought, Hey, the sun’s gonna rise in a couple hours, I should watch that!
I headed out along the beach and climbed up onto a bamboo patio in front of a bar that had shut its doors for the night.
This corner of the beach was quiet, separate, peaceful, all mine. I laid down, only to wake up however-long later and decided I probably wouldn’t make it to the sunrise so I should go ahead and make the hike up the dirt road into the forest and collapse in my tent.
I love sunrises, and I’m sure it would have been gorgeous. But I didn’t need it.
I was full.