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Living on a mystical island of Koh Phangan in Thailand


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Karel’s letters written during travelling

Karel Kosman photo Yo, a friend asked to see pics of the island where I’m staying at, so thought I’d write this blurb, even though I plan to stay here another year and hence this chapter of my travels is not completed yet.

The guy whose house I was staying at over the winter in Bulgaria wanted to hook up with me in Asia and invited me to this island of Koh Phangan. He’s been to Asia some seven times and I figured he’d know of some good spots. Christmas was approaching so I decided to leave my solar panel remote village project in the north east corner of Thailand and head about half way down the length of the country, on the east coast. I think they filmed part of The Beach here. They have these Full Moon, Half Moon and Black Moon parties where youngsters come for a few days from all over and get totally tanked drinking a hard concoction of alcohol out of little buckets. They let themselves get painted all over by locals. I checked it out once and that was enough, as I experienced enough of those days in university.

Koh Phangan photo

Then there is this whole class of other tourists here which I like to refer to as Yoga Heads. There are tons of courses and retreats on the island, ranging from meditation to all sorts of yoga exercises and mystical philosophies. The Yoga heads don’t drink alcohol (at least while here on their courses), are mostly vegetarians, and are slightly odd in their own way. The last third of the tourists here would be like me: 30+ years old, Bohemian types, and mostly from Russia, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, some from North America. Lots of French Canadians too. There is also a big jam music scene on the island and, in high season, I’m able to play my violin and harps somewhere almost every night of the week. So I appreciate that opportunity and it has given me lots of motivation to practice. Also the fact that I discovered it’s a bit of a chick magnet. Decided to save up and replace the case’s cover with some sexy red leather, and I already have a specific attire in mind that I might consider trying one day, but I need to practice a lot more first. Until then I have greatly improved and many people say I play beautifully. It truly is a beautiful instrument and it has now become my favourite. Was even given a little lesson by a violin concertist who used to play for 15 years. When he was teaching me how to hold it etc at a restaurant, the owner came up and begged me to play. I agreed and everyone in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and gave me a very enthusiastic applause once I finished my typical, made-up song on the spot. Seems that Asians are not familiar with the instrument at all and are absolutely fascinated by it, so I like the attention.

Koh Phangan photo

There is a mystical feel about the island. I feel like I am walking through jello and it has been difficult to motivate myself to work, but I’m getting better at that, as the party scene here is nonstop.

But it is now very low season, so that is helping me. Things should pick up again around November. It is also low tide season, meaning that, during most of the day, I’d have to walk about a kilometer through wet, sludgy sand before I could start swimming. On the other side of the island, which faces the open ocean, it’s much better and can swim all year long, but there’s little music scene and it’s much more expensive.

Koh Phangan photo

Recently met this guy who I like to affectionately refer to as the Lepricon, because he’s short, has a pointy grey beard, and looks like one. He lived by himself on an island for a couple of years, fascinated by the nature, and recently moved to my little village. I’d see him every day hanging out at the 711 (I’ve never seen more of those outlets than in this country) and we’d have long discussions about spirituality. He said he was ready to evaporate into the universe and that someone was threatening to kill him. He gave himself two days, and sure enough, two days later, I found him lying on his back next to the "bullshit table" (where all us bullshitters like to hang out, discussing all sorts of silliness while drinking cheap 711 beer), fingers clenched like claws, eyes gazing towards the sky with a frozen expression of fear, knife protruding from his sternum. First time I ever saw someone dead and it was certainly a freaky experience. I later learned that he walked into the internet shop waving a knife. Thais often live in their stores and in this shop there would often be children playing on the floor amongst the beds. My friend said you simply don’t do this and it is a sure fire death sentence. Others say they saw him stab himself, although I did not see any blood. Anyway, this island is strange indeed and it will give me lots to write about.

Even the Thais here do not consider themselves Thai. And all the 711s on the island sell beer all the time, as opposed to the rest of Thailand, which only sell beers at certain times, as per the kings orders. Most of the foreigners who come or live here have tattoos all over their bodies and are quite eccentrics, which the locals have grown used to, meaning that pretty well anything goes here. So I am no longer frowned upon when walking around barefoot and shirtless. Nobody even notices me and I fit in wonderfully.

My tentative plan is to stay about a year to save up for a motorbike with side-car, which I plan to convert to a make-shift caravan, so that I can really start traveling around south east Asia. In the meantime I like my set up and want to enjoy that for a while. Work in bed while lying on my back with door open so that I can look out over the beach and ocean, Thai islands in the background. The bungalow owner even reduced my rent last night, from 4,500 to 4,000 baht a month, so a hundred Euro a month for rent in paradise seems like a pretty sweet deal. Would love if any of ya can join me. Have a great one till next time!

Koh Phangan photo

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Anyway, I'm still on paradise island and thinking of practically moving here. Maybe north vietnam in the summer, when it is hot here, but I met this totally cool russian babe. Not very hopeful but she gives me signs that she might be interested. Not sure. She is an artist type and her job is to decorate parties. She is apparently very busy. Every time I see her she has a totally different look, that I do not recognise her right away. Each time I think, "Who is this beautiful woman walking right up to me, putting her face next to mine and offering her cheek for a kiss?" Each time I am bewildered, I kiss her cheek anyway, and then I realise who she is. Anyway, that would be the only reason I would stay here through the hot humid summer, otherwise, think I might come back in the fall, because there is a great live jam music scene here and great energy, not to mention that it looks like a paradise.

Koh Phangan photo

I've been practicing the violin about two hours a day so that I can play better with other musicians, and decided that this will be the first instrument that I will sit down and learn all the scales. Up to now I have just been playing by ear. Even if it takes me ten years, it doesn't matter, cause it's a beautiful instrument. Anyway, life is great now and I'm really happy where I am. The people here are so beautiful and nice.

Christmas and NY were a bit of a zoo, cause this is a famous party island and it gets very busy with party tourists around this time. Then it settles down to quiet when they go back home, but every month, for about 3-4 days, there is the Full Moon party, so it gets busy again. But even the tourists are like beautiful bohemians, so relaxed, and many of them play music and bring an instrument with them, so it is quite a vibrant island.

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Not much theft on the island and people here are cool. Lot of hippy/yoga types where I am, or crazy foreigners who decided to move here. From all over - Russia, Dutch, met Czechs sometimes. Lotta Germans, French and French Canadians, Russians. It's on Koh Phangan, Thailand. Everything goes on this island, cause there are so many tourists or long term foreigners.

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Otherwise, I spend my days working like usual. Picked up two big books to translate, which should cover the entire year, then pick up higher paying jobs in between, and my $99 customer job is getting more per month. Aiming for ten a month, which would cover all my costs, and only requires about ten hours of work, so I could technically consider myself retired. Last month was 5, after I fixed up the page, up from 2 average before that, so will keep trying to improve it and get more traffic to it. Other interesting projects on the table as well, so this year has been a real good one for me. Take careo, big snot.

Koh Phangan photo

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Briefly: 28 people died on this island last year due to fallen coconuts (very tall trees, coconuts are heavy, turn a skull into a squashed tomato). So on my tombstone thought it would be funny to write "Died in paradise by fallen coconut", even if it were untrue. Just only last little joke in my life, this last one from the grave.

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Monumental day for me in Asia. Just bought my first makings of a kitchen: 3 light metal bowls that fig snug into each other, can fit in a backpack and be used to cook with. Three spoons three forks, small light cutting board. Just made my first salad. Now all I need is to build up a spice collection, camping propane cooker, eventually larger cooker etc. Once I get my motorbike with side car rooved, complete to caravanish, tent hammock, all which may be possible soon as one ozzie bloak seems dead set on buying my Europe caravan, and already sent small advance payment. Perhaps time to close the last chapter and hit the road again.

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Just today I decided I will be quite happy staying on this island another year. It can seem quiet but I see surprises abounding almost every day. For example, when I ride my motorbike I don't have glasses and tend to squint with the wind. And many people return a smile back to me, as if they know me, and I increase my smile back. There are so many dimensions here it’s great, and would love to host you all. Or at any times you can make it. I'm paying $120 a month for the bungalow here and $75 for the bike. Or they're about $10 a day each if you're here only for the short term. The high season is between roughly Nov and April and more interesting, with lots of live music events everywhere, jamming for free, food is cheap.

Koh Phangan photo

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Just heard today a girl saying that she knows a diver who has been living here for 7 years and that every time he goes swimming with a skin wound it turns into a catastrophe. That our western bodies are simply not used to the bacteria in the warm water here in the tropics. I had a small bike accident, with the slightest scratches, went swimming a few times in the shallow water here and now my flesh is rotting away in those spots. I had to take a picture. Infection eating me from the inside out. I scratched off a .2 mm pimple and it has grown larger and keeps developing scabs with the puss brewing underneath.

I feel like the bacteria is eating away at my flesh. But I haven't been swimming for a few days and the "tides are turning". Maybe cause it’s the westest and warmest now. Thorns in paradise, they say.

For a hundred euro a month I have a bungalow right on the beach, but it's low tide season and, during the day, I have to walk a km before I can swim in very shallow water. Other side of the island, facing the ocean, is deeper. Will rather not take a chance swimming before these deep, festering wounds are fully healed. Disgusting!

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Actually, just made me think, they got locally grown mangos here and I should be eating it every day. Usually I'll have a coconut instead, for about 50 cents. One guy at the taxi/fruit stand where I hang out goes to the back and cuts one off for me fresh right there. I escort him to the back of the shop. Supposed to be a lot of electrolytes in the juice that help strengthen immune system a lot. Lots of bizarre fruits here and have barely scratched the surface. Some of it tastes pretty strange so am a bit hesitant to experiment, but the open markets often have old ladies selling roots and herbs I have never seen before and have absolutely no clue what to do with. Think might be a good idea to hire someone some day and bring my camera or something.

Koh Phangan photo

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Hey mate, good to hear from you. Yah, been a bit dissappointed with the lack of communication, but I know that simply some people are not into that. I generally don't like phone conversations, but video chat can be cool. Yah, still in Thailand and found an absolutely georgeous island. Great jam music scene so have been playing a lot of the violin and half the reason I chose to stay here for a year.

Recently submitted an application for a student visa, thousand bucks good for a year and have to take about 200 hours of Thail lessons with a local beautiful Thai girl. So I'm thinking roughly half a year or more before I'm set up to hit the road. China and Burma are set to open up in 2014, so will apparently be able to ride my motorbike (bought one) through all that and would be cool if I can make it to Nepal and then back through India, then on to Indonesia and Phillippines before quick tripping through Australia and New Zealand to hit Africa.

Koh Phangan photo

My sister Keta is helping me put together my travel stories to publish them, maybe into a book. She is convinced I have enough material and she is rewriting and totally reorganizing it. Am learning from her. I recently read a travel book by some Brazilian dude that apparently sold 72 million copies and translated into 142 languages. It was well written but my stories just seem more interesting, so I'm starting to believe in the possibility. That would be so utterly amazing if it made cash. Then I could just go extra crazy, and live even nuttier, to make more money, haha.

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Travel Tour Guide in Europe

Travel Translation Service

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See Karel Kosman's Articles at TranslationDirectory.com:
Karel’s letters written during travelling
47. Making preparations for the big bike trip
46. The ONLY Thai girl I am attracted to
45. Miscellaneous letters
44. I have always felt I will be a writer one day...
43. About freelancing and travelling
42. Thai girls are like demon possessed little witches
41. Living on a mystical island of Koh Phangan in Thailand
40. From Malaysia to Thailand
39. From Laos back to Thailand
38. How to publish a book
37. Back in Thailand
36. Feeling increasingly uncomfortable here on the island in Malaysia
35. My belongings
34. Staying in Malaysia
33. About running a blog
32. A short travel update
31. Planning to publish a book about my travels
30. In Thailand, God’s hand
29. Getting ready to go to Asia. In the airport
28. Escaping from Galia’s place
27. About Bulgarians, earnings, plans
26. Starting to earn more after approaching thousands of translation agencies
25. About writing and publishing content online
24. How to find really cheap plane tickets
23. The girlfriend: would like to find THE ONE
22. Still staying in Bulgaria but planning to go to Thailand
21. Travel outline
20. About translation industry
19. About female friends
18. About computer, online marketing, translation, CAT tool
17. About blabber - waste of time. About wanting to be a writer.
16. About God
15. More about software sales
14. More travel updates
13. Staying at a pension
12. About borders etc.
11. Software sales
10. Travel update
09. Translation job industry
08. Partying is a waste of time
07. How much they pay etc.
06. Translator charges, programming etc.
05. Working as a translator and travelling
04. Travel life
03. Why NOT to cheat Google...
02. About opportunities for working as a freelancer
01. About advantages of working as a freelancer
Working While Travelling
26. Gone treeplanting (September 8, 2008)
25. First friends visiting me to Cyprus (February 29, 2008)
24. Staying in Cyprus (December 09, 2007)
23. Escaping the Cyprus heat (February 8, 2007)
22. Escape from boredom (February 8, 2007)
21. Barelling to Bodrum (November 20, 2006)
20. Staying in Stoliv, Montenegro (October 2, 2006)
19. Arriving to Montenegro (August 22, 2006)
18. Traveling through Croatia (August 9, 2006)
17. The trip begins - off to Croatia! (2006)
16. How to Live in a Caravan
15. How to Connect to Internet While Traveling
14. How to construct a caravan - Beautification
13. How to use solar panels to electrify your caravan
12. How to construct a caravan
11. Designing the caravan
10. Back to Czech - buying a travel van (April 10, 2004)
9. Mexico Trip - Off to Yosemite and Beyond (December, 2003)
8. Mexico Trip - Getting a Driver’s License (December, 2003)
7. How to Buy a Used Car (December, 2003)
6. Mexico Trip (December 14, 2003)
5. Traveling through Bulgaria (July 20 - Aug. 4, 2002)
4. Czech Republic: My Reflections
3. My life in Prague
2. My flat in Prague
1. Dream of working while travelling




Published - March 2013









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