Terror in Paradise

*Warning! Warning! If your first name starts with Ja- and your last name ends in –ert, and you happen to be Todd’s mother, cease and desist reading! You will not enjoy this!

We’ve had quite the weekend. On Friday night, we headed to Koh Samed with a bunch of teachers from Toddy’s school. It sounded like just another average weekend in paradise with beautiful beaches, clear water, fun friends, banana pancakes drowning in nutella, etc. Blahblahblah. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Little did I know that the weekend would give me a new appreciation for Canada’s obsession with over-the-top safety regulations. While I generally appreciate Thailand’s environment of anything-can-happen, a few occurrences this weekend made me experience emotions that I haven’t felt since riding rotting Soviet Era carnival rides in Azerbaijan. Let’s break it down into three li’l vignettes.


1. We left the school campus after school ended on Friday, and pulled up to the mainland pier a few hours later. The teachers, full of joie de vivre, hurtled over multiple slimy guardrail-less gangplanks to the waiting speed boats. In a moment that will forever remain emblazoned on my brain,* I witnessed one of the teachers falling off the gangplank and fully submerging herself in the disgusting oil-laced water surrounding the dock. While this would have been adequate excitement for one evening, the best was yet to come. Once all 30+ teachers were inescapably ensconced, the speedboat’s very own Captain Ahab decided to see exactly how many horses were actually powering his engine. He gunned it over/through/against the heaving waves, which felt more like concrete than water. The darkness and wetness combined with the eerie glow of squidding boats to create the impression that we were headed for soggy doom. All around me, people were moaning with terror, which only seemed to excite Ahab. He looked disappointed when we finally pulled into the dock.

Todd regained his equanimity when he realized that his fellow math teacher Greg was actually his long-lost, slightly larger twin brother.



2. Our second adventure with good ol’ safety happened when we decided to rent scooters on Saturday. We snickered when we saw the hefty tires on the scooters.

The Spunky Sarah models Hefty Tire Chic.

It soon became apparent why we needed them. The roads on Koh Samed look like they’ve spent their lives hanging out on a major fault line. And that is the paved roads. The dirt roads are infinitely worse. Imagine scrambling a peak in the Rockies on a scooter. A few of us may have gotten some serious air time.

Biker Scootcher gang.



3. On our last night, we went to a fire show. I had no idea what this would entail, but fire always sounds like fun to me. There were several hundred people on the beach waiting for the show to start, and many of them were, to put it politely, a little sauced. The show began with Thai dancers tossing flaming balls/bottles/ropes in the air in time to pulsating music. The also regularly unleashed balls of flames into the air which lent a comforting scent of kerosene to the event.

Testosterone and flames never seem to end well.

I enjoyed this until they let off a few blasts of fire next to my head. The show continued with fireworks, more balls of flames, more sloshes of kerosene, etc. Ahh. This was a nice experience, I thought. Time to go home.

And that’s when the opportunities for audience participation began. These included: limbo-ing under a stick engulfed in billowing flames, skipping with a flaming rope that tended to wrap itself around peoples’ legs, and my personal favourite, heaving uncoordinated bodies through a flaming hoop.

There’s no combination quite like billowing hair and billowing flames

Look ma! No brains!

The wind and sloshes of kerosene were unpredictable, as was the (still sauced) audience. The night ended with multiple audience members chasing one another up and down the beach with roman candles. A night to remember.

And just in case you needed to lighten up a bit…You really can’t argue with their logic

I still think that Canada goes overboard with safety regulations, but I’m starting to see the point. .

*Forgive me, Therese.

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