These Castle Tales are real and recapped from my perspective during two months of living in a co-working space for writers on Koh Samui. The Content Castle, as it existed then, is no longer in business.
I’m feeling sad to leave the villa I played sleepover in this morning. What an amazing connection, what an amazing person. My mind wanders, and my mouth smiles widely as I prepare to make my way back to my side of the island on a rented motorbike.
My date the previous evening waits next to me until I’ve snapped on my helmet. He’s smiling too. I wink at him and fasten the helmet in place before I kick over the engine and head off on the 30-minute (give or take) journey from the north of the island to the south.
The mansion I’m staying in is in Hua Thanon, a sleepy fisherman’s town with a few guest houses and maybe three boutique-style resorts in total. The drive is downhill on a windy road that takes you through a portion of the jungle, dug up to make way for this road, and sections of the coastline that melt you from the inside out.
On An Unknown Collision Course
I’m almost home. I’m feeling exhausted and a tad dehydrated as I approach the closed gate of the house. I park the bike, kick the stand, cut the engine, and disembark to open it. The gate is typically open, which makes for a smooth entry to the driveway that has an uneven bit of concrete slab at the start that requires a strategy to overcome.
You have to come at it at a decent speed and the correct angle remembering to balance your body in time to make the quick left to round the frame of the outside of the house. The driveway heads straight back from there where bikes —motor or otherwise— for residents and expected guests are parked.
I’ve slid open the gate and I’m back on the bike. I kick the engine on to approach the driveway slowly, but with enough force to get over the hump. I’m not giving it enough because the bike is rolling backward and into oncoming traffic instead.
I rev it again and I get the same result. I’m not sure if anyone is downstairs and can see me through the wall-to-ceiling windows, but I do know it’s up to me to get this bike back into the driveway. I start daydreaming about my hot shower, brushing my teeth, and crashing face-first into my pillow. I rev the bike harder this time knowing it’s going to work. It does. Too well.
The bike kicks hard and bucks over the hump and straight toward the pink wall separating the house from the neighbor’s property. I hadn’t had enough time to correct my balance before needing to steer the bike left to get around the house. A dozen thoughts go through my planner’s brain at once the loudest being “Don’t panic”.
An attempt to adjust my balance and therefore the direction of the bike because I do not want to crash —and therefore be financially responsible for repairing or replacing— this rental. I steer the bike clear of the wall just in time, but take the brunt of the collision on my right leg. My skin was rubbed against the wall and the bike simultaneously. It burned like I was standing too close to a bonfire, but it didn’t hurt too badly. All I managed to say was ‘ow’ before steadying myself on the bike enough to hit the brakes.
From A Collison Course To The Couch
I cut the engine, wince at the pain, and get off the bike, attempting to avoid putting pressure on my now numb leg. I can shuffle on it. So I shuffle the bike down the rest of the driveway and then make my way to the side door of the house to let myself in. I have to take off my shoes first and when I get to my right foot I have to peel the leather strap around the outside of my ankle away from my garbled flesh.
I almost puke. I’m no good with this stuff. I noticed the anklet that was tied to my injured leg was missing, and pieces of it were attempting to stick to the open wound. I want to pick them out, but I know my hands are filthy so I unlock and open the door to the house to make my way inside and to the bathroom directly across the side entrance of the ground floor of the mansion.
I swing the door wide and peek inside. One of my roomies is working at the long table this morning and I instinctively ask her if she saw that. She returned my question with a puzzled look confirming my original assumption that she hadn’t. I step inside and admit to her I crashed into the wall, but assure her I’m fine. She’s also no good with this stuff, but b-lined for the first aid kit as I shuffled my bleeding leg to the bathroom.
In the bathroom, I wet a clean rag and began wiping what I thought was the only open wound on my foot when my roommate suggested she go and get our house manager to help me. I bark at her that I can handle it. Being the daughter of two medical professionals and now armed with a semi-stocked first aid kit I figure I can clean and dress the wound by myself. On cue, however, the trial house manager comes trotting down the stairs and into the unfolding scene.
Probably because she heard voices and wanted to come and atone for once again drinking alcohol that didn’t belong to her, but regardless of that, it was a good thing that she did. She got eye level with my leg and it was much worse than I thought. Not nearly as bad as it could have been —nothing is broken— but it’s bad; six open wounds and I rolled my ankle.
Listening While Under Water
I watch my ankle begin to balloon in size and the flaps of skin hanging from my body begin to feel flushed. I hobble over to take a seat in one of the comfy chairs as my leg is being cleaned and wiped down. I have already been offered a fan, there’s no a/c on this level of the house, and water as I begin to drip sweat. It feels like it’s pouring out of my veins like a waterfall dumping water after a recent rainstorm. I can feel something is wrong. I can’t tell what, but something is amiss.
The room goes bright and I can feel myself trying to take off a layer of clothing to lower my body temp when suddenly I feel as if I’m submerged in water. The weight of the invisible liquid is all around me and holding me hostage. I can feel and hear everything and everyone around me, but it’s as if they’re moving shadows and they blend in with the blur of currents tangling around my limbs.
My ankle hurts and I try to scream to leave it alone, but she doesn’t. I surrender to the weight and just float there until I begin to see clearer. Sound starts coming back and I can feel my body stirring in the chair.
I open my eyes and wipe sweat from my brow. I try to sit up, but the pain shooting through me from the direction of my right leg keeps me still. I flinch from the hands mending the wound and the house manager whispers up to me that I’m brave and doing well.
The last of my wounds are cleaned and covered and I’m back to my senses. I’ve swallowed 600mg of Ibuprofen and chugged a half liter of water. I put on a brave face until the pain becomes more manageable. No matter, I’m all too eager to get a recap from my roomies of what I looked like, what I was saying, and what the hell just happened to me.
First-Time For Everything
One of them blurts out that I fainted and that she knows because she used to deal with fainting spells often. I’m shocked at this and struggle to recall a time I’ve fainted before. Now, I’m not sure why I associated fainting with shame and embarrassment, but both emotions appeared immediately after I came to. Listening to the girls recap my behavior and sound effects were equal parts hilarious and mortifying.
Such a fluke situation, colliding with the wall. It was important to me not to be terrified, however, by the bike so I decided to take it out for a quick ride the next day. All bandaged up and hobbling down the stairs I pass the housekeeper as I go as she questions me why in the world I am putting on my helmet as she gestures to my leg. I assure her I am fine, but I am not fine. I am terrified but must proceed.
“I’m just going ten minutes on the main road and back”, I tell her. When I mount the bike I do so carefully and slowly so as not to hit any of my bandaged wounds. When I get to the end of the driveway —much easier going out than coming in— I take four deep breaths before pulling out onto the road.
It was a nice ride. A tense ride. I think I white-knuckled the handlebars the entire time as I chanted to myself positive affirmations and reminded myself to purchase some traveler health insurance when I got back to the house. My heart rate increased significantly as I approached the driveway on my return, but the gate was open. I slowed but didn’t stop and took the awkward hump wobbly, but upright, and make it to the back of the driveway the way I had dozens of times before yesterday and without injury.
To be continued…
What Happens Next at The Content Castle?
Too much to have documented, but needless to say, there’s plenty more adventure to come. We are visited by a naked Thai guy in the night and bond over the lizards living in the rafters. There’s nothing quite like exploring another culture, land, and history all while discovering yourself. Travel is transformative, and I was only at the beginning of what would become a life-altering journey.