These Castle tales are in no way meant to deter people from this profoundly spectacular experience. I enjoyed my two months working and living with like-minded business professionals who are successful a few times over (in their own right) in the industry that I closed my eyes and jumped into just over one year ago. I pushed myself and was rewarded for it on so many levels. That being said, these tales (that are in fact real) as told from my perspective did transpire during those two months on Samui.
I’m feeling sad to leave the villa I played sleepover at this morning. What an amazing connection, what an amazing person. My mind wanders, my mouth smiles widely. He waits until I’ve snapped on my helmet an extra notch before I kick over the engine on the borrowed house motorbike to make the 30 minute (give or take) journey from the north of the island to the south. The Castle is in Hua Thanon, a sleepy fisherman’s town with a few guest houses and maybe three boutique-style resorts 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.
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 (cutting the engine), and disembark to open it. The gate is typically open, which makes for a smooth entry to the driveway that has the strangest uneven bit of concrete slab that requires coming at it at a decent speed and the correct angle important for balancing your body in time to make the quick (small really) left to round the frame of the outside of the house. This driveway heads straight back from there where bikes 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 own pillow. I rev the bike harder this time knowing it’s going to work because I’m right here in my own driveway after successfully navigating myself to the other side of the island (round trip). It works. Too well.
The bike kicks hard and bucks over the hump and straight towards 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, which is to say between the house and that wall. 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 bike. I steer the bike clear just in time, but take the brunt of the collision on my right leg, which was rubbed against the wall and the bike simultaneously. My leg burns like it’s too close to a bonfire, but doesn’t hurt too badly. All I manage to say is ‘ow’ before steadying myself on the bike enough to hit the brakes.
I get off and attempt to put pressure enough to walk on my now numb leg; I can shuffle on it. So I shuffle the bike down the rest of the driveway 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 from my garbled flesh. I almost puke. I’m no good with this stuff. I notice my anklets tied to the injured foot are either missing or crushed and attempting to stick (in pieces) 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 make my way inside and to the bathroom directly across the side entrance to the bottom floor of the house. 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 and b-lined for the first aid kit.
I’ve wet a clean rag and taken to wiping down what I thought was the only open wound on my foot when my roomie suggests she go and get our (new and technically on a week-long trial; that’s another story) 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. 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’s worse than I thought. Not nearly as bad as it could be (nothing is broken), but it’s bad; six open wounds and I rolled my ankle.
I watch my ankle begin to balloon in size and the flaps of skin hanging from my body and begin to feel flushed. I hobble over to take a seat in one of the comfy seats as my leg is being cleaned and wiped down. Having already been offered a fan (no a/c on this level) 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 rain storm. 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 water 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 she whispers 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 since being indoors so I put on a brave face until the pain can become 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 happened. 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 (two other times it turns out, each time happening years apart from each other and before my 20s). 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, 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 as not to hit any of my bandaged wounds. When I get 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 remind myself to purchase some traveler health insurance when I get 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.
***Stay tuned for Volume 2 of Castle Tales***