Over the past year I have been making some serious progress through my bucket-list of singledom. I have gotten drunk in Norway, Paris, Cyprus, Malta, Aberdeen, Yorkshire and London. I have been a token minge on a stag weekend in Frankfurt, had laser eye surgery, my teeth whitened, my tonsils removed, been heavily tattooed and am currently in the middle of getting most of my pubes lasered off for all eternity. I have had some pretty spectaular experiences, and a few terrible ones too, but without a doubt this year has been one of my most exciting.
I made this list when I first left Aberdeen at a time when if you’d asked me if I wanted a husband I would have said something along the lines of: “I don’t remember saying you could come up for air sunshine, this bitch don’t pay you to talk.” Recently, however, the once distant thoughts of vague maturity have been creeping steadily towards the forefront of my consciousness and it is for this reason I felt it important to have one last self-indulgent adventure before I began focussing on maybe calming down a little bit. This adventure came in the form of a three week trip to Thailand and Cambodia with the most inappropriate human being I know, my sister Lisa.
Lisa had already been in Thailand for 3 months at a fat camp (or as she put it: “It’s a fucking fit camp”) so the plan was to meet up in Bangkok for a few days before we left for a week in Cambodia followed by ten days island-whoring off the west coast of Thailand. As is customary for any sort of Dingwall-organised activity, it all went to shit on day one when I arrived at my hotel expecting her to be there waiting for me like an excited, dribbling puppy. Instead I received this phone call:
“Hey, it’s Lisa. I’m still in Hua Hin, I had prawns last night and just shat all over the bath mat. I won’t make it to Bangkok until tomorrow.”
Luckily it was pretty late and after nineteen hours of travelling I was feeling decidedly sticky so all I had the energy for was a shower before I K.O’d for the night. Lisa and her flaming butt-hole met me the next morning and after a bit of shopping we began planning which ping-pong show we were going to go see that night. Because that’s really why we’re all here isn’t it? What’s that? Temples? Can a temple shoot a dart at a balloon from its moist loins? No. Fuck your temples.
I was excited about this, Lisa had told me about one girl she had seen who was firing bananas out of her chonch and trying to catch them in her mouth but she was so shit at it, they just kept hitting her in the face. This was a pretty special mental picture and one that I wanted to witness for myself so we climbed into the nearest tuk-tuk with a high-five and an enthusiastic cry of “Let’s go see us some titties!”. We decided to go to Nana Plaza, “The World’s Largest Adult Playground” and see what it had to offer.
Upon entering the place (a courtyard surrounded by strip clubs) we were immediately accosted by a barmaid/prostitute who was determined to get us to drink in her bar. It was the only one without naked, borderline-adult females prancing around so we decided to have a drink there before going into one of the clubs to see a show. I ordered a jagerbomb because I needed to find my nerves. I was pretty terrified. All around us were western men pawing at depressed looking young girls. There was a lady-boy walking around in lingerie with one gravity-defying tit randomly hanging out of her bra and a bunch of creepy American guys playing Connect 4 with some prostitutes. Cheers guys, right in the childhood. I used to love that game, now it will forever be known to me as Connect Whore.
The barmaid came back over, this time with a friend, and both women started talking to us. They asked us where we were from, said they liked my lipstick and then began telling us how difficult their lives were what with the whole prostitute thing, their only other option being to starve to death in a remote village. My sometimes shocking naivety and overwhelming desire to talk to strangers meant that this was a bad place for me. I believed most of what they said and even felt sorry for them at times. Until this happened:
“It is so good to talk to woman as friend instead of man who want jiggy-jiggy all the time……unless you want more than friend? You and your sister together, I give you good price? You buy me drink first?”
What the fuck lady? So this whole relationship has been based on a twisted web of lies and deceit? You told me you liked my lipstick, I bet you say that to all the girls. Take your herpes and smashed-up vagina and get the hell out of my sight.
I needed a piss and to get away from these assholes quick so, being the caring sister I am, I left Lisa on her own and went in search of a bathroom….except the only toilet in the place was at the wrong end of a strip-club. I drew back a stained, worn, velvet curtain and tried my best not to let my eyes adjust to the darkness. Didn’t work. There in front of me dancing on a stage were three topless girls in bright white underwear with the deadest eyes I have seen on an alive person, bearing more than a passing resemblance to that creepy fuck who climbs out of the TV in The Ring. Sitting facing them were three Arab men, all whiskey-lipped and rapey-eyed, staring holes through the girls whilst they gyrated unenthusiastically against a dirty wooden pole. I just thought of all the vaginal splinters and aids and wondered how the hell I was supposed to go pee without catching something terminal/being murder-raped. I got to the toilet and hovered above it until my thighs were trembling (about 5 seconds. I have no muscle tone), managing by a matter of millimetres not to piss all over myself. I drip-dried because of course there was no toilet paper and got the fuck out of there. Lisa was still getting propositioned when I got back so I just looked at her with Shrek Puss-in-Boots eyes and said “Can we go to a normal bar now?”
And so, 40 minutes after we arrived, we left that terrible place a pair of failures. I, more than anyone, wanted to regale you with tales of banana-induced black eyes and cigar-puffing uteri but it turns out the reality of these awful shows were just too difficult for me to stomach, and for that I am deeply sorry.
Next stop, Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh smells of burnt matches and eucalyptus with just enough B.O. thrown in to be noticeable but not offensive. After a day of sightseeing in the capital we headed north to Siem Reap, a city which is home to the most ridiculously beautiful temples you will ever see (yes, Nana Plaza made me change my mind about temples. Marginally less paedophiles for a start). We got ourselves the cutest, chubbiest little tour guide – think the Wilderness Explorer kid from ‘Up’ – and set off to the Angkor Wat Temple at 5.30am for the sunrise. It was worth it, looked like this:
For the next couple of days we mostly partied in Siem Reap’s premier night-spot ‘Pub Street’, a 90’s throwback area of town with graffiti covered grunge bars, awesome old skater tunes blaring out onto the street and super friendly locals serving you every cocktail you can imagine (one of whom used to work on the rigs in the North Sea….aka free shots for Jillian!). I could have stayed forever, I really loved it, but sadly our time there had to come to an end so we flew back to Phnom Penh before enduring a three hour white-knuckle taxi ride to Sihanoukville, a relatively isolated backpacker’s beach resort on the South West coast of Cambodia.
I was looking forward to this place. I had visions of arty, bearded, beautiful, bare-footed men playing beat up guitars and feeding me bullshit about how they had come here to find themselves. In this vision of mine I would believe said bullshit, fall temporarily in love with one of them and we would spend the next three days having red-hot sex by candlelight, perspiring in a thatched beach-hut perched on unblemished white sand, only stopping to drink beer, eat phad thai and skinny dip in the shimmering turquoise ocean (ideally an ocean that contained no seaweed or things that could kill you).
I was mistaken. Turns out “backpackers” is now a catchment term for any dickhead who is on holiday. Sihanoukville is full of these cunts:
It was horrendous. No one there was over the age of around 23 or had any idea how to survive in the real world. Even the beards were below par. They were the hipster kind, the ones that are trimmed so short that there is zero chance of getting any food stuck in there and is usually set off with a pair of oversized sunglasses despite the fact that the sun went down five fucking hours ago. It wasn’t looking good for us but we had to make the best of a bad situation so we joined an organised pub crawl….for children apparently. Lisa and I felt like lepers and no amount of vodka redbull buckets would help this. The place was an unashamed meat market, inebriated teenagers everywhere trying their hardest to either impale or be impaled. Just as we were about to give up and leave, however, one of the guys from the pub crawl came over and actually started a conversation. Disappointingly he was a 20 year old overly-muscular, waxed, tanned, vest-wearing, guido fucktard from Ipswich who could barely string a sentence together, but at least someone was talking to us. Unfortunately, after only being in his company for about 10 minutes he came out with this little gem:
Guido: “Hey, can I like, you know, come back to your hotel room babe?”
Me: “Uhmm…….no, that’s weird.” (Secretly smug. Thinking I’ve still got it, foolish youths still want a slice of this nubile pie)
Guido: “Sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as a creep, it’s just…well…I’ve always wanted to try a cougar.”
A cougar??? I’m fucking 33 years old! A childless, unmarried, free spirit of eternal youth, you chlamidia-ridden sack of mental illness.
We left, and I put two layers of Lancome Vissionaire on my face before going to bed that night.
The next day we decided that we would head to a different beach to avoid the throbbing masses of gap-yahs and guidos and managed to find one that was a bit more suited to a pair of rancid old dried-up cougars. We spent the day sunbathing (or in my case shade-bathing, drenched in factor 50, sweat pouring down my beetroot face), eating banana crepes, smoking menthol cigarettes and drinking iced tea. We watched the sun set whilst infatuated couples walked hand in hand along the beach with their love all up in our faces and for the first time since leaving Aberdeen, it almost made me want a boyfriend. I will admit that I did get a bit philosophical about my future for a minute there on that beach, but it was short-lived. I soon composed myself and convinced Lisa to go to an open-mic night of poetry in one of the rock bars nearby. She was sceptical having never been to one before but I knew from experience that these can either be terrible cringe-inducing affairs or really quite impressive. Either way you’re going to have a good night.
We turned up at Santino’s Rock Bar where a young (and very brave) Canadian girl was standing alone on stage reciting profound yet amusing poems about childhood, adulthood, how life is yours to live how you choose and fuck what anyone else says. I liked it, it felt fitting to my relatively new-found circumstances. After she was finished, an older Canadian gentleman with a braided beard and long grey hair took to the stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from such an eccentric figure but what came out of his mouth was as hilarious as it was unpredictable. One of his poems was about his younger years in which he would give girls crack in exchange for sexual favours. “Air-tight” and “skull-fucking” are only two of the multitude of phrases I can remember from that performance. After he was done, I did my usual thing and annoyed the complete stranger for copies of a couple of his poems so I could share them with you (couldn’t get my hands on the skull-fucking one though, soz):
Surgically Altered Self Fulfilling Prophecy
It started with falsies and a hair dye
When she was 12
And she hasn’t been true to herself since
3 breast enlargements
Excessive amounts of nips and tucks
A brutal physical exercise routine
Never feeling quite good enough
But by now
Nothing can hide the age
And the only benefit I have found
After all these surgeries
Is she gives great gummers
But never swallows
Not quite good enough
Things to do at a Hostel or Guest House
Watch the parrot play with the pen
Shower, wash your shirts
Because they don’t get dirty
Just yucky and stiff
Pick a banana
Watch it ripen
Then eat it
Disassemble your hairbrush
And put it back together
Remove the sleeves of a shirt
Stitch by stitch
Instead of just cutting them off
Make a pipe from a papaya stem
Make a grasshopper from a papaya leaf
Watch the tide roll in
Watch the tide roll out
Go for a swim in the ocean
Peel and split a coconut
Drink the milk
Put a chunk of coconut on the ground
Watch the ants eat it
(That’ll take a week or two)
Wear the remains as a pendant
Number and mark your beers
Before putting them in the fridge
See if there is a beer thief
Or you just get too drunk and forget
Try to figure out who is fucking whom
If any at all
Fill the newbies in on the scene
Pick up after someone
But don’t do their dishes
Sharpen the kitchen knives
And be a hero to everyone
If you are bored
You have found the limits
Of your imagination
What a guy! We ended up having a brilliant night that ended with us sitting in a tree-house bar watching a Thai reggae band – and just like that we had salvaged our trip to Sihanoukville. Just in time too, the next day we were heading back to Thailand.
After a long-ass day of travelling we finally arrived at our modest beach bungalow on Phi Phi island. I had been warned about this place. People who had been there had said that I wouldn’t like it, it was full of tourists and tacky beach parties. I wasn’t so sure, we had been having a pretty subdued time up until that point and I was ready for some shameless touristy fun. At the weekend we headed to a fire show at one of the beach parties where I discovered that no matter how hideous the man, take his shirt off and make him throw bits of fire around and I will instantly want him on me.
They had a limbo competition too, the rules of which were simple: girls do it topless for a free bucket of drink, guys must do it naked. A total chubster decided he would go naked for a free shot but unfortunately for us he approached the limbo thing from the wrong side meaning that all his junk in all it’s magnificent, wrinkly, dangly glory was right there in our faces. I felt like we deserved the free bucket. The music they were playing was out of this world; dance tunes from years ago that you loved but had forgotten even existed. Needless to say I got suitably smashed and thought that getting involved with a fire hoop would be a great idea. I thought I was pretty heroic, successfully managing to run through the flames unscathed…until I woke up the next morning to find the back of my leg stuck to my sheets. I still have the scar but I quite like it, it reminds me of one of the best nights of that trip.
The next day we headed to the harbour colossally hungover for an overnight boat trip to Maya Beach, the place where the movie The Beach was filmed. Thankfully everyone on the boat was also hanging out of their arseholes so we didn’t have to engage in too much conversation. When we arrived the sun was just beginning to set, and being on the only tour to offer an overnight trip meant that our small group had the whole place entirely to ourselves. Facing out onto an unbelievably beautiful bay, we all lay around on the sand in a little semi-circle whilst our guide brought out his guitar and prepared to provide us with some tunes to accompany this breathtaking backdrop.
All around us were couples lying in each other’s arms, the air was still, the sea was washing softly over the sand whilst the sun set over the violet horizon. It was the most romantic moment I have ever experienced. The guitar started up and just as a tear was about to plop out of my eyeball, our guide (whose English wasn’t very good) started to sing that sentimental classic “Fuck you, you ho, I don’t want you back.” I’m not kidding, he couldn’t even sing either. He was screeching it at the top of his lungs, completely oblivious to what the lyrics meant. Lisa and I were absolutely destroyed, we laughed way too hard for way too long. He was going “Cam on guys! You know dees one right? Seeng along!!!” Oh, and we did.
After he was done, and with that ice-breaker on the beach having turned out to be more of an ice-obliteration, we headed into the trees for a BBQ with our new friends. I forced down a vodka redbull bucket but was still not feeling too hot so I was a little relieved when it was time to row back to our boat where we were sleeping for the night. When we got back on board, our guide (who was now not surprisingly my hero) suggested we go swimming in the deep, jet-black, terrifying, monster-infested sea. I was not up for this. I decided to stay on the boat instead and watch as a crazy German guy from the group jumped off the side.
What happened next I did not expect. In this part of Phi Phi there are little plankton swimming around that light up when they are disturbed so when he jumped in, the sea lit up all around him like he was swimming in thousands of tiny little diamonds. It was like something out of mother fucking Avatar!! I was beside myself and jumped straight in after him. We all splashed around in there for as long as we could, the thoughts of ravenous great white sharks and, more importantly, any hint of a hangover rapidly disappearing.
We got up the next day and sailed straight back to Phi Phi harbour where Lisa and I were catching a boat to Koh Lanta, an island to the East of Phi Phi. This was the last stop before I headed home and after all the excitement of the trip so far, the plan here was to do as little as humanly possible for the last three days. We stuck to the plan faithfully, so much so that it’s given me fuck all to write about but it was awesome. We ate, drank, swam, turned up at a dog shelter and walked some dogs, had massages and slept in pretty fancy bungalows.
When the time came for me to fly home I was well-rested and more than satisfied that I had made the most of my time in these two top-notch countries. When I first booked this trip I was excited, I expected it to be similar to some of the other places I had visited (and loved) in that part of the world. But none of them were even close to Thailand and Cambodia where the scenery is so ridiculously stunning I felt as though I had been transported into an Elder Scrolls video game. The people there are so genuinely happy too, even the ones who have nothing, a quality that no doubt has a foundation in the Buddhism they practice – a beautiful philosophy that makes all of our religious fighting and flagrant materialism an embarrassment.
When you’re out there you very quickly find yourself adopting romantic notions about living there forever. Who needs things right? All we need is love and $3 a day to eat phad thai! We could totally do it, why can’t we do it? Let’s do it! It’s like they have some sort of airport-sorcerer waiting at arrivals casting mind-fuck spells on you at passport control. But like most spontaneous and irresponsible ideas, those dreams disappeared almost as quickly as they arrived. Lisa headed back to her fit camp in Hua Hin for 2 more months where she lost a total of 3 stone and became a badass at Muay Thai. I went back to London with a revised set of priorities and a clearer idea of what the fuck I want to do with my immediate future.
And so my ‘Bucket-list of Singledom’ Quest is complete. I’m not sure which achievement I’ve unlocked, probably irreversible organ damage, but I’m excited for the next level. A level I shall call “I Should Probably Stop Fucking Around and Find Somewhere to Live.”