I have my second tattoo (the first was taken when I accidentally stabbed myself with a pen last year on this same trip). This one is my “Samui Tattoo.” So it is called when you take a dive from your motorbike and take off a goodly portion of skin. Many people from the Thai island of Samui (Samuians?) will nod and show their own elbows, ankles or knees for a nasty scar. “Moto bi?” “Yes, motorbike. Sand.” “Ahhhh, yes yes yes. Sand. Vewy bad!” The Samui Tattoo also doubles as a weight-loss program: all pain, no gain. Shylock’s pound of flesh plan.
The roads in Samui are dangerous because parts of them are decent. So you get lulled into a good stretch of pavement and suddenly the shoulder is gone or the sand which washes down from the hills during big rains, spreads over the road edges. When this happens on a curve and it spreads into the lane in a not-so-easily-seen scattering on white concrete, you can have a problem. Thankfully I had no passenger, I wore a helmet, and it was not on the highway (50+ m.p.h.!), and no cars were behind or in front of me. I went into a turn at about 15-20 and just as I was leaning a bit to cut the corner, I saw the grains and tiny stones spread over the surface. I went down hard on my right side fully stretched out like Superman in flight and slid onto the shoulder of the road.
Needless to say this screwed up my work schedule. I cleaned the wounds with some help from the hotel staff and applied bandages, alcohol and iodine frequently until I felt presentable enough (a day or so later) and then headed out to hotels for long days of playing catch up. Scooter travel was slow as I found myself slowing down A LOT for even the slightest hint of questionable road surface. I pulled out my pen to start writing and saw that the side of it was worn down with deep gouges. I had landed on it in my hip pocket and undoubtedly it had saved a great amount of wear and tear on me. I must dispatch a thank you to Ocean Club Resorts for a very thick metal pen!
At the airport I saw another traveler who appeared to have been going much faster and rather than just sliding, he had clearly done a bit of rolling. He was shirtless at the gate (where else is this possible but Thailand?) He was just COVERED with huge raspberry patches and had a weird harness on like a backpack without the pack part. I gave him the fellow dude lift-of-the-chin acknowledgement and said “Samui tattoo?” “Yep.” “How fast?” “I dunno. Too fast I guess.” “Sand?” “Yep.” “Any broken bones?” “Collar bone.” “Ouch, man.” I watched him wince into a chair at the airport as we both waited to ship out to Bangkok. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of melancholy, that sad sigh of departure, as if I was leaving a little piece of me on Koh Samui.
(*I estimate about 24 square inches, in fact.)