My phone beeped interrupting the peals of laughter enjoyed with my best friend Bec.
I had bumped into her on my walk along the beach and we sat at the park’s edge catching up over coffee as our children played together.
Our conversation, as it does with most women- especially after childbirth- turned to weight gain and weight loss.
“Mate, you just need to get back to your pink tent at the Last Bar.”
Bec giggled, “I wish. I’d never lost weight like that before.”
“I’ll never forget you stepping out of that tent after days being trapped in their as sick as a dog. I was like “What the hell? Where has Bec gone? The weight had just stripped off you.”
Bec was sick. Thai sick. Too much full-moon partying. We had arrived in Railay’s Beach for what ended up being one of my most memorable travel moments ever.
Bec remained suffocating in our pink tent missing all the fun.
I’d race back from rock climbing, phosphorescence night-time hunting, drinks and parties with my new found friends to beg her to drink water and crawl out of the stench pit that reeked of decay.
Eventually we moved her into one of the ramshackle wooden huts, kilos lighter.
The Last Bar was “all class.”
We reminisced about the place that stole our hearts even though it was falling down around us.
“What about how we sent Woody and the gang there?”
That set off another peal of laughter.
My beeping phone begged me to read the latest message.
“I’m on my way down. Be there tomorrow. Can’t wait to see you.”
“Speak of the devil, it’s Woody.”
I texted back. Bec and I were just talking about you. We were cracking up about the Last Bar- that joint was all class.
You guys were kidding yourselves! We walked forever to find that shit hole.
The last bar rocked- you don’t understand style.
We arrived home from Thailand after three years away. We raved to our friends about Railays Beach and The Last Bar. When a group of our friends decided to go there for a month’s “holiday” we told them The Last Bar was where it was at.
They walked from the beach where the long tail boat dropped them off and through the mangroves to get to the other end, excited about this other worldly experience they were going to have on the beach… in style.
We just had different ideas of style. After backpacking on a budget for a few months, a bed is just a bed, even if it is in a one man pink tent or a dilapidated building.
For a short term, break-from-work, three-week holiday something a little more resorty is possibly desired.
“I’ll never listen to you again Madge. See you tonight. Spewing you can’t bring the bad stick with you.” Her final text rang us out with more laughter
Madge was my London nickname. A stupid off-the-wall comment after a couple of day-clubbing pints which stuck and has remained for 15 years.
The bad stick…
The bad stick persisted in following us from bar to bar in London while we drank snakebites, downed Springbok shots, and laughed hysterically at life and moaned at certain other aspects of it.
The bad stick was our usual measure of just how messy the evening often ended up.
I wasn’t going to be carrying the bad stick to dinner tonight; I was carrying a newborn instead.
Woody was in town for the evening and a group of us were meeting up for dinner.
As always the conversations would turn to travel stories that we all shared together at some point. Laughter filling the room as we remembered our wild and crazy travel antics.
Kunta sat beside me at the restaurant. My brother’s best friend who practically grew up in my house. He helped show me around London on my first day in the thriving metropolis. We would party together in our London house for the next six months.
On coming home, he was the one that convinced me to give Craig the time of day.
“Madge. What are you doing? You’ve gone out with shit all your life. Guys who have treated you like crap, and here is Makes, a great guy who is keen on you. Don’t be an idiot Madge. He is a good guy. Go out and talk to him.”
The rest they say is history.
What would my life with these people have been like if we had not travelled? Even though we rarely see each other anymore, there is a thread that will always bind us together.
Travel, the unifying bond that can make strangers friends for life and old friends reunite once again. The bond strengthened by the fact that we experienced moments together filled with joy, exploration and freedom.
The good times.
The times we always want to talk about, the times we continue to bring back to life with silly phrases, old nicknames and stories.
I was sad to have to leave my friends as they continued partying and I went home with the kids.
As I pushed the pram outside Fols stopped me,
“Hey Caz, I was looking through our old Bali photos the other day. I meant to bring them down to show you. I have such a thick wad of them. They are a classic.”
Lizza was with him, another participant in that wild two weeks where we bungy jumped, pendulum swing, jet skied, paraglide and drank drank drank.
The memories came flooding back and we started laughing.
“I would so love to see them Greg. I don’t have mine any more.”
“Next time I’ll bring them down and we can all get together and make a night of it, reliving our youth.”
“Such fun days. Let’s do that.”
Ahh travel… It is always the thread that binds us.
What travel experiences have united friendships for you?
btw has anyone ever stayed at the Last Bar before and can back me up with how COOL it was??