20 Days Offline?
You arrive in Tonsai under the cover of darkness by longboat.
Silhouettes of limestone tower over you. It's only until the following morning where you can marvel at the true stature of these formations.
Pictures don't do this place any fucking justice.
Breakfast runs from 7 to 10 am. So you sit, every morning, moments at a time, watching longboats move left and right across your postcard dream. You stay offline for a while. But are reluctantly obliged to reinstall messenger on your phone to firstly ensure your worrisome mother that yes, you are indeed alive and no, you will not being doing any illicit substances. Secondly, you contact a special someone you have started seeing, affectionately called 'Sweet Cheeks' - he has a great arse and you like it. Thirdly, fuck, looking for some beta on thecrag.com. A smiley face next to a route in the latest guidebook picked up from Basecamp Tonsai doesn't tell you shit. Neither does the topo or even looking at the rock. Your brain has also gone on holiday, just not the same one as you. Lastly, you accept an offer to study once again. Enrolling in some subjects to further confirm you're serious about this career shift into Psychology. HECS liability and all.
You meet new faces and run into a few familiar ones. Particularly mentionable: an ego-nut you met at Palm Beach last year when you had a moonboot protecting your broken ankle. The guy, it turns out, is not an ego nut. But admits he has an ego. You know the difference. You will either hate him or like him. Turns out to be the latter. One thing you do enjoy here is that your vulgar sense of humour is not wasted on the locals ( and the wayward Australian's you've met). You get a bunch of laughs from some boatmen as you take a selfie with 'Dick Island' on a day tour. Juxtaposing some inhabitants of Sydney's inner and northern suburbs. Try as you might to subdue your 'pleb-like' sense of humour... You are a woman yes. But not a 'lady'. You are the product of a 'lifer' and a blonde haired, blue eyed South African who likes jokes that involve sexual innuendo.
Climbing is full of sexual innuendo. So you have a field day. Every day.
Hiding away from people initially, drinking fresh ginger tea. Books are a commodity here. You devour one, exchange it for another and so on. Focusing on the tatty and over-read novels doesn't fail to give you. You smirk when you realise most books are written in English. Some in German and Japanese. No books are written in the perceived language of diplomacy here. Almost like the universe has read your brain, a frustrated Frenchman asks the Thai native that brews your ginger concoction if there are any books written in French. Nope.
The more you settle in, the more you read, climb and do whatever else you please. You think bouldering this year has diminished your endurance and head-space on a rope. But not your power. The Giardiasis you contract later takes care of that.
The two you climb with most in Tonsai have no signs of egotism. Good. So you ask them where in Australia they live. NW from Melbourne and TK from The Sunshine Coast. You're pleased that neither of them is from Sydney. Fuck you hate that place. You need to shift that mentality at some point. In your own bloody time. Two weeks in you feel quite weak and the constant projecting on The Tiger Queen (7b) leaves you fatigued. You don't send your project. You are okay with that. You know it's not going anywhere.
So you climb and socialise, but mainly enjoy your own company. Staying clear of the Sunset Bar. The netted rope lounge on the second floor will trap you, if you let it. Socialising exhausts you to the point where you have to retreat to your room or the coffee shack. You discover the name of the pet cat at the shack is 'Bing'. She gave birth to kittens recently. You are turning into a crazy cat woman and you don't mind it. Really.
One evening a traveling climber blatantly solicits you for 'intimate company'. Your abrupt and even more blatant response shocks him a little. You are happy with the dick that's waiting for you at home. Soon Sweet Cheeks. Soon. You discover Pornhub is blocked by the Thai government. Tumblr becomes one of the most used apps on your phone.
On your days off when you don't feel like pulling your arse up limestone, you venture to neighbouring Railey West. You think Railey is good for a few things: Sneaky perves at luscious ladies, ATMs and avoiding men who want someone to ride their dick. Well-trodden paths in the slice of jungle separate the two worlds. Railey with its idealised, westernised concept of luxury tourism versus Tonsai's poorly mixed climbing and pseudo-Rastafarianism. Both sides are conventional.
Towards the end of your time in Tonsai, you meet a young San Franciscan who works at a start-up and prefers crack and trad climbing. CR has no agenda with you. He has his own Sweet Cheeks back at home and is a self-confessed egomaniac loather. Naturally you get along well. You both talk climbing and philosophy after a completing Humanality (6b+).
One lunch after a morning of climbing, TK makes you chicken soup with the help of Naydee. She is running Chai's Pyramid Cafe while her brother is away. You both make a new friend...on Facebook. Even the people making your food and driving your boats are connected.
You've spent over 20 days without make-up. The last few days in Tonsai are hell. Giardiasis. You left Sydney 57kg and return 10kg lighter. But you are happy you are close to sending 25/7b.
Upon your return home you endeavour to get to Sweet Cheeks, and back to normal. Whatever that is.