Fortunately for us, the guest house seemed better when we woke up. After a filling breakfast, we cast a critical eye over it, and tried to see if our friends would like it. In the end, we decided that with a few finishing touches, and a couple of sneaky tricks, it would be okay – but we were still worried. The Florist’s owner was being very helpful, because he risked losing his two most expensive rooms at a time when business was looking quiet – the fan-cooled bungalows only rent for 400 Baht a night, and our room plus Peter and Caroline’s suite combined comes to over 4,000 Baht a night. There was a bomb-blast on the mainland at the weekend that had worried all of the hoteliers here on the island (some Malaysian tourists were injured, and the Malaysian government has warned their tourists to beware). Although the news of that hasn’t featured internationally, there is a real risk that the continuing violence in the Southern provinces of Thailand could create a Bali-type effect for Thailand’s tourist industry – an impact that Bali still hasn’t recovered from.
By mid-afternoon, the hotel was decked with flowers, and Peter and Caroline’s suite was looking just like the photos, after the most amazingly intensive spring clean. We’d also decided that instead of coming in through the crumbling garage, we’d walk them the 20 metres along the beach when they arrived – a much better first impression.
By the time we met their flight at 10pm, we were feeling much happier about the guest house (who knows, perhaps after a night of bad sleep and a 6am start, and the experience in the taxi, we’d have been disappointed with whatever we’d seen yesterday) and it was absolutely great to see them stepping off the plane. We all travelled back to the guest house, the children all had a midnight swim, and then settled into bed. We sat on their balcony with a drink, overlooking the sea, with the breeze blowing through the palm trees and suddenly it all seemed okay!