Are You A Free Bird?

Toupou(1)

I’ve met a lot of creepy guys in Asia and most of them are not worth mentioning. But there was one who particularly stood out – I guess because he was the only one who truly made me feel uneasy.

I met him out the front of my hostel the night following St Patrick’s Day; it was close to midnight and we were both sitting in beach chairs, waiting for the loud music to end. Several times I caught him staring at me and although I pretended to be absorbed in my phone, it wasn’t long before he struck up a conversation.

He was Polish and had arrived on the island that day. Sensing his sleaziness, I was initially standoffish but I began to take an interest in what he was saying when he told me he had swum in phosphorescent plankton earlier that night.

He offered to take me to the spot and I agreed, thinking Eli who was standing in the distance would surely want to come. I beckoned him over but he was on the phone and shook his head.

I should have turned down the Polish guy at this point but because he’d told me that the spot was nearby, I decided not to say anything. We started walking.

As soon as we passed the strip, we were plunged into darkness and the Polish guy suggested sitting down to enjoy the stars. I guess I should have realised that it was stupid of me to venture to a semi-secluded spot with a guy I had just met but I was more annoyed than anything else; it was all I could do to not to roll my eyes at how cheesy he was. Trying to keep the impatience out of my voice, I suggested we continue walking.

It wasn’t until we had walked the length of the beach and were standing at the head of a dirt path which led into the forest that I began to feel scared. I had assumed that the spot he had spoken of would be around here. My first impression of him was that he seemed harmless enough but now I wasn’t so sure. Once again, I asked him if we were nearly there and when he replied that it was, I felt I had no choice but to continue down the dirt path.

We followed the path to the other beach. Aside from some bungalows next to the forest, this beach was completely uninhabited.

To my immense relief, the Polish guy announced that we were here. Ignoring his suggestions that we go for a swim, I stood ankle deep in the sea and watched the water light up as I moved my feet. I was glad I had come; now that I knew where it was, I could return the following night.

I was no longer scared but all the same, I didn’t want to spend any more time with him than what I had to. I thanked him for showing me the spot and we walked back to our hostel.

The loud music was still playing when we returned so we sat out the front again. By now I was even more bored with his company but with nothing else to do, I pretended to listen to him and half-heartedly answered his questions.

“Are you a free bird?” he asked, stroking my swallow tattoo. Whether this was intended as a genuine question or sexual innuendo I honestly couldn’t tell.

In any case, I figured it was as good a time as any to wrap up the conversation. Feigning sleepiness, I said goodnight and went to bed.

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