Alex James: The Great Escape

I'm the new lady boy of Koh Samui
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The Independent Online

I've been thinking about the lettuces in our garden. I'd like a nibble on one of those, or maybe a crunchy, twangy little tomato. I don't feel weak or odd or anything. I'm abstaining from food to clean out all the stuff that has accumulated in my colon over the years, and which is clogging everything up. Without going into any detail whatsoever, let me tell you it's been worth it. It's unbelievable. I'm going to carry it on for another couple of days.

We're going to go diving. I've been learning the skills in a swimming pool with a dude called Andy. Diving is a perfect holiday activity. It requires just the right amount of effort. There's a fair bit of information to digest, but it's all pretty interesting from a benign, curious holidaymaker point of view. We watched videos of people bobbing about and having emergencies. Then there was one about all the gear; hoses, valves, depth gauges and so on. There was a no-brainer test after each one.

By the time I had everything strapped on, I knew I was going to love it. There are all these buttons and gadgets. As you snap the buckles together, you don a different identity. It's a whole new spaceman thing.

We're on Koh Samui. It's got a Boots and a pub called Tropical Murphy's. There are waterfalls and elephants and monkeys, but nothing can compete with the pampering. You can have every conceivable part of your body massaged, manipulated, plucked, purged and purified. Throw in weight loss and you've got a boom industry. Buildings are going up everywhere.

This whole place is one big beauty parlour. You can't escape. Sit on the beach, and there's an old woman grabbing your feet and painting your toenails. I've had mine done gold. But I'll try anything once. The only thing I've resisted is the yoga. The "teachers" are so expensive. Everything else is really cheap. It's almost free, basically - except yoga, which is at London prices. And it's bad enough in London, where yoga lessons cost five times as much as piano lessons. It's preposterous.

Instead, I've been contenting myself by having yogurt rubbed into my face. I'm not sure if it worked, but it smelt nice. And I had the top-of-the-range three-hour massage. It's the works; you get absolutely kneaded, from head to toe. But it was a bit like eating too much ice cream. Too long, really. I've been sticking to the one-hour treatments since then. I am, I think, being turned into a lady by this vast machine.

alexjames@independent.co.uk

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