Ade & Jo’s epic holiday tour of Thailand PT 4
Just like almost every day on this trip, I awoke early… Jo lay sleeping beside me as I looked out into the darkness, even with the patio doors shut I could hear the waves crashing against the shore, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy the rest of the day, I tried to take my mind off the upcoming boat trip by reading through Twitter and playing some online solitaire… But to no avail, the trip by boat to Koh Tao was unavoidable and my hopes of good weather, by the sounds of things had been dashed.
Jo woke up and we finished packing our case, I stepped outside to get some air to find the two black cats “Lolly” and “Blep” curled up, asleep on the chairs by the pool, they awoke as I walked past, both of them meowing quietly to me, I sat down and stroked them, I’m going to miss these two, now I have more things to dread… The boat ride AND saying goodbye to these little cats.
We went for breakfast, looking out over the sea I swear it seemed to be getting rougher as each minute passed… I know I wasn’t the greatest of company, I just wanted to ditch Koh Tao… I wanted to go anywhere that did not involve getting on a boat.
After breakfast, we returned to the villa to find that “Blep” had wandered off somewhere, only “Lolly” remained at the villa… He enjoyed some cuddles with me and Jo, we gave him some food and said our goodbyes… As we left the villa I worried about what would happen to them, would the next people at the villa treat them well? Would they be loved as we had loved them? We got to the reception area and Jo paid our bill, she mentioned the cats at our villa and a girl at reception said “The black ones?” with a huge smile on her face, at this point, I knew the cats would be ok… The girls at the reception loved them too and would look after them… I hope we will come back here to “The Peace Resort” in the future and I hope we’ll get to see “lolly” and “Blep” again someday.
The minibus ride to the ferry port was short… I sat quietly trying to ready myself for what was about to happen, I’ve struggled with motion sickness all of my life… I get sick in cars (thankfully not as bad or as often as I used to) I can’t play certain video games because they make me sick, amazingly I don’t get sick on planes (thank God)… But boats are my Kryptonite.
On calm water, with a boat making steady progress I (thankfully) am not too bad… I feel a little queasy, but after getting off the boat and walking for a few minutes, I feel fine… However, in less calm waters it takes me hours to shake off the feeling of being sick… And (worst case scenario) if the boat comes to a stop on the water? Nausea hits me like a train and I’m in all kinds of trouble… Whenever it’s unavoidable and I HAVE to get on a boat I have a fear that the boat will stop, the engine will die… Something will happen to make the boat sit in the water with me left feeling sick as the boat bobs around in the waves… every change in engine sound puts me on edge…Oh I hate boats!
We arrived at the pier and walked down to where the boats were, one boat had a man pumping fuel into it, we looked at him, he looked at us… “BIG WAVES TODAY!” he laughed.”Oh shit” I thought.
More and more people appeared at the pier… A European couple and their spoilt child walked around… The kid would walk somewhere, they would try to guide him away, he would scream, they would let him do whatever he wanted… An Asian couple turned up, a beautiful young girl and her angry-looking boyfriend, carrying lots of camera equipment with him “Youtubers” Jo said… At this point, I realised I recognised the girl…” I’m sure we’ve watched one of their videos on Youtube” … Looking at the angry-looking camera holder I was convinced… I’m sure I’d watched at least one of his videos.
An Indian looking bloke turned up with a much taller European looking man… Jo immediately took a dislike to them simply because one of them was wearing “Boat shoes”…
An Asian woman walked to the end of the pier holding her mobile phone above her head, we guessed she was filming a video… At the end of the pier, she lay down and performed various poses… Bloody Instagrammers.
All too soon it was time to get on the boat, we found a seat near the middle of the boat, I took some deep breaths and looked out of the window as the boat rocked back and forth… the “Boat shoes” people sat in the seat in front of us… The Indian looking man turned around and said “Jo?” It turned out he works in the same office as Jo… What followed was an awkward conversation where I just knew Jo was thinking “please don’t guide this conversation to a point where I have to reveal I actually have no idea who you are”.
The boat crew told us all to put on our lifejackets and the boat moved away from the pier.
The water was a little rough, but, with controlled breathing and constantly looking out of the window I was doing pretty well.
After about half an hour the boat pulled up to another pier on the Island of Koh Phangan the crew told us we would be there for about 15 minutes, thankfully they let us walk around on the pier to get some air… Sitting on the boat for 15 minutes would have surely made me vomit.
The 15 minute wait turned out to be a 30 minute wait, a woman working at the pier told us the sea was quite rough… Foolishly I didn’t worry too much after all the water had been rough for the first part of the journey and I had been fine.
I spent the time watching an eagle fly around above the pier.. Angry looking Youtube man walked around looking angry… Maybe he just has one of those faces.
After a while, we all got back on the boat, the crew told people that if they needed to use the toilet they needed to use it now as when we get out to sea it would be too dangerous… Then they pointed out small plastic bags attached to the seats “If you feel sick use the bag” they said… At this point I’m feeling quite tense… “ “The waves are big” they said… Hold on… Were they not big before?!?!?!
The boat pulled away from the pier and headed out to sea.
Twenty minutes in, and the water feels a little rougher… Nothing too bad… It’s manageable…. I suck on a lollipop and carry on with the journey… And then it happens. The boat engine stops. The crew rushed around… I looked at Jo panicked… A crew member said something but in my panic, I didn’t catch what he said…” They had to stop the engine, some rubbish got wrapped up” the boat rocked from side to side… I looked out of the window trying to keep an eye on the horizon, I was breathing heavily… Thankfully after a few minutes the engine roared into life and the boat continued forward… a short time later we hit the first of the “Big waves”… It felt as though the boat had been launched into the air… We crashed back down and water sprayed over the passengers… People grunted as the boat hit the water… I kept my eyes locked on the horizon… So far so good… The water was rough but I was keeping myself under control… The boat continued forward and then we encountered waves that made the previous “big” waves feel like “baby” waves… The boat rocked back and forth… The boat felt as if it was leaping out of the water… There were times when I couldn’t look out at the horizon because, quite simply, the horizon wasn’t there to look at… All I could see was a wall of angry looking water. The lollipop I had been sucking on, that had previously given me relief was now causing me to feel nauseous… In fact, everything I did made me feel nauseous… Jo turned to me and asked if I was ok… All I could do was grunt “no’’… The boat continued to rock… Water continued to splash down on everyone… The waves outside seemed to be getting bigger and angrier looking… Silently I was saying to myself “This is the worst thing I’ve ever done” over and over again… I felt sick… I wanted to be sick… I tried to drink some water but it just made me feel worse… I tried to think of anything but being sick… I caught glimpses of the horizon as we passed through huge waves… Every splash of water bought a brief sense of relief as the coldness sort of shocked me back into a state of normality…. I had taken some travel sickness medication earlier in the day and had taken a second tablet when I boarded the boat… It was at this point that a side effect of the medication kicked in… I started to fall asleep… I couldn’t keep my eyes open… But every time my eyes closed I was hit with a wave of nausea that shocked me back into being awake… It was hell.
Jo continued to try to help “it won’t be long” “You’re doing really well”… All were met with a grunt… I couldn’t communicate… One of the crew members said we would be at the pier by 4 PM… I glanced at my watch and it said 3:30 PM… Half an hour to go… The waves seemed to get even bigger… By now I was silently chanting “This isn’t safe” to myself… I felt my stomach convulse… I felt like I really needed to be sick but all I could think was “I don’t want to be the first to reach for a sick bag” The man in front of me was messing around with a sickbag trying to catch water in it… Every time the black bag came into my field of view my stomach convulsed as if it sensed the sick bag was near..
“The island is just there” Jo said… Glancing forward I could see the island of Koh Tao in the distance… It seemed so far away… I noticed my left leg had started to shake… I wasn’t sure why, it just wouldn’t stop shaking… My stomach was doing somersaults and with all this I was fighting to keep my eyes open… By now the boat was alternating between powering over waves and cutting power to avoid the bigger waves… All I could see was that the island of Koh Tao wasn’t getting any closer.. I was trying not to be sick… I just didn’t want to be the first… On top of the embarrassment of being the seasick farang I didn’t want the dishonour of being the first to grab a sick bag as well… As well as my leg shaking I’d now noticed my right hand had started to shake uncontrollably… I felt awful… It felt like the boat trip was never going to end… I was a mess… Thankfully the boat entered the port at Koh Tao… I was shaking… I just couldn’t stop it… The boat pulled up to the pier the passengers applauded and the crew began to remove all the bags “Wait here five minutes” they said… I felt I was at the point of no return… I was shaking and I was fighting to keep the contents of my stomach from removing themselves forcibly all over the boat… The final cases were removed and I stood up and made my way to exit… People seemed to sense I needed to get off the boat because they moved aside and let me leave.
In the fresh air I stood…My hand was shaking and I couldn’t control it… I felt sick, the world was spinning… Jo appeared and I grabbed one of our cases and headed away from the boat… Jo found a seat and I sat down… Still my hand wouldn’t stop shaking… The man who had been messing with a sickbag appeared and asked if I had water… I’m guessing I must have looked a bit rough… I said to Jo that I didn’t want to be the first to grab a sick bag… At this point she told me that lots of folks sat on the other side of the boat had been throwing up into bags about 15 minutes into the journey.
The driver from our hotel appeared… “He can wait” I growled… Jo asked how long the journey would be “ten minutes” was the reply… I stood up on shaking legs and made my way to the bus.
The bus actually wasn’t a bus… It was an open sided vehicle which, being as I was feeling so ill was actually perfect… The fresh air helped a lot… Well, it kept me from being sick anyway.
We got to the hotel and Jo checked us in… I sat on a chair wishing the world would stop spinning.
When we got to our room I crawled onto the bed and let the travel sickness medication drag me off to sleep.
I awoke and thankfully felt a lot better… I still felt a little nauseous but at least I could now function with at least some level of success… Jo had been to get some food while I slept and had enjoyed a beautiful sunset… I looked out at the view from our room and saw that Koh Tao is really beautiful… But I know that I would never put myself through a boat ride like that ever again, even to visit a place as beautiful as this.
We sat out on the beach as the last of the sunlight disappeared… I sat on a wooden swing, listening to the sea… When I slipped and fell flat on my arse on the sand.
If you have read my previous blogs (oh how I hate that word) you will know that I’ve had a bit of an issue with dogs ever since we were hassled by one in Hua Hin a while ago… In fact I will happily confirm that yours truly actually acquired a bit of a phobia, and has been scared of the four legged fuckers ever since.
Well… friends of ours and previous visitors to Koh Tao told us that there are a lot of dogs living on the beaches here… But they assured us that the dogs are friendly… So prior to coming here I sort of gave myself the challenge to tackle my fear and use these friendly dogs to try to beat my new found phobia.
As we sat on the beach a sandy coloured dog with a curly tail was running around playing with a small pug… The dogs approached, I initially tensed up… But then I petted the pug. If I were to grade breeds of dogs on a best to worst scale I have to say the pug is and will always be one of my least favourite breeds of dogs… Ugly little fuckers… But still I pettted it.. And… Did not die.
I knew I had to eat something so we walked up to the hotel restaurant… I could see a film was on TV as we approached… “They’re watching The Expendables” I said… What followed was a discussion on whether or not Jo had seen the Expendables… I then realised it was actually “The Expendables 3” we then had a brief chat about “If you had to introduce someone to a classic 80’s action movie, which one would it be” I was quite shocked at Jo’s negative response to my suggestion of the the Stallone and Kurt Russell film “Tango and Cash”… It’s a bloody classic love!
I ordered pizza and (despite deciding drinking would be a bad) idea a bottle of beer.
The Film ended and the channel changed a few times before settling on a strange Thai singing show… An angelic voice was singing “A part of your world” from The Little Mermaid in Thai… “It’s a boy singing!” Jo said quite excitedly at this point the TV changed channels.
I looked around to see who had the TV controller… Then I saw him. A man in an electric scooter/wheelchair thing… Holding the TV remote control… Thailand’s version of Brian Potter from Phoenix Nights (British comedy, if you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it) “Fucks sake I was enjoying that” We said… Thailand’s Brian Potter eventually settled on a video on Youtube playing shit Thai pop songs… He then sat looking at his phone… Fuck you Brian… Fuck you.
I managed to eat half of my pizza and drank my beer before we left… An early night for us… We both needed some sleep.
I awoke feeling much better. Thank God.
I walked out onto the beach and was greeted by a little sandy coloured dog (forever known as Sandy dog) he sat with me… He let me pet him… again, I did not die.
We (Me and Jo… Not Me and Sandy dog) went for breakfast before getting a taxi (well, sat in the back of a big black pick up truck) to visit another beach on the other side of the island.. We had planned to snorkel there but the water was just too rough… The beach was beautiful tho, and it was nice to sit and enjoy its beauty… I may or may not have gotten a little sunburned… Our taxi took us to another beach close to our hotel, this beach had more bars and restaurants open, we found a cool beachside place to drink and eat…
The view was stunning, the drinks were strong… The food was a bit hit and miss sadly, we relaxed for a while before heading back to our room, walking back from this beach we saw there were quite a few restaurants open, we planned to come back later for drinks and food… Walking back we met many dogs, each one was friendly and a lot of them got a bit of fuss from me and Jo.
We were greeted at our hotel by Sandy Dog, who sat with us for quite a while being given fuss and dog treats… He joined us later on to watch the sunset too.
After sunset we headed back toward the restaurants to get food and drinks, we found a cabaret bar which we think pre_COVID would have been a gay/drag bar… Now in COVID times it’s just a bar that serves drinks and food, the man serving drinks was friendly but the bar itself didn’t seem too inviting… For reasons I shall now attempt to explain.
There are things that I have experienced in Thailand that for various reasons “grate” on me… Little things that just end up winding me up… Instagrammers for one… Another of these things is the phenomena I have dubbed “The call of the drunken ladyboy”.
I have no issue whatsoever with ladyboys. I have had many a great night with Jo, sitting in bars drinking with and chatting to ladyboys, two of the staff of my favourite bar in Bangkok are ladyboys and both are great people… There is one thing tho… One of the staff at the bar does it… and one of the ladies at the bar we visited was doing it… It may be down to hormones mixed with the workings of the genetically male voice box mixed with alcohol but when some ladyboys get drunk they acquire a certain “voice” it’s a horrible sound… Think voice mixed with the honking sound a goose makes… It’s only when they are drunk… all other times the voice is fine… But as soon as they have had too much to drink… It’s “Hoooooonk!” I bloody hate it… SO as we were sitting in the bar enjoying our drink, one of the girls inside (a little worse for wear) was talking loudly with that sound… So… One drink and we buggered off.
We wandered off into the night and found ourselves in a bar drinking cocktails and eating a delicious steak… I found myself worrying about the boat ride back to the mainland and I have to admit I let it get the better of me… To be honest, I was being a bit of an arse… Eventually, I snapped out of it and we carried on with our night… We’ve both found it hard to drink over the past few nights… A few drinks and we’ve had enough… Odd.
We ended our night laying in bed watching TV… Rock N Roll.
At some point during the day someone explained to us that a lot of the dogs we see roaming around Koh Tao are dogs who did have owners… But the owners left the island and left the dogs to fend for themselves… Absolute bastards.
The islanders have taken it upon themselves to feed them… Thankfully.
The next day Jo wanted to visit Koh Nang Yuan Island… To get there we had to get a boat taxi, I wasn’t overly excited by the idea but, with it only being a 15 minute boat ride and with the water looking calmer I bit the bullet and agreed to go… Like I would have had a choice eh?
Our boat taxi arrived and we jumped in, the boat set off to the island and five minutes into the journey “SPOOOSH!” a loud noise and the engine died… Oh for fucks sake! Two boats have now stopped their engines while I’m stuck on the fucking boat… I was not a happy chappy.
A few minutes of messing with the engine and we were once again on our way to the island.
Before I continue I feel I must explain a few things about me…
One. I have a fear of heights.
Two. In my teens to early twenties I would have a recurring nightmare where I would be walking on a narrow platform VERY high up… It was a crappy dream and I would have it on a regular basis (really must look up what it means)
So we got to the island… First, we have to get off our wobbly boat onto ANOTHER wobbly boat, then onto ANOTHER wobbly boat before we get to the pier… This does nothing for my nerves OR my mood… Then we have to walk on a platform made of wood… A (for someone who has a fear of heights) rather high platform… Within minutes I was in panic mode… By the time we had gotten off the platform and were on the beach I had clenched my fist so hard I had dug holes in my palms with my fingernails.
I said to Jo quite clearly “You’ve put me on a boat, you’ve made me walk on a platform, you know I’m afraid of heights… If you want a divorce just come out and tell me… There’s no need to drop these not so subtle hints.”
It turns out she doesn’t want a divorce.
We sat on the sand taking in the view… The island was quite busy… People were swimming, girls were posing for pictures… The island was stunning.
We found a place on the sand, I guarded our stuff while Jo went out into the water to explore…
After a short while she emerged from the water and told me I had to go in and see the fish… So I put on my snorkel and went exploring.
I’m not the strongest swimmer… But I do enjoy being in the water… Here, on this island, it was a magical experience… I was surrounded by fish of all shapes and sizes… It was amazing… As I say, I’m not a very swimmer… I’m also not very good at getting the GoPro to film either.
After a while we headed back to our taxi boat, an uneventful boat ride back and we were back at our hotel… Greeted, once again by Sandy dog.
We showered then headed out to get some lunch, we ate at a waterside place then went to book our ferry tickets back to the mainland.
I have no intention of going back the way we came so we will be getting a ferry to Chumpon before jumping on a train back to Bangkok… The person at the ferry stop told us the water will be much calmer as the storm we experienced has now passed… Thank fuck for that!
After lunch Jo went for a massage and I tried to have an afternoon nap…
My nap didn’t quite work out and Jo’s massage wasn’t as relaxing as it could have been as the lady giving the massage (after finding Jo could speak a little Thai) talked her ear off for the entire massage.
Jo returned and we (joined by Sandy dog) sat on the beach to watch the sunset.
For a place that is known for its beautiful sunsets, I have to say I’ve been a little underwhelmed by them… Yes, I know we’re just coming out of a storm… Yes, I know I can’t control the weather and yes I know I’m being a spoiled brat… However, the company of the dogs has been amazing… Sandy dog sat with us enjoying fuss (as he does) until in the distance we saw a man and two dogs approaching… Sandy got up and ran off… The man got closer, one dog was on a leash, the other dog was not… The two dogs were play fighting, having fun… As they passed us the unleashed dog decided it wanted to come and say hello.
At first I thought the dog was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier… But a bloody big one… He was gentle, he looked like it could kill a man with ease… But there was no aggression… No malice… Just a big giant teddy bear of a dog.
The man walked passed again and the dog left us to play with his friend… The dog ran for a while before turning back and coming back to us, He was a huge dog… Had he not been as friendly I would have been scared of him… Some of the other beach dogs appeared but this new dog didn’t seem to be “part of the gang” they seemed wary of him… Whenever the beach dogs came close to a human on the beach this big dog placed himself between the human and the dogs… He wasn’t aggressive, he just let the other dogs know he was there… I said to Jo that I think he had a master that he used to protect… Now he protects the beach… he ran over to me and licked my face, I was stroking him, cuddling him when the realisation hit me “Jo, I think he might be a pit bull” … Whatever he was, he was a huge specimen of a dog and a dog that desperately needs someone to love him… He followed us to our room, he sat outside with us having fuss and when we went inside he lay outside our room for ages… A lovely dog… As are all the dogs we’ve met on Koh Tao… Well… Almost… But I’ll get to that later.
Our night out didn’t quite go according to plan… We found a bar that was open that served cheap (well compared to other places) drinks… We went to a nearby restaurant for food which turned out to be underwhelming to say the least… While eating food, I noticed the bar we had been at was no longer playing crappy dance music, it was playing half decent hip hop… So we finished our food and went back to the bar… To discover it was closing at 9 PM… Ah well… Another early night for us then!
We went back to our room and ended up watching the first Christmas film of the year (for us)… Fred Claus… Rock N Roll.
I woke up and it was dark outside…I lay in the darkness (I do that a lot don’t I?) thinking about the boat ruip back to the mainland… I’m really looking forward to putting that behind me.
Jo had booked to go scuba diving, so after breakfast she got her things ready and we headed off to the scuba diving centre… She was nervous but looking forward to it… Me? I was just nervous.
I spent the day in our room typing… At some point I got a message from Jo saying she was
passing by on a boat… So (as any dutiful husband would) I went out and took her photograph as she passed by before returning to writing.
I’ve no idea how long I had been writing when I got another message saying she had done her first dive… I’m proud of her… I couldn’t do it… Jaws scared me too much as a kid.
After a while Jo messaged me again telling me she was on the boat and it was near our hotel so I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed out to the beach.
Jo’s boat came into view and I spent a while zooming in with my camera hoping to get a decent shot of her jumping into the water… The zoom on my camera is quite good so I managed to get a few pictures of her walking around on the boat… But still I waited for the elusive “dive” shot… As I sat on the beach I noticed a girl walking toward me with a dog walking beside her… I paid her no attention and concentrated on getting my camera to focus on Jo… Suddenly the dog was barking at me… His fur was standing on end and the fucker was barking at me… My heart began to race… What do I do? Do I walk away? Do I ignore it? The dog moved to my side… I could see him out of the corner of my eye… He was still barking… I concentrated on my camera… Suddenly he stopped and walked off… Thank fuck for that… In the distance, I saw Jo walk toward the side of the boat in all of her scuba gear… I readied the camera for the shot… This will be worth braving a barking dog I thought…As she walked to the other side of the boat and jumped off out of my view… Shit!
Jo’s diving adventure came to an end and I walked to the diving place to meet her… As she returned to shore I waited on the beach petting the dog from the diving school… Jo had a good time, and I’m sure she’ll be eager to do it again… She told me all about the dive as walked to a restaurant for some food… It was a place we ate at earlier in the week… being a creature of habit and the fact I enjoyed it so much last time, I ordered the same meal.
Food can be hit and miss in this town… Today it was miss… So “Miss’’ in fact that I left the meal uneaten on the plate.
Sandy dog joined us for the sunset in the evening… Our last sunset on Koh Tao… We begin our journey back to Bangkok tomorrow… We’re about to get ready for our last night Koh Tao… Tomorrow I’ll be on a boat again… Oh fuck.