At last! After a gruelling 40-hour, spine-bending journey, we have arrived in Koh Phangan. Leaving Dorset on the 28th, we travelled by train, tube, plane, tram, tuk-tuk, truck and ferry, to arrive early morning on the 30th.
Apart from a couple of sketchy connections, the voyage was unremarkable, apart from two disturbing events that bookended the trip.
The first occurred as we were finishing a beer in Heathrow airport; the waiter approached and, with a smirk and a swagger, opened his conversation with:
“So where are you guys flying to? Asia? I’m sure you’ll be fine. Heh heh.”
I wasn’t aware at the time that an Air Asia flight had gone missing (and later was found crashed); I thought he was making a joke about the Malaysian Airlines flight that disappeared a few months ago. Even then I was thinking: too soon mate?
But, reminiscent of a scene from Airplane!, all of the televisions in the airport we subsequently noticed were documenting the missing flight and the associated inherent panic.
So this barman was “winding up the customers” (his words) about 200 presumed-dead passengers having gone missing that day. “Too soon” doesn’t cover it, I’d wager. What a cosmic bell end.
Anyway, fast forward 33 hours, and we’re boarding a catamaran bound for Koh Tao at 3am local time. Not enough seats, so we have to sit on benches on the deck. All’s fine, until we start hitting some chop, and we notice the ferry company have an employee tasked solely with strategically handing out sick bags and tissue.
I have never known a more miserable boat journey in all my life. With the boat rolling and tumbling over the jet black waves, coupled with the lack of a visible horizon, and the ominous presence of the sick-bag man, suddenly we were surrounded by stern-faced westerners throwing up all over the place.
This period of persistent puking went on for TWO HOURS. Swarana had to plug into the iPod just to obfuscate the sound of one particularly enthusiastic man retching his guts every six seconds.
But to cap it all, to really put the cherry on the puddle of puke, a middle-aged man emerged from the “VIP room”, rushed to the side of the boat and heaved his innards into the headwinds. Physics happened, ladies and gentlemen; the unfortunate souls at the back of the boat were summarily sprayed with a torrent of vomit. Screams of horror rippled from behind us.
Thankfully, we’re here now, blessedly devoid of anyone’s bile.
We met our friend Jackie en route, we’ve checked in, we’ve had something to eat, we’ve taken in the spectacular view from our hotel as we uncurl our vertebrae, and now we’re waiting for our other friends Gary and Carmella.
I anticipate similar tales of nautical woe when they arrive…
By the way, I don’t intend for this to become a chronicle of awful things. I will describe good stuff as well, I promise. It won’t all be about death and sick.
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