Virtual meanderings

All good things come at a price – a boat ride to remember

It was 8’15 AM. The final minutes of my stay on Koh Phi Phi were flying away. I was at the water-taxi stop at Long Beach – waiting for the water taxi to take me to the main pier. The passenger boat to Phuket would leave at 9, and next I’d take a return flight to Bangkok. I was leaving Thailand. Early next morning me and Kara, the American I’d met in Bangkok, were to leave for Cambodia (Angkor Wat, here we come).

Robert, the German guy with whom we’d shared the bungalow for the last 4 days was leaving for another Thai island later today, soon followed by the French couple – Charles and Adeline.

During the boat ride to the island four days ago the weather had been great, the ocean – smooth and the boat ride – a pleasure. But today it was very cloudy since early morning and rain was falling on and off.  Still, the waters at the Long Beach looked innocent. The first hint that it might not be so came at 8:30 when instead of the water-taxi, a Thai guy showed up on foot and told us to pick our stuff and follow him back to the next bay. His claim – the waters were too bad for the water taxi to dock at Long Beach. I’d heard the same story a couple of times already – especially when boat drivers did not feel like going to Long Beach to deliver just a passenger or two – so I did not pay much attention. Cursing silently that if they just kept wasting our time like that the Phuket boat could leave without us, we oblidged and duly followed. We walked the path up the old tree with the stairs carved into its roots – with our heavy bags and stuff.

Up the tree we went

Up the tree we went

    Ten minutes later we got to the neighboring bay and loaded ourselves on the water taxi which brought us to the main pier about on time.  The main pier was in a big bay and despite the fact that the weather was steadily deteriorating, the bay waters seemed relatively calm.

The boat to Phuket was big – it had three passenger decks and could carry more than 250 passengers. This was reasurring. After all the bigger the boat, the better it handles rough weather. There were well over 100 people on board that morning. The boat departed from the pier at 9 AM as scheduled and headed onto the open waters.

I can only describe what followed as sheer horror.

Once we got out from the bay, the power of the storm hit full force. The boat was moving straight through an ocean of chaotic waves, two, three meters high and more.

In the open waters the boat was moving fast forward, constantly rocked by the waves coming from all sides. The worst was when the boat would go up a wave, overrun it and fall deep with a heavy dive – half submerged – and get slammed by the next wave at that very moment. The feeling was like the water mass would just overturn the ship.

Those first thirty minutes were the worst.

It kinda looked like this

It kinda looked like this


     During this boat ride my face was certainly the whitest it has ever been. I completely stopped caring whether I will make it on time for my plane – as long as we just made it. Rocking was so bad that I had to go throw up in the toilet. I surrendered all the food I’d eaten in the morning. Ten minutes later I had to go and throw up again. It was so bad, that I did not even think of taking pictures – for which I am sorry now. I should have made dozens, but I could not care less about it at that moment. Do you get it now?

The raging ocean photo I added above is fairly accurate, but the actual feeling was like getting one hour of this:

Ocean Storm

How 'bout 90 minutes of that, huh?


     And here are some news articles that I was able to dig up later about incidents with tourist boats during stormy weather in this particular area.

Full Moon Party Boat Accident – 2010
Six foreigners, Thai missing after boat sinks off Phuket – 2009
Tourist boat disaster: at least five killed – 2005

In fact it was Kara who suggested I look for news online. According to her, accidents  in stormy weather (not necessarily deadly)happened more often than people thought, but the reports were downplayed in the news to avoid scaring tourists off.  Now I learned one good reason why the high tourist season in Thailand starts around November, and not in the summer.

Phuket airport book corner

   After the unforgettable boat ride from Koh Phi Phi to Phuket, feeling relieved to be still around I checked in my luggage at Phuket Airport and moved to the departure hall. There was still time before the flight, so I went to the bookstore corner (what I normally do at any airport).

The bookstore featured plenty of literature about Thailand in English, German and French. Much of the stuff was what you would expect – travel guides and photo albums.

But there were also a disproportionate number of books (ok, who am I to judge whether it is disproportionate?) on Thai prison experiences as well as Thai women (dating, buying, selling – this is the feeling you get when you look at the titles and, sadly, inside the books).

No comment

Love entrepreneurs? So many girls, so little time? Hello my big big honey?

Phuket Airport Bookstore

Dead drunk! Bangkok Boy! My name Lon - You like me? Welcome to Hell! Send them to Hell!

I did not quite grasp why the book corner was not at the arrivals hall, so that first-timers could get a first-hand “how to” manual before they dipped their inexperienced butts into the muddy waters of Thai underground pleasures.

Possible reason #1, concerning prison books: If people knew what they were getting into, there would be much fewer prison stories to publish later and the thriving market would suffer.

Possible reason #2, concerning women: After failing to experience the sinful life you were secretly hoping for when you went on that trip, upon your departure you could at least buy a book which described it vividly and tell stories to your friends as if it had been you.


3 responses to “All good things come at a price – a boat ride to remember

  1. Pingback: Riding the tube, Vang Vieng style « mastercopycat

  2. Pingback: Laos | La Countryside « mastercopycat

  3. Pingback: The Tempest (cross-cultural edition) « mastercopycat

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