Wednesday, February 6, 2013

He is a tourist. She is a holidaymaker. I, am a TRAVELLER! PART 1 in a series.

My paid working week came to a close, as is usual, yesterday afternoon.  Quite pleasant to wave my long suffering colleagues goodbye knowing I don't have to worry about them until next week.  Although it's hard to get in the groove for just two days.   I obviously still mostly have my brain set to "mother of small child" mode because I do some dumb things. Like when I'm on the phone trying to say something without letting other people in the office hear, I use the universal parenting technique of spelling the words out, like I do with M when I don't want P to hear.  Note to self: Spelling words out loud is NOT a secret code.  Pretty sure my colleagues know what B-O-R-E-D spells.  And pretty sure some of them think I'm an I-D-I-O-T, but there you have it.  I can just see them rolling their eyes as they listen to me hissing down the phone in a sort of stage-whisper, spelling out words on the lowdown like I think it's the Enigma Code.

The funereal atmosphere at work was actually somewhat alleviated by the absence of a couple of senior overlords, so, as the proverb goes, us mice played up.  We went crazy and talked in the corridors and PLAYED MUSIC IN THE OFFICE!  I know, somebody stop us we are HAVING TOO MUCH FUN!

One of my colleagues R is planning her first solo overseas jaunt to Europe, and her planning has been making me think of the somewhat limited overseas travels I've undertaken in my life.

As anyone who has been lucky enough to walk the path less traveled alongside me can attest, I am well known for my adventurous, risk taking nature. I'm always the first to rush over and tie the bungee chord to my feet before plunging over the nearest available cliff,  the first to skip joyfully into the whitewater raft, the first to chow down on crunchy roasted grasshoppers and so forth*.

So I thought I'd get all Lonely Planet on your arses and do a little series on some of the more interesting anecdotes and places I've visited.  Just call me Bear Grylls.  Or maybe Bearina Grylls.

Here's the first instalment.

I left my heart stomach in Koh Phi Phi.  

M and I were having a wonderful honeymoon in Thailand.  M did spend 24 hours of it chucking his guts up in the hotel room, but apart from that the two weeks had gone brilliantly.  The final day of the stay was to be the best part of all!  We decided to go on a boat trip out to the beautiful Koh Phi Phi islands (is that tautologous? might be.).  Seen that movie The Beach?  Yeah, some pretty awesome backpacker style cool destination, thanks very much, perfect for a cool boho hippie type relaxed beach person like me!!!!! WHAT MORE COULD I ASK FOR!?

See this is Kho Phi Phi.  Gaw-jus, right? Photo by us.

I should pause here to add that the whole tour was basically my idea.  Because if anyone embodies the cool suntanned Thai-fisherman pants wearing Aussie tourist in Asia it is ME!  I practically scream HIPPIE TOURIST!!!!!!!!

Annnnyway, at my nagging, M booked said tour and we got up early that last day and tooled out to the marina to climb aboard our luxurious vessel.

My first inkling the whole thing wasn't what I thought, was when, instead of being greeted with this sort of transportational arrangement...

...we were met with this.

Taken by me. After the first journey was over.
I was vaguely disappointed but figured, what the hell.

The fact that they started handing out sea sickness tablets to us as we boarded probably should have set off a few more alarm bells for me but despite my hardcore fear of boats, the ocean, the beach, death, sharks, deep water, and so forth, I remained in an uncharacteristically relaxed honeymoon-esque frame of mind and chose to ignore the twinges of doubt and cheerfully found a seat.

Me at the beginning of the trip, full of excitement and anticipation, and wearing a pink name tag.  See, TOTES BOHO HIPPIE WITH A SUNTAN!!  Well, I'm wearing a cheesecloth shirt anyway.
We set off at a cracking pace.  In a small speedboat.  Across the ocean.

People, I'd never been in a speedboat before.  They. Are. Fucking. Scary.  And you know what?  When the sea is rough, they are even. Fucking. Scarier.

And the sea was angry that day my friends.  Like an old man trying to return soup at a deli.**

As the boat made it's way out across the open water, going THWACK, THWACK, THWACK, I began to feel a tad nervous in my tummy.  M patted my hand manfully and reassured me that all was well, it wasn't too rough, speedboats just went THWACK as a matter of course.  I calmed down a little.

Until.....pffft....putter putter putter sputter spurt pffttttttttttt. Silence.

The fucking motors (as depicted in above photo) had died.  Our formerly calm and nimble boathands (one also depicted above) started jumping about and talking loudly and in a panicked fashion in Thai, what with it being in Thailand and all.

"What the FUCK is happening!" I hissed at M, "What the fuck, fuck, fuck, shit, we've broken down in the MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN!" 

M tried to calm me but wasn't having much luck.

I don't know if you've ever been on a tiny crammed broken down speedboat in the open water on a choppy day in a foreign country, but what happens is the boat sinks....down...down...down, until the "choppy" water and waves are looming over you like the fucking Perfect Storm is about to hit.  And the boat stops going THWACK THWACK THWACK and starts going UP and down, UP and down, UP and down until the family sitting across from you get seasick and the little girl throws up all over her mum's lap.

"Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck", I mutter, wringing my hands. "We are going to die out here I JUST KNOW IT and it smells like VOMIT I DON'T KNOW WHICH IS WORSE."

At one point I sprang to my feet and attempted to walk to the other end of the boat, in a sort of panicked attempt to escape the situation, and while doing so I was thrown into the lap of various Russian tourists including this woman in the orange bikini...

Anyway, just as I was really about to totally lose my shit and plunge overboard in a foolhardy attempt to swim for freedom (in the DEEP WATER with the darkness and the sharks and the gahhhhhhhh), the nimble boathands finally kicked the old girl back into life, and we rose once again from beneath the waves and THWACK, THWACK, THWACKED our way over to the island.  When we got there I looked like this...

After.  Aged 20 years, no shit.
Once we got to the sticky uppy out of the watery bits of Koh Phi Phi, can't remember what they are called, we were all supposed to go snorkelling.  M plunged in, again quite manfully, and in what can only be described as the BRAVEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE, I gingerly crept down and bobbed around in the water for a while too, while the fish nibbled my toes and gnawed at my fingers.  Don't think I wasn't replaying that shark attack scene from The Beach over in my head a thousand times. Because I was. Like a mofo.

There were about 20 million billion trillion other people and boats there and no-one dropped their anchor, so despite the crowds of bobbing snorkelers, every two seconds one of the boats would randomly start up their propeller in order to ensure none crashed into each other.

There was one huge ancient boat there that contained a massive number of Chinese tourists.  The tourists on that boat sort of lined up so their tour guides could shove life jackets on them and then practically throw them into the water to flounder blindly around en masse.  Didn't seem to matter that they couldn't swim.  One panicky be-life-jacketed girl made an ungainly beeline for our boat, reaching blindly out to us and trying to grab onto the freaking propeller, oblivious to the screams of warning from us and our boat dudes.

See?  Like shooting fish in a barrel.

I was waiting for the water to turn into a bloodbath, it seemed only a matter of time before one of the whirring propellers sliced the head off a bobbing snorkeller.  Fortunately it didn't happen and we continued on to the main island for our classy smorgasboard luncheon with this guy...

Rocking the swimming trunk and multi-plait look.  And why not? Good luck to him I say.

The trip back to the mainland was less eventful but I have never been so freaking glad to see dry land ever in all my days.  This was me later the same day.

Toasting our survival.
 So there you have it.

Do you think I can get a job on Getaway?  Anyone else like to wear swimming trunks and/or man plaits?  Are you brave and fearless and adventurous like me?

*Um, NOT! So not.  Irony again.
**Thank you George Costanza.


  1. I would have totally freaked out.
    I won't catch the Manly ferry so being in a foreign country, in a broken down boat, would scare me senseless.
    Glad you lived to tell the tale :)

    1. Thanks Rachel, it was the most frightening experience EVER!! It felt like it lasts for hours! Thank you so much for commenting!

    2. Oh my Lord Sarah. Funniest post ever, your commentary is too much! Loved it. That's a very nice red dress by the way. See you on Mon! Love A. xx

    3. Thanks A! I still have that dress, it's one of the only dressy things I own.

    4. It's SO nice. Speaking of tzutzy clothes, JIGSAW. BLAZER. APPEARANCE. MONDAY. OR. ELSE. Rightio, I have to go, Peg's just opened another packet of bon bons :)

    5. Hey I wore it last Monday and you were away! Save some bon bons for me.

  2. I need a life jacket just to take a bath, so never in a million years would I even have contemplated this journey. I just don't trust safety standards in lots of places I visit. Looking at speedo guy wouldn't have settled my stomach either!

    1. I hear you! No way would I EVER do it again.

  3. Love the red dress. Hope you do more of these travel posties. Luf them. Reading about your honeymoon got me thinking, your wedding dress deserves a whole post to itself. I still tell people all about it. One of the nicest I have ever seen. x

    1. Thanks k! The wedding dress was one of the few occasions where I actually got it right, fashion wise.

  4. I love reading travel stories, keep them coming. This reminds me of a boat trip I took in Cape Town across to Robben Island. Everyone on the big ferry were screaming in the rough seas and I just kept thinking about the giant sharks that those waters are known for.

    1. Oh god I would have been hysterical with fear. Hysterical.

  5. I love your courage. Sometimes the world seems to be full of the cautious, caution to the wind I say!

    1. Definitely the first time I've been described as courageous! I am an obedient, cowardly, uptight mess!

  6. Sounds exactly like the nightmare day trip boat ride we took in Langkawi. We had a similar tale of near death in Ha Long Bay in Vietnam as well. Long story but the highlights included crashing into an island, an avalanche of boulders, waking up to find our boat was about 10 cms from impact with a giant Chinese cruise ship (it was the screams of passengers and deckhands on the other boat that yanked us from our peaceful slumber)... oh happy, happy memories!

    1. Oh my god. I would have DIED OF FEAR. Seriously. Terrifying.

  7. Two words. No thanks.
    What a story!


Vent your spleen! You know you want to.

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