A surprise journey! Location independent entrepreneur to backpacker
Somewhat unexpectedly our trip took a turn from the ‘location independent entrepreneur’ to the ‘carefree backpacker on gap year’ a couple of weeks back. Unfortunately our luggage didn’t quite fit this change of pace. Well, you can’t pack an ‘international office’ in a rucksack can you?! We felt tempted to explain our uncool luggage with ‘we’re not on holiday, it’s a lifestyle you know’, but fortunately managed to hold our tongues.
The last couple of days in Ao Nang were characterised by a number of bumpy boat rides. First we took a long tail to Railay beach in not the best weather. Nothing to worry about, there were life jackets (locked down to avoid theft and tightly sealed in cellophane to maintain their pristine quality, naturally). The beach was nice, but we agreed we’ve seen better. God, we’ve turned into those people.
The best bit for me was the foot scrub. I was dubious when the menacingly insistent Thai lady produced a scouring pad as her pedicure tool of choice but the results were miraculous- hoofs to baby skin in less than 15 minutes! The monkeys were pretty entertaining too. They worked the crowd, striking an appealing pose to encourage proximity before making off with whatever they could get their light fingered little hands on.
So, the off-plan detour. It came in the form of a trip to the party island of Koh Phi Phi. The weather was bloody awful and the journey cost Chris a little bit of his dignity. I’d never seen someone properly go green before. And as any good wife should, after a couple of half hearted pats on the arm I turned to look the other way. Couldn’t risk him taking me down with him.
Must get one of these!
Soaked through we arrived to find no record of our hotel booking. Marvellous. Phone calls were made, frenzied instructions issued, deafening cheers roared to the rooftops (this apparently was more to do with a boxing match on the TV than our accommodation finally getting sorted) and we were hustled onto a long tail boat, still slightly unsure what was going on. After 10 minutes across the bay the boat started to chug towards a small beach, riding the breakers while we tried to protect the laptop case with the only waterproof material to hand- our skin. It turned out that the boat couldn’t get close to shore due to the rough waves so the last section of the journey involved wading to the beach from chest deep seawater. Suddenly our suitcase wheels weren’t quite so useful.
Once safely deposited on the rain-lashed beach we found our next surprise: an adventurous hike to our accommodation. The muddy slope before us was one downpour away from a becoming a river. We skidded, we slipped, we squealed. And we weren’t even carrying any of the luggage. We reached the summit and eyed our twisting route down. Descending this steep ravine involved skidding across slick boulders and trying to find our footing in the sort of mud that just oozes between your toes and strenuously sucks your flip flops into murky oblivion. Luckily there was a rope attached to the surrounding trees jungle gym style. I think it had pretensions of a handrail. Given that we had got used to chilled towels presented on a silver platter on arrival at previous hotels we probably weren’t as appreciative as we could have been when we finally careered into reception, bedraggled, out of breath and dripping wet.
Doesn’t look as bad in the dry!
Last time we were in Thailand was 2004 and were fortunate not to be directly effected by the tsunami. It still left an impression though. Our room turned out to be right on the beach, just steps from the roaring sea. I was nervous. Chris eyed me inquisitively the first night as I packed a small bag of essentials and left it by the side of the bed. By the third night, he decided to ask; ‘err, what is it you have there?’
‘Nothing’ I evaded, trying to look casual whilst knowing my paranoia was about to be exposed.
He persevered; ‘so every night you pack our passports, your diary, the camera, water, our wallets, insurance details, memory sticks, moisture cream, lip balm, paracetamol and a spare pair of knickers into your beach bag, which you then unpack again in the morning- for no reason?’ As if he didn’t know; of course I was furtively preparing my ‘tsunami bag’. It wasn’t so much that he found my actions odd (which of course he did); I think it was my choice of emergency items which amused him.
Our view from the room
So how did we spend our time on the island? We partied with the cool kids (I did wonder if the other dancers thought I was somebody’s mother), hiked to the viewpoint, and ate a load of seafood. Our island hopping and snorkelling trip wasn’t quite as planned; despite the boat driver shouting angrily ‘GET OUT! GET OUT!’ at the tenth snorkel stop, no-one could be induced to return yet again to the cloudy grey water in the pissing rain.
The beach from ‘The Beach’ was a bit busier than in the film!
Finally it was time to stop messing about and get to Phuket, where we’d heard we might just be able to settle.
Panorama from the top of Phi Phi
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