Koh Yao Yai in Thailand: My Scariest Travel Moment
It’s the type of story that usually starts with “no shit, there I was…” and leaves you wide-eyed. At the time, I genuinely believed I might die. Sure, a tad dramatic, but truthful none the less. Thankfully I have a sense of humour! Here’s my diary entry;
The flight to Phuket was uneventful, when I landed however it was chaos! Baggage handlers trying to grab your luggage so that they can make a quick buck, people everywhere and to no order, and a slew of taxi drivers ready to pounce once you step outside.
Reaching the exit doors, I just stopped there with my bag, looking a little lost amongst the crowd. Where’s my driver? I arranged via email with the hotel to have a driver pick me up at the airport, and then a boat ride to Koh Yao Yai. Hmmmm… I kept scanning the names that the taxi drivers were holding up, but none were mine. Hmph. Seriously? Seeing that I was obviously unsure, a taxi driver lets me call the resort with his cell. The resort owner stats that the “last boat was at 5pm, you’ll have to stay in Phuket” in his broken and barely comprehensible English. What? Ooohh, I knew I should of read more about Phuket and brought a map! Yikes. I look around the airport and try to think about my options. Then the taxi guy’s cell phone rings, and it’s Paul, some guy staying at the resort translating for the resort owner. They explain that I’ll have to stay in town. It’s ok, it’s an adventure right? 🙂
So I grab a taxi and travel towards Phuket, meanwhile there’s a lot of back and worth calls going on between my taxi driver and the resort owner. The taxi driver speaks all of two words in English but we hand signal our way through conversation. The resort calls back and tells the taxi driver to bring me to the pier and a longboat will be waiting for me. SOLD. Ok. The taxi driver changes route. I feel a little at his mercy, since he speaks no English and I have no idea where the frig I am. The streets are starting to look sketch.
At the pier, the shirtless, toothless, and super happy boat driver smiles and points at me; “Thiw Son?” Yes, Thiw Son. (The resort’s name) And with that I’m whisked unto a motorized longboat. Hhhhmm, I’m the only tourist around and it’s starting to look super sketchy here. My gut gives me warning. I shrug it off. No matter, I’m going to make it to paradise tonight!
On the boat, there is one other passenger, a young girl chatting away on her cell. Alright, here we go! Ooooooh, leaving is BEAUTIFUL. The sun is starting to dip behind the mountains, the root baring trees lining the shores…picture perfect, and I take a million. Ok, ten. 😉
It’s so serene, relaxing and awe-insipiring – wait a minute. What the ..?!?!? Where’d the rough sea come from?! Shit.
The driver, who was jovial moments before singing away, is now tell us in a panicked voice to sit at the back of the boat and put our life jackets on. Shit. Shit. Shit. Did I mention that open water is the ONLY thing in the world I’m afraid of?!?! The water is ROUGH. Oh my G, is that a floor board coming up?!? How many hits can this wooden rust bucket take? No one speaks English but I swear the driver is alternating between shouting; “Woohoo” and “Oh shit”.
The top of my backpack comes off and converts into a fanny pack type thing, I have all my ID and important papers stored there so I take it off the backpack and tighten it across my back. I tighten my life jacket as well and check the clips. The other passenger seems nervous. It’s never a good sign when the locals are nervous!!! The sounds are frightening. Wooooosh, BAM! Woooooshhh, BAM! Woooosshhh…..(Oh, I think I’m gonna be sick) BAM!
I start going through every possible emergency scenario in my head. Scoping out the nearest islands, which direction the sun is setting, if we flip how I’d get the girl out, and looking around to see what, if anything is float-able in this forsaken boat!
My “eat, pray, love” dream of a vacation is being taken over by the thought of a possible made for tv movie hell. Frig. Everything’s ok, everything’s ok, everything’s… BAM! Another big hit! Oh eff! AND the sun is setting fast. Nothing like rough seas in the dark.
The girl just told me (hand signals again) that the ride usually takes an hour. Ahhhhh, we’re only halfway there and I swear that if we take one more hit this wooden relic is going to snap in half!
It’s getting darker, I wish I had a waterproof bag and glowstick…my poor camera, if we flip, it’s gone. Are there sharks here?!? PANIC. Ugh, ok, fooooooocus. Doesn’t matter that each wave we hit sounds like an explosion, or that the waves are soaking us in the boat.
I check my day pack (aka fanny pack) clipped across me and tighten it. Just. In. Case.
We round the bend, and finally the girl points an island and says; “Koh Yao Yai” WOOHOO!!! **happy dance** Suddenly the water is much calmer as we approach the islands. My thoughts are calmer as well although my heart is still beating a mile a minute. I’m by no means religious, but I’m not above thanking the heavens either for making it. It’s officially dark when we arrive at the dock.
My bag is whisked away before I even make it off the boat. It’s in a truck, ready and waiting. Who’s truck? I dunno. Any names exchanged? Nope. Confirmation where they’re taking me? Nada. I hop in with the friendly unknowns and we drive away. At least there’s no more boats! Hmmph!
On a side note, I made it to the resort just fine and when I left, I took the daytime speedboat. 😉