Literal Storms, on the horizon
As we boarded the ferry to go from the east coast of Thailand to the small island of Koh Tao, a storm was moving across the water. Rain clouds surrounded islands that were visible just minutes earlier in a curtain of gray.
“How long is this boat ride again? Where are the life jackets?” I wondered silently. And then in an attempt to calm my anxious mind, I thought, “Well, I’m sure many boats traverse this route so if this boat sinks, someone will pick us up.” Since I seemed to be the only one concerned about the approaching storm, I took a seat next to Nic on the covered outdoor deck, took out a bag of potato chips and reminded myself that the things I worry about never end up happening.
As we made our way across the Gulf of Thailand, I was suddenly shaken from my busy mind as large drops of rain hit my face. Then, the boat jerked to one side in what felt like an attempt to dodge something in its path. I looked out over the railing to see tall, thin bamboo sticks with pieces of cloth sticking out of the water. They looked like chop sticks made for a giant to pluck fish from the sea. Fishermen or FisherWOMEN place them in the water to denote fishing spots. Our boat continued to manuever around them throughout our journey.
Like every other journey, we arrived at our destination safely and the entire trip was pretty uneventful. Most of the excitement was happening in my head, as usual 🙂
Arriving in Koh Tao, Thailand
Nic and I didn’t really know what to expect of Koh Tao. We read that it is THE place to receive a diving certification and, while it does attract some tourists, it hasn’t been taken over by foreigners like neighboring islands. Again this is what we HEARD. However, on arrival, we thought it was very clear that this island has, without a doubt, been discovered by the entire world. There was a long line of tourists waiting to board our ferry to head back to the mainland and restaurants, dive shops, ATV and scooter rental stores lined the streets of the port city. And we even saw advertisements for an American style shooting range. I mean COME ON!
Our hotel taxi was an old pick-up truck. We jumped in the back and sat on the bench lining the perimeter of the bed of the truck. As we cruised over hills, a large group of scooters, driven by foreigners, collected behind us. One appeared to be drinking a Big Gulp from 7/11. Narrow, hilly roads covered in patches of concrete and oncoming traffic made it hard to pass our pick-up. As soon as we arrived at our hotel, we noticed the Cross Fit gym across the street next to the juice bar and English bakery. Nic and I wondered who the hell is working out in this heat? Then, a white guy with headphones and no shirt ran by us and into the gym. Interesting. It was May and it was BLAZING HOT. You are constantly covered in a layer of tiny water droplots from the intense humidity but it looked like it didn’t bother everyone.
Figurative Storms, in my belly
Unfortunately, our hotel, Asia Divers, was an utter disappointment. You win some, you lose some, folks. We initially, opted for the room without air conditioning to save money.
It didn’t take long for me to feel really sick. At first, I thought it might be food poisoning because nausea woke me up in the middle of the night. However, my body wasn’t trying to get rid of anything. Then, a red rash started to develop on my legs. After talking to a few people who live on the island, we determined that it must be the heat. I am naturally inclined to drink a lot of water and that may have actually worked against me in this situation because I probably flushed all the nutrients out of my body. I felt terrible. I couldn’t get out of bed and I didn’t want to eat anything. Nic returned from the busiest 7/11 we’ve ever seen with armfuls of electrolyte replacements. It appears that this happens to a lot of foreigners when the 7/11 carries electrolyte replacements.
The good news is that we didn’t have to make a detour to the clinic because I felt better quickly and we moved to a room with AIR CONDITIONING. It was a complete mystery how the air conditioning unit was able to pump cool air into our room given the state of the electrical wires on the island but somehow it worked. The next day, we started our dive certificaiton at New Way Diving.