Through Hell and high water!!

Well well! It’s the end of another week and another adventure! Again, I’ve met some fab people whom I really hope to see again and keep in touch with. Not only did we share many breath taking tropical island retreats together but we also endured the dark side of the ocean too with storms a plenty! This is probably the part where my blog is really true to it’s name…Lots of beauty, wonder, sea sickness and fear this week. Let me explain from the top…

I last left you departing for the Airport to embark on a flight over to Phuket. Well, true traveller style, I rock up in my baggy Aladdin pants, hiking boots and english straw hat. The flight is delayed so I waste time in KFC and shopping for new shades! Quite a bumpy flight over to Phuket but unknown to me, that was going to be the smoothest ride all week hah!

So I land in Phuket quite late due to my flight being delayed..I grab my bag and walk out to greet the swarms of booked (and unbooked) taxi guys. Some are holding up names on tatty pieces of cardboard or they’re harassing you for a ride somewhere. I’m rather tired so I’m really glad I pre-booked a cab straight to Posiden Bungalows. In a sarcastic way, I’ve always wanted to see a card being held up for me that reads;’Readdy for Helen’, how funny! Walking out of arrivals, I’m looking forward to seeking out my name but was actually was a little disappointed to see it only read Posiden haha, oh well! Finally, arriving at Posiden, the owner is not around but he’s left me a bottle of water, instructions on Sundays boat tour and a map to find my bungalow. Good job I’ve brought my torch! Woah, there are bugs everywhere! Toads, giant centipedes, crickets etc…After a windy walk, I find my bungalow hut and can’t wait to slope into bed but hold on…urgh, what’s that!? Gross, a giant cockroach is staring right back at me! Well, he has to go! I was chuckling away imagining Dunx watching me struggle to get this huge horrifying bug out the door without getting it on me hah! But eventually with the bug outside, I put up a make shift mozzie net to keep any other nasties out and eventually fall asleep.

Koh Tachai

So it’s an early start as the taxi is picking me up at 7.50am to head for the ferry port for Ko Tachai Island! Dammit, no time for brekkie but luckily I have some crumbled biccies in my bag so that will do..so down they go with a malaria tablet and some water. An empty minibus pulls on time and I’m thinking I’m going to the islands all on my todd but am relieved when we pick up others along the way. The weathers not too good, it’s actually been raining through the night and early hours of the morning but luckily that soon changes and the skies open to glorious sunshine!

Finally we make it to the ferry port and uh oh, I’m the only European in the whole joint! Oh well! A few of the Thai’s make an effort to speak to me in broken english but we understand each other with nodding heads and smiles! The ferry company offer us sea sickness pills along with tea and toast which I can’t wait to scoff hah! The actual ferry ride was about an hour and oh…my….word….this place is paradise!

We stop shortly before the island for a snorkeling opportunity and I realise that I haven’t done it for so long that I’m worried I’ve forgotten how to! I slip to the back and let all the ‘pros’ jump in first hoping they won’t notice me slightly panicking! So yep, that’s it, it’s now mine turn to get in..Snorkel on tight, life jacket strapped on..ok, readdy! I’m talking to myself and saying things like, let’s not look like a total novice, lets act like I’ve done this so many times before that I’m actually now getting sick of snorkeling right?! Well, that wasn’t the case at all..it was hilarious! As soon as I put my feet on the ladder down, that was it, I lost my footing and flopped in and was waving my legs and arms about haha…It truly felt like a Bridget Jones moment! Coughing and spluttering, I grabbed hold of the ladder too scared to let go! It felt like everyone was laughing at me which I’m sure they weren’t but anyways, the captain popped on a snorkel and came over to help me. He got in the water, held my hand and then let go once I’d got my breathing sorted out and my swimming more fish like instead of um, chicken like and then wow….that was it! I couldn’t stop staring at the seabed below me! Beautiful fish of all shapes, sizes and colours! I could almost reach out and touch them! An hour had passed which felt more like 10 minutes and we were to reboard the boat to move on to the island!

As soon as my feet touched the island it was like stepping into a big bag of pure white flour! Ahhhh, so soft and so warm! I’ve never seen or felt anything like this in my life! This place is a dream. I can’t help but look around and say to myself..’You did it Hels!’ So anyway, the boat crew show us around and then take us on a Chicken Crab hunt before lunch hah! Yep, a crab that beats it’s shell with his claws apparantly makes him sound like a chicken but this island is their home so off we go in search of the chicken crabs! We saw loads..they live at the bottom of trees in the roots so they’re fairly easy to spot. After this, we then sit down to an organised lunch before going back to the boat to our next snorkeling point. This time, I’m not as nervous to get in and actually look forward to getting back in the ocean.

Surin Islands

The next day was a very similar story..up I get, nice and early (again, no time for brekkie, opps and again it’s raining!) and sit in the minibus on the ‘pick up’ rounds before heading for the ferry port. Today felt like a longer journey and I’m sure my face turned green! I felt so sick..I was thinking to myself, I can’t chuck up in the minibus before we’ve even got on the boat hah! I think it was because I took a malaria tablet on an empty stomach, I couldn’t wait to get out the car.

Finally we reached the ferry port and again, I was the only European haha! I think it’s because it’s the Thai’s holiday term but nevermind. It must have taken us 2 hours to reach Surin Islands but it was well worth it. I didn’t actually feel like snorkeling today as I felt so nauseous but the islands were still so beautiful to walk around. I met some sea gypsies who were so lovely! Again, a bit like the hill tribes, happy with what they have. They literally lived in bungalow huts on the beach, how lucky hey, what a life! After lunch, we headed back to Posiden. Early night for me as I need to check out in the morning to embark on a life on the seas over the next few days oooo arrghh!

Finding more than just Nemo!

So here we are! Tuesday morning and I’m checking out to head for the Similan Islands boat and snorkeling tour woo hoo! Oops, as usual, the Readders isn’t Readdy and I rock up a few minutes late to a small crowd of people all waiting for me! We all lock up our valuables in the safe and then take 2 cars to the ferry port where we meet Lee, our guide for the next few days! Again, it’s still raining! Hoping it clears like it has the past 2 days….

Lee is hilarious and reminds me of Kurt Russell in the film Overboard hah! He even has a similar character to the guy in the film too hehe! So we hop on board and are briefed on what the basic boat rules are also, the outline of the trip and what we may see out there in the ocean.

So far so good! Everyone on the boat is absolutely lovely and we all click straight away! A great mix of people from all over; Australia, Canada, America, Germany…So with the sickness pills downed, it’s a 3hr trip to the first island.

3hrs later….we make it to the first point. On go the snorkels and flippers and in we get. Wow, first time wearing flippers and they are amazing, they make me feel like a dolphin haha! As soon as we get in, the ocean comes to life down there! It’s incredible what you can’t see above the water but as soon as you get in and under, there’s a whole highway of life minding it’s own business down there hah! We saw a whole bunch of stunning fish from Clown fish, to Nemo’s to a huge Moray Eel! That was scary! Then we climbed back on board for some lunch and exchanged our ‘I saw this and I saw that’ stories.

With the rain still pouring down, this doesn’t put us off going back in for another eel or shark hunt! others have seen a turtle, a few of us just spotted a cuttle fish! It was just A-mazing!! I even got to try out my underwater camera which wasn’t bad! It’s better if you can dive under and take shots of all the fish close up but still, I was just grateful for what I was seeing down there! Another David Attenborough reference but it was just like the ‘Blue Planet’ or something!

Later in the evening we all picked our cabins and then slunk off to bed. Wednesday morning we all got a call from Lee “Ladies and Gentlemen, Breakfast will be in 30 minutes” No lye in’s for us! We were all up by 7.30am and then fed by 8am…yummy, eggs and bacon, I was forgetting what bacon tasted like haha!

So it’s Wednesday morning and the weather is so dull and grey but we’re not letting that put us off..we know it’s coming into monsoon season so just have to put up with it. You actually can’t feel the rain on your back when your snorkeling anyways. Woah today I saw a black tip shark and a manta ray!! OMG! This really doesn’t happen to Helen Readders! The shark was pretty scary! You’re in their domain under the water and you feel so helpless however, I decided to swim towards it!? Don’t ask me why! Perhaps a photographers moment wanting to get ‘the shot’! Well, it swam right away from me anyways (and thankfully!) Wish I had got a photo of that but it was just too fast! I got one of the manta ray though, that was awesome..It was sitting on the sea’s bottom (oo errr) but I would have loved to have seen that swimming right past me!

Lee wanted to take us to another snorkeling spot round the islands but the rain and wind were picking up and creating 3ft waves so we decided to stay where we were although we did manage to reach 2 or 3 snorkel spots so were happy with that. It’s now the evening and we’re all sitting down for dinner. My imaginations going again and I’m now picturing a scene out of that jaws movie where they’re all singing “I’m tired and I wanna go to bed..” then suddenly Barrat sees a huge flash in the sky..”Did anyone just see that?” Then there was another one and yup, we all saw that one! It was blinding, it literally lit up the sky and all of the ocean below us! Then came the blasted rain again. We had been wet through all day and any chance of getting dry was soon ‘washed’ away hah, sorry, couldn’t resist! It was so heavy we had to put the side curtains down to try stop the rain getting in and ruining our dinner…

The Perfect Storm!

So the thunders getting louder and we’re now all counting 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi until it’s right upon us!! We were starting to get a bit scared (well, I know I was for sure!). We couldn’t go anywhere, we were stuck and knew we’d have to ride the storm out. Waves were hitting 4ft in the nearby coves so we were literally trapped. Lee seemed calm as a cucumber so it didn’t seem to alarm us too much. After a few beers and chit chat, we all went to bed and I don’t think any of us slept a wink!

The boat was rocking from left to right so much so that I actually thought it was going to roll right over! None of us had a dry bed in the cabin as the rain and ocean was splashing and dripping in right through to our beds! It was like water torture hah! I was cold, wet and now getting sick from the constant jolting and rocking of the boat…again, my mind starts racing..’was this safe?’ ‘Were we going to go over?’ No, stop thinking like this, we’ll be fine…right?

Eventually the morning came and we heard reports of how bigger tourist boats near us sunk! OMG! How did our boat even stay afloat? We were all ok and thank god! The Navy were actually going round rescuing people and taking them to the nearest islands (the ones I was just at the previous days too!) Incredible! Not only had we seen the most remarkable fish in the sea, we’d also survived a super scary thunderstorm producing over 4ft waves!! We were all so lucky and I think it’s all down to Lee knowing the ‘waves’ and where would be safe for us to ‘hide’ until the morning! Thanks to Lee we were all Ok (apart from someones speedos which I think fell off the railings during the storm overnight haha!) but what an adrenalin rush!

Thursday we made the most of what little time we had left to snorkel and the sun even came out this time, taking us all by surprise and cooking us like lobsters unknowing whilst we pointed at clown fish and shoals of squid below!

What a fantastic trip! None of us wanted to go back to reality. In fact, as soon as we hit dry land it was the other way round…we all had a touch of ‘land sickness’ ! Most of us went back to Khao Lak and I even stayed in a hostel with my new friends for a couple of nights until today. I am now all on me todd once more until the next adventure starts all over again on Monday.

So that’s where I will leave this latest rendition of the adventures of the Readders hah. Tomorrow I am really looking forward to taking a flight back to Bangkok and staying with my friends Flick and Frankie overnight and catching up..feels like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve seen them! Then on Monday I will be meeting a new tour group and then hitting Cambodia on Tuesday…roll on the good times, new experiences to come and the many more friends I will make…

Until then 🙂 xxx

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