I'm sailing through the air, 200 meters above the water, I faintly hear my own voice echoing through my mind as the wind blares out any hope of other sound…
“Yeah! Let’s go to Thailand! But please, can we for once have a relaxing holiday? We’re always going on crazy adventures and end up more exhausted than we were when we left for the trip… Can’t we just spend an entire week relaxing on a beach somewhere?”
I remember making this plea to my wife Olena, and I’m pretty sure she agreed, but with a harness strapped to my body and a ten-meter parasail doing little to shade my already lobster-red back from the sun, having slept maybe two of the last 36 hours, I begin to doubt our holiday will be the escape from adrenaline I hoped for. This particular adventure wasn’t even on our agenda, and here I am, a starfish-shaped silhouette against the backdrop of Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand.
When I finally remember to breathe, I start trying to take some videos with our GoPro but the spectacle of the sand, sea and sky is just too big to fit into the viewfinder. I settle for waving my arms and legs about like an idiot in the hopes that Olena will take a funny picture.
Oh, speaking of Olena, there she is, a tiny dot in the boat to which my life is quite literally tied. It was her imploring that got me into this position. Two layovers, several delays, three hours spent in the immigration line, almost no sleep and a long week ahead and she still had the vivacity to be hoisted up into the sky by a small speedboat. I tried to argue against it because my lack of sleep was causing a parallel lack of interest in any physical activity whatsoever, but in the end it couldn’t be denied that the $36 cost of parasailing on this beach was the best we were ever going to get in our lifetimes. In the end, I’m glad we went for it, because this is quite the breathtaking experience.
How long have I even been up here? It feels like forever… Maybe they’ll be letting me down soo-
oh, here we go, wow this is faster than I expected, I hope Olena is getting some good pic-
Well then. That’s that!
We’re in our AirBnB hostel,resting up so we can go out later in the evening. The staff here are very nice! We arrived at six in the morning and they still let us check in, despite the 3:00 official check-in time. There’s a shower (watch out for spiders and salamanders), a flushing toilet (but don’t flush any toilet paper!) and even an air-con unit ($4 to use during our stay). They were also kind enough to provide us with transport to the bus that got us to Patong. Unfortunately, we won’t be going back there because the bus stops running at 8:00. We thought about staying in the area (seeing Patong and Bangla Road Walking Street at night is supposed to be quite the spectacle) but in the end we were too tired. I only mildly regret not staying, but I’m sure we’ll get the full city-life experience in Bangkok next week.
“We can’t just lie here and do nothing tonight though, right? This is the only time we’ll see this place,” my dear wife says in what is becoming the theme of the trip, “let’s at least explore the area!”
So, we set out. With nothing but a few essentials we start the walk into Phuket Town. In the Wuhan Airport we bought a Thai SIM card from a vending machine (no, seriously), so we use the power of the internet and GPS to guide us. In a way this is a pity, because I miss the feeling of wandering out into the unknown with only the advice of the locals to guide us. I am, however, happy that we can go wherever we want without getting lost…
The evening ends up being pretty relaxing, which is fine with me. We try to find a few recommended places from the internet but most either aren’t going to be busy until much later in the evening or are offering… well… services that wouldn’t be appropriate for a man and his wife to indulge in. Even as we head back to call it an early night, soothing music wafts out to us from little Karaoke shacks, promising a good time. If there’s one thing Thailand is known for it’s its sex industry, and the small size of this town does not hinder any attempts to make it thrive even here. We elect to skip out on the KTV and get some well-needed sleep…
We’re on a boat!Destination: Ton Sai Beach in Krabi, on the other side of the Andaman Sea. After being driven to the harbor for a whopping $1.40, we had a quick breakfast of banana pancakes and hopped on the 8:30 ferry. Phuket was cool, but the beach was overcrowded, there were way too many drunk tourists, and people were trying to sell us stuff every two minutes. By far the most interesting of these was a man who kept trying to offer me a tailor-made suit on the street… Anyway, we’re excited to go to a place that’s a little more disconnected. Chillout Bungalows, our next AirBnB spot, apparently doesn’t even have electricity during the day. That’s fine with us because a disconnect is just what the doctor ordered.
Were I a better writer, I could capture what I’m seeing from the deck of the boat, transmute it into words and project it into your mind’s eye. However, I’ll just settle for this: it’s pretty freakin’ sweet. Not exactly Shakespeare, but it’ll do the job. But really, if you haven’t been to a place like this, you’ve seen the National Geographic pictures, you’ve seen movies filmed in tropical locations, you’ve seen the photos of your second-cousin’s honeymoon on Facebook, so you know what I’m talking about. Yeah, “pretty freakin’ sweet” will do just fine.
A couple hours and two or three $2 beers later, the barely audible PA system announces our first stop. Those going to Ao Nang Beach, a popular destination in Krabi, hop into a long-tail boat here and head off on their separate adventures. About half of the passengers are left, and soon enough many more get off in the direction of Railay Beach, which is probably the most popular beach in the area. Actually, it look like everyone is getting off except us and five or six others. Cool! That means this place we’re going really is as little-known as we thought. We grab our stuff, hop in a boat, and sail off to paradise...