Sandy Buckles and Selective Memory

“Whatever you do, do NOT get on one of those overloaded ferries when you’re out there,” somebody once warned me.

I’m in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand. On a ferry.

We departed at 6:00 AM and are to arrive on Koh Phangan by 10:00 AM. We plan to sleep in the air-conditioned cabin along the way and arrive fresh and well-rested. Seems manageable.

Not so much.

We left on time but it’s now past noon and we’re still at sea. It’s blistering hot and I forgot to apply sunblock. Best of all, the ferry is overloaded by at least twice its capacity.

Every seat in the cabin, which is not air-conditioned by the way, is filled. People crouch on the deck and lean against rails. The rest are left sitting with their legs – and life – hanging precariously over the edge.

The mood of the group sinks steadily. Even the most seasoned backpackers have a hard time keeping up their best game face. Nobody seems to know where we are or how much longer we need to travel.

In this very moment I’ve never felt so trapped. The thought of capsizing won’t leave my head.

We finally make it to Koh Phangan sunburned and grouchy. But the show must go on. We find our way to our hostel and gear up for the next adventure. Soon enough our memory of the Boat Ride From Hell is clouded by white sand beaches, mango shakes, Singha beer, spicy Thai curry, Full Moon Parties, scooter rides, new friends, and new tattoos.

Two weeks later I’m back home. Back to meetings, CNN, American Idol, Facebook status updates, traffic, and humidity. While organizing my closet I dig up a pair of sandals that I haven’t worn since  that trip to Thailand. There’s still sand on the buckle and as I brush it off, I think to myself, “Maybe that boat ride wasn’t so bad after all…”

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5 responses to “Sandy Buckles and Selective Memory

  1. The blue water looks heavenly, though. How did you get back? On the same ferry? Reminds me of a ferry ride of my own—from Athens to Crete many, many years ago. No sunburn, but, as yours, the ride seemed endless, I was exhausted, and I didn’t dare use the bathroom as so many people had upchucked on the floor it was awash. I look back now and, yeah, it doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

    • Unfortunately we had to take the same ferry back. It took the same amount of time. At least on the return trip we knew what we were getting into so it wasn’t so bad. Your ferry ride sounds just as wretched, yikes! Still, things like that don’t stop us from traveling….I guess you have to take the bad with the good.

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