Day 10 – Wednesday
Yoga: Skip morning class to make phone calls. I need to get off this island.
- I try and call boat companies… I either can’t even get to them because the phones aren’t working or I get the “we don’t know yet, call back in 2 hours” answer.
- I decide to pack up and go to the piers to see what’s really going on.
- After borrowing Dee’s scooter to find and ask my 4×4 dude to pick me up and take me to the Thong Sala piers, I get there at about 10am.
The pier waiting area is full of people. All the boat company booths are closed, except for 2 makeshift tables. I elbow myself through the crowds and ask if there are any boats to Koh Samui today. I get handed a pen to write my name on a list. I ask if they know what time the boat would leave but they couldn’t answer me. “We will call your name when boat ready”. I don’t have the best feeling about this. That person didn’t seem to belong to any specific boat companies and there were loads of people waiting around.
I get a call from Justin: “I hear that if you want to take the Navy ship” *oh wow, it wasn’t just a rumor!* “you should get on the waiting list at the Phanganchai Hotel across from the piers”. I go to the hotel. The crowd was even thicker than at the piers (my favorite), I find the list, put my name down and wait. I try to find information, *any* information about what’s going on, but no-one seems to be able to tell me anything solid other than the Navy ship is supposed to come pick us up.
About an hour later, a loud speaker-phone from a car in front of the hotel announced that we needed to make destination groups. Some for Bangkok, some for Koh Samui and some for Surrathani (nearest mainland port). People with their huge backpacks move around like frantic ants. I get in my Koh Samui group and get instructed to wait while the Bangkok group gets called to leave.
Meanwhile I hear things like “they are evacuating Koh Samui too, it’s worse there” or “53 Bangkok Air flights have been canceled from the Koh Samui airport” or “the Navy ship is anchored in the bay” or “the Navy ship has trouble getting anchored in the bay” or “on the mainland, no bus or train can go up to Bangkok because of major landslides. The road is obliterated 56 places.” I’m wondering if I should’ve gone in the Bangkok group.
Two hours later (4pm), they announce that no boat will leave the island today. We should return to guesthouses and check again tomorrow. Hmm… I decide to go check out what’s going on at the pier. I see a huge line of what looks like people waiting for something. At that point, I was ready to go *anywhere*. I get in line and try to find out what it’s for. It was for the navy ship… the sick/children/elderly priority group only. I decide to stick around just in case they have extra room since everybody else went back to their rooms. Of course this entire time, it’s raining like crazy.
Trying to keep the spirits high, waiting for a boat in Thong Sala.
Announcement: “The boat is broken. No boat tonight.” The boat is broken? Which boat? The Navy ship? Another boat? Nobody can answer. Ugh, so frustrating! (The Navy ship had to anchor a few miles away because of the bad seas. I later understood that it was the boat that would take us to the Navy ship that was “broken” or just plain couldn’t sail because the seas were too moody. )
I realized I need to spend the night on the island. I didn’t want to go back to the retreat, it was too far, so I need to find a room here, near the piers. I go back to the Phanganchai hotel… they are booked. Ok, I heard a British couple talking about how nice and cheap Phangan Bungalows resort was, so I grab a taxi and head over there. Of course the power was out, so the small, dark and humid bamboo bungalows really didn’t seem like the place to stay. I pass. I ask the taxi driver to bring me to guesthouses closer to the pier. We hit 5 or 6 places: all fully booked. Yikes! I then request to just go back to the Phanganchai hotel for plan B, which I would come up with on the way.
Plan B was to call my 4×4 dude and go back to the retreat. However, in front of the Phanganchai hotel, I decide to check with them one last time.
- “Are you sure you’re full?”
- “Actually Ma’am, we have one last room, 1000 bht.”
The very next second, a couple comes up to the front desk and says:
- “Ok, we’ll take both rooms unless someone else needs it”.
- Front desk guy: “This lady right here is taking it”.
- The couple to me: “Wow your timing is impeccable! We were going to take two rooms, but we don’t really need them both.”
- Me: “Are you sure? Thank you so much!”
I had a room.
- Exhausted, but feeling like I did everything I could. Hopeful for the next day.
Day 11 – Thursday
Weather: Not raining!!
Having stayed on Koh Phangan Wednesday night meant that I would miss my early Thursday morning flight to Bangkok from Koh Samui, which meant I would miss our connection in Bangkok to Kolkata which meant that we would most likely miss our flight to Varanasi the next day. Since we didn’t know when I would actually be able to get off this island, Justin canceled the Varanasi flight and rescheduled our flight to Kolkata for 4 days later. We’d meet in Bangkok.
Thursday morning, I go to the hotel lobby by 7:30 am to see what’s going on. The lobby was quasi empty. What did I miss? No one could tell me… I’m used to that by now. I put myself on the Navy ship list again and head to the pier. Hallelujah, one counter is open and seems to be giving out tickets. I get in line and miraculously get a ticket for Koh Samui leaving at 11am. I felt so happy. Moving forward! Back at the hotel, the spaghetti bolognaise breakfast (which was proof of food shortages on the island) was delicious.
The boat was a bit late, but we did indeed leave and arrive safely on the other side without too much swell. In the meantime, I was able to reschedule my flight for 5:35pm the same day… hoping that flights were indeed departing Koh Samui.
Walking towards the taxi line, I saw this:
This was my indication that everything will be just fine.
Indeed, I got to the airport, had lunch, treated myself to a much-deserved Thai massage, lounged in the very cute gate and boarded the on-time flight. Sheer relief.
I arrived in Bangkok in time for a fantastic street-stall dinner with my love, waiting for me eagerly.