Adventures in the Andaman

My favorite movie growing up was Titanic which must be subconsciously connected to the fact that I can’t swim. In an attempt to face my fears, however, I boarded my second boat in just as many days to go deep into the Andaman Sea to explore the islands around Krabi. As the coast shrunk in my field of vision I eyed the life jackets tucked under the nose of the boat. There wasn’t enough for the number of people on board but I felt confident that if push came to shove I would end up with one. It’s not that I’ve never tried to swim, its just that I drowned during my first swimming lesson and never tried again. But I kept hearing everyone talk about snorkeling in Thailand and figured if there was any chance I would get over my fear of water it would be now.


The boat trip was sponsored by our hostel and it was one of the rare occasions were going on a tour through a hostel was cheaper then arranging it on your own. Ebony and I boarded the boat with about 15-20 other people. Our first stop was Tonsai Beach which Ebony and I had partially seen the previous day. But this wasn’t just any tour it was a party tour so after we got off the boat we all circled up on the beach and shotgunned the free beer we got with our ticket. The group separated and I explored the grassy areas to see if I could snap any pics. I loved the way the tall palms were an accessory to the bright blue sky and fluffy clouds.

After an hour we made our way back on the boat and went further out to sea, for snorkeling. I had to admit there was something so beautiful about being on the water. The rhythm of the boat as it bounces over the waves, the wind whipping around you, the smell of salt in the air. We stopped by this large lime stone rock that stuck out of the sea like a giant thumb. The water had created caves after hundreds of years of water beating against the soft porous rock. They passed out the scant life jackets and a bunch of people jumped into the water to go swim around. The main instructor had hoped we would be able to snorkel here but claimed the water was too murky and so we went even further out to sea.

By this time the coast was the size of a piece of paper on the horizon. The important mix of fear and excitement was churning inside of me as we stopped at our new location. There was another boat present with people snorkeling in the distance. I looked over the boat into the water below wondering what I would see beneath its surface. The instructor pulled out the snorkels and talked about how to use them, this was the first safety demonstration I had paid attention to in god knows how long. When he warned that the snorkels often get foggy I asked how I would mitigate that problem. He suggested we spit into the goggles and then rinse it with some water. The fear and excitement quickly turned to disgust. I started gagging, but told myself it was fine I could get past this. However when they told us that we would have to share snorkels I knew this dream might be coming to an end. If I was in the first round of people with snorkels then I could have convinced myself that they sterilize the snorkels after every trip. But watching everyone spit right in front of me shattered that fragile illusion.

Instead I decided I would try and float in the water. I pulled on a life jacket and wearily climbed off the boat. My knees were shaking as I made my way down the wooden ladder the boat rocking with the waves. The water was a lot warmer then I expected. When I was waist deep i decided to let go hoping I would float. The water was so salty that I did but the current was so strong that it began to drag me away from the boat. I quickly grabbed back onto the ladder and just bobbed like an animal clinging to a rope for dear life.

After I pulled myself up on the boat I noticed that the captain kept tinkering with the engine. He pulled a wrench out of his bag and made some adjustments before pulling a lever that previously had started the engine only this time it made no sound. I started to grow concerned as people made their way back to the boat and I hadn’t heard the engine roar to life. Finally he revived the engine and we were on our way. Our final stop was Railay Beach where there is a beautiful cave system and a shrine dedicated to a Princess Goddess. According to tradition to pay your respects you must bring a phallus as a gift so the cave is literally filled with different sized carvings. The sun began to set so we hopped back on our boat and headed back to Krabi. While I didn’t get to snorkel I’m happy I at least got into the water and saw a cave full of penises.


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