It was a much looked forward trip to end of a year of travel.
Similan islands, 3 hours away from Phuket (90 minutes by car and another 90 minutes by fast vessel, departing from the Phang Nga pier), is a group of islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of, and part of, Phang Nga Province, southern Thailand.
Noted as one of the top ten dive destinations in the world according to the National Geographic Society, the group of Similan Islands is also a national park that was established in 1982. Most recently, Ko Bon and Ko Tachai were included in the expansion of the national park.
With my lovely sis-in-law Mo’s arrangements, we booked our 2D1N trip to visit this and another day trip to Ko Tachai.
We set off early from dreary rainy Phuket, and reached Phang Nga around 930am. The gathering point was filled with excited guests, all waiting to set off to different islands.
Our boat of 40 guests was made up of mainly Thais. The trip was choppy, but not difficult even though the skies started to pour on us while we sped towards Ko Miang.
Greeted by the pretty turquoise ocean and strong winds, we disembarked and made our way to the shore, trying to beat the waves which hit us at fast and furious intervals. The weather didn’t seem to be holding up, and the drenched girls were shivering in cold.
Despite that, it didn’t stop us from going snorkelling for a short 20 minutes, before heading off to the other end of the Ko Miang for lunch.
Didn’t really get to enjoy my snorkeling in the stormy sea 😛
Trekking through the wet muddy forest barefooted and carrying all our belongings for the overnight stay made me wonder, if the rain would ever stop at all. SIGH.
After lunch, we trekked back to the smaller beach, wondering if we could try to snorkel again, but the waves were so strong that the day-trip visitors were all stuck at the beach. Seems like no one’s getting off Ko Miang for now.
Winds howled, the waves crashed into the beach and tides swelled.
We watch, we waited, and we decided to head back to the other end, where our belongings were.
Soon, it started to pour again. Our overnight guide came to us around 2pm, and broke the news – it was very probable that we couldn’t board our ship for the night, and it was advisable to switch to a tent if we wanted to stay overnight.
Camping was not one of our top options, and we decided to wait around instead. The hut we seemed shelter at became increasingly crowded with tourists. It poured, stopped, poured again. We sat around, drank tea and watched emotions ran high, some tourists screamed at their guides. Guides became frustrated.
Some guests entertained themselves well.
The fast vessels came, but it was impossible to come near the beach as the impending storm on the sea rocked the boats greatly.
The various boat crew had to pull the boats in, ensure that the guests made their way up safely and soon, a few fast vessels were packed and sped away.
Our group of fellow guests was cooperative, our belongings were placed on board in no time and soon we were packed into the boat. However, a few extra European friends got on the wrong vessel and the boat’s overloaded. It tried to leave the shore, but the engine failed and we turned back to shore. The Europeans moved to another vessel and left for safety, while our boat tried to restart the engine, it didn’t work out in our favour.
There was no other fast vessel available. We were stranded.
As we got choked by the fumes, the waves rocked the vessel and some passengers started to throw up. Not a pretty sight 😦
I started to feel sick too as my wet towel weighed down on my shoulders, and the fumes made me tear. It was horrible.
The guide soon came to us, and got us to board a much bigger boat, which was already filled with European visitors whom were on Ko Miang. The journey back to Phang Nga would take 4 to 6 hours now.
Decked in bikini and life jacket, I felt fortunate that I had remembered to bring along 4 ponchos this trip. Each of us took a poncho, and we begin sailing back to Phang Nga. It was 6pm.
The crew came around with some sea sick pills, I took one for the first time in my life, swallowed it dry and it was bitter.
Tried to sleep on the deck, but it quickly became unsafe as riding through the choppy sea could easily send us overboard. Four of us decided to move to the ground, hugging our knees or some sat cross-legged on the corridor.
I switched off my iPhone, and soon darkness fell.
Had no idea after how long, I started to not feel my legs and had the urge to stretch them. Stood up, almost fell overboard, scared the shit out of my brother and boyfriend, then sat down and continued the journey in the most uncomfortable and wet situation.
The merciless winds continued to slap us, as the boat passed through areas of downpour. We were tired, cold and wet.
There wasn’t anything we could do, except to rest and sleep. I woke up occasionally to check on my loved ones, and went back to sleep.
After god knows how many hours, the crew started to pack the sail.
Were we near land? I switched on my phone, and it was 12.30am. Six hours later and there were little lights.
Apparently, the sail tore.
The full effect of the storm was felt when the sail’s gone.
Temperature dropped. We battled the cold, and the rain.
It was getting unbearable, but it didn’t break us.
Another hour went by, we decided to seek shelter in the covered passageway for a while, and I was dozing off while standing, too tired for words. I closed my eyes, and only looked up when the crew came by.
Another 30 minutes went by. Many were running out of patience.
Finally, one guy said “10 minutes”.
And another 10 minutes. Some lights.
Another 10 minutes. More lights and visible buildings.
A crew popped by, 5 minutes.
We are going to make it, ain’t we?
And finally, one guy shouted to get all the passengers to pack their stuff.
We were almost there!
8.5 hours into the journey, we finally got back to the pier we departed from 17 hours ago.
I was never so glad to place my feet on solid ground, even though I had no footwear and it was still raining.
The staff who got back in the fast vessels were waiting for us till the wee hours of this rainy morning. I was kinda impressed.
Restrooms first. Towels, hot drinks and porridge were served.
My hands were shaking as I tried to hold my cup of tea.
I was happy to have dry clothes to change into and I needed a bed badly. But it was after all 3am, and we were another 90 minutes from Phuket.
Lovely Mo, continued to converse with the agency which did our reservation, and soon we were on our way back to Phuket, to Sawadi Patong Resort.
We were speeding on deserted roads, through the night in the rain.
5am, we were safely checked in and I have absolutely no words to describe how relived I was.
All I can say is, thank you for sending us back to safety.
I survived Similan 🙂
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