In traditional fashion, Brian, Summer, Colin, and I celebrated Boxing Day with a day-long snorkeling trip around Ko Phi Phi. We packed up the scooters (only two now—we’d returned ours when Summer started her vacation) and left at 7:30.
By 9:30 we were loaded, kind of crammed, actually, onto a speed boat leaving Phuket for Ko Phi Phi, about 45 minutes away. Our guide, a lady-boy with a tendency for squealing, told us we could call her Beyonce. In her thickly accented English, she sang that today is a very special day the birthday of the tsunami in 2004 5 years ago what year is it now? tsunami killed 4,000 people and today is its birthday.
We donned our masks and jumped in at Monkey Beach—the very same Monkey Beach Colin and I had kayaked to 1 year and 361 days before.
After only twenty minutes in the water, they called us back onto the boat (most of the Asians had gotten right back in anyway, as had much of the party of sun-fearing northern Europeans). But instead of pulling out of the bay, we pulled up to the beach so people could buy food for the monkeys to steal. (“But be very careful, monkey gangs will come out of the trees and fight right in the sand!” “And they’ll steal your camera.” But now let’s go give them something to fight over and poke our cameras in their face.)
The boat stopped at The Beach (of Leonardo DiCaprio fame) and then did a drive through of another small bay so we could take pictures. It was lovely, and I really would have liked to get in the water and snorkel around, you know, on our snorkeling trip, but that wasn’t in the schedule.
We stopped for a buffet lunch (“I think I’m going to eat 1,000 baht [the price of our tickets] worth of food.”) that wasn’t bad as buffets go. We spent the allotted hour under the pavilion, then dutifully clambered back onboard when Beyonce called “Number ONNNE!”
Well out of the harbor, one of the motors in the back sputtered and stalled. In Thai, the driver shouted back and forth with the fourteen-year-old workers hanging off the end. A mixture of amusement and concern washed over the passengers, who were never told anything. Suddenly there’s a container of gasoline being hauled down the aisle and the engine is apparently lifted off the back end. In a few minutes we were started again.
…Only to sputter to a stop five minutes later. Still no one told us anything, but no one seemed overly concerned. There was no way we’d be stranded out there for long—we were a good way from the harbor, but land was within sight. I think I probably could have swum if it’d come down to it.
But it never came to anything drastic. The crew restarted the boat, and we made it to our final destination, but Beyonce promised us a new boat for the trip home. We were at a dime-sized island with way too many people on it, but our foursome found a more secluded area of beach outside the cordoned-off swim zone in between a few impressive rocks. The snorkeling wasn’t as phenomenal, but the scenery was nice indeed.
The ride back to Phuket (on a much nicer boat) was uneventful—getting to Summer and Brian’s from the drop-off point, less so. One replaced scooter key later, we were back on our way, and the night had an early ending because of Colin’s and my 6:45 departing flight the next morning. It wasn’t quite how we wanted to spend our last morning of vacation, but Air Asia didn’t really care.