2 May, 2010
Ko Lipe, Thailand

For a nice change of pace, today was a disappointment. I woke up in the middle of the night after a dream of home and was bitterly shocked to remember that I was here. My subconscious is trying to tell me something. So is my conscious.

We asked a French divemaster where some goodd snorkelling spots where, and he suggested two small islets off the island’s east coast. We rented some fins and swam out to the first one, circumnavigating it in the hope of seeing something interesting. The coral on this side of the island was still alive, but was a brown and grey colour rather than the vibrant tropical hues one would expect of, y’know, a tropical island. We swam back to the shore, fighting against an annoying current, and discussed that disappointment over lunch.

We tackled the second islet an hour later. It was slightly better than the first, with coral that made some sluggish movement towards being colourful. There were quite a few tropical fish around, including black and yellow angelfish, and clownfish hiding in stinging fronds, and purple-lipped clams that would close their mouths if you approached them. It was okay. Chris was really negative about the whole thing, claiming he saw better stuff all the time back home, but I still think it was better than any dive I’ve had in Perth. Chris expects to see manta rays and turtles a hundred metres off the shore of a developed tourist island. There were snorkelling tours to the national park islands for about 600 baht ($20), but we were too late to sign up for those, and in any case I have my reservations about spending a day in a boat with a gaggle of lifevest-clad Thai tourists splashing about and half-drowning in the water. We came across a bunch of these sorry souls on a longtail on the second islet. I don’t understand how you can snorkel while wearing a lifevest.

I think part of the problem here is that we’re both from Australia. Perth has many, many, many flaws, but amongst her virtues are the long stretches of pristine beaches and beautiful water.These islands are certainly picture perfect at first glance, but look a little closer and you see the piles of trash on the beaches, and the reefs dead from boat anchors. I nearly stepped on a fucking syringe today. Pluck somebody out of Canada or the U.K. or France and they’d love this place, but we have more robust standards.

There are signs everyone saying SAVE KO LIPE, for some kind of “sustainable development” fund. Too late.

The last kick in the teeth was when we returned our fins to the dive shop and learned that, as of the beginning of May, none of the ferry services run to the nothern islands. None whatsoever. The only way off this rock is to take the speedboat back to the pier and then get on a minibus (the worst way to travel) and drive north. Understand that, after those three hellish days crawling up the peninsula, and then our marvellous experience riding on a speedboat with the wind in our hair, we’d agreed to island-hop north without once returning to the mainland.

We went back to the room and mulled over our options. Chris was in one of his dark, brooding moods, where a black cloud hangs over him and destroys everything in its path, and I knew with miserable certainty that before long I’d be dragged down into the same mood. Sure enough, I found myself laying on my bed thinking about home, wondering what was going to happen to the rest of the trip, imagining we’d be miserable every step of the way, imagining myself miserable even if I canned the whole venture and went home, or went to Europe.

Putting it off wasn’t going to solve anything; we went to a travel agency and booked a ticket to Ko Lanta. We were planning to check out some of the smaller islands, like Ko Bulon or Ko Libong, but we now have neither the ability nor the inclination to do so.

Hopefully – and I’m sick of writing that word – Ko Lanta will be different. Hopefully there’ll be a few more Westerners there, more stuff to do, more stuff that’s actually open and available in the low season. At the moment I’m craving to be somewhere – anywhere – that’s cold. Patagonia or Tibet or Canada or Ireland. As I’ve said before, I’d be willing to put up with all this heat and hassle and unpleasantness if only something good would happen. Not like the good snorkel I had today, because although that was nice it was nowhere near good enough to justify the ordeal I had to go through to get to it.

Also I’m aware that so far this entire blog has been nothing but a catalogue of bitching and moaning, but it’s my blog and that’s how I feel right now, so shove it.

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