Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Krabi, where angels fly

I took a boat trip yesterday to Karabi. I only bought a ticket for a one way van pickup and ferry, pickup at 7am. I was lucky to find somewhere open early enough to get a real cup of coffee. After a long ride to Phuket we got to the ferry station where masses of people were waiting to board the huge old tuggers to Phi Phi, Krabi, and points beyond. Boat boys were lugging luggage on their heads over these rickety plank boards you have to walk over from boat to boat, because all the boats are parked four deep against the pier. I was on the last boat, and walked across four boats over slippery planks to my boat. I had put on a ton of sunscreen, so I climbed up two narrow boat stairs to the top seating, which was all done in twos. I sat in my space feeling kind of weird because there was an empty unused seat next to me. Then this lady sat down who I didn’t realize until much later was my guardian angel, if you believe in such things. At this time in my life I am living the Lennon song, and don’t believe in nothing because to believe in anything means to surrender to the idea that my husband and I met and fell in love and then he died; and that there was some kind of purpose or reason or means to that end, and I can’t believe that in my heart or my head. So for now, I believe in nothing and explore everything.

The problem for me with angels is that often I don’t recognize them, or they don’t look or act the way I think they should; they are too big or too small or talk to loud or are too bossy or I’m looking the other way at something I think is more interesting. I also have a very bad habit of, when I meet an angel, trying to clip their wings. I don’t know where that comes from (the devil in me?), but it is a definite pattern that I meet an angel and behave badly with them.

The day was perfectly beautiful, blue sky, little wind, not blistering hot like it usually is here, and the ocean was, as the ocean always is for me, home. Let me get the travelogue part of this over. Krabi is another of those places I don’t want to tell anyone about. It is isolated about 25 miles off the coast of Phuket with long sandy beaches, and clear lagoons. There are some very exclusive places to stay, including one that was 30,000 baht per night ($1000.00). I think when-if I come back here I will book a place in Krabi for a week or two. It’s a whole different scene than Karon to Patong. There are tons of islands you can ride Chinese looking boat tuktuks back and forth to visit. I didn’t go into Krabi Town, because I decided to take the four island boat tour with my new friend, so I have somewhere to explore another time. We went to Krabi Beach, Chicken Island-which does look like a big chicken, and several other spots. The swimming was great, better than Karon Beach, because the sand was softer and there were big shallow lagoons to swim in with no shore break. We talked and swam and had a lovely luncheon buffet at a sweet little resort I might come back to someday. It was one of those perfect trips on a perfect day.

We had switched from the ferry to Krabi to a speedboat, and now were with a smaller crowd of French, English, Thai, Australian and other tourists. I had never really thought about the differences between a boat trip on Maui which I’ve taken plenty of, and out in the world. Americans may take a bit to warm up, but they are friendly, curious people as a whole, and if you are on a boat full of Americans, it will probably be noisy and interactive within a short time. That could be because of the common language, but I think it’s more than that. When you are on a tour with tourists out in the world, generally, the Germans have no interest in the French, the French have no interest in, well, and anyone not French, and the Russians are not friendly to anyone, even other Russians. These are, of course, vast generalizations and I can only write my trip and my experience. Iit is possible you may have a different trip and a different experience, but I can’t write about that. So on this small speedboat where people were not really interacting with each other,  a companion made it much nicer even though I did a bit of wing-clipping and over-reacted to what felt a bit like having an instant Jewish mother. “Don’t forget your towel, dear”, and “here’s a toothpick, because you’ll have rice stuck in your teeth” being a couple of examples.  The kind of mothering that brings out the worst bad little “fuck off” teenager in me.

But I am much older and wiser and know myself pretty well, so I was able to catch myself in the act, and go off on my own so I could put on my friendly face. The wonderfulness of this meeting is how easily we talked about music, and Europe, and traveling, and family, and adventures, and playing mag yong, and politics, and the silliness of religions. That was the wonder of it all, and I was able to not ruin that with my bad self.

We went out in the boat to a snorkeling spot in a really isolated cove. I had every intention of snorkeling on this trip and had my mask ready, but then when we stopped I became, as my granny would have said, “afeared”. I just couldn’t get in the water. We were out in a lonely bay  with a bunch of strangers, granted, but I had my guardian angel and I knew she wouldn’t have let anything happen to me, no way. The guide had mentioned sharks and sea urchins, but that stuff never stops me at home. My angel was urging me to go (although she was not going), but I just couldn’t make myself get in the water. Maybe for good reason, I’ll never know. Later, I explained to her that it was because the stairs on the back of the boat were very hard to climb up and down, slippery, and I had broken my foot climbing out of a pool on stairs like that, but that wasn’t really all of it. I just got afeared. I’ve had that happen with other things on this trip, like riding scooter in Goa, and usually once I recognize the fear, I’m ready to go on the second or third try. Now I’m riding scooter all over this place. So, I’m pretty sure the next boat I go out on, I will jump off the back and snorkel on my own. I also think it’s that thing of always feeling so safe in the water with my husband, because he could basically swim to Tahiti from Maui, and now not feeling so safe in the ocean without him. But as we all know, being afeared is never about just one thing. Sometimes those feelings are warnings at the time and place, and sometimes they are just yellow lights to go slow, and sometimes they are stop signs we’d do better to ignore.

The last island we went to was a perfect white sand lagoon of clear water and fish swimming in the bay where we swam in water the temperature of cool bath water, swimming under the wide sky surrounded by green green island rocks jutting up out of the ocean like the most scenic painting you’ve ever seen of the wild, wide exotic places of the world. And it was just another day in paradise with angels, and fish, and freedom, and me as always occasionally snapping at my tail.

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