Friday, 18 January 2013

The journey that rocked my boat

As promised here is my account of the nightmarish speedboat journey that we undertook whilst on holiday a couple of weeks ago...
Island hopping, sounds lush doesn't it?! Sitting on deck topping up the tan for five hours, or not. Twenty minutes into the ferry journey all but a handful of people had gone downstairs. The speed boat in this picture was the same size as the one we travelled on from Koh Lipe to Langkawi. 
On New Years Day we left Koh Lanta to head for Langkawi. 
As we were leaving Thailand and entering Malaysia we had to stop off on Koh Lipe to go through immigration and also to change from the ferry to a small speed boat for the last part of the journey.
All the way from Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe the ferry was rocking to-and-fro and sitting on deck wasn't very comfortable, so we spent most of the five hour journey inside. 
I was knocked out by the heavy diesel fumes and slept most of the way.
I was really happy to get off the ferry on Koh Lipe hoping that it would be a quick 90 minute hop from there to Langkawi but I should have known better.
We made the same trip from Langkawi to Koh Lipe two years ago, so I kind of knew what to expect.
On that occasion the weather was pretty bad with lashing rain, thunder and lightning but the boat was bigger and felt slightly safer to be on, the crew also gave us life-vests & rain ponchos as soon as we boarded and our luggage was kept in a hold underneath the deck.
The boat that we boarded on Koh Lipe this time around was no bigger than the speed boat that Mark and I had dived off a few days earlier which to me felt a little bit disconcerting especially since all the bags were simply tossed to the back of the boat in a jumble & not secured or covered up in any way.
At least on a good dive boat everything is meticulously secured and you get a briefing about safety on board (the whereabouts of life vests & first aid kit etc) before you even get on the thing.
We were last on to the boat as we chasing the connection and it was already stuffed to the gunnels with luggage and people.
A yummy mummy with a tiny baby in her arms, families with young children and even a pregnant immediate thought was "This is going to be interesting".
I'm just going to break off in a wee rant here before I go on cause I feel I need to vent!
Why oh why, do some parents think it's a good idea to bring a tiny baby on holiday to places like these?
Firstly going to a tropical country you will probably have to inject your zero-year-old with some nasty shit so it doesn't contract some serious illness, then put the poor mite through the trials & tribulations of a long haul flight, then it’s the shock of going from a very cold to a very hot country, exceedingly strong sun, stingy things in the sea & a plethora of insects that just want to eat you etc etc etc...
Why this outburst I hear you ask, who has made your spleen erupt this time Jennie?
Well, maybe I'm unfair cause I'm sure there are some parents that are quite capable in coping with bringing a small child on a holiday like this, that's not to say that I personally agree with their choice.
However on our boat there was a particularly mad mother that had obviously OD on YouTube videos sound-tracked by chill-out music depicting happy bronzed Swedes sitting on the deck of a boat gliding over a tranquil sea, sunning themselves and looking happy.
It is my belief that she had not taken into account that the sea is unpredictable and as a rule does not behave like those glorious stills featured on travel sites.
We had just about hit the open sea when the boat stared rocking slightly and said woman started screaming that she demanded the boat to turn around and go back to Koh Lipe and if it didn't she was sure that the boat would turn over and we would all drown.
If the other little kids weren't pooping themselves with fear before, they certainly were now. 
I looked at the crew and most of them were still upbeat and smiling, so I figured we were still safe to go ahead to Langkawi; after all they make this journey everyday and unless they were a crew of suicide-boaters, I reckoned they didn't want to die either and if they though it was safe enough to go ahead, it probably would be. 
The crew asked the passengers what they wanted to do and most of us wanted to continue to Langkawi but it was agreed that we’d proceed with caution, so two of the motors where shut off, which significantly added to the journey time.
The swell was building and sunset was fast approaching.
The waves were hitting us side on, so at times it did feel as if we were going to tumble right over.
By now the crew had issued everyone with ridiculously substandard life vest.
Both the light and the whistle was missing on mine and only one of the clips was in working order, so I tied the vest to my body and grabbed our Scubapro torch from the dive bag, better safe than sorry.
In my head I was also working out a safe route to leave the boat, over the mound of unsecured bags (that were now absolutely sodden where they lay) and the two motor blades that would still be rotating.
All of a sudden a big wave mashed into the side of the boat and as the bow hit the surface the hull made a loud cracking sound.
At that point I thought we’d had it but thankfully the hull was still intact.
It was around and about now the crew started displaying some slight signs of being worried themselves and they periodically lifted the floor panel to check that everything was as it should be.
I was starting to get a wee bit worried cause the sun was quickly disappearing over the horizon and I still couldn't see Langkawi.
Granted looking for land wasn't the easiest as every time you peered over the side you’d get hit in the face by a furious whip of water.
Darkness fell and we were still running on only two motors.
The crew weren't very forthcoming in updating the passengers on how much longer we’d have to travel before we got to our destination.
Then all of a sudden hubby spotted the lights of the Langkawi cable car far away in the distance, it was like seeing the holy grail!
We came onto the lee side of the island and the waves all but abated, the captain put the boat into full throttle and we were soon in the harbour.
Sodden to the bones, shivering and still buzzing with adrenaline.
This was one of the most pant-soilingly scary yet at the same time thrilling boat rides that I've ever taken.
When we arrived at the resort just before midnight we had to hang up everything in our bags to dry. 
Of course had I been smart, I would have packed everything into bin liners and got a rain-cover for my rucksack but alas I didn't, I will do next time for sure.
Unfortunately going by boat is the only option to get to a lot of the gorgeous islands in this region but Langkawi has an airport so should you want to visit and don't want to brave the waves you can fly there.
Here are a few clips from the journey taken with Mark's GoPro (water resistant) camera... 
Lot's of love,


Krista Gassib said...

FUCK! Jennie that looks crazy good! The video at the end was most enthralling! I really admire your true sense of adventure! I would probably not be up to this but really envy that you are. Everything you are seeing you are really earning and I bet it makes the experience all that more satisfying. Thanks for sharing the scary ass boat ride story with us. You are a real life Lara Croft!

freckleface said...

Oh my, that does sound hairy. Thank goodness it all ended well. You sound very intrepid!

As kids we used to do a regular speed boat journeys and that is when I learned to tie a bow (on the life jacket). This brought back some memories! xxx

Onto my Wardrobe said...

Love your blog ! What about following each other? Also on bloglovin and fb if you want...just let me know :3 <3


Stephanie Scarpa said...

That looks like a wonderful place!

/Stephanie / http://

Punk Glam Queen said...

Sounds perfectly horrid! I must interject though, its not always mums with small children that get terrified. I know quite a few adults without children who have pulled the very same stunt. If you've never been on a boat like that, or been on a rough boat ride you are sure to lose it! XXX

Panty Buns said...

Love the video! So sorry to hear of the nightmarish aspect. When I was a kid I loved the chances I had to sail in heavy weather in the summertime so I can appreciate the thrilling and fun part, though the cracking sound and waves broadside sound whilst that far from land sound scary and having someone be hysterical sure doesn't help settle the nerves any. The YouTube GoPro3Black's Channel is yours? You're very brave to travel like that! I feel like such a putz - I was at home uploading the lingerie review videos for my YouTube channel that I'd just made whilst you were out braving the elements and adverse conditions traveling and having a thrilling adventure despite danger, stinging thingies and diesel fumes. I love that video Koh Lipe to Langkawi. Well done you!!!