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Where's Jonny? Care to dine with me? You would think that 11 years of daily food tasting for a living might put me off?......au contraire! Chomp away with me across 6 continents. Seduced like a bloodhound to the scent of good food, I anticipate the misty waft of steaming broths, the satisfying crunch of mudbugs and the vibrant aroma of freshly pulverised lemongrass. Buon appetito

The day my friend died

THAILAND | Saturday, 7 April 2007 | Views [987]

My friend JJ (real name Jonathan James Stanley) and I decided to go Sea Kayaking on an apparently perfect day.

Our destination, Koh Phi Phi Lay could easily be seen across the water from Koh Phi Phi and promised to be an eventful journey of discovery.  It was,  however to become unforgettable, for the wrong reasons. 

We packed drinking water, sun tan lotion, rehydration sachets and cameras in bags which stowed into an air-tight part of the kayak.  We knew there were no shops on the island so, having eaten a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, we set off across the clear waters. 

A hard 1 hour across a calm sea and we were drifting into cool, caves silhouetted by stalactites then navigating sharp rocks where single herons stared below. 

The island is famous for its huge caves where daring men scale bamboo poles in the search for birds nests (for soup) and more recently for Maya beach (from the film, "the beach")

The glassy, aquamarine sea had become, in parts, like a sheet of pristine ice, its depths unfathomable.  Whole shoals of curious red and green fish chased our kayak, intrigued by our elongated, yellow kazoo of a boat.  JJ broke the water, wiggling his finger, tantalising them into snapping.  A light wind had picked up making the oceans surface change from light ripples to deeper, cleaner waves but we were far too engrossed to notice anything.  

Our necks bent back as we watched massive brown-backed eagles circle in the lush, peaked tops of the island.   Tired, we decided to stop for a rest on a small beach so quiet that my tinnitus became a howling gale in my ears.  Time became irrelevant. 

Our next destination was further round the rocky shore.  Arriving in the shallows of Maya beach the white powdery sand formed dust clouds around the oars like ovaltine in a cup of hot milk.  This was somewhere really special.  We thirstily finished off the water we had brought and savoured the relief the water offered as we bathed.

The wildlife was captivating.  Little fish chewed on our toes and frigate birds fought above like Pterodactyls from Jurrasic park.

By now we realised how much the sun had caught our legs.  My shins were raw and later my ankles would swell so badly that the British medical journal could have used them as examples.  Unfortunately this was to be the least of our worries.

We set off at 4pm, plenty of time before sunset.  We were hungry but knew we would be back in time for tea.   JJ did a Geography degree and pointed out  that large anvil-shaped cloud formations forming in the distance were a sign of a tropical storm.

We deliberated about the best way to go back and eventually agreed on a route that would have us battling against a strong current.   

Quite quickly the water became choppy.  Unlike the onward journey, waves started lapping onto the front of the kayak. 

The boat started taking on water.  We were near rocks and in a swell.  As the waves became bigger, JJ suggested we turn back.

At this point I knew something was wrong.  JJ screamed out from the back of the kayak.  His face was riddled with shock. 

It was Canon.

My friend had swallowed salty sea water and leaking badly from his midrift. 

I tried recussitation but it was no use.  He was wet through with a liquid that would kill him.

We returned to Koh Phi Phi........

JJ and I held a private service on the beach that night.  We buried Canon with full military honours.  He served his country well and I shall never forget him.

He took Pandas in China, penguins in South Africa, markets in Bangkok and skylines in Hong Kong.

Farewell my friend.  RIP Canon 400D 2/4/2007

Tags: Beaches & sunshine

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