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These Two Eyes

Catching a Moment

THAILAND | Monday, 8 April 2013 | Views [118] | Scholarship Entry

My stomach is in knots as the apprehension swirls the Thai pancake I had for breakfast in my stomach like a tumble dryer. My eyes do a quick scan and I realize we’re the only two left on the small decrepit public bus. The last forty minutes have been spent winding along the rain-flooded roads of Thailand’s southwest coast. The bus pulls to the curb; the driver opens the door and simply blurts out “Ao Nang”.

One foot forward, splashing in puddles so deep my flip flop unlocks from my big toe, we quickly take cover from the rain under a thatched-roof pavilion.

“See that boat out there? That’s where we’re headed” an Israeli backpacker tells us as we stare unbelievingly at the long tail anchored about 30 feet from the sand. The red, blue, and yellow rags, once vibrant and new are hung over the mast, now faded by sea salt and sun, to distinguish each driver’s long tail from another.

Our driver wades out into the ocean as waves bully him around while he attempts to board his boat. He’s fought this battle many times. We shrug our shoulders, lift our packs over our heads, and make our way to the long tail.

We’re all a team now. No man left behind, keeping close, hands pulling each other up and over the rungs onto the boat as pellets of rain drill into our heads like a showerhead on steroids. Close to our chests and high above our heads are the treasured souvenirs that can only be found in rural huts in Chang Mai or a back alley off of Khao San Rd.

My stomach starts to cramp and the sweat begins to seep into my sea-sodden peasant dress. The driver revs the engine as he uses the giant metal pole to push us farther out into the black abyss of the Andaman Sea.

There are only five or so life-jackets tucked haphazardly into the crevices of our long tail, the neon orange is faded but I doubt they’ve been worn much. I can’t help but watch the waves smash themselves against the rocks on the mainland but the others refuse to let the unyielding Andaman get the best of them.

We pass the time listening to the drum of the engine. I gain hope as we near the island and spot lights ashore, a recent privilege to the villagers who only received power a few years ago.

I’m already wet so as the boat rocks its way closer to the shore I jump over, throw my luggage back over my head and fight the waves to the comfort of land.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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