My trip to Thailand and Cambodia was amazing…and possibly the least planned out trip I’ve ever been on that involved anyone other than myself. When I’m alone, I don’t care a bit about plans. When there’s someone else around and I feel like I’m in charge, then I care a lot. That said, the first part of my trip was pretty well set because I knew I wanted to go diving and I got there the very last weekend the Similan Islands (a national park) would be open for divers. Or at least I thought it was well planned out.
I left Tokyo Thursday evening and spent Thursday night at this crazy/random/cheap h–otel (motel?) near the airport in Bangkok so I could get on my 8am flight to Phuket the following morning. With no ideal flight schedules, this was the best option, and it meant that Friday was spent lying on the beach and getting a massage at the lovely resort where I’d booked myself. This was the most expensive portion of my trip, by far, but it was totally worth it.
Saturday, I was set to be picked up between 5:50 and 6:00 am to be transported to Khao Lak (where the movie The Impossible took place, I discovered later) where I would board a speed boat out to a live-aboard in the Similan Islands. I was so excited. I have always wanted to do the live-aboard thing and could not wait to be diving again.
Well, I woke up Saturday morning, checked my big bag with the bellhop (I was going to be staying at the same hotel when I returned from my night at sea…this was good planning on my part). So, 5:50 passes, then 6:00, then 6:10. At this point, I’m starting to get a little panicked. I got to my email to find the guys number from the dive operator and, as I read the email, I saw that his confirmation email was, in fact, confirming the wrong date. I had say the 27th and 28th, he had confirmed for pickup on the 28th. This was not good. So, I call the 24 hour number (bless this diver operator and their 24-hour service) and I’m informed, very nicely, that it’s too late for me to get picked up, but if I can get a ride to Khao Lak, he would call to see if there was room on the boat for me that night.
So, I’m waiting for him to make a couple of phone calls and asking the front desk about a taxi to Khoa Lak. I am told it will be $120. I realize that sounds crazy, but considering how much I’ve already invested and that I have to be on a flight Monday evening to meet my friend in Bangkok and you can’t fly within 24-hours of diving, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t do it. The kicker, though, was that I needed to be there in 90 minutes and the drive, if traffic and all of the elements combined cooperated, would be at least 90 minutes.
Here’s where I do well in a crisis (realizing that this is hardly a crisis in the grand scheme of things, but felt that way at the time). I am a pragmatist. I think through the situation, find the best possible solution, and move forward with it. I may have a moment of emotion, but then my rational brain kicks in and reminds me that emotions are pointless in such situations as they cannot do anything to help.
At this point, the desk clerk is calling the dive shop guy to confirm that I can get on the boat (I could) and where I need to be dropped off so he could explain it to the taxi driver. I confirm that I will pay cash for the ride. The taxi driver shows up and we’re off.
Where I don’t do well in a crisis is when there is driving involved and I’m not the one doing it. But, amazingly, in a world where you can never count on a taxi driver, I got one that drove just as I would drive. And I could see the determination in his eyes to get me there in time. Not because he really cared about me getting there, but because he wanted to prove he could do it. And that was just the determination I was looking for. And 90 LONG minutes later, I made it. I was on the speed boat, awaiting the arrival of the others who were to come as well. Seriously, I wish I had caught the name of the desk clerk and taxi driver (I asked for them, but me and foreign names don’t always understand one another so well…) because they were both champs.
And that covers my first 36 hours of a 10 day trip. More to come…