And the rain didn't stop. At all. Oh no - it got a whole lot worse. And it lasted for four days. All the boats in the Gulf of Thailand were ordered by the government not to sail. Given my Sunday-night experience, I supported this mandate fully. I was in no mood to get on another Gilligan tour anytime soon.
But I had to do something - my visa was running out and I needed to get to the mainland. Monday passed; Tuesday came and went, and on Wednesday, I was greeted in the morning by a bouncing Spaniard cheering, "The navy sent a ship!"
That's right. The king sent out his number one ship, a giant air craft carrier - that's right kids, an AIR CRAFT CARRIER! Pack your bags, we're travellin' in style!!
In my last update, I showed a video of the Koh Tao pier on March 28th at 5am. I waited for a break in the rain, which came around 8am, when I threw on my pack and trudged, or waded, up the hill to my hotel. The water was calf-deep and the roads were filled with sand and debri that was at least ankle-deep.
View from my hotel window - your town may require snow plows; here, we plow sand.
It was definitely an efficient operation. Once the street and drains were cleared of the debri, the water was able to flow away properly.
Hmm, if snow plows mean snow men, do sand plows mean sand men?
"Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream!"
On the morning of Wednesday, March 30 I learned that the Thai Navy sent an air craft carrier to take anyone and everyone for a ride to the mainland for free - score! Not only is that really cool because I get to ride on an acc, which is neat all on its own, but it also means no tossing and turning like my previous boat trip - woot!
Vessels that large don't pull up to the beach. The waters around the island are really shallow, so getting to the ship was a project. Most people had to take a long-tail boat out to a SCUBA ship, the jump off the diving board into a dingy and climb a rope ladder into the ship. While that sounds fun, I am a rockstar from Mars and I roll in presidential style.
I rolled out to a make-shift landing pad and lined up for my turn to board one of the two military helicopters that was making rounds to and from the ship. When we got close enough in que to be close to the chopped, we had to duck down and cover our heads as it took off and landed. As I sat crouched behind my pack blocking the sand from blowing into my eyes with the rolling sound of, "thwap thwap thwap," images of Platoon sifted through my head. It's weird to think that my paradise was once a launching point for a huge, bloody war.
Cruisin' in a military chopper, gettin' ready to land on the air craft carrier.
Saving Private Christi - or something like that!
Lunch ration - or as I like to call it - complimentary cuisine on this all-inclusive Siamese cruise! That's pork and tofu soup on rice.
Thumbs up for my free ride! Yachts are too small - I'm only taking aircraft carriers from now on for all my maritime travel needs!
Life on the acc - neat digs for the night!
Hotel Aircraft Carrier. I must say, cardboard makes an excellent sleeping mat. Those homeless people are really on to something!
Incoming! The ceiling drops down and brings the helicopter with it. Chopper number one is being moved inside.
Getting ready for the second chopper.
Tauru's retirement plan is to get an aircraft carrier and outfit it to accommodate all of our friends so we can live comfortable while cruisin' around the world. I'm calling dibs on a room that moves up and down with the push of a button!
And chopper number two was moved and parked directly in the place where I had set up camp and parked for the last five hours. Now that the boat had filled up considerably, I had to find new digs. Doh!
Checkin' out the chopper. Hmm, can I sleep in there tonight?
The ship had originally planned to take us ashore some four hours away, but it took literally all day, until about 9pm, to get all 700 people on board, and the seas were still very bad, so they decided to take us all the way to the main base outside Pattaya, which was about a ten hour ride. Snuggle up everyone - see you in the morning!
The fine dining on board our cruise - this complementary breakfast includes an omelet, rice and Nescafe.
I slept behind the chopper - tucked away between a Slovak couple and a family of Thais. This was my morning view as they dropped the roof one more time. Sweet.
So long, Hotel Air Craft Carrier! Thanks for your hospitality! We all had a great stay - seriously, a big thanks to the Thai government for supplying all that they had to ensure the safety and welfare of all of us. 500 foreigners and 200 Thais were evacuated from Koh Tao that day.
This hotel had all the amenities, including free transport to Bangkok! We all piled into buses and caravaned with a police escort - I was in the first bus, so you can see the police in front of us. Talk about a hookup! But that's just how I roll...
A video documenting my navy "rescue." Thank you, Thailand!!