“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
I love this quote about leaving your comfort zone to have an adventure.
Most times this quote is taken figuratively as plenty of adventures don’t have anything to do with the ocean, but today I’ve got a story about actually losing sight of the shore.
On October 31 2016 Rob and I got on a ferry to go from the island of Koh Tao to Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. October and November tend to be the rainy season in the Gulf, and on the morning of the 31st it was raining. Not hard, but enough to soak you if you stood outside for more than a few minutes.
I didn’t really think that this ferry ride would be any different that the others we’d taken, boring and uneventful. For whatever reason I didn’t think that the weather would be an issue, and I was hoping the rain would clear up as we got to Samui. I didn’t want to get rained out of my weekend over there.
As the ferry left Koh Tao for open water it became clear that this ride was going to be anything but boring. At first the little bumps and waves were kind of fun and exciting, but as we moved further from the shore it got rougher and bumpier. As I looked out the window I could see dark storm clouds ahead, it looked like we were heading straight into a dark abyss. The horizon looked black the cloud were so dark. And soon we were hitting waves that were as tall as the ferry itself.
I’m not usually the kind of person who gets sea sick or nervous on boats, or turbulent rides for that matter. But this ferry ride was downright nerve wracking. The boat bounced from side to side, tipping so far over I thought we might roll all the way over.
The crew was passing out plastic bags because people were getting sick all around us from the violent rocking. And while I never got sick, my anxiety levels were about as high as they have ever been. I considered taking a valium to calm down but decided against it. I wanted to be fully aware and alert if the boat went down. My mind went into disaster mode, and I literally began to map out escape routes. How fast could I get my wallet and passport out of my backpack and make it to the door if we started to go down?
Side note, if you are ever in a disaster situation abroad (hopefully you never are), the best things to make sure to take with you are your passport and wallet. Because a) Identification, and b) money.
This turbulent anxiety filled boat ride lasted about an hour, and while it was not the adventure I would have chosen, it was an adventure I got. These kinds of high stress situations are part of the travel experience sometimes, and how we deal with them can be make or break. I could have let my anxiety take over and curled up in a ball, or taken the valium and not cared what happened. But I started planning, and while mentally mapping out escape routes in case the boat sank might be a little pessimistic, at least I was doing something.
Sometimes you have to let go of everything to move forward, and you know, plan your escape from a possibly sinking ship.
Luckily we made it safely to Koh Samui without having to implement any of my disaster escape plans. And the whole experience made me realize that willingness to leave everything behind is sometimes the only way to survive.
And just for fun here’s a crude little phone video of waves hitting the side of the boat.