Thursday, January 15, 2009

Crispy Fried Ice Cube

Day 309
Almost two years ago I went to work. Well, I went to work a lot, but this day sticks out in my head. I had to be at a store in Soho at five am for my part time job taking inventory on a Saturday. The walk to Soho from my apartment took about 30 minutes and I decided to walk. The subway is horribly irregular at that time anyway, it might have even been the faster option. It was February and it was freezing out and sleeting. I was frozen by the time I got to the store. To make matters more annoying I only worked for about 3 hours before it was time to walk home. Once I was home I got in bed and covered myself with every blanket I owned. It took hours to feel properly warm again. The only thing that kept me going was thinking about how nice it would be and how happy I would be when I was on the beach in Thailand. It's a reminder for me of how hard I worked and how happy I am with myself for doing it. Today is the day that I walked an hour in the sleet for.

After breakfast I walked down the street to meet with my snorkeling group. I had never been snorkeling before and was really looking forward to it. The first stop was the main office. We were there forever. Two Canadian girls must have tried on every pair of flippers in the store before being happy with some. The first ones I tried fit, I couldn't see what their problem was. When we finally had everything together I got split from the group I had been chatting with. They were all even numbers and I was the odd one out. I ended up with a group of Israelis and Argentinians. They were all very friendly.

The first stop wasn't far from the beach. The water looked really shallow but was actually around 15 meters. It was amazing how clear the water was. I tried to get the hang of breathing through my mouth but I couldn't do it. A few times I simply held my breath but that didn't really work well. After a few minutes I gave up and went back to the boat. Snorkeling was for the birds, or maybe the fish.

The second stop was just for swimming and was called monkey beach. I found that to be kinda odd as there weren't any monkeys to be seen. I got in the crystal clear water for a bit but ended up just sitting on some rocks and trying to advert my eyes when the (always older) speedo clad men walked by. Eventually the monkeys decided to make an appearance. It was easy to see why it had taken them so long to come to the beach. There were the fattest monkeys I had ever seen. Clearly tourists are feeding them way too much. There was even one with corn on the cob!

Our third stop was another chance to dive. It was rather rough and unpleasant getting there. The cove we were in was calm. I got my things together slowly, I was determined, but still a bit nervous. I'm not a strong swimmer and that wasn't really helping the situation. This time something clicked, it was amazing. The fish were brightly colored and coral wove intricate patterns on the sea bed. I stayed out for much longer this time. During one of my frequent brakes I realized that I had gotten further from the boat than I had intended. I decided to head back before I drowned myself.

Next up was lunch. It was just rice and veggies and I wasn't overly hungry. The bouncy boat was upsetting my stomach. We had an hour at the beach and most people, like me, took a nap. I think this is when I got sunburned. When I woke up my feet felt a bit singed, but I figured that it wouldn't be a big deal.

The sea was even rougher when we headed back out. Apparently we were missing the best spot for snorkeling because of it. We took a turn through a cove and were told that we would be swimming, but the boat never stopped. The waves seemed even rougher once we got out of the cove. I was holding on for dear life to the boat.

As they say, third times the charm, this time I really got the whole breathing thing down. Thank goodness it's easy to float face down as well. There were more fish here than in the other places. It wasn't as deep and I hit the bottom once or twice with my flipper on accident. Once I had been down for about 8 minutes my mask started to fill with water. Once this happened I had to come up every minute or so to clear it out. I did something wrong at one point and ended up inhaling a mouth full of salt water. I came sputtering to the surface. I had to catch my breath but couldn't as long as I was treading water. I was quite a ways from the boat as well. It took me some time (seemed like forever) but I eventually made it back. I hung on the later for several minutes trying to catch my breath. I was finished for the day, but I would definitely want to go snorkeling again.

The day was coming to an end and it was getting cold. The last stop was the beach from the movie The Beach. I haven't seen it so I was only impressed by its beauty and not Leo's past presence. We had an hour to hang out there. It was getting cold and there wasn't anywhere to sit. We had an hour because we were meant to see the sunset on the way out. Almost all of the other boats left before ours though. I don't think that I was the only one getting bored. When we tried to get on the boat it floated away a bit and our guide had to catch it. If I wasn't so cold from being half in and half out of the water I think I would have laughed.

Getting back to Phi Phi was terrifying. I had thought it was rough before, but this was worse. We were definitely airborne a few times. I was holding on and everyone was screaming a bit. I tried to search my memory for any stories I've heard of these things tipping. None of them were from snorkeling though, just drunk drivers after the full moon parties. That made me feel a bit better, but there's always the first time. The water splashing was freezing as well and I was covered in goosebumps. When we finally got back to the island I about kissed the sand. I practically ran back to my hotel. I had only a cold water shower, but the water was warmer than my skin so there was no need for the shower hokey poky (this is how I deal with cold water showers).

When I was dry I headed out for dinner. I went to a place that played movies and I thought I would sit there for most of the night. I was freezing cold and shivering. I couldn't deal with the fans. Plus, I hadn't just burned my feet but also my legs, I was very uncomfortable. I decided to leave and picked up aloe on my way back. The aloe cooled my burning legs, but even without my fan on I was shivering in my room. I took some tylonal pm to help me sleep and read until it took effect. Despite the poor ending, I still had a fabulous day and I'm glad that I worked as hard as I did to earn this trip.

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