I hope you have pie.
That is what it said on the brochure in the seat back pocket on my plane en route to the greater Phuket area. It gave me the idea that this trip would be full of oddities and surprises.
So this morning I waded out into the surf to catch my tour boat to a handful of islands in the area. They had all boarded a half hour earlier and stopped by to fetch me in my out-of-the-way location. It was 10:00 a.m. when I hopped aboard.
The minute I stepped onto the boat, I thought "Oh shit." I am not big on tours. In fact, I am so not-big on them I really don't think I have ever done one. But isolation combined with extroversion compelled me to go for it.
So at 10:05 a.m. I was sitting in the back of a jet boat with 20+ other tourists, half of them drunk. Did I mention it was 10:00 a.m.? I am not sure if it was to impress me or not, but the Russian dude to my right inserted two drinking straws in his nostrils so that he even further resembled a walrus and then took a "photo" of me with his box of Marlboros. Oh. You sexy beast. You had me at "Na zda-ró-vye!".
I looked at the girl next to me. She looked to be about 12 and she had put on her headphones and had the glazed over look of a girl who has left her body. I wanted very much to join her as I was jetting out into the deep ocean for at least 6 more hours with my jolly friends.
I spied a good looking couple up a bit and a single guy across from them. There was hope.
The tour guide spoke "English" but when it is so heavily influenced with Thai inflection it might as well have been Thai. But since I am polite and a people pleaser, I maintained good eye contact and implied he was connecting with me, deeply, with each and every word.
When he said "Scooby Do!" I laughed. Ha ha! Scooby Do! I figured whatever it was must be multi-culturally funny.
First stop, kayaking. I got paired up with a good looking, nice "alone" Belgian. Soon, I met the cute couple (Canadian girl, hot Australian Hugh Jackman looking boyfriend) and the day got a lot better. We kayaked through these amazing caves and rock formations. I really don't have words to tell you how beautiful it is but as hungry as I was for conversation, it really rendered me speechless.
We ate lunch at a Muslim stilt village and then we saw the James Bond Island and then we went walking into a cave. Kind of scary but kind of cool. Then back to the beach up from the beach where I am staying. I said my good byes and hiked over a bunch of super slippery rocks and waded in the surf to get to my home away from home. My dog ran up the beach to meet me and I was happy for the quiet again.
It is a few hours later and I'm at my post on the deck, wired up and happy for it. It is a hot night and the bugs are crazy. I have another day before I head to Bangkok to fly to Phnom Penh for a final visit with the girls. More and more, I find myself drifting back home. My brain is as much in the writing project I am revising as it is here.
In many ways, a trip like this tells you how to do it right the next time. Many things I got right. And don't get me wrong, I am super grateful for every second. But I think that by this point in my next adventure, I will be meeting up with friends somewhere. I miss companionship. Yes, yours.
And hopefully, then, we will have pie. :)