Day 29 – Koh Tao (Still) – Wednesday March 30th 2011
At 10am we were booking another night’s stay. Frank had heard about a Navy ship evacuating people from the island, but Lotus said they would let us know.
We went for lunch and watched another dodgy movie in a bar.
When we went back to Lotus, the guy told us to pack our things ASAP and get to the Navy boat. We packed our bags in record time, excited at the prospect of finally getting out of here. We even got most of our money back for the room we had booked for the night.
Freedom Beach (-Haha)
When we jumped off the songthaew at Freedom Beach we were told we’d get taken by helicopter to a Navy ship anchored off shore. A plush resort had been taken over to process everyone, so we went into the lobby.
A stern Thai woman was shouting and screaming at us to leave, and said there was no more space. Some English travellers pointed us to the check-in table downstairs so we crept round the corner and joined the huge queue.
We were given coloured stickers and raffle tickets and told to join another queue. We would be boarded by our ticket colour. Or so we thought.
After waiting a while we were told that the Navy boat was now full, and that unless we had an urgent flight to catch, we wouldn’t be going anywhere. Balls.
We got chatting to an English trio from Basingstoke who were planning to cut their trip short as soon as they leave the island. I think we would be considering the same if we hadn’t only just started out.
A sinister story emerged that the reason they had stopped using the helicopter was because a man tried to drag a kid off it and get on the helicopter himself. The remaining evacuees were ferried to the ship on a fleet of long-tail boats, which were overloaded with ten or more people at a time.
Trapped on Freedom Beach
Everyone left on the island was offered catamaran tickets for the next day. Real news wasn’t easy to come by, so we just had to buy tickets and hope for the best. At least they were selling them at face value. The downside was we would be boarded on a first-come first-served process on the jetty at 8am tomorrow.
They must have sold three times more tickets than the catamaran could hold, so I was dreading a boatload of spewing passengers.
Also, if we make it back to solid ground, we then have to contend with the terrible flooding in southern Thailand on our way to Malaysia & Singapore. We have heard a rumour that the pier in Chumporn has been washed away.
Our next destinations of Bali and Australia are also having a bad time with this weather.