Tuesday, July 01, 2014

My Memorable Boat Ride, Koh Lipe Low Season

Overcrowded But it did not Matter
So different, so very much different in this low season compared to 2 years ago. The schedules of boats crossing over to Koh Lipe was limited to only one trip a day, 11:30 am. So was the return trip back, started at an early 9 am. What was so very much different was the chaos getting on board the speed boats. There used to be a queue system but during the low season it did not happen. First I will blog about the leg from Pak Bara to Koh Lipe. I got queue card number 1 for I was early. It did not matter anyway when we were lined up for boarding. The native islanders, many, strolled right in front of me and boarded. The boat was overloaded but so what. As long as the boat did not sink at the pier, it should make it to the island.

When we arrived near Koh Lipe, as the sea was rough near shores, the speed boats were unable to approach. As such, we transited on a floating platform set out in the deeper water. It was the start of spoilage to my idea long awaited holiday. We had to buy additional tickets for getting on to long tail boats to get on shore. The she-boy handed us slips of paper and pointed us to queue over somewhere there. We realized 20 minutes later it was a wrong queue, it was for a private charter to one of the resorts. So we asked the impatient she-boy again and she annoyingly pointed us somewhere over somewhere again. I think she was having a bad artificial vagina day problem or something. Anyway, we finally got on shore after shoving among hordes of people who were unable to comprehend a queue system, all trying eagerly and impatiently to jump onto the long tail boats.

Scramble for It
Now, the trip back. I will have to describe it with the lingo of Singlish in order to fully illustrate in words how it really went. To begin with, there were no queue cards issued. Again this was unlike 2 years ago. We were all bundled up in disorderly scattered groups on the beach. Where there were shades, there were some of us. Under the trees, under the shack, and all over the wooden bar selling fruit smoothies to fight the already searing morning heat. And then, it was 9.30 and them operators announced it was time for boarding. Everyone rushed for the boat and I really meant everyone. The kiasu syndrome I had not seen in a long long time suddenly come out in all kinds of pattern and color.

In Thai culture, everything should be rather orderly, just like how we see Thais queue up for trains and buses. But here on Koh Lipe, with the perfect mix of nationalities, things started to turn strange. On the onset of boarding, the Singaporean (me) and Malaysians sprinted faster than cheetah to the front of queue. Then the China woman cut queue and board the boat without tickets ignoring the commands of the Thai operator. Then the Singaporean (me again) and Malaysian kiasunisim come out full battle order and hell broke the queue line. Then the Thais in the queue buay tahan and also anyhow start to cut left right center and upside down. We all had a wild time crowd at the boat try to squeeze our way up. Malaysians and Thais then, in a strategic move, released their tiny kids to stream up the boats through cracks in order to chop seats. And then the China woman's husband shouted for her to get off the boat because she board wrong boat (yes she is bimbo + kiasu + kiasi beating us Singaporeans and Malaysians). Then she squeeze herself out in the market of chaotic rojak Thais Malaysians and Singaporean snatching seats. By right the bulky angmohs will come from behind and bulldoze us to the corner, but they decided to let us kill ourselves first. Perfect storm.

Long Tail Boats to Island
See, during the low season, not only were the schedules limited because of the perceived lower number of travelers, so were the number of operating boats. As such, if there were, and always were, greater number of travelers then what the number of operating boats could take, did not matter. Just pack us all on board without safely concerns. The operators told us, this happened because they can never predict the number of native islanders who will be making the crossing as they have the rights to board without pre-bookings. They had to take them all in, and the islanders were immune to the concept of civic orderly queuing system. So boats will be packed to the brim on some days, passengers had to crowd and some sat on the aisle and everywhere a butt could fit. The planned departure of boats from Pak Bara to Koh Lipe will also likely be delayed. They waited for passengers who arrived on later flights in Hat Yai as there were no more scheduled crossing after. This year, I tried Easy Lipe speed boats, I was totally not impressed. My 11.30 am departure was delayed a good hour, it ate into my quality island time. I wished I had used the same Ploysiam speed boats as I did 2 years ago because they were the one that left on time. It was an unpleasant experience, definitely was, the journey to and from Koh Lipe during the low season.

Rough Seas
I Should Have Use This
Storm Clouds
Under Repair
In the Shadows


Anonymous said...

i am leaving to koh lipe this end of july too. May I know how much does it cost for a return ticket from pak barra?

Jewie said...

I was told for the boat trips alone, it cost about 800 to 900 Baht return. For me, I took on the 1500 Baht package which included the return van trip from Surat Thani airport.