An Expensive Day in Budget Travel (2012)

Arrive by bus, avoid the crowds, stay in budget bungalows and travel on public transport. Trips to Thai islands can be easy and inexpensive.  In theory, this is true, in practice, this is not always the case. How two events in 24-hours near tripled our spending. An Expensive Day in Budget Travel. As both myself and Fanfan were involved in each of our expensive travel mishaps it is necessary to give two somewhat conflicting accounts of events.

SLR Camera in the Andaman Sea

Being stereotypes for the day we join the hordes of backpackers descending on Koh Phi-Phi’s, Maya Bay famed setting for “The Beach.” At the time only speedboats could reach The Beach forcing our long-tail to offload at the back of the island where a 100-meter swim and trek would ensue. The boat driver offers a waterproof ‘dry bag’, in goes the camera, sealed and off we go. No problem. We take photos of the ugly crowd, return to the drop-off point and prepare for the swim back to the boat. This is where things go wrong:

Allan’s Account of Events

With no boat driver around we had the responsibility of sealing the dry bag. I popped the camera in the bag and began working with the seal. Suddenly Fanfan snatches it from my grasp, sarcastically mumbling “so smart” and confidently seals the bag before handing it back to me. I have nothing but complete faith in my partner and was now focusing all efforts on carrying her safely back to the boat (Fanfan can’t swim). I throw the bag unworryingly over my shoulders and descend into the water. Carrying both Fanfan and the bag on my back I swim like an athlete back to the boat. We scramble on-board and open the bag to find the camera waterlogged. Camera broken, lens destroyed, memory card luckily saved.

Fanfan’s Account of Events

We arrive at the cove ready to return. Before arriving at the island, Allan was given instructions on how to seal the bag. However, Allan who fails to listen to anyone but himself was unable to pick up any instruction repeated to him. He then stood staring cluelessly at the bag. As he muddled through hopeless attempts to seal the bag I had no option but to try myself. I had a go at sealing the bag before handing it back to him to check. He then impatiently climbed into the water and began swimming to the boat. The swim back was terrifying. Allan was splashing frantically and constantly grasping for an underwater guide rope. I had no choice but to go it alone and with only 2 months of swimming practice, I made it to the boat. Allan arrived later with a bag full of seawater. As it turned out the driver was waiting for Allan to signal him so he could help us back to the boat, another helpful detail he neglected to understand.

Shattered Laptop Screen in Monkey Incident

After a wasteful day at Koh Phi Phi we retreat to a secluded hideaway on East Railay. We escape the backpacker trail, kick back with cocktails and enjoy a lazy night. However, seclusion has its price. At 6:00AM the following morning we wake to the patter of falling branches on the bungalow roof. Monkeys. Again this is where things go wrong.

Allan’s Account of Events

Being an early bird I make my way to the balcony and nestle down with the laptop. Fanfan reluctantly joins me cussing the monkeys which had awaken her. As I relaxed on the balcony Fanfan leans out ready to cuss the monkeys in person. Suddenly a curious monkey swings down from the roof above. Fanfan screams, falls back to the seats and when I try to save her the laptop falls under her. She lands on the laptop and shatters the screen. Note: Fanfan has a grudge against monkeys. The previous day she started a fight with a group of Macaques at Monkey Beach (Koh Phi-Phi). She was losing the fight when the boat driver jumped in to save her by swinging a rope. She was still on edge following this incident.

Fanfan’s Account of Events

Allan too excited to sleep runs to the balcony to get a glimpse of the passing monkeys. Knowing he would never let me back to sleep I went to join him on the balcony. He then coaxed me to lean out and take photos of the monkeys when one swings down from above. I don’t know what shocked me more, the monkey or Allan’s girly scream. I’ve never heard a grown man scream like this before. Frightening. I stumble back to my chair only to find Allan had dropped the laptop where I sat. The result was a broken laptop screen. Needless to say, Allan had failed to buy travel insurance (apparently a waste of money). Note: I did not start a fight with monkeys. I had knelt to greet a number of small macaques when their mother jumped to my head from a tree above.

The Overall Damage

To replace what we had lost it cost 3,300 baht for a new laptop screen (Pantip) and 20,900 for a new Nikon 3100. The equivalent of 2 return flights to Tokyo. An Expensive Day in Budget Travel. 

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