Storm Swadeekha

Sometimes we go in search of adventure, sometimes adventure finds us. Put a speed boat, a stubborn tour company and a south-east Asian storm and you can smell an adventure brewing. I am not a water person, the swimming I know will probably save me in a shallow swimming pool. That’s because I would have splashed the water out of the pool with all the thrashing about I do.
We went snorkeling in Maya bay, Thailand with a tour of Phi-Phi islands with a speed boat tour company. There were some 15 people in the boat and the guide plied us with medicine for nausea and warned us about the storm coming. They told us to trust them and trust we did. We started out in the boat with our flippers and snorkeling gear, our swim suits, towels and a change of clothes. We reached Maya Bay and had a good snorkeling experience in the light rain. The lagoon reminded me of Neverland from Disney’s Peter Pan, its almost magical to be true and I didn’t want to grow up.

 

Soon the rain turned to the promised storm and then we knew what being out in the open sea on a small boat meant. The sea picked us up and then whimsically dropped us down with every surge. The rain was relentless and the spray even more. By now all our clothes were wet and so were our towels and bags and whatever else was permeable including our skin. The passengers were miserable with nowhere to hide from the sea, the salt and the rain. The hurling started with one person and soon the black trash can moving back and forth was the only activity that anyone could bring themselves to do. Hugging each other for warmth seemed more important. We non sea-faring folks prayed for land.

We reached Phi-Phi and we lost a half of our passengers for the return journey, maybe they thought they will stay in Phi-Phi till the rains stopped or maybe till the rainy season got over. The thought of food was nauseating but hey! you need something in your stomach for the return hurl. We still had hope because we bought a poncho to protect us from the rain. Oh just how hard the rain must have laughed at our futile attempts!

But we were on a determined tour because our next stop for this miserable lot was a beautiful island whose name I was too damp to remember. All I remember was that we sat in the sea because the sea was warmer than the beach. We returned back to Krabi with a better understanding of life at sea and lots of respect for the fisher folk out there but would I do this trip again, absolutely!

http://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowTopic-g297927-i9287-k3807938-Best_Krabi_beach_for_snorkeling-Krabi_Town_Krabi_Province.html

Drenched and smiling
Phi Phi islands

Island of Adventure – Vieques

On a whim we decided to check out of our hotel in San Juan in Puerto Rico and stay at a B & B in Vieques, we had our heart set on seeing the bioluminicent bay. The time efficient way to travel from San Juan to Vieques is by air, usually they are 8-14 seater flights which hop from one island to the other on the caribbean. The moment the flight takes off its clear that its an adventure. The atlantic sparkles blue and green leaving looming mountain ranges behind. For anyone who has not been on an 8 seater flight, its an experience that should not be missed.
We booked into Casa de Amistas which is a lovely B&B with a warm welcome and very friendly people. The owner suggested that we go to Esperanza for dining and shopping as it is ‘the place’ to go to in Vieques. We went there expecting a town and what we found delighted us. The main center of Esperanza is actually a small road along the beach on which locals and outsiders (for want of a better word) who fell in love with Vieques have set up shop, selling beach clothes , souvenirs , tropical fruit and a spattering of local restaurants and small food trucks. If you are lucky you might see a wedding party.  Driving around the island in itself is amazing as you can see wild horses galloping on the road and thick tropical vegetation around. Mango trees bearing fruit, plantains and coconut trees made my heart soar as it is very similar to my home town in India which on the other side of the planet.
The trip to bio bay started from Esperanza along with a few other tourists on a small dusty broken down bus. After a very bumpy ride and water from the marshes splashing through the hole in the floor of the bus, we reached thick mangroves from where the bay started. The tour guide unloaded the kayaks in pitch darkness, as it was a moonless night and the milky way formed a pavilion over us. The experience at Biobay is something that cannot be photographed by amateur photographers, hence it was better to experience it and have real memories.
After about two minutes of paddling, the water started shimmering when the paddle hit the water. As we went in deeper in the darkness, the water around the kayak starts shimmering and the paddles start shimmering. An occasional needle fish swishes through the water making shiny S shapes over the water. Soon the kayak is travelling through the bay and the water the kayak disturbs forms a halo around the kayak. Biolumicent fire flies reside in the mangroves lighting up the surrounding of the bay with their twinkling presence. It has a very eerie, magnificent, ghostly sense to it, no wonder the Spanish when they discovered the bay thought that its the work of the devil and had it cordoned off.
The bioluminices is the work of an innocent single celled organism known as dinoflagellates. To see them at work on a moonless night is truly a one of the kind experience. Vieques has so much to offer in terms of its warm people, old world charm, secluded beaches with white sand, deep forest reserves and the bio bay its no wonder that the people who found Vieques have a hard time leaving. The island is connected by ferry from the island of Puerto Rico. You can rent a car at Vieques but it is advised that you keep the car unlocked so that it is not broken into while you are snorkeling or kayaking. It was a idyllic time that we spent at Vieques, when life slowed down and experiencing each new second became more important.
Casa de Amistas - a sweet B&B
Casa de Amistas – a sweet B&B
The pool at the B &B
The pool at the B &B
Esperanza Rd
Esperanza Rd
Perfect for Snorkeling
Perfect for Snorkeling
Wild horses
Wild horses
Pristine Beaches of Vieques
Pristine Beaches of Vieques
Paintings and Souvenirs by local artists
Paintings and Souvenirs by local artists
Kayaking at night in the Biobay
Kayaking at night in the Biobay