I woke to the sound of waves crashing just outside my tent. The park ranger had told me not to pitch too close to the sea for fear of a high tide, but the gamble had paid off. I didn’t get wet, and I awoke inches from the clear water.
Freddie was to arrive around midday, so I took the opportunity to wander the grounds of the national park site and educate myself on the history of the island. It used to be an old prison colony, but during World War II the food supplies stopped coming from the mainland. As a result, and out of desperation, the prison guards and prisoners sided together to build a fleet. They started a pirate nation that terrorised the coast all the way up to Myanmar, and were not properly stopped for a number of decades. An amazing story of people resorting to the extremes in order to survive and finding they were actually pretty good at it.
At midday I sat and watched the boats pull up. More than one boat arrived, each with at least 30 people, but all of these passengers were to continue on to Koh Lipe. Just Freddie and a couple of others would be inhabiting my near-private Island. He walked off the boat with a smile on his face, and I gave him a hug. Our Koh Tarutao adventure was about to begin.
We set up our camp, this time moving yet closer to the tideline, and swung our hammocks between two trees. Freddie was still feeling a bit sick so we decided a hammocks day was in order. This suited me perfectly.
We watched the ocean, listened to tunes and drank some Chang beer. At sunset we witnessed an amazing natural phenomenon. From immediately below us, where the sand began, to as far as we could see. Crabs of all sizes emerged from holes. Some small, some big. Some massive. From our vantage points we could witness the huge web of moving creatures as it expanded to cover the whole expanse of the low-tide beach. Crabs would have disputes, battling each other like there was nothing else in this world but their small hole in their small patch of sand. I guess in their minds there wasn’t. Sometimes I think it would be nice to inhabit a world so tiny, one that holds everything you have of value, and you have need of nothing more. The sun set slowly behind them and the living beach continued its activity until it was too dark for anything to see.
That night there was a torrential downpour. I was unbelievably snug and warm, cosy in my sleeping bag as I listened to the rain outside. After a terrific night’s sleep I woke and left my tent, to find Freddie standing next to his. His head was bowed, he looked distraught. At his feet was the biggest mess of a tent I have ever seen. A heap of fabric sodden with moist.
Freddie regaled me with the tale of his night. Shortly after the downpour began his tent had collapsed. He woke to the clinging fabric on his face as water cascaded in from every angle. Onto his bag, his clothes, his everything. He’d evacuated his tent at immense speed and carried his belongings amidst the storm to the nearest shelter, the museum. There he had spread out all his possessions and slept on the concrete floor, no protection from the plethora of mosquitos that for some reason absolutely love the museum.
I looked at Freddie. He was very angry.
He marched over to the super friendly smiley National Park ranger and began giving him what for. Freddie unleashed his fury on the man. But the smiling ranger was a porous creature, who could succumb to no wrath. He was like the sea defences that absorb and negate the power of the tides. He stood there with a warm smile, and the rage of Freddie was diffused.
Freddie replaced his tent with a sturdy one. And we made our plan for the day. Next stop was the Crocodile Cave…….