The Return of the Lobster-tan

It were blazing days and mi amour and I resided in a beauty of a room on Koh Tao. The government controlled travel agency had taken care of us these past days and it took time off of our hands. Though I had been reluctant, getting overwhelmed by the making of advanced plans, the Dutch in me had risen when I learned the financial benefits it would have. And despite the incompetence that had shown after the escapades in Khao Yai park, manifesting in an indolent and impatient man’s errors being brought to our blame and the wrongful bookings we had to fix, it was a pleasant experience.

Now, what brought us to this deserted island was our need for harmony from the amassing of nationalities we had witnessed in the Thai capital. A break-away from the tourists, if you must. Given, we did have the national park, however we decided to change the scenario. And where better to go to than Koh Tao, an island stamped with tourist-free by T, an old co-worker of mine. During our ferry there however, and a short amble about, it began to sink in that perhaps T’s definition of “Not so touristy” does not resonate to that of mine. Que sera sera. It took us a long haul to get to the island from the national park, including a night on a bunk-bed-train listening to a heavy-sized American babbling, making flirty remarks towards an uninterested local and grunting phrases and snores whilst awake, or sleepwalking, or both. He was a strange man without boundaries. Anyhow, we eventually arrived on the island and our nights there were booked and the room was lovely! The room was of such comfort we were convinced to have scammed the government – which might explain why she initially accidentally booked a night too few and our accommodation wasn’t the promised pricier cottage at the beach. But since we got our agreed upon night back and the two of us didn’t march and fret at the thought of a minute’s longer walk to get to the sandy border, there was no problem. So, what was the rush, eh?

The second we had fully settled in, the drinking and eating commenced. Something we lacked with the skipping of meals due to odd restaurant times in the national park. I cultivated the lost mass through burgers, pad thai, rice and noodles, sets of Singha and Changi with an occasional cocktail and mojito. We scoped out about every restaurant for a dish and only once our craving bellies were satiated we began the scavenging of activities.

One that had caught our lingering eye was a boat tour around the island, inclusive of snorkelling and swimming side by side with fishes and possibly turtles and sharks whilst admiring the corals. As the enticing title allured you here with a story of the lobster-tan, I find it near superfluous to point out that the seas that day lacked sharks. The turtles appeared at a bare minimum – none we saw – and the corals weren’t even a fraction of the wonders we witnessed at previous dives. I try not to constantly refer to the magical archipelago, however having experienced the corals and marine life in the Philippines, snorkelling elsewhere hardly wowed. As kickoff was the picturesque island near the port we embarked the boat from. That was where the trouble began.

Walking the wooden planks heading towards the viewpoint, my shoulders and neck were introduced to the flaming sun leaving a burning tingle that would increasingly escalate as the hours passed. Therefore, majority of our time on it was spent in the shades we could find. Leaving the island in the horizon behind us, the little boat graced over the waves heading from stop to stop with a sun peeking under the roof from an angle. And here, there was no safe haven to hide from apart from a simple towel. Needless to say that during the snorkelling and swimming, we bore no protection from it entirely.

So, as we began that day with the highlight, the day from there on came down to drifting through the salty air as we bit by bit dried out with a swimming break here and there. The club of foreigners began to redden as the day went on and I possible stood out the most, as a beacon of redness. The offshore lighthouse. The return of the lobster-tan. Nearing the end of our trip we wound up bonding with another victim of the fierce sun. She was an American as well, although she fared far better as company than the babbling train-goer and would soon participate in the restaurant-spree. The moment the boat returned to port, we all rushed out to retreat to our accommodations for a longed for cold shower and rest before proceeding to partake in the island’s gifts.

This trip had been unforgettable for reasons unlike most trips. The reason we could not forget, was that weeks thereafter we counted the blisters covering our skin. Bubbles of air dotted all over our necks, shoulders, backs and arms. Our time on beaches thereafter was spent with clothing covering every bit of skin including the face as the slightest ray touching it burned like hell. Showers, hot or cold, were unbearable. The shifting of our bed sheets or the mere light touch of a shirt sliding onto the shoulders caused a stinging pain. Our days at a paradise of an island was a time of chasing shades. That sun and its burn had us in its grip for weeks to follow. We became strongly aware of how dangerous and damaging the sun truly can be.

With that, as I hilariously look back with a sly smile, I do wish you tread with care when it comes to the sun and its strength. Do not underestimate the damage it can do to your skin.