define: balls-up (noun) BRITISH vulgar slang-
- a bungled or badly carried out task or action; a mess.
- an avoidable disaster or catastrophe.
Carrying on from the very Asian theme of my last few posts (its just 7 days until my Vietnam adventure! woo!) I thought it would be very appropriate to share a travel fail from my time in Thailand; after all sharing my fails and misadventures were the main reason I started this blog, before getting so caught up in the excitement of all things travel! I digress…
The summer of 2014, almost two years a go to the day, backpacking in Thailand with The Wife and a few of her friends. 4 scorchingly hot Bangkok days had past and it was time for us to take a long plane+coach+boat journey via Surat Thani (Thailand’s centrally located transport hub that links the mainland to the islands on the east) and ending up in Ko Samui for a few well earned beach-days.
We hop on the plane from Bangkok and land at Surat Thani in good time. It’s a tiny airport and from baggage collection we can see the coach waiting outside; people shouting, passengers boarding and signs-a-waving. Conveniently I notice all four of our backpacks arrive on the carousel at the same time; I grabbed a trolley. BISH! Mine. BASH! Sam’s. BOSH! Claire’s. JACKPOT! Wifey’s. A super quick check out and we took the ten or so steps to the exit. Our trolley is ushered from our hands as we confirm our seat and hand over tickets, watching as the staff pack or cases into the storage below the coach.
Two tedious hours later we arrive at the port. When we booked this journey with Air Asia we assumed it would be a non-stop flight over this charming part of South East Asia…. hence the name Air Asia, right? Wrong. And they didn’t tell us until we paid. At Surat Thani port now and we go through the check-in process with port authorities whilst our bags are unloaded and lined up besides the coach. We pick up our bags and are ushered to one of the two boats.
But wait… what?! This isn’t my bag… it sure looks like my bag… but.. its not! It’s heavier. Its got the wrong stickers. The wrong name. Fuck!
The port authorities are of no real assistance in this major panic and the check-in hall was virtually empty now anyway. We decided to take the bag and board our boat and look for the accidental bag-switcher. No luck. 5 minutes of madly running around our boat and nothing. We forced ourselves past the ticket inspectors and ran from our boat to the other. We must of scanned our eyes over 300 bags and nothing. My backpack was lost at sea. M.I.A. Day 6 of 14 and I’ve got no clothes left to wear. Brilliant.
Hold on… let me try my hand at lock picking… success! We crack into the bag with The Wife’s hair pin- we’re clearly in the wrong business! Dodging dirty undies and smelly socks I find a laptop and a camera and think its another success- somebody will want this backpack back! I dig deeper and find paperwork with 5 Spanish names. Instantly they are all added to facebook- thankfully I was still within range of the port’s wifi. We set sail, our connection gets lost and I proceed to get drunk at sea.
Our Ko Samui coach eventually finds its way to our hotel at approx 10pm at night. We check in and instantly hop onto the wifi. I have messages! And 5 new friends! Somebody has my bag too! All of a sudden my phone rings. It’s the airport. In broken English we agree for the other group to take my bag and we’ll make our own arrangements. Using facebook we manage to agree with the 5 lads to meet at Koh Tao port the next morning. We quickly return to our check-in desk and demanded a ticket for the first boat out of Ko Samui; they were slightly concerned but relieved (and confused) when we also asked for the first return boat too…. an emotional whirlpool.
Up bright and early the next day, The Wife joins me as we board a faster, neater boat to the neighbouring Island (we have reservations to stay here in 3 days time), docking up at about 9am. Waiting at the port was this gangly, tanned Spanish lad looking happy to see his bag in my possession… but without mine. With no English he ushered us to a bar where his friends (and my backpack! woo!) were. We shared beers, pick locking techniques and language-barrier -defining jokes. We apologise profusely, but then so do the boys. It seems that the exact same thing had happened to them; they thought it was their fault only they returned to the airport rather than stay at the seaport. Such a crazy mess. However, the boys did warn us that they have encountered this particular bag (from a large European outdoor/active brand) numerous times on their stay already!
The Wife and I said our goodbyes and thank you’s before doing a little exploration, enjoying a long lunch and sipping on some cold beverages; all the while clutching my bag tightly as we tried to forget about this stressful 15 hours.
We took the first boat back and as I placed my rucksack on the front end of the boat, with all the others, I watched as somebody placed an identical bag just a few feet away. Typical.
I never took my eyes off of the backpack for the rest of the holiday and I have never needed to pick another lock since. Wish me luck next week…
WITH THANKS TO:
JAMES TROSH (MAIN IMAGE)
Check out my other Travel Fails HERE. When you’re me this kind of thing happens regularly, obviously….
Have you every had your own baggage lost or delayed? Ever watched as your possessions travel away from you on a boat/car? Have you shared hugs and beers with 5 Spanish strangers at 9am on a remote island thousands of miles from home? I’d love to hear in the comments below! 🙂