No Fast Boat

Location:  Hell.  In flight and on the ground.  April 25th

The Opener

I love to make big, expensive, ridiculous mistakes.  Or rather, big, expensive, ridiculous mistakes and situations love to happen TO ME.

Did my big David Yurman ring roll off a speed boat at Seattle's Sea Fair a few years ago?  Yep.  It had been something I purchased with my friend Jess that signified our ability to be adults, buy nice things, and feel fancy.  Gone!  True, it was not the most appropriate accessory to my swimsuit and collection of jello shots.  But a girl's gotta look good.  Am I right, or am I right?

Did my Brooklyn apartment get robbed and did I lose irreplaceable items with real worth and high sentimental value?  Yeah, sure did.  This was a scene that could have been written by Dick Wolf himself.  Seriously... detectives in trench coats along with CSI were at my apartment dusting for fingerprints. A cop looking like Jonah Hill had the guts to to tell me (with one hand leaning on my kitchen wall, that I had notably just painted) that "I had a real nice place here."  Yeah, bud - you aren't the only one that thinks so because someone came in and took my stuff.

Did I fracture my toe post awards show in LA, on a day meant to be a joy ride, talk back to the attending officer, Officer Dickey, turn away an ambulance and then remove a bottle of rose from the ice bucket at the side of the West Hollywood pool to then place my entire swollen extremity into it?  I'm your gal.

And most recently, did I actually MISS MY BOAT TO MYANMAR?  The boat that inspired this trip to begin with and made me hustle to fly out here to catch the last charter of the season?  The boat that (along with some pinot noir) might have made me cry when I watched a marketing video?  Yeah.  Uh-huh.  Yeah.  This happened.  On Saturday.

Let's start with the video, juuuuuuust to get everyone in the right headspace of what COULD have been,  to understand where I was SUPPOSED to be and what inspired me to immediately plunk down a deposit after hearing about this National Geographic trip of a lifetime.

The Situation

So... it was Friday night.  I went on my Bangkok Chinatown food tour, came home, semi-packed a bag, uploaded some pictures onto this gem of a blog and set my alarm.  I pulled those black out curtains closed, turned the temperature down to 62 degrees and hugged about six pillows, drifting off to sleep.

Then I woke up.  And I realized.  I realized that because I was typing furiously in the cab last night, my keyboard was clicking loudly and I silenced my phone.  Meaning, my phone did go off at 5:30 to wake me for the 9:20 flight... only silently.

With panic in my bones, I ninja kicked the sheets off of me, leapt out of bed like there was an exorcism and, as Erin would say, began to run into walls.  You know when you have no concept of what is going on, but your heart is racing? You don't understand spacial constraints so you just start bodychecking door frames?  That was me.  A late, disoriented ping pong ball bouncing around the cruel, hard game of life.   And, like the monkey below, probably looking like Tina Turner on a real rough day.

OF COURSE THIS WOULD HAPPEN TO ME.  I have a tendency to, when I am really, deeply tired, sleep through anything.  And this was a night that because I had been living in a beach bungalow, with no real shades, a faux AC system and a neighborhood rooster, it had been about two weeks since a night of sleep amounted to over six hours. 

Clearly, I forgot the lessons my work life had ingrained in me.  As a rule of thumb, when on work trips, when I hadn't slept in ages and was a general wreck (can we make a stunt happen with celebrity talent in less than 10 hours with no location permit?  how does one get 100,000 downloads from a major record label in a single day? sure, let's have a conference call at 5AM, it's only 1:30AM now, sounds great)  I know better than to make the room really cold and I do not, under any circumstances, close the black out shades.

But isn't it the truth.... that just when you think you've got yourself pulled together and somewhat figured out - that those little quirks, those little habits that make you a total mess just pop up as if to say hello?  (My therapist would love breaking this down, I have no doubt.)

So, upon getting my bearings, I did what anyone would do.  First, I cried.  Then, like an insane person, I put my head back and laughed.  But finally, I began to move.  It was at this moment that Verizon's global plan stopped working and I ended up with crazy eyes in the lobby of my hotel noting that I did "not care how much the phone call would cost but I need to make the phone call NOW."  Emailing with Adrian in Indonesia and Herbert, the Austrian boat captain of the Meta IV, already in Kawthaung (port in Myanmar), I was told to get onto a plane IMMEDIATELY. 

This cued up my next wave of panic, which involved a "shove and go" approach to the few items not packed and trying not to cry as I was very slowly and methodically checked out of the hotel (they are Buddhists, after all), only then getting into a taxi that claimed to not have a working meter.  Not.  Today.

So, I get to the airport - and I realize - very quickly - that because I am trying to go to Myanmar (Burma) - a country that for decades has been off limits for tourists due to one pesky dictator and a plethora of controversial issues, that shocker - no one flies there.  Why would you, Air Asia, if no one can actually get into the country without a visa that involves a specific radius around a local area, when they get arrive?  So, seeing as that I can't fly to Ranong anymore today, because I slept through that one - I have to fly to Phuket or Surat Thani and then get a taxi for 3.5 hours to get to Ranong.  THEN I need a long tail boat to cross the border into Kawthaung, where the Meta IV is docked.  And, I need to do this by 4PM because that is when immigration/the border closes.   It is 11:27AM.  Doesn't sound hard, right?  Not hard at all.

Looks like that the 4PM border closing time could be flexible, right?  Wrong.

So, I'm sweating.  Flights are going to cost, I don't know where I'm going and then I snag the very last seat on the 3PM flight to Phuket.  Clearly, there is no way I'm making it to the border in time.  This means that we move to Plan B.  With my phone now working, I talk to both Adrian and Herbert and my option now is to still fly to Phuket, to still taxi to Ranong, but I need to stay overnight in Ranong and then, at 6:30AM go through immigration and cross into Myanmar when the border opens.   BUT.  At that point the boat is gone, as there are other guests and they would have departed on schedule.  (How dare they!)  So at that point, I need a fast boat/speed boat to take me to the sail boat, which is in the middle of the Andaman Sea, having docked for the night.

The Sad Ending

So here is where it gets really good.  (Are you on the edge of your seat?)  I purchase my flight.  I even find a taxi that will be waiting for me at the airport to take me the 3.5 hours to Ranong.  I find a hotel that is expecting me.  But then.  Then Herbert calls.  He tells me that there are no fast boats in Kawthaung, the port in Myanmar.  Let me repeat that for you... There. Are. No. Fast. Boats. At. The. Myanmar. Port.  There are no speed boats.  There are no boats with gas to move fast.  There are only long tails.  Tells you a little something about what's happening in Myanmar, doesn't it?

The port of Kawthaung, Myanmar.  Home to zero fast boats.  The big 0.

The port of Kawthaung, Myanmar.  Home to zero fast boats.  The big 0.

No amount of money can fix this situation.  Believe me, because I asked.  A few times.

As Austrian-born Herbert said to me, "Ashaaleey, vvaat are vvee to do?  No fast boat!!!"

No fast boat.

No fast boat!!!?!???!?

Fucking fuck.

Looks like I'm going to Phuket.

This last call from Herbert came in as I was boarding the plane, holding my carry on, purse, pen, notebook, phone, water and basically all of my dignity.  So, with this news, I shuffled on board, sat down next to a couple rubbing each other's knees, and cried.