Sea Walking

sawalking

Stepping down the ladder off the boat, the weight of the box pushes you nervously beneath the surface, and you’re hit by the sound of your own heavy, slow, monotonous breath. A slight shudder of nerves greets you as your toes tap the sea floor. You glance around, catching the eyes of those with you, every face the same picture – eye brows raised and mouths open in awe, or fear, as bubbles of wonder emerge from within their helmets.

I worked here for two weeks and that feeling never faded. Every time you put that box on your head and step down into the water, your body ripples as charges of excitement pulse through it. The colours under the surface of the ocean are unique, deep turquoise swallows you whole as the yellows, purples and reds of darting fish flash past your eyes. Then, what really gets you, is the glimmer. The glimmer of light as the sun emerges from behind a cloud and your whole world is lit up by golden rays of joy.

You jump, you fly, you walk like you’re in space as two natural forces compete in pushing you up and down. Unlike diving, you are only a few meters below the surface, so the world above you is forever present, it’s not quite stepping into another world, more of a purgatory between the two. You feel distant but not lost, an unusual perspective on how we interact with the in-and-out breaths of the sea. A way to interact with the creatures of the world that are usually hidden, hidden beneath what we see as no more than a blanket of blue and white waves.

 

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Day one

sunsetyoga

It was strange saying goodbye to my family, and this time not knowing how long for. I had, however, known for a while that there wasn’t much left for me in England. Thailand was one of the first trips I’d made alone and that deep feeling of experiencing the unknown had lingered over me. This, in time, is what lured me back.

The night train from Bangkok to Suratthani never changes. As the sun sets families begin to gather on the tracks outside their wooden homes to set up for dinner. Their houses are too small to cater for the extended family, and i’m sure that they are in tune with the trains and which tracks they use, because not one of them flinched as we jangled noisily by. As the city lights become fewer the twinkles of fire flies multiply dramatically. There is something magical about the darkness of jungle, broken only by drunkenly drifting stars.

Laying on my top bunk, trying to block out the ceiling light with my small plastic curtain, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the ticking and whirring of the fan by my head. Blowing out more dust than cool air, it spun and spun creating a gentle rythm which, ironically along with the rocking of the train, is what sent me into an excited, and dream filled sleep.

I arrived on Ko Samui just as my friend arrived to pick me up and take me as far away from the busy streets of Chaweng as possible. I’ve only ever passed through but it is heaving with tourists dressed in fluorescent vests and bandannas for the boys, or tiny shorts and bikini tops for the girls. We went, quite literally, to the opposite side of the island, to Thong Krut.

This photo was taken on a soft sand beach peppered with big rocks and palm trees, backing onto a small patch of jungle. Not another person in sight, let alone a tourist. Samui has got itself a bad name because often when people visit, they only allow themselves to see the disrupted side. However, this is a huge island, and once you escape the tourists, the locals are just as friendly as they are in the North of Thailand, and the beaches appear completely untouched.

As I watched the sun fall I thought of how it would be burning bright across my little sisters’ face back in England right now, I felt a moment of sadness as I missed her. Taking a deep breath, I found myself drifting into the gentle water, as if being drawn to the blood red blanket that was filling the sky. That moment of complete peace and sincerity, that’s why people do this, that’s why we sometimes have to say goodbye, for now.