I have always been afraid of deep water, a phobia I have long wished to overcome. But right now, as we make our way from Koh Tao back to the mainland of Thailand on an ill-timed visa run amid high winds and huge waves, my fear has never felt more valid.
Curled up in a ball of nerves, I turn my iPod on and try to let the words of Florence Welch drown out the noise of my overactive imagination, that currently has us floating amongst the wreckage of our night boat, whilst sharks slowly pick us off on by one. I curse myself for not booking a flight straight to Malaysia when Lee and I found some cheap tickets. What use are the extra hundred dollars saved if we are to be eaten alive by a ferocious Great White before we ever get to enjoy the benefit of our frugality?!
I wrap my hands over my head in a bid to shield myself from my fear as our boat continues to lurch precariously from side to side, caught in a tug of war between the pitch black of night and the dark swell of the sea, nine hours away from land.
Woefully watching the waves before boarding the night boat to the mainland
I awake to the first signs of dawn, and waters as still as a bathtub. Relief and gratitude wash over me, and I can’t wait to be back on solid ground. I’m so relieved I could almost kiss the tarmac as we disembark, but before I can we are bundled into a minibus and on our way to Georgetown, Penang, on an exhausting 72 hour round-trip.
It has been a whole month since we left Goa, and I can barely believe how quickly this next stage of our adventure has gone by. They say that time flies when you’re having fun, but we haven’t really been doing a lot of that lately, so I find the rate at which the days have passed alarming. These four weeks have been the hardest of our journey so far, and have been a real test of our resilience, and more pressingly, our relationship.
Back in India we were in familiar territory. We created a home, a life, and a social network, that though we always knew were temporary, made us happy. Lee had a full-time job as a canyoning guide, and I continued to work as a freelance graphic designer, as well as running this blog. There were cracks beginning to form between us even then (actually, before we ever left England), but we had so many things to keep us busy, and for the majority of the time, apart, that we made it through this period without actually having to resolve any of our issues
Then we got to Thailand, and suddenly it was just us, alone, with all the time in the world to observe our crumbling façade. We discussed breaking up while we were in Bangkok, then decided to get a bucket of Songsam on Khaosan Road instead. We made it to Koh Phangan, but the break up talks continued in spades. We rented a house there for a month, but were just as unhappy with this as we were with each other, and decided to leave after only one week.
Things weren’t looking good. Then, in a moment of pure serendipity, the chance to move to Koh Tao presented itself, and we decided to give things once last chance, bringing our backpacks and emotional baggage to a picture-perfect bungalow on a hill, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
If we can’t make it here, we can’t make it anywhere
It feels like the right place for us to be. A place to tuck ourselves away, amongst the green and pink of bougainvillea, and the sounds of the tropical wilds that pulsate around the house. Life here is simple, stripped back, honest.
As we work on rebuilding our relationship, we have also decided to work on building a business together, in the hopes that we can create a sustainable income as we continue our life of indefinite travel. With my graphic design background and Lee’s website development skills, we hope to grow Further Bound into not just a travel blog, but also a graphic and web design business. We recently built websites for two of my friends, Monica and Kim, and have several more projects lined up already.
Fate even gave us a huge stamp of approval when we met a lovely woman called Amy, a fellow graphic designer and world traveller, who gave us her old MacBook that she no longer needed. It felt like a sign that we were doing the right thing, and her overwhelming generosity was another shift for us, enabling us to really work together, having previously shared one laptop between us. We have set up a little office overlooking the sea. We sit next to each other, drink coffee and talk. I feel things starting to move in the right direction.
Hard at work
As we sit here side by side we are becoming a team. We are more relaxed. Lee has even started wearing a hairband to control his newly-long locks, which I just love. Not long ago he never would have done this. We are so far removed from where we used to be.
It really feels as though we’ve weathered the storm, and made it through to calmer waters. Things will never just be plain sailing; life doesn’t work that way, but I know now that we’re made of strong stuff, and there’s enough love in our sails to keep us moving forward.
Even the deepest waters seem less scary now.