You know those photos you see that everybody takes?
Yep, I refer to those photos in the dreamy paradise locations around the world.
You’re sitting at work in the office and see some photos come through on Facebook or whatever, and there you see somebody you know, posing on a tropical beach paradise looking like they’re having the bestest time ever! And you have that feeling of… “Oh man I’m jealous, I totes wish I was there!”
In more recent times, that has ceased to be the reaction that I experience. I tend to also remember the details of a holiday, not just the highlights. And I know the reality of those photos that everybody takes, and as with many things in life, the reality is typically quite different to what can perceived in smiley fun bubbly paradise photos.
Often people let the photos do the talking, and gloss over the other stuff. Then enjoy watching people get all envious and jealous about being back home, stuck in their normal crappy boring life as opposed to this freakin’ awesome serenity where rainbows and smiling puppies ooze out of your pores. I have been the person on both sides of this.
I WENT ON A PARADISE TRIP TO THAILAND
I don’t want to just post paradise photos; I want to tell you the reality of the trip.
I will do this by simply telling you about one of my days in Thailand, but I’ll very much include the bits that people usually leave out of their holiday gushing.
One reason I am choosing this particular day, is because it includes a popular Thailand location and a particular photo that everybody poses for when they’re in Thailand. It’s the one on the very beach where the Leo Decaprio movie (called ‘The Beach’) was filmed. Yes, you’ve seen that photo, just with a rotating roster of people posing in that spot. It looks amazing. And it’s easy to imagine a total luxurious paradise laden day of endless joy. I took a photo from that beach (see below), I will tell you about my experience getting that photo, which tells a different story.
So first, look at those paradise photos, then read this, then look at those photos again.
Here’s my day, with all the bits included…
Up at 6.30am to be ready to meet the shuttle at 7.15am.
The shuttle is 35 minutes late.
60 minute shuttle ride in a small sauna bus with many other sardines. Supremely uncomfortable.
We arrive at boat docking pier, smelly and sweaty. The tour guide is late, we all sit around for 45 minutes looking awkwardly at each other. We’re given a cup of hot water and a packet of sugar to munch on.
We’re then given a briefing by a man appearing to be drunk at 9.30 in the morning. We’re strongly encouraged to hire flippers and buy monkey food, or else we’ll die from stepping on something, and get eaten by a monkey if we have no food to offer, in that order.
Our group is taken over to a boat; it is not a boat you would find in a magazine.
A jolly Thai girly-man greets us with erect nipples and a very high-pitched voice. His name is Tina, but says that he prefers to be called ‘Sexy Tina’.
I am not making this up.
Okay, I’ll speed things up now, let’s go step-by-step in rapid fire paradise recounting…
46 of us squat down in this 24 person dingy conveniently pre moistened especially for us with sweat and juices from previous squatters.
We boat trip until the cows come home. Gradually becoming wetter than the ocean, as most of it is in my pants by now.
6 days later, we arrive at an island, snorkel and look at fishys. (aka – Get in water to dry off!) And also empty bladder, after a long boat trip with everyone getting drenched, the scene is now essentially – 46 people wading around in a small area through each other’s pee clouds.
Hired mask squishes face and cuts off circulation, snorkel cuts mouth, I get heartily kicked in the face by a fat German.
Back on the boat, take pretend happy photo.
Lunch in island restaurant (school camp squaller) with the only lunch option available being ‘hgcum halush on a stick’. Wash that down with a cup-shaped wad of bark, filled with 80% bugs and 20% water.
Go to visit the facilities, navigate through 120-metre line of women waiting to use the one toilet. The whole area smells as though the usual is for most women to give up on the waiting and instead unleash an angry wizz upon the world.
Slip on pee-soaked floor and bump head walking through the hobbit designed bathroom doorway, create massive gauge with portion of brain protruding.
Stumble for several minutes with head throbbing. Mild concussion gets me a little lost, until Sexy Tina finds me walking towards the wrong boat with another tour group.
Get on correct boat feeling groggy, we go to look at monkeys at a beach that is called, ‘Monkey Beach’. Lucky there are monkeys there; otherwise the name would be misleading. Monkeys spare human lives on this day, while they sit around drinking Coke and eating our food.
Take pretend happy photo with scary disease monkey.
Next… we go to non-monkey beach, which has a different name. Leo Decaprio is not here. I take obligatory pretend happy photo (in that place where everybody poses for a photo).
Now… The photos I’ve seen of this beach island give a very different impression, could you have guessed?!
For starters, there are about 20 boats here at any one time, and around 3,000 people on the beach. There’s only a very small cordoned off area available for swimming, it is knee deep and covered in rocks. The rest of the beach is for boats to anchor in at the shore. It’s a million degrees and very burny, so all us albinos spend most of our time huddled in the shade of a Juniper bush, fighting off mutant bug-things that look like flying wolf-spiders.
Can you get a different image of this paradise beach island?
Right, so lets bring this thing home…
Spend 10 minutes scraping legs and feet over rocks. (aka swimming in shallow rock infested urine)
Attempt to dry myself with towel that is wetter than me.
Take another pretend happy photo.
Get straight back on squishy dinghy boat.
45 minute boat ride with fellow sardines.
Arrive at next island, try to sit down on the sand, man asks for money to be able to sit on the sand, so no sitting, instead head off to the toilet, different man asks for money as entry fee into the toilet.
Lie down on different sand area that appears to be an ‘uncharged’ part of the island. Man covered in monkeys comes over and takes a photo of me, then tries to charge me for the photo, I refuse unwanted photo, man walks off annoyed. Woman comes over and tries to sell me a paddle pop. I decline, she walks off annoyed.
Take pretend happy photo at sand area that requires no charge to be on.
Again, I am not making this up. I paid handsomely for this island day trip experience. A paradise photo well earned.
20 minute boat trip back to pier. Given a slap across the face and a stern kick in the shins for not buying one of their souvenir photos.
90 minute shuttle crawl back to hotel in peak traffic with pedestrians passing us on the footpath.
Shower and get dry for the first time in 10 hours. Bath in aloe. Eat banana. Collapse.
Did I mention – most people don’t tell you about the bits in between the paradise photos.
Don’t feel jealous next time you see somebody post those photos. They paid a lot for those photos, and while their day surely could not have been as poopful as mine, there were less orgazmic things that occurred in between photo posings.