The Time I Was Rescued by a Navy Ship in Thailand

“We only have scrambled eggs left,” the owner of the corner cafe told me. My days on Koh Tao were over.

While I was travelling the world in 2010 and 2011, I spent a few months in Thailand to learn the language of martial arts (read the story here) and to be an underwater videographer (find out more).

In the middle of training for my first fight in Thailand, the country was hit with torrential rain and flooding; power outages, property damage, and food shortages ensued. I was unable to train properly, and anyone who has trained for a competition can understand my frustration. Don’t get me wrong—I like eggs, and they are great source of protein for training—but I wanted to get back to the gym!

At the time I was living right next to a Muay Thai gym. A friend came by my bungalow and shouted that a Royal Thai Ship was coming to rescue only 1,000 travellers. This was my chance. I packed all my stuff in thirty minutes, left the keys for the landlord, and ran to get my name on the list. They were transporting women and kids to the ship on helicopters, since the water was too shallow to get all the way to the island. I decided to take a diving boat with my friend instead because he couldn’t get on the helicopter.

It was an extremely windy and rainy that day. A lot of people were sick and threw up on the diving boat. Once we reached the navy ship, they started to transport our backpacks on thin ropes across the water. The ropes were shaking so much I didn’t think our bags would make it across.

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All the passengers had to jump from the diving boat onto a smaller boat. Once there, we had to climb up to the navy boat. It didn’t feel especially safe, but we made it to the top.

Once on board, we were greeted by the Royal Thai Navy with big smiles. We were fed (yummm!) and given water. They seemed to think we had been starving for days. In any case, the organization and assistance we received was impeccable. Originally, the ship was supposed to go directly to Bangkok, but due to the weather the course was changed, and we went to Pattaya instead.

Everyone tried to find a spot to get some sleep. It was tight, but at this point I was excited to get back to training. I had tied my boxing gloves to my backpack because there was no more space inside. I put it down next to me and used it as a makeshift pillow.

I woke up after a couple of hours to find my boxing gloves gone! I was furious. I scoured the ship for them. Nothing. Two hours before our arrival, I went for another round; I saw them lying on two sleeping spots, but no one was there. I stomped over and grabbed the gloves. I looked around to see who had been sleeping here. A girl came up to me and pointed towards two men. They looked at me and started walking the other way. I reached them and didn’t say anything, but simply showed them my gloves. They started smiling and replied in broken English that they were from Russia and didn’t speak English (sorry, my Russian friends!). They said they were tired and decided to use the gloves as pillows. I just shook my head and walked off. Fine, they are “only” boxing gloves, but they were my first pair ever. They had huge sentimental value, and I was happy to have them back.

When we arrived in Pattaya, we were greeted by journalists, who asked us questions about our trip and our stay on the island. We were again handed more water. We were then transported by bus to Bangkok and once again met by journalists. Read the official news report here.

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