Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Warning About Partying on Phi Phi

Phi Phi Island is renowned as a bit of a party destination but since I arrived I had been nursing a bit of an upset stomach and the beginnings of a massive cold so although I hung out on the beach at night I didn't overindulge. My policy of trying to stay aware of my surroundings when I'm travelling solo also keeps me from overdoing it. Not so, some of the other visitors to this tropical paradise!
I awoke early my last day and decided to gather my limited clothing which was very wet and smelly and take it to one of the many very inexpensive laundry services. Up until this point in my trip I had washed my belongings in the sink and hung them to dry each night but the constant rain for the past three days was making this technique impossible. I headed down the path from my hostel and I met up with a gentleman coming up from the beach, who had obviously decided he was going to take full advantage of the low cost alcohol. He was precariously weaving along the path and was covered in sand and dirt dressed only in a pair of soaked and muddy swimming trunks. He bounced off a couple of walls and then slid down to the path as I approached. There were only a few shop keepers sleepily opening up and a couple of bleary eyed tourists hurrying to the pier for an early morning ferry and all were giving the fellow a wide berth. I tentatively approached the man and asked if he needed some help. He was very incoherent and didn't seem to know where he was or who he was. I gingerly helped him to sit up and tried to ask him where he was staying but he wasn't able to answer. I told him just to sit there and I would be right back. I headed to my room, dropped my bag of laundry and grabbed a couple of bottles of water.
So true!
By the time I got back he had fallen over, precariously close to a rain filled muddy gutter. Covered in dirt he was rolling over dangerously into the gutter and I was genuinely concerned that he would end up rolling face first into the five inches of water and drown. I got him to sit up and tried to help him to drink the water. That wasn't very successful so I poured some water on his head in an effort to bring him around. I didn't get much clear information from him except that his name was Brian, he was from Australia, recently divorced, had two small children, and was on his own. After about fifteen minutes of trying to find out where he was staying to no avail and having several people walk by and look at us piteously I used the translator on my phone to ask a shop keeper if they could call an ambulance or someone in authority to come and take care of Brian. They seemed to understand and I thought they had said they were going to call the police. I decided I had better stay with Brian until someone arrived and I knelt beside him on the path and continued to try and keep him from rolling into the gutter. Brian would occasionally try to stick a filthy hand down his throat, moan, and tell me that no one cared about him and he should just die, give him a gun, that sort of thing. Alcohol really brings out the best in people. I reassured Brian that he was just suffering from a very nasty hangover and he would feel better in about twenty four hours. Various people walked by. Many ignored us and some asked if we needed help. I quickly let everyone know that I didn't know the fellow and had just found him there. At one point Brian was coherent enough that he heard me tell someone that the police had been called and this caused him to rally a bit in his effort to avoid incarceration. He tried to get up but his full weight slumped against me and I was sure he was going to fall and hit his head on the pavement. A couple of local fellows saw the predicament and came to my rescue by grabbing Brian on each side and helping him to the side of a building where they sat him down.
Now, for travellers to Phi Phi, a word of warning. The response time of emergency services on this island is not exactly felt like at least an hour had passed and there was still no sign of any help. Brian had started to become more agitated and continued to ask for a gun, a knife or some other tool of lethal destruction with which he could inflict mortal injury upon himself. As neither myself or the two locals were responding to this request he decided he would need to resort to a less convenient method of self harm by turning towards the cement wall and smashing his head against it. The two good Samaritans quickly grabbed him under the arms and after some rapid discussion seemed to decide that dragging him back down to the beach was safer for Brian's continued well being. I had my doubts since the beach was beside a very large body of water which I felt could be conducive to self drowning and I was pretty sure my rescue skills wouldn't stretch to dragging a very drunk, two hundred pound Aussie from the ocean. I followed the trio to the beach where Brian's rescuers were able to lay him down on a bamboo sort of stage and luckily for all of us, he seemed unable to get up again. The two locals, through sign language, managed to tell me that Brian just needed to sleep a while and that they would continue to watch him and keep him safe. They bowed with two hands together and told me that I should go since they were on the case. I was a little worried about leaving Brian but since there were no guns handy and the police seemed to be in short supply I decided it was best to leave Brian to the ministrations of these helpful gentlemen who seemed to be very experienced in dealing with tourists who over imbibe.
The two good Samaritans and Brian passed out in the background.
Apparently, overindulgence on the part of tourists is a common problem on the islands in Thailand and special mortuaries are actually set up on the islands for those who need these services after a night of partying.
I hope that Brian eventually overcame the effects of his night out on Phi Phi Island!

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