How to fight Barracuda man and be rescued by angels: 10 lessons from my Krabi trip

I have a couple of themes lined up, but this trip last Saturday was so amusing that I had to strike while the iron is hot!This weekend finds me in Krabi, one of the easy getaways from Singapore. I spent 2 days in total.

Day 1: I decided to go back to one of my favorite beaches in Krabi, Phra Nang beach. When I went around 5 years ago, I loved it because of the white sand, clear water, and isolated atmosphere. I took a commuter long tail boat. It was a short, pleasant journey.

While it is not an isolated island anymore, the sand is still white and water is clear. I spent a couple of hours just basking under the sun and thinking to myself how great it is to hear the sound of water again.

Phra Nang beach

Phra Nang beach with long tail commuter boats

Fine sand and clear water... perfect!

Fine sand and clear water… perfect!

Then I thought, it will be nice to grab lunch in Railay as there are many resorts there. As I was walking along the shore searching for the commuter boat to Railay, I came across a wooden boat with tourists embarking on it. I thought this may be the commuter boat to Railay.

Me: Railay??? (I learned that the  fewer words, the better, as locals couldn’t understand much English)
Barracuda Man: No, not Railay, go to Poda!

(Note: I am naming him Barracuda man as his boat had Barracuda on it, and later, you’ll see for yourself that he is a mean person which makes the name so apt for him!)

My curiosity was piqued. I’ve never heard of it, and given that there are so many tourists going, this should be safe.

Me: What’s in Poda?

Barracuda man: White sand beach

Me: perfect! Can I go?

Barracuda man: Yes! (and he helped me board the boat)

The boat took off. In 5 minutes, Barracuda Man briefed the group, “Ladies and gentlemen. We going to Poda island have lunch. We stop here 1 hour then go Chicken Island…

Oh.  This seems like an organized tour and not a commuter boat. Does this mean i pay on the boat? What should I do? Is that Poda island secluded without public transport? How will I get back? Why did he say its okay? Whatever. I thought ill just pay what they paid even if they rip me off. Or ill just sneak out if i find a commuter long tail boat in Poda. While deep in thought, I was awakened by…

Barracuda man (Yelling at me): Where orange sticker???
Me: What? I can’t understand you!
Barracuda man: Orange stickerrr!

I looked around and everyone did have an orange sticker!

Me: Sorry, I didn’t know this was an organized tour. I thought it was similar to the commuter boat I took to Phra Nang, and you’re collecting money on the boat! You didn’t tell me this is a private tour!

Barracuda man: Ladies and gentlemen! Make sure you on time! Look, someone not part of group here! (pointing at me) if you late we leave you!!!

Me: It’s your fault! You didn’t tell me this is a private tour! Why did you let me in! It’s obvious I didn’t book the tour as I was asking you so many questions about Poda during your stop in Phra nang!

Barracuda man: Don’t worry all of you. I send her to police in Ao nang! Tourist like her headache!!!

Me:  You let me in yourself! And you never asked if I paid for the group tour!

Boat landed. I told myself I’ll just figure out another way to go back to Phra Nang or Ao Nang(where I’m staying).

As I queued to get out, Barracuda Man’s minion shouted, “You! You cannot go out boat! You no pay! You police!” I said, “I’m leaving. I’m here on vacation and I don’t want to see any of your faces ever again.”

Then violence happened. He started grabbing my tripod as I was disembarking causing me to almost trip. He continued grabbing my tripod. As I was shouting for help, a miracle happened. Angels, aka people with good hearts, came to the rescue.  I shall call them Daphne’s angels. They’re always present on my trips.

Daphne’s angel # 1: A young Indian lady who helped me off the boat and started yelling at BArracuda man’s minion.

Daphne’s angel # 2: American guy who grabbed my tripod from Barracuda man and almost got into a fist fight and shouting match with him. He told me, “You’re right, I was there and he never asked nor clarified.”

I thanked my angels and disembarked with just two small skin bruises on my right hand which were probably inflicted when he grabbed my tripod and caused me to hit my hand on the boat for support.

So now I’m in Poda. I told myself. To hell with them. Since I’m here, I’m going to enjoy the beach. After laying around on the beach, I decided to check how much it is to go back. Do they have commuter boats in Poda like in Phra Nang, Ao Nang, or Railay?

Me: Long tail boat to Poda? Showed him my ticket.
Shark with no name #1: no. Only Private boat. Ao Nang. THB 2000
Walking along…
Shark with no name #2: THB 600.
Me: Could it be THB 200? My trip from Ao Nang is only THB 100.
Shark with no name #2: THB 2000! (By the way, I learned later that there is a commuter boat but both sharks just want to trick me)

Daphne’s Angel #3: I am a tour guide. We just came from phi phi on our way to Railay. I drop you off for free.

Me: Really? Thanks a lot! I don’t want to get in for free, could I give some money?

Daphne’s Angel# 3: no worry. I am happy to help you for free. But you can leave a tip at tip box.

What an angel!

Then something happened. Barracuda man and gang came and spoke to Daphne’s angel # 3 in Thai. He then gathered all the tour guides to gang up on me. I pulled Daphne’s angel # 3 aside to explain. He started chickening out and told me his boss might scold him. I asked him to bring me to his boss and his boss agreed. She’s Daphne’s angel # 4!!!

Barracuda man insisted on taking me to his boat and sending me to the police! I refused. He wanted to take a picture of me. I was so furious that I tried to poke him with my tripod. Daphne’s Angel # 3 tried to intervene and talked to him. I thought to myself. I need another ally. I saw a female tour guide who has a very kind disposition. Let us call her Daphne’s angel # 5. I talked to her and realized she works for the same company as Barracuda man. But her character is totally the opposite. She’s kind and understanding, and told Barracuda man to back off. He finally did.

As I was waiting for Daphne’s angel number 3’s boat…

Daphne’s angel # 5: Hello, have some papaya salad.
Me: Thanks. (I had some. It’s delish!)
Daphne’s angel # 5: Don’t worry. You can also join my boat. I drop you in Phra Nang.
Me: Thanks so much. I’m going with his boat. But thank you for the offer.

Then I’m on my way to Phra Nang, and waved goodbye to Daphne’s angel # 5. After thanking and giving a tip to Daphne’s angel # 3 and his crew, I took a boat to Railay to have lunch. Whew what a morning!

Boat to Railay! I am on my way!

Boat to Railay! I am on my way!

Finally. At peace enjoying my lunch in Railay.

Finally. At peace enjoying my lunch in Railay.

What I learned from this experience:

1. Do not agree to go to the police. Just don’t.

And this is especially the case if you are traveling to a third world country and/or to a place where locals barely speak English. My case had both!

When you are a foreigner, you just lose out. I cannot generalize, but from experience, police officers from third world countries have a higher probability of asking for bribes and not following due process. Just don’t get there. Only resort to this if you’re in an isolated place (it couldn’t get worse anyways) and if you are about to get mugged. (Again, couldn’t get any worse)

And if there is a language barrier you lost a battle that hasn’t even started. And why would I want to waste two more hours with these people?!?!?

2.  Get your angels. Fast.

When I was looking for a boat back I moved on quickly from one boatman to the next. If you read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, you will learn that we can thin slice a person’s character in a minute. That’s what I did. Evaluate then move on. Don’t linger on someone who’s primary intention is to cheat.

3. For single female travelers, it’s handy to get a female comrade.

Get a local girl to vouch for you. Daphne’s Angel # 5 explained to Barracuda man why it’s just misunderstanding and I wasn’t  intentionally ripping Barracuda Tours off.

4. When you are sure they’re about to gang up on you, don’t be shy to create a scene. Shout for help.

This is not the time to be shy. You want people to help you in a flash. Cry for help. And angels will come to rescue you.

5. If you’re a single female traveler like me, carry your “weapon of choice”

I don’t mean carry a gun or a knife! For me, my tripod doubles as my weapon. When they start getting aggressive, I point it to them and normally they back down (don’t do this to robbers and only do this as a last resort!)

6. Smile at and thank those who helped you

Amidst the frenzy you might be too caught up in your emotions. It’s people like them who make traveling worthwhile! So be sure they feel your heartfelt gratitude.

7. Don’t let any event frazzle you. Detach, move on and enjoy!

No one is worthy enough to ruin your vacation. Move on, and put it behind you. I relaxed in Poda and was amazed by the beauty of the place.

Beautiful Poda

Beautiful Poda

8. Go back to the same location if you didn’t have enough fun!

Take it one step further even. I realized Poda and the rest of the islands they visited are beautiful. So I went back to Poda Island and did the Barracuda route the next day. Some of the boat people recognized me while I was chilling in Poda and were pleasantly surprised. Hey, would I let some losers prevent me from having an awesome experience with what Krabi has to offer? Of course, not!

9. Figure out how to make the experience better

I noted how crowded Barracuda’s boat is. And I heard from the German lady that they paid more than THB 1,000 per person to be in that boat. So I thought even if I pay THB 1,700 for my own long tail boat is well worth the premium.

Here are some photos to share from Day 2. Having your own boat is sheer bliss 🙂

Wee! My own private boat!

Wee! My own private boat!

I enjoyed this view while I was on my private boat

I enjoyed this view while I was on my private boat

Chicken Island on the background. My driver Man stopped on purpose at the right angle for me to operate my camera's self timer. A perk of being the only one on the boat!

Chicken Island on the background. My driver Man stopped on purpose so that I can operate my camera’s self timer. A perk of being the only one on the boat!

Nice sandbar in Tub Island

Tub island with its sand bridge

Tub island with its sand bridge

Rocky side of Tub Island. Still pretty!

Rocky side of Tub Island. Still pretty!

My private long tail boat parked at the private beach area in Poda

My private long tail boat parked at the private beach area in Poda

The pristine secluded beach behind Poda Island. I had it to myself for a while before another boat came in.

The pristine secluded beach behind Poda Island. I had it to myself for a while before another boat came in.

Rock climbing is popular here

Rock climbing is popular here

Back in Poda island! Taken with its landmark limestone structure

Back in Poda island! Taken with its landmark limestone structure

Another side of Poda island. Aren't all sides just as pretty?

Another side of Poda island. Aren’t all sides just as pretty?

White sand in Poda. Another side of the island.

White sand in Poda. Another side of the island.

Restaurant bar for the day

My restaurant bar for the day

Enjoying my lunch in Poda. Pad Thai with cold coconut juice!

Enjoying my lunch in Poda. Pad Thai with cold coconut juice!

So glad I came back!

10. The early bird catches the worm

Go early and be rewarded with your own island. Notice my pics in Tub and Poda? Very few people! It was only when it’s lunchtime that people started trickling into the island.

If you observe, I didn’t discourage anyone from trying something new if you have a hint of doubt. You might say that I wouldn’t have suffered Day 1 if I didn’t go to that boat. However, looking back, I wouldn’t have known how beautiful it was if I didn’t go. Taking risk is a personal thing. Traveling to Thailand is my comfort zone. My gut told me it won’t be dangerous, and looking back, it really wasn’t. Until now, I don’t think Barracuda man did it on purpose. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt that it boils down to good ol’ misunderstanding. This is not for the faint at heart, and this may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who want to see more and do more, just take things in stride and enjoy the ride!

I enjoyed Krabi very much, and I know I will be back!

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