Anyone who has travelled to Thailand knows that time is of little importance. Five minutes probably means thirty, and if you want a piece of toast for breakfast, be prepared to wait 40 minutes because it’s very likely it will be cooked in an oven.
If you take Thai time and inject it into a tiny island floating peacefully in the Gulf, the result becomes more extreme. Quite simply, nothing happens in a hurry around here. Last Saturday was an exciting day for the sleepy little island of Koh Tao, but unfortunately, Toa time struck again. An old Navy ship was being sunk just off the coast (between Mae Haad and Sairee beach). With convincing from the Save Koh Tao Group and the Thai Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, the Thai Navy agreed to donate a decommissioned Naval Vessel, which will serve as an artificial reef and wreck dive site. Boats from across the island came to watch, while larger passenger vessels offered a free ride for anyone on land. The 10 year-old in me came alive… There’s an old navy ship about to be sunk, and I can watch, from a boat, no more than 30 meters away. Are you kidding me, that’s one of the most exciting things I’ve ever heard! Koh Tao was buzzing. Clumsy tourists fumbled about the dock, trying to score a prime position on the boat, while suave Thai soldiers sauntered past – with an ease the tourists could never possess – almost floating across the pavement, dressed to the nines in full military regalia. Thai children of all ages swarmed onto the boats (followed by their relatives) injecting an infectious dose of energy into an already exciting day. There were fireworks, a parade, and an entourage of Navy ships; come to bid their old mate, the 742, a fond farewell. But alas, it was not to be. The sinking was scheduled for 10.30am. At around 1pm we started to wonder why there were still so many people onboard a vessel that was supposed to be familiarizing itself with its new digs at the bottom of the Gulf. So after three hours of uncomfortable shuffling on plastic boat seats, and with ominous storm clouds fast encroaching, one by one, the boats took off back to shore. Turns out the wind, and therefore current, was too strong to successfully sink the ship. I was a little disappointed and planned on checking it out again the next day. But, as it turns out, officials went ahead with the sinking at around 5pm that day- with no-one to watch, and no media to document or recount it. Apparently it’s not easy plugging a ship with a huge hole in it! Who would have thought?So the old girl went down to her final resting place alone, and (because of the current) on her side. R.I.P 742. The divers are coming, you wont be alone for long.