Find the prologue here.
I wasn’t originally planning to post this story. But my friend talked to me about my blogging and it reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place. So here it is. An unexpected story of happiness, fate, following your heart and so many other things.
My first destination: Kota Kinabalu (KK), Eastern Malaysia.
The start of my trip was fairly uneventful. I checked into one of the hostels that I found online and amazingly enough, there was barely anybody there. Nobody was in any of the dorms except me. It was a full three days before even another backpacker showed up (and was in the other dorm in fact). On the fourth day, I was greeted with a surprise as three people had checked into my dorm. I met the pair of girls traveling together first. They mentioned a Korean girl traveling alone. That was fairly unusual. About as unusual as you usually see an Asian like myself backpacking.
I met her later but it seemed like she wasn’t sticking around. Her name was K. She had come here with the intention to climb Mount KK (as many do) and was leaving the day after. She didn’t seem too interested in socializing with the rest of us. We didn’t talk much but she was planning to return to the hostel after climbing the mountain.
By the time she had come back, I had fallen very sick. Again we only talked a little bit. This time mainly because I was sick. But there was something about her. I got her Whatsapp (which I recently started using abroad) and hoped we would cross paths in Indonesia. She was going from west to east across Indonesia and I was going from east to west. Funny enough, she left her water bottle behind at the hostel. I grabbed it and said I would return it to her if I saw her.
Over the next few weeks, we exchanged messages every so often. At times she seemed interested in meeting up. Other times, she seemed to randomly ignore messages. Our first attempt to meet up ended up falling through. We ended up on opposite sides of Bali and I was moving onto the next island soon. Having grown a little frustrated with the cliffhanger messages, I left it in her hands if she wanted to meet up. A few weeks later, to my surprise, she actually dropped me a message as I returned to Hong Kong for the second time. She had moved onto Thailand and after some exchanges, it seemed like we would have a shot at meeting on one of the southern islands.
I decided to adjust my time on my first island to coordinate our meet up. We would have two days to hang out. On the day of my departure to Ko Phi Phi, I ended up waiting at the wrong mini mart for my pickup. And with less than 10 minutes till departure, I was about to miss the only boat of the day to Ko Phi Phi. My hostel tried to pull a miracle by telling the boat to wait for me. I rushed to the pier on the first tuk-tuk (local taxi) I could grab and the boat actually came back for me. How lucky I was that day.
I thought it was smooth sailing from there. But when I arrived at my hostel and picked up her messages, I learned that she had gone on a day trip and already booked a dive for the next day. The only problem was that she didn’t tell me which dive shop she made the booking. Great, I thought. There are only dozens of operators on the island. This girl was turning out to be quite troublesome. Frustrated, I tried to figure out which shop she booked at, but after waiting it out till late evening, I had to book something for a dive the next day. As a last ditch effort, I asked to borrow some WiFi at the dive shop I was planning to make the booking. Lo and behold she was finally back and was online as well.
I sorted out the diving and we finally met up. She was traveling with a friend (E) who went back to their room after meeting me. We went for a walk on the beach and chatted along the way. Two months after our first contact, we actually talk to each other. Ironically, the half-moon party blasted near the middle of the island (this was one of the biggest party islands of Thailand after all) and we found a quiet corner of the beach to have a beer. If I hadn’t wanted to admit it before, there was something about this girl that was attracting me to her. I have always wondered about attraction. That at times, it seems like there are things you know… before you even understand what it is. This was one of those times.
We deserted our main beach spot and walked over to the beach on the other side. In conversation, she mentioned that both herself and her friend were planning to leave after the dive. They were no longer staying the two days they originally planned. After all the effort made to meet up, she was leaving early. Partly irritated, I told her that I thought she should stay. It was an honest statement. As she lay there, she told me she didn’t really have a reason to stay. Frankly, she didn’t think much of the island. I actually agreed though. A reason though? Well that was easy. I kissed her.
She said she didn’t expect it. But if anything, this felt like a movie set up. With the movie kiss. I even laughed when she asked me if I kiss all girls I meet up with. The answer of course was no. I told her to sleep on it as I walked her back. She said she would.
The next day we went on our dives and she still hadn’t decided if she would stay. As weird as it was, I thought she would eventually reach the decision of staying. She thought about the decision to the last minute but in the end, she did decide to stay. As little as I knew about her, it made me happy. She had told me that E was going back home soon and she was originally going to see her off in Phuket. I knew they had become pretty good travel friends. But perhaps the thing that got my attention even more was that she had never changed her travel plans for anyone before. Why me right?
After heading back, finding new accommodation and cleaning up, I thought it would be a good idea to check out the viewpoint over the island. It was very hot and she had been there already, but she agreed. The viewpoint had been recommended to me from my previous hostel and it didn’t disappoint. As it was late afternoon, we ended up staying for the sunset. Regardless of the crowded atmosphere and an average sunset, it still stands as one of the most memorable sunsets on this trip.
As people dispersed, we found ourselves alone atop the viewpoint. Without an audience, we cuddled up and lay there. Somehow, I found myself in one of the most surreal moments of my life. The stars snuck out despite the light pollution from below and we lay there with her head on my chest. In the next few hours, I found total peace and everything seemed just right. For one of the few times in my life, I felt like I was right where I should be.
Despite almost wanting to sleep there, we walked back down to find food. After finding food, we walked down to the far side of the main beach. With a bucket of samsong, we cozied up on the beach this time. While it wasn’t the mosquito free serenity of the viewpoint, it was just fine by the both of us. Lying on the beach with her by my side was the perfect end to the day. Unplanned, unexpected and unreal, it was one of the most incredible nights of my life.
The next day, it was time to leave Ko Phi Phi. My original plan was to return to Krabi to travel to my next destination. But things changed in a hurry. And I found myself going to Phuket town with her. How could I not? It felt like the right thing to do. What was going on? Why now? I came on this trip to be alone… not to meet someone. But life always has other plans. Things always happen when you least expect it. And the reasons why are almost always revealed at the end. We stayed a night in Phuket town and in many ways, it as an extension of the 24 hours of serenity from the night before.
Some time between two nights I learned a little about her lead up to our meeting. There were hints in her messages that she had taken more than a casual interest in me. She told me that E had asked about me. E noted that she wasn’t that interested in meeting up with others that she had met from before… Yet she was certainly making an effort to see me. I guess there was more to her messages than I thought.
At one point, she made a casual mention that I shouldn’t bother going to Ko Tao or the other places I had planned in South Thailand. And to be honest, I seriously considered it. I considered going straight to Bangkok with her. It was crazy, yet somehow it also seemed to make perfect sense. In the end, I decided that the little break would be good. I could find her later with a clear head (once I fell down from cloud 9 a little). And maybe that would make things a little more real.
And so… we went our separate ways.