|THE FERRY RIDE:
Sometimes you take certain things that occur in the USA for granted.
Take safety standards. Those of us in the Construction Industry sometimes get frustrated with the level of regulation we must endure.
But after an 8 hour overnight ferry ride in stormy weather... I will never complain about regulations again.
The sleeper ferry is another part of the "roughing it" saga. The ferry is two levels and on each level, there is an 18" wide aisle down the center of the ship. Of course there is no AC, so you open the windows and turn on the fans and hope to cool down. With about 60 people per floor, it gets warm quick.
As a side note... all the Thais were booked on on side of the ship and all the westerners on the other. That was odd once you noticed it.
As far as sleeping conditions: On each side of the aisle there is a continuous rubber mat about 6 feet deep. You actually lay on the mat to sleep. And when you lie on your back... you touch your neighbor's shoulder. You are packed in like sardines.
Needless to say you tend to talk to the person next to you. If you are going to be that close it seems a bit impersonal not to! And when you turn on your side... well its best to sleep on your back!
As we started to sail from port, the weather was getting bad and the wind was making the surf choppy. The last thing the guy on the left of me said before we started sailing was "Did you hear they've had three ferry accidents and 12 people have died?" My reply was "No, but I really appreciate you telling me that right now." He then observed that the Thai people didn't seem worried so he wasn't too afraid. That did make sense so I put his comment out of my mind.
However, about two hours into the trip the ship was really splashing around and after one big movement woke everyone up I noticed all the Thai people were up and putting on the life jackets... and then I noticed there were not enough jackets for everyone!
Well, I did grab one and ... surprise again... it didn't fit and some of the clasps were broken.
Obviously the story has a happy ending as I am here to wrote you the story, but I have to tell you there was about an hour where it was a bit scary. I also researched Ferry Accidents and I couldn't find evidence of a rash of accidents, but there have been a few over the years.