24th May 2016
So I had been looking on maps.me and found a trail just near us that went up the cliffs to a viewpoint and then back down to a beach in the next cove along and having googled it, it was supposed to be the ‘best trail in all of Koh Phangan’ hahaha sorry come again….?
We decided the night before we would get up, do the trail and then come back for our cooking class and tattoos so when we woke up Tuesday morning to more grey skies and rain we decided it might actually be a good thing as it wouldn’t be so hot and we had read that the first part of the trail was quite hard.
We set off about 11.30 to the start of the Haad Yuan trail and started the climb up to the viewpoint. Stupidly thinking it wouldn’t take long we had only taken a small bottle of water each which we finished about 30 minutes into the walk… our first mistake. Eventually we made it to the view point after the steepest sweatiest walk of our lives – we literally looked like we had stepped out the shower but the view was incredible and we were literally speechless. We had said before we set out that if we were too tired we would head back from the viewpoint and not go to the beach but on a massive high and seeing as the beach was 680m away and where we started was 1.4km away we decided to make our way to the beach and get a taxi boat back from the beach to Haad rin beach where we started. (Up until this point we had had no problems following the trail whatsoever)
We climbed back down from the viewpoint and started walking in the direction of the beach still following the trail… 5 minutes later we were sliding on our bums down this sleep slope grabbing onto branches and vines to stop us slipping the whole way. Imagine what you think of as steep, and then make that at least twice as bad. There were points down this decline where we were almost vertical ploughing through the jungle grabbing onto trees and vines so we didn’t plummet to our deaths. The slope was getting worse and worse and we all stopped to check the map and realised we were no longer on the trail – we couldn’t see it but it was only about 20m to our left.
We started trying to head for the trail and about an hour and a half later we were still no closer to getting back on it. At this point I had ripped all my trousers, we all had cuts and bruises and the mosquitos were biting us to pieces (mainly Lauren) oh and we had now been nearly 3 hours with no water.
We finally stopped at a rock after climbing over loose soil, leaves branches and boulders and decided that there was no way we could get up or down. We were literally stuck with no water and it would be getting dark in a few hours. Daniel, who hadn’t been feeling well then started being sick and didn’t look great so we decided to turn Lauren’s mobile data on and ring the tourist police – I know this may sound dramatic but we were seriously starting to panic and none of us had the energy to go on and it was starting to get really dangerous.
After numerous phone calls to them literally begging them to come and help us and them telling us that the mountain rescue would be calling us shortly we were seriously starting to panic so we called the mountain rescue ourselves who then put us through to a number of other people who all kept saying they would ring us back and none of them did. We managed to send them our longitude and latitude from our map but they still wouldn’t tell us what was going on and it was now starting to get slightly dark.
Finally an American woman rang us and was just asking us the same questions about where we were…. WE DONT KNOW. She also told us it could be anywhere from 2-3 hours if not more until people could find us which meant it would be dark. Then she came out with ‘sorry but your going to have to make your own way down as you aren’t that far from the trail’ after desperately explaining that we couldnt walk any further, we couldn’t move and it would nearly be dark she told us to light a fire so that the rescue team could see roughly where we were. Me and Lauren started pulling our clothes off ready to set them alight and Daniel was trying to find dry wood (impossible as everything was soaking wet) but he managed to find a dead tree and break it open and pull out the middle part which was dry.
We then realised that above us the trees were really dense so we needed to move to a part where they were clearer so the smoke would be visible. By the way at this point the American woman had left it that basically no one was coming to help us and to ‘call if we needed anything’ (so I’m not really sure why she wanted us to start a fire). At this point we realised we were gunna have to give everything we had left to try and get out of the jungle before it was dark.
We climbed down a little further ready to start the fire and then spotted what we thought might be a way down. We thought fuck it we have nothing to lose no one is coming for us and there is no way we are staying here waiting for it to get dark. We managed to climb down quite a bit further and finally reached some kind of path and then realised we were back on the trail (this all sounds very easy but trust me it wasn’t, we were all shaking we were so scared and at one point my foot got suck in a vine and I was just hanging at some awkward twisted angle and both the others slipped and fell a good few times).
After about 45 minutes we finally reached the beach and nearly died of happiness until the boat man refused to take us as we were 100 bhat (£2) short. Even after explaining what had happened he wouldn’t budge. A million percent certain we were NOT going back through the jungle on the trail we then had to barter with another boat man who finally agreed totake us back to Haad rin – we literally gave him every last penny we had on us.
We finally got back to our bungalow and literally felt lucky to be alive I’m not even joking. We all had showers and cleaned up and when our phones finally connected to the wifi Lauren had a text come through from the American woman saying ‘there are lots of people on the beach looking for you…. Can you please make a fire now so they can see where you are’ we were like what the hell?!?!? They said they weren’t coming for us?!?!?
We replied saying ‘ we are fine our phone died’ and she came back saying ‘you need to let the police know, there are 20 people out in the jungle looking for you’ shiiiiiiiiiit!!!
We then had to walk down to the police station to get them to call off the search and tell them we were safe. We were so annoyed that when we needed their help they didn’t bother and then when we are finally safe they send out 20 people to look for us?!?
Honestly no words can ever describe what happened no matter how hard we try and it may sound stupid but we honestly didn’t think we would be getting out of there anytime soon it was the scariest thing ever. I think it’s safe to say that none of us will be doing any viewpoint trails any time soon but at least we have one hell of a story!
Sadly we missed our cooking class but Daniel did however get his tattoo that evening and Lauren got hers gone over and they both looked amazing so at least it was a good ending to the day.
Next post: Koh Samui (things get a lot better!)