I Fell Out of a Boat in Koh Tao and Almost Lost My Passport


Koh Tao

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 16/06/2024, 11:15

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

I was advised by a friend of mine to take a long tail boat from Ko Tao to Ko Nang Yuan, a small island, which is pretty popular with divers.
I got up in the morning and went to the beach to look for a boat, which could take me there.
I didn’t have to look for long. A nice, Burmese man took me for a return trip for 400 Baht.

I stayed on the island for a bit, admiring the crystal clear water and watching millions of Japanese tourists (to those, who would like to visit Nang Yuan – remember that it’s a really popular tourist spot and you will not be alone. However, it is worth visiting for the views themselves).

Quiet beach?
Beautiful, crystal clear waters at Ko Nang Yuan

I walked around, drank some delicious coconut shake and went back to my boat.

Two other girls joined me for the ride. When we were almost in Koh Tao, I was thinking to myself ‘Ah, look at me. I’m so brave and independent. I found my own boat and went for a nice trip. Well done me!’ The boatman stopped the boat, went to the front and tried to untie the rope. I got up, took my money out, and put my backpack on.

I stepped aside and looked down. ‘Easy peasy – I thought – it’s not really that high. I am brave and independent. I can jump off this boat without this guy’s help.’ And so I did…only I hadn’t judged the distance from the edge of the boat to the water correctly and I went head down, straight into the water. Luckily, it was pretty deep, so I didn’t hurt myself, but I was wet…and so was my backpack.

I jumped out of the water and run to the shore with the crotch of my baggy trousers hanging down to the ground, my hair sticking out in all directions and my see through top even more see through, showing off my white bra to the few laughing (at my expense) locals, that happened to be walking by.

I was sure that I had just lost my expensive camera. Close to tears I opened my rucksack, but it turned out that the water didn’t go through and my equipment was untouched. Only then I started laughing at my clumsiness.

I went back to my hotel room, ignoring curious stares I got from the people I passed on the street.
Once I got there I took everything out. I was a little surprised when I found my passport in the smallest pocket of my rucksack. I had forgotten to leave it before I went for the trip. It was a little dump, but seemed to be OK.

Two days later I travelled from Bangkok to Melbourne with a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. In Malaysia I was going through a random security check, when a security lady stopped me.
‘What happened to your passport?’ – she asked, flipping through the pages.
‘What do you mean?’ – I was a little surprised. I looked at the page the passport was opened on and saw that half of my photo was almost gone.
‘Oh’ – I started laughing – ‘I had a little accident in Thailand. I fell out of a boat, you see…’
The lady smiled and let me through without further questions. She probably thought that I was another drunken backpacker.

I didn’t think much of my passport until I got to the immigration point in Melbourne. They weren’t that understanding.
Firstly, they couldn’t scan the document. Then they asked me questions about the boat incident and how it happened. I still tried to appear like I didn’t know that this actually could end up with me going back to the UK on the next flight.
Finally,they let me through. I was told that I was travelling at my own responsibility – whatever that meant, I was happy I got to Australia.

I went to the Consulate in Melbourne the next day. It turns out that getting a new passport is not that easy. First, you need to send it to Wellington (which, by the way, is in New Zealand), and then you need to wait 3-4 weeks (as much as I like Australia, I don’t think I want to spend another month here). So, at the end, I got a letter that confirms my identity. All I need now is a little bit of luck and a  nice immigration officer in Denpasar and (especially) in Bangkok,  to get to Bali first and then to Thailand. Wish me luck!