Rolling with the big boys....waves that is

Trip Start Dec 28, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Thailand  , Phangnga,
Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I have just returned from the last diving trip of the 2010-2011 season aboard manta queen 1. I am happy to be alive and that is not hyperbole or overstatement.  When we left on the night of the 5th we had the weather report in hand and we knew that the 3rd day of the 4 day trip was going to be rough because there were 3 meter waves forecast for the similan islands.  3 meters is a big deal for a dive boat and for the divers who jump into the water.  Think about it for a moment…..a 35 meter (100ft) boat is coming to pick you up in the open sea.  It has to get close obviously and when it finally does arrive you have to grab hold of the big bitch and climb up the ladder.  Now add the fact that this behemoth is bouncing 10-15ft out of the water and you will see how problems may occur.

Our plan was to get the first 2 days in the bag and then play it by ear when the weather turned. We could always dive in a sheltered area maybe or if worse came to worse, we might have to bring the trip back early but this is always frowned upon by the dive office since refunds would have to be given for the days that were cancelled.  Number one rule in Thailand, no money back.

We arrived in the similans around 3am and were of course asleep but when we awoke at 6am we found that the weather had not wasted any time at all turning to shit and we were already faced with howling winds and choppy seas.  Not a good start to say the least.  The first dive went off without any problems which is a good thing since the first dive is always sort of an easy "get to know you “affair. The second dive was at a dive site called “west of Eden" which is on the west side of island number 7.  The wind was coming in from the west and so were the big rollers.  Getting out of the water here proved very difficult and a bit dangerous.

Here is a very brief summation of how this works.  When the boat comes up to the dive group on the surface, the boat boys on the back of the boat will throw a drift line (rope) which in normal weather allows the divers to pull themselves in and hang on the ladders while taking their fins off.  In bad weather we have the group all wait on the line and then one person at a time take their fins off while still hanging on the line.  Once they have them off they go directly to the ladder and up out of the water.  This way the boat is not crashing on their heads while they are trying to get their equipment off.  Now you may ask yourself……where is Neal during all of this action?  The answer is that the staff (me) is hanging off of this lurching beast and trying to orchestrate the customers equipment removal and then getting them safely to the ladder……..during which time the fucking boat is trying to kill me.  Thank god it was the last trip

I won't bother giving you a dive by dive report but I will say that we were able to do 10 out of 14 dives but we were trapped in the similans and could not head north to ko bon (mantas) or Richelieu rock (premier dive site).  It would have been nice to see the mantas one more time this season but it just didn’t work out that way.

After all of this excitement I was very happy to be back on land and to add to my joy I was surprised to see mi mi waiting for me at the dive shop.  Her taxi ride didn’t pan out so she was still around when I got back from the trip.  Now that the season is over, Im and I have just been hanging out.  Going to watch some sunsets on the beach and doing the whole romantic thing.  I’m not a big fan of the fact that I have to leave my fiancÚ behind for 4 months while I go back to the states.  I really despise the U.S. embassy in Bangkok and think that a lot of their practices are quite racist but that is a post for another day.  To keep it simple, IM and I are just enjoying time together before our separation.

4 months apart will be a pretty big test for us.  I know that couples spend a lot more time apart then that and do just fine but IM and I have almost always lived together during our relationship.  There has not been much time apart so I don’t really know how either of us will react to this.  I’m hoping for the best of course and time will tell. 

I am currently in Bangkok.  Im, mi mi and I took the 12 hour overnight bus from khao lak last night (man spell check had a field day with that last sentence).  Mi mi’s dog carrier is entirely too small for the poor girl but she is a trooper and didn’t make one sound of complaint through the entire drive.  Then again, I let her out to stretch a bit and she somehow wiggled under my seat and slept there for the last 5 hours of the trip.  Not to brag but my dog is awesome……

Both IM and MI MI are currently passed out.  One is curled up into a ball on the bed and one is curled up into a ball under the bed.  I’ll let you figure out which is which.  IM is leaving in the morning on a bus up to her home near Udon Thani.  Another 12 hour affair with poor mi mi in tow.  I’m sure we’ll have a nice tearful good bye in the morning and then I will have about 12 hours to waste before I head off to the airport and my 40 hours of transit time.  Still hating the idea of a 12 hour layover but I have received word that the Seoul airport has free Wi-Fi.  I’m not sure if I can keep myself entertained for 12 hours with the 21st century boob tube but I can damn well try.  My last trip to Alaska entailed a 9 hour layover in Korea and I managed to force myself to sleep the whole 9 hours……..on the floor.  Not cool.

I just got a pretty interesting email from my friend Erika who lives in homer and is my ride from the airport.  Apparently I will either be picked up at the airport or there will be a ticket waiting for me to fly to homer at 9pm (3 hour layover LOL).  Crazy possible change of plans but I really appreciate her going out of her way to help me out.  I have to admit that I was looking forward a bit to the 5 hour drive just to get some of that Alaska scenery (national geographic rated this specific drive as one of the top ten drives in America).  On the other side of the coin though, I may get to skip 5 more hours in a car.  My life is definitely up in the air at the moment.

On a follow up note to my last blog post.  Many of my European friends thought that I was being a bit unfair concerning my observation of their behavior and they were convinced that if I watched the film “zeitgeist” I would become a convert to the whole 9/11 conspiracy theory.  Now I had heard of this “documentary” before but had never watched it, much like broke back mountain.  Feeling I should at least watch it if for no other reason than to be able to know what it is these crazy fuckers are so enamored with, I illegally downloaded a copy.

The movie is a bit of a Hodge podge of anti-religion, anti-American and then anti banking.  Hey I can get down with 2 out of 3 of these so that’s not too bad.  I knew that I was in for a treat when the very first thing that they mentioned was incorrect.   It wasn’t a big point or deal breaker but while talking about religions they began by giving the Egyptian god Horus as an example and how he was from a virgin birth.  This is of course completely wrong unless you can consider impregnation by a “golden phallus” and “seed” as a virgin birth.  Personally I go by the old school definition of virginity…….once that veiny bastard breaks down the walls, you are no longer a virgin and there goes your messiah son.

I’m not particularly upset that they got this bit of information wrong and it’s really just a matter of luck that I knew that it was false.  The point is that THE VERY FIRST THING THEY SAY is untrue which does not bode well for the rest of the work.  I’m not going to give the movie a point by point review but I will say that I was pretty unimpressed, though admittedly there were some interesting bits about the banking institutions that would be worth further reading.  I don’t know if any of what they said is true or not….see how Horus comes and bites them on the ass……but I am interested to find out if certain comments and accusations are correct.  As far as the 9/11 portion of this film is concerned, if this is the best information these conspiracy theorists have, they are really out to fucking lunch.

34 hours before my flight is scheduled for departure from the Bangkok airport.  20 hours until my beautiful fiancÚ climbs aboard a bus to bring her home for the next few months.  How did we ever get to this point? These numbers are mind boggling and hurtful.   I have managed to escape America for the last 2 years.  2 entire years without coming back and dealing with the daily rat race which is fueled by the consumerism that is programmed into us from birth.  2 years without terror alerts and two years without taco bell, my heart yearns for a chalupa and a soft shell taco……….oh jesus did I just write that?

My loose ends are tied, my dive gear is dry and in storage.  My dive computer is saying I can fly for the first time in 6 months so I suppose its time to get going and get this shit over with.  The next you hear from me will be from homer Alaska.  God help me.
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