Diving in The Similan & Surin Islands
Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
124Trip End Feb 01, 2012
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Our journey from Bangkok to Khao Lak was interesting to say the least. The train journey could only be described as "David Lynch's Lost Train". It was that strange! A trip to the food cart helped us meet a group of railway police getting pissed up. Maybe it's a European thing but we found it strange to see Policemen in uniform on the lash. Once there we also met this Canadian guy when we were ordered by the train conductor to sit with him and this Asian girl for our meal! For some reason the guy had it in his head that the girl in front of him was a prostitute (she was not) and that she was under age (she was at least 20) and that she was from Burma. (we never found out). Then he was convinced that the train conductor was either going to rape the girl or trying to get him to go with the girl! We weren't sure why he thought this. He clearly had taken too many drugs over the years and his mind has gone a bit haywire and very very paranoid! At one point he called one of the policemen over and pointed to the girl. The police man looked on bemused but not quite understanding what the guy wanted, to be fair, neither did we. As we got our food the guy decided that this girl was really hungry and made us share our food with her. The poor girl was really shy and couldn't speak much English. She kept shaking her head as I offered her half of the tasteless slop that was on my plate. (Maybe she'd seen them preparing it). We ate as quickly as possible and returned to the safety of our carriage half expecting to see paranoid guy following us!
When we got off the train we got talking to a German couple called Sylvia & Torsten who were with their 4 year old Elizabeth. It turned out that they were on the same live-aboard as us! What a coincidence. We also ended up diving in the same group together. Fate really wanted us to get to know each other. And with good reason, they're a lovely family.
Sharks, Stingrays, Turtles and Dolphins! Just a few of the many many wonderful animals we encountered on our 5 day trip. I will start with the unexpected visitors. The Dolphins. We were in between dive sites and out at open sea when one of our buddies (thanks Django) shouts "Dolphins"! Well as you can imagine, all of us on the boat rush to the side to see these amazing animals. Next to Karen & I was Joe the half Italian half Jamaican dive shop owner who says that he is going to jump in. Karen & I look at each other and say can we come? Joe says "sure". So 2 minutes later all 3 of us are at the dive deck frantically putting on our masks, snorkel and fins. We then jump into the deep blue from a moving boat! We swim like crazy to catch up with the dolphins and then all of a sudden the whole pod were below us! I am smiling as I write this and I know I will always be smiling whenever I think about that moment. It really will live with me forever. We were so lucky. First of all that we had Dolphins at all and secondly that we had Joe on board because if he was not there we would never have been allowed to jump in. After the pod left, it dawned on me that we were in the middle of the ocean with rather large waves! The boat was quite far too. Thankfully we were all strong swimmers and the boat did eventually come back for us! ha ha. The reason is because Joe said he had not paid his staff yet! ha ha.
On a more positive note, our fellow dive buddies were amazing. We could not have wished for a better bunch. So, David, Grace, Django, Sabine, Sylvia, Torsten, Elizabeth & Jarred, thank you so much for a great 4 days!
Once again, thank you Karen for a brilliant birthday present. I loved every minute and now over to you.............
That evening, as I started turning a pale shade of green whilst we listened to our plans for the next four days I was having second thoughts. I mean, I'm scared of rough seas, have a tendency towards sea sickness, and I hadn't dived for over a year. Hmmmmm It's amazing how I conveniently forgot these tiny details when I was busy booking the trip. Luckily they had these magic yellow pills on board for sea sickness and one of them helped me float happily away into a deep sleep all throughout the night. Things were already looking much better. Before our first dive I still was slightly nervous and then, a few minutes before we started getting ready this gorgeous turtle swam up to our boat. I've always wanted to dive with turtles and in the 10 years I've been diving I've never seen one. I took it as my lucky omen and decided that everything was going to be all right. One dive in, and I was completely relaxed. The beauty under the sea is overwhelming. It's the closest thing to flying in a different world, and my oh my what a beautiful part of the world the Similan reefs are!
If you're ever considering a live-aboard the key thing I've learnt is to ask about the experience of the guides you'll be diving with. Unfortunately we ended up with a very inexperienced guide who had the attitude from hell. On our way to the boat she had already started regaling us with stories about some of her stupid customers, clearly forgetting the fact that we belonged to the same group she was being so rude about. Underwater she was much worse insisting on showing us the same tiny creature over and over again whilst being blind to everything else around her. Unfortunately it was her first season diving in the Similans and she did not know the sites too well.
But I digress. The real low point came when during one of the dives she stopped to point something under a rock. I let everyone else have a look and then went down myself to see what was there. As I went down I tried to balance myself and held on to what I thought was a rock. As I'm looking for this tiny creature I feel someone shoving me violently to the side. I got the shock from hell and looked to the right only to find our mad guide attacking me like a crazy woman. A shove above water is already shocking enough, but underwater, by your guide, is positively terrifying. I was shaking all over and couldn't believe that someone who's meant to be guiding you could turn so aggressive 30 metres under water. Above water I found out that the reason for the attack was that I'd held on to a sponge (which felt like a rock, so I'm still not sure about what it was). I was so angry at her as I felt she'd put my life in danger. She made it worse by rolling her eyes at me and telling me 'I expected you to be able to recognize a fish'. I felt positively homicidal and it took a lot of self control not jump on her and strangle her. I did get quite a lot of pleasure imagining it though! So if you ever dive with Similan Liveaboard Safaris, make sure to avoid a guide called Ila like the plague! Having said that, the rest of the crew were great and I loved everything else about our time on the boat.
So that was the end of our trip in Southern Thailand. as we returned to Khao Lak we found out that two of our friends had actually booked their tickets to the Philippines. We had to get there by the 20th March and we still had 3 countries to visit. So with that in mind we decided to call it a day in Thailand and legged it to our next destination.....Cambodia!
More from there on our next blog!!!
Lots of love
Karen and Paul