Thailand the 2nd time around - Christmas holidays

Trip Start Oct 31, 2003
Trip End Jun 30, 2004

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Monday, December 22, 2003

Here are a few high / low lights... First of all, just reading back through my journal... so much has happened... where to start?

Phuket is THE typical tourist destination in Thailand and was crazy commercial. I felt like I was in Miami or Daytona as far as the town was concerned. They basically just replanted the Western world on the Andaman Sea here. Really different from the other Islands... Complete with a Starbucks, Shell Gas, Club Med and McDonalds. But I do have to say it was one of the nicest beaches I've ever seen. I would get up early and noone else would be there. The water really is perfectly crystal clear. However, it was the mecca of seedy, sleezy, disgusting middle aged white men with their YOUNG Asian prostitutes. It made me sick to my stomach. How can people be so pathetic. Really I would never have chosen to come here, but there's supposed to be amazing diving and it totally lived up to its reputation.

Oh, incidentally, I have recently learned that the local term for the Thai drag queens is
"Lady-boy". They really are pretty, and they're all so slight, sometimes you can't even tell. Word on the street is that you look at the size of their hands and their feet to be sure. Had a few "lady-boy" tuk-tuk drivers. They are hilarious. So flambouyant and friendly.

I must say that my Christmas has definitely been unconventional. I had seafood on the beach on X-mas eve, and spent X-mas day on a dive boat completing the last of my 'Open Water Diving certification". Half of the boat was Canadian. It didn't really! feel like Christmas swimming through the coral with the tropical fish... but I am definitely NOT complaining! : ) Tomorrow I am heading out on a two day dive trip to the Similan Islands (Supposedly one of the Top 10 dive destinations in the world). Maybe I'll see a whale shark... The reefs are literally teeming with fish. We stay on the boat over night and then come back on Saturday, then it's off to Singapore on Sunday (you can't fly for at least 12 hours after you dive).

O.K. The Diving was incredible! Saw eels, huge schools of tropical fish, leopard sharks, sting rays, turtles etc.and even a wreck. Awesome. The visibility was a good 25 meters. This one unicorn fish payed us a visit while we were taking our 3 meter safety stop at the end. It was the funniest thing. It would swim through the bubbles that came out of our regulators and would shiver from head to toe, like birds do when they're shaking the water off them. She would swim through, shiver, then turn around and do it over again. It was so funny. Chris my instructor said he had never seen a fish with so much personality before

Took an awesome tour near Phuket in Phang Nga of James Bond Island. You know that big rock grotto you see in all of the postcards? You'll recognize it once you see the photos. Also checked out a Muslim fishing village on stilts along the way. I hiked over some crazy coral formations on the beach in order to get some good sunset shots... slipped and shredded my toe and hand on the coral. I swear that stuff is like razors. It was literally slices in my skin. It's all healed now though.

I am currently reading "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. Contemporary English reading material isn't exactly easy to come by, so I am getting aquainted with some classics from the second hand shops.
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