A whale shark of a time in Thailand!
Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
38Trip End Jun 12, 2009
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Going to jump straight into it ohhh yarr.... We left Bangkok for the infamous "islands" of Thailand and the infamous lush beaches and parties on said beaches. Before we left however we said goodbye to Mike (as mentioned in the last blog) and also swapped a few books in preparation. We had two options: A) Fly to Ko Samui B) bus and boat it.... obviously coming to the end of our trip (8 1/2 months out of 12) we decided to bus and boat it. All in all not a bad trip and leaving Bangkok in the evening i slept on the bus getting up for the three hour ferry ride taking us to our first island destination "Koh Tao"
Me = 4 dives, Great Barrier Reef, unqualified
Zoe = 20+ dives, open water obtained in France, advanced obtained in Australia (GBR)
- When in Australia while we were diving off of a boat called the Anaconda 3 around the Whitsundays and The Great Barrier Reef Zoe completed her advanced scuba diving certification with AUSI
- When Zoe told Jim from Big Blue that she was advanced under "AUSI", he kind of froze, looked concerned and then asked that if by any chance we had been diving on the Anaconda 3! Now it was our turn to freeze and we were both coming around to the idea that this guy had psychic abilities until he produced an explanation.
- The explanation: Recently a guy attempted to complete an advanced diving course at Big Blue with open water AUSI qualification, he was refused as AUSI is not recognized by PADI or SSI or any other dive associations..... He had received ed his AUSI certification on the Anaconda 3 as did Zoe because this is the only boat in the world that uses AUSI. It is an old, outdated dive association that had died long ago.. the guy who owned Anaconda 3 resurrected it without telling anyone, hence the issues of recognition from PADI and SSI (Plus SSI think that he stole their course material)
- Luckily for Zoe, Jim got in touch with Mr PADI Thailand and since there had been recent discussion on the topic within PADI headquarters he could say that they are not recognizing AUSI as a qualification at this time, and Zoe could do the next level of diving if she so wished with PADI
End of digression
Right i will start with Zoe's diving..... as there were issues with AUSI and we could see possible issues in the future Zoe took a course the next level up with PADI. She is now a PADI Rescue Diver :) This involved: Half a day training to become an emergency responder (first aid training)... she resuscitated a dummy and got to mess around with a defibrillator at the local medical center...i say mess around i mean taught to use and lots of other first aid related things like that. Then Zoe completed three days of classroom work / In water training (Learning to deal with panicked and unresponsive divers under the water and on the surface). Zo loved it and I'm very proud at how well she completed the course. You can read about her experiences under the water in her blog when she puts it up here: ZOE'S BLOG
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQrBwN39LJI) ... one of the best experiences of my life!
Anyways...dive dive dive...enough of diving...its amazing we both love it, and i recommend for anyone with the opportunity to give it a go. So Zoe is a rescue diver and i an ab advanced diver allowing me to dive up to 30m. Actually a tiny bit more about diving.....The whole experience at Big Blue was unforgettable, the only bad thing being that i stubbed my toe and cut a chunk out of it (remember that...i will return to it)
I think i mentioned before we are running low on money now and may have to cut our trip a little short, but we are totally happy about this because during our trip if there has been anything we wanted to do we have done it. We haven't had to pick and choose like we should have done, we have literally done everything we wanted to do that is on offer....Talking of doing everything we want, we are now in the process of booking up a live aboard dive trip on the west coast of Thailand in the Similan islands, reportedly some of the best diving in the world. The trip we are interested in, and will hopefully be booking is on March 6th and is a whale shark ecological research trip. Basically finding whale sharks and taking pictures of them using underwater cameras for research purposes, the adults growing up to 12m in size...they do not complete this trip often and we happen to be in the right place at the right time so we may take the opportunity and join the three day / 9 dive trip. It will also help me to achieve one of my goals...a "wreck dive" and explore a sunken ship.
Just a side note before i carry on...actually i think this blog is almost entirely side note?!?!? I have found from the scuba courses, cooking courses and various other activities on this trip that as i have grown older i love learning, it definitely was not a love when i was younger, but it is now (is this the same for everyone?) I am looking forward to learning at home by taking up different courses :)
Soooo we were done diving and reluctantly left Koh Tao after one party night at a beach bar and as a guy we were with said "all that is missing is a few beach balls flying around and this could be MTV" as everything seemed perfect and almost glossy...everyone dancing, stars above us, sea at the edge of the bar, really well laid out, hard to explain, but a good night had by all :)
We ferried it to Koh Phangan, skipping Samui, not sure why...just not that bothered about Samui. We had decided to use http://www.couchsurfing.com/ as we had always planned to on this trip but had somehow forgotten. The basic concept is that you create a profile and either sleep / "surf" peoples couches, host couches top be surfed or as many people do...both. While on Koh Tao we found 13 couches possibly available and choose to contact one, a guy called Ryan who got back to us pretty quickly. Funnily enough he was house sitting a bungalow on the beach for a guy he had couch surfed with for two weeks. The beauty of the concept being that you stay with people who have local knowledge, you get to meet new and interesting people and all the other little bonuses such as free accommodation, use of a kitchen etc. So Ryan (from Canada) met us at the pier, we grabbed some mopeds and whizzed up the west coast, backpacks on your backs to just as we had ordered a a very non touristy bungalow on the beach. We settled into the bungalow Ryan very kindly giving up his double bed for us as he slept outside in a hammock, and here we stayed for a few days enjoying the beach on the doorstep, cooking with fresh ingredients from the local market and checking out beaches in the area.
My favorite day had to be an early morning motorbike ride to the start of a walking trail which led us up to the highest point of the island and an incredible view point. We dropped our bikes off at the start of the trail and walked through the jungle, picking up our tour guide at the start.... a locals dog, the lady told us that the dog completed the trip three or four times a day, she shouted something to the gorgeous brown dog and it led us up the hill. We were thankful to have her in the end as there is a good chance we might have got lost, traversing rocks and walking through the jungle. I was incredibly sweaty and exhausted but glad to make it too the top and take in the stunning view of the island...the sounds in the jungle were also really cool...the random bird noises and whatever else really added to the atmosphere...plus we didn't see another tourist the whole time. Ohhh and i graduated to a bigger motor bike, will i say graduated...i had a go for a while on a dirt bike with full gears and i really, enjoyed it... i managed to pick up the gears pretty easilly and with a bit more practice i think i could handle something a bitter bigger and badder than a moped :)
This night was not such a good one as i gained a high temperature, worried it may have been the start of malaria ( i was really really hot), late into the night Zoe stuck me on the back of her moped and fully into fever i shivered my tits off all the way to the hospital in the warm nights breeze. Given paracetamol and told to return in the morning we did just that. I went to the doctor explaining my fever (which had almost disappeared by this point) and also mentioning two worrying lumps at my waist....he checked and immediately asked if i had any cuts on my feet! Me and Zo both looked shocked and replied yes....and remember i told you about stubbing my toe on KO Tao and cutting a chunk out of it...well being in the sand and in and out of the sea it was struggling to heal and now infected, Yum! (the lumps were swollen glands) So under direct orders from the doctor not to go near the sea or sand and to shower with a plastic bag on my foot, i looked forward to our last week on an ISLAND! boasting gorgeous beaches and beautiful blue sea! ha ha!
Its not that bad actually, I'm three days into resting, we decided not to burden our couch surfing host and move to a cheap room on the south side of the island.I no longer feel poorly and my foot is looking better and better by the day :) I have been getting tons of reading in, and watching some 24 on the ol DVD player....and Zoe has been amazing looking after me :)
So thats where we are at. Relaxing on the south side of Koh Phangan. We have a plane booked on March 11th to take us to Nepal, we are provisionally booked in on the dive trip i mentioned for March 6th (they will hold the place for a few days... see how my gets on), and we were going to explore some more islands until the dive trip but we figure we are now staying in a very cheap £2 each a night room next to gorgeous beaches and beautiful waters, we would just be looking for the same elsewhere...so why not just stay here until the trip or the flight :) I'm thinking we will make the trip, but we will see :)
Read a few books:
Another Ben Elton..this time The First Casualty. Did not dissapoint as i find Ben never has for me...another amazing book and another one in the recommended pile.
Martin Mcgartland - Dead man running. The true story of a guy who worked for british intelligence undercover in the IRA... and then got left to fend for him self. Interesting book...but very repetitive and because of this bored me!
Michael Crichton (author of Jurrasic Park) - Rising Sun..... very very good book and i look forward to reading some more from the same author. A detective story also looking at the economic differences between Japan and America.
Love to all
Pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/discozo/sets/
Oooo one thing to mention about the pictures.... we upload them to Flickr as you are aware by now, and we keep them public, this means people are always getting in touch with us asking permission to use certain photos for different thing...online magazines and stuff like that. The latest one to get used is for a Fraser Island, Australia Brochure and is me with a stupid Bob hair cut...check it out here :