Published: December 26th 2006December 25th 2006
Here's the one beach we saw from afar after a quick trot up the hill. Clear water and lots to see below it.
Well methinks that this blog entry was a little later than I intended but what does one do when you have so much stress to deal with? First off I want to wish everyone back in Vancouver and elsewhere in the world a very Merry Christmas. I drove a beat-up motor scooter across the sandy paths of a tropical island to try and make a last minute Christmas phone call and in the end decided I ought to do a blog as well. So, as I write this I’m sitting in front of a rather old but solid computer in the back of what I can only decipher as a sweat shop/ clothing warehouse on a remote tropical island off the west coast of Thailand. You know it’s bad when you’ve been to so many islands that you forget the name of the one you’re even on.
Regardless, I’ll take this back a week or two… After our quick jaunt to Chiang Mai we had to rush back to Bangkok on an overnight bus, which stopped haphazardly on the outskirts of Khao San Road in front of a bar, around 4am with nothing but the vague memory of sleep and
This is as good as I found, the finest tree this side of Bangladesh.
some heavy backpacks in hand. We managed to secure a room for a half day and crashed straight away until 10am or so without paying for a full day, and without any arguments. It’s O.K. for me to admit now that I’m actually recognized in Bangkok after being there for the third time. We said our farewell's to Ryan who returned home to Vancouver (for some much needed holiday time to fight off his various diseases and bad habits ) and then jumped on an overnight train to Chumpon, and then onward to Kho Tao Island. Kho Tao hadn't changed much since our last visit except for the decrease in underwater visibility and supply boats supplying the island. Go Kho Tao!
Our first day there saw Jord and I return to Tropicana resort in an attempt to locate Spark and upon failing that initiative we decided to console our tender shattered hearts and receive extensive emergency massage treatment. The next day I returned to the sea and reoriented myself with the ways of the scuba and did a dive where nothing extraordinary occurred. In fact, I was rather disappointed with the water visibility and decided to halt things and
Photo with all the dive boats in the distance.
try again later on Thailand's other coast. The next day I celebrated a lovely 25th birthday with my family where I did a lot of relaxing with my bottle of rum before eating an enormous pile of red meat then calling it quits for the day after a magnificent return to the volleyball court and the epic defeat of team Sweden by our hands (final score 15-3). Somehow through means still unknown to the western world we managed to defy all known theory on the topic of “bad smells” and transform yet another room into one of the most disturbing places on earth.
But before leaving Kho Tao Jord and I took a walk over to Shark bay to enjoy some improved beaches where we laid around and made friends with a new dog before returning to our free accommodation (thanks to the open water course goers). That’s probably the most exciting thing we did on our second trip to the island. Not much can be said what hasn’t already been said about Kho Tao. From the island however, we took a marvelous ferry over to the mainland (likely the best ferry I’ve been on) before we embarked on
The closest thing to Santa we could find.
our first local bus journey in Thailand up to Khao Lak where we are now. It was strange taking a local bus for the first time in quite awhile. While we did take a couple in Malaysia, it wasn’t really any different than the buses back home. This particular local bus was great though, returning to the smells of vendor food and local people was a pleasant change from the complaining tourists and scheming tourist agencies that typically delivered us from point A to point B.
Arriving in Khao Lak was a bit later than expected, and given how dehydrated we were our first order of business was to revisit Chang O’clock (by
Strict orders from my Mom). We managed to see what little nightlife there was in Khao Lak before hitting trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour. I can’t recount much of the evening though we did manage to score a huge supply of musical instruments and a mechanical Santa which made for quite excellent times.
Our reason for visiting Khao Lak was because it is a jumping off point to the lovely and very popular Similan Islands. Fast fact! Similan = 9. Surprisingly there
Not sure what to say about this one.
were 9 islands! While there seems to be differing opinions on who opened the islands (and how) to the throngs of tourists, its important to note that they were actually quite remote and vacant given that everyone who visits them (well almost everyone) sleeps onboard boats just off the coast and gives the beaches a better feel with less people. The live aboard trip we did had beach and skin diving focus, which differed quite substantially from the myriad of scuba oriented boats most people opt for. This was fine with us after doing scuba diving on Kho Tao. Words can’t really express how magical the skin diving was, and all our underwater photos are on my mom’s disposable camera… so photos currently can’t describe any of it either. All I care to say is that we saw some new sea life (my first turtle!) more coral than you could possibly imagine, and ultimate freedom to just dive off the boat, go your own way, and do your own thing. I can honestly say my dive skills are now much improved with far better equalizing (faster and smoother) and successful attempts at going deeper than ever before without a tank
While we did get a bit cozy with this particular robotic Santa, T-Bone managed to keep it real at all times.
After terrorizing the local eel populace and fighting with people onboard our boat over the bacon rationing, we returned to Khao Lak on Christmas Eve. Rescuing Jord from his prison of boredom and his room filled with go related paraphernalia, we had a Thai Christmas Eve dinner and even listened to some Christmas Carols on Jodie’s Ipod. Christmas day recap was a simple jaunt to the airport to pick up my Dad in Phuket and then take a ferry to the unknown island I’m on right now. While Christmas wasn’t anything like it was growing up, it was wonderfully heartwarming to see my Dad after 15 months and give him a big hug. Thankfully he made it to Thailand without any problems, but that’s easy if you wake up early enough for your flight… That’s right folks, without risk of embarrassing my dear old Pops because he’s here and won’t be reading this (‘til he gets home, then again he takes pride in his punctuality); my Father had a 1pm flight and felt it necessary to wake up 12 hours early and then show up at the airport 5 hours early. But, that’s simply how the gaffer
Believe it or not I almost got in a fight with a 6 year old Swedish boy over this bunk. After uploading this photo I realized that I very closely resemble a 6 year old Swedish boy.
plies his trade and since he made it here safe and sound I couldn’t be happier. James and I have been coaching him along through all the various Thai dishes and I’m proud to say Dad has successfully tried about half of our bungalow’s menu in two sittings. Christmas dinner was a real highlight as I completely unintentionally and mistakenly ordered our dishes hours beforehand when James simply asked them: “do you have fish?” so when we showed up for dinner two huge platters and countless other entrees appeared on the table and without argument from us we simply dove in. Jord (-bless his little heart as Grandma would say) even shared his excellent Christmas treats with everyone for dessert, though he was disappointed to learn Santa didn’t bring him a new Thyroid gland, but instead an uncle to counsel him on the proper dosages. Without dragging this on I just want to again wish everyone wonderful holidays wherever you are.