Published: April 3rd 2006April 1st 2006
Sea Turtle, Similian Islands
This guy swam right up to the boat and paid us no mind as we entered for our dive.
Okay, all right. I know, we are actually back in the mall in Bangkok (because it has the best internet at the best cost and with the best chairs). BUT, after having been to the Similian Islands, (expected total isolation but actually seconds after setting foot on the pristine beach a Japanese lady came out of nowhere to take a picture of us), I took the liberty of placing this blog square on these magnificent isles in the middle of the Andaman Sea. So here we are or were until a few days ago, but it doesn't really matter to you either way. After a few weeks in Vietnam we had a 10 day period without any plans (similar to the entire 4 months we've had so far but that's another tale for another time) and decided that returning to Thailand for more underwater adventure and beaching was the best plan. This was after examining the cost and, more importantly, the headache of traveling to many many other destinations all over Asia. So to make things even easier we simply booked ourselves to Phuket ( a close and easily reachable destination). Many of you will remember images of destruction from
the Tsunami some 15 months ago. That's Phuket, but you'd never know it now. 5 years ago we spent 3 lovely days here and even now it looks nothing like it did back then. In only one short year, the entire area has been rebuilt and even overbuilt. Such is the lot for a tourism cash-cow. The milk must flow and flow it does.
Our fortuitous luck landed us in the seat [on the plane] next to a nice American guy who spends his time captaining ships (large ones I might add) but also has a restaurant in Phuket. So after Aneta probes a little, we tag along to the resort that he has a reservation at on Nai Harn Beach, some 20 km away from Patong (the epicenter of sun, fun, and sketch). We also managed to collect on the same room rate as our new friend (some 60% less the rack). Beautiful beach and quiet locale gives us a few pleasant days after Hanoi's grind and some rather poorly prepared food on the Halong Bay junk boat (read as food poisoning again!). But the real reason we are here is not another white sandy beach. No, the
reason is under the water and actually about 100km away and about 15 meters down.
The Similian islands are part of a group of islands which are Thai but really a marine park reserve reachable only by boat and, short of a few campsites, without accomodation other than waterbound types. This area is world famous as a scuba destination (top 10 but we don't know which of the 10). We booked ourselves on a live-aboard dive trip with a company called Scuba-Cat which was recommended by two Nordic women we met in Vietnam. Mainly the price, but also the great food review, drew us in (Please recall the food situation on the boat in Australia). As luck would have it, half of our time was spent almost solo on the boat as they had noone booked for part of our trip. Just us, one other diver (from Santa Monica), and the dive staff of one for half the time prior to the arrival of Team Denmark. That's how we referred to them and, honestly, I don't really know much else about them.
The food was quite good and plentiful. Don't tell grandparents but we had bacon every morning.
Beacon Beach Similian #8
After a 20 minute swim, we arrived for a photo op on the island.
The diving was excellent. Wrecks and reefs, turtles abounded, and even a leopard shark (they're vegan). I won't belabor the dive specifics but 3 days and 10 dives later we had to bid farewell to the emerald waters and head back to land. I am constantly amazed with each dive trip as you get to spend hours of peace and relative quiet rocking with the waves while a bountiful wild wonderland thrives under you. And then hop in and take a look. Mornings awakening on a boat and slipping into the water as the fishes awake. All the activity. Schools of fish moving in unison, almost looks like the 405 at about the same time in the morning:) We did get to borrow a digital camera for some dives which was both immense fun and incredibly humbling. National Geographic will not be calling anytime soon. Momyo- say Hi to my dad when you're at Warner Center next time!
A few more days on the beach after the dive trip, and now we are back in our chairs at MBK mall in Bangkok. Yes we are pathetic but, if you have the opportunity to try it, I highly recommend it.
It is so choice. On another note, we arrived in Bangkok in time for the snap elections called by the Prime Minister who recently dissolved the government. While a self-made billionaire status and internationally known charisma made this guy very popular, along with bribes and outright monetary policy to benefit rural areas who now blindly support him, this guy is silencing the media and isolating his critics eastern bloc style. A good read of the GWB play book. BUT! Now he is in crisis as the country voted NO, as in none of the above in yesterday's election. Just like in that movie with Richard Pryor. Ironic. Funny. But what isn't funny is that they do not serve any alcohol during election time. Nothing, nadah, nil, zilch. From the day before til the day after - not even to foreigners who can't vote!!! I figured with the political climate around here everyone needed a drink but alas, not in bars, not in restaurants, not even in the 7-11. Go figure. We expected traffic, dissent, maybe even rioting- but not this- and on a weekend! Ugh.
Now for a few musings. While on the trip Jon has come up with
Too much Nemo
Can't this guy get lost again.
many new employment or money making ideas, get rich quick schemes, and some genuine entrepenurial concepts. Many of these are in the bumper sticker / t-shirt vain. Two of the favorites are "I brought my REAL wife to Phuket" (probably a poor seller in anything but XXXL given the sex tourism demographics) and "Vote for me or I'll shoot you in the face" (also a tough sell as Cheney swears he is out for the 2008 campaign. But one of these ideas will probably land us in that big house on the hill or in THE BIG HOUSE on the hill. Either way....
We will certainly miss SE Asia and have had a great time. But time moves on and so do we. With baggage overloaded and bellies over-curried, we head to Israel for some family time. Ironic that we will arrive in time for Passover when the entire country will be leaving to go to Europe / Asia / Turkey and wherever else you go when the grocery stops selling bread and your country's most famous snack food (falafel) is sent into exile for a week. Oh well. Enjoy the pictures. Lastly- a happy happy birthday to Dana
who will be turning 24 again this week! We love you and miss you! Enjoy:)
There are more photos below