Published: May 24th 2008May 24th 2008
Off of Ang Thong Marine Park
LAST TIME, ON EMMA'S TRAVEL BLOG...
We were leaving Krabi for the Islands...
The bus ride didn't feel as bad as usual. At Surat Thani we took a ferry to Koh Samui. Samui is the biggest of the islands in this sweet little archipelago on the Pacific coast of Thailand. We arrived mostly without a hitch to bunglaows 10 steps from the beach. After a quiet evening of exploring the nearby town of Lamai (which makes me think of the "lanai" every time I think aboot it), we booked a sea kayaking tour for the next day.
Sea Kayaking was awesome. The kayaks are quite different from what we're used to in Canada- you sit on them rather than in them. But, just being on the water and paddling got me totally nostalgic for rowing. I can't wait to get back!
We kayaked through Ang Thong National Marine Park, about two hours from Samui. Our tour guide was this tiny German woman who was so fluent in Thai, her accent sounded more Asian than European. On the main island of the marine park, we paddled around and then hiked to a salt water lake, fed by the ocean through
an underwater cave (this island was the inspiration for the book "The Beach," which I think I am obligated to read now). After lunch we paddled some more and then when snorkelling, though I think due to all the boats moored nearby, the water was pretty cloudy and uneventful.
When we returned to our resort, I called Lidia, our travel agent in Bangkok, to confirm adjustments we had made earlier to our bookings and whatnot... only to find we had to pay 1000B extra for a boat that should have been about 300B. We were pretty miffed and a bit grouchy after that, so we decided to walk to the nearby town of Chaweng Beach to cool off. Problem was, "nearby" turned out to be a two hour walk on a winding, slightly mountainous highway. By the time we reached an civilization, we were extremely hungry and grouchy. We were quite happy to pay a 200B taxi to get back to our hotel.
The next morning we left by ferry to Koh PhaNgan Island for the infamous Full Moon Party later that night. We got checked in to some really cute little bungalows (with a hammock!!!!!!) and lazed
I took a TON of photos... so beautiful!!!
around most of the day, recovering from the night before. Unfortunately I didn't get a much rest and I'd have liked before the all-nighter ahead of me, but it was still quite relaxing.
Later that afternoon, we had the pleasure of a surprise visit from Amy's friends from her Cambodia trip, Angie, Steph, Kat, and Lauren. We went with them back to their lodgings, and I realized how nice it was to hang out with other Canadians.
After much primping, we finally set out to Hat Rin Beach for the Party. I have never seen anything like this in my life. Imagine a huge rave, then multiply it by two... you get the idea (I can't even imagine it in high season!!!) The beach was covered in snack and "bucket" vendors (a bucket being a small sandpail which you hay to have filled with pop, redbull, and a mickey of alcohol... really not appealing at all), black light paint tattoos, fire dancers, and of course farang of every country. We walked up and down the beach, checking out the various bars and sights. We stopped in at a small club on a cliffside to see Rebecca and Laura, two old friends from West Van. All in all, the party was pretty insane and unforgettable... we staggered exhausted back to our bungalow by about 6 am as the sun was coming up- only to have to wakeup at 10 am to check out of our place and catch the ferry to Koh Tao- the smallest island of the three.
The whole day was pretty painful because we were so tired, but it was still really exciting to get checked in to Crystal Dive resort, our home for the next six days. We were surprised and a bit delighted to see that the resort was a plethora of gorgeous scuba enthusiasts- think stereotypical surfer, and you're close. That evening we met up with the four girls and went to dinner- but were sure to have an early night for our first day of scuba to come!
Our first day of scuba, was, unfortunately, only classroom work, but I found it really interesting and important... after all, there is definitely a dangerous aspect to diving, what with water pressure and nitrous intoxication and all. To celebrate our day stuck in a classroo, we went out with the girls to the local hotspot, Lotus Bar. It took a little while to heat up, but we had a great time dancing on the beach when it did (except, as we decided, we had the worst DJ in the history of the universe. But I think it was one of those so-bad-its-good situations). I had a fantastic time dancing, though the night went a bit late, which made it difficult to get up the next morning for our last classroom session. Luckily it was fairly straightforward- we passed our written exams and the next thing we knew we were ready to get in the pool.
Our first experience diving was in the centre's swimming pool, which allowed us to learn different exercises and, basically, how to dive. Our instructor is this tiny Swedish girl named Emmy, and her "TA" Haroshi, who have both been awesome and hilarious thus far. We also have two Austrian girls in our group, Alex and Bettina, who have been really nice and together we all make a cool team.
Now, diving. Obviously diving in a swimming pool doesn't sound like the most exhilirating thing ever, but to be completely breathing underwater was amazing. We went through different excercises, such as controlling bouyancy and taking out our mouthpieces- what to do in an emergency in whatnot. The next thing we knew, two hours in the pool had passed, and we collapsed exhausted, excited for the day to come for our first open water dives.
The next morning we strolled down this sweet little boardwalk with chill restaurants and boutiques, and had breakfast with Rebecca, who was doing her diving with Laura at a nearby resort. We ate quickly and hurried back to Crystal, excited for our trip.
We dove in Mango and Japanese Bay, 9.7 and 12 meters deep respectively. Being able to sit on the bottom of the ocean was unbelievable. We saw tons more coral and life than we had snorkelling, and at such a higher precision. My new favourites are possible "Christmas Trees," small, brightly-coloured creatures that look exactly how they sound. When you swish water near them, they dissapear, only to pop pop pop back up later in a comical way. As I said we saw lots of sea life, but honestly I was mostly concerned with getting the hang of bouyancy and swimming... I think by the end of the day I was getting the hang of it.
After our dives, on the boat ride back, looking at the most beautiful island I've ever seen, I thought about my life and where it could lead. The diver lifestyle is certainly tempting- if I didn't like school as much as I do, you would probably read about me packing up and staying here on Koh Tao, certainly the most relaxed and beautiful place I've ever been (without a doubt my favourite of Thailand thus far.. in case you couldn't tell). I have decided to stay a few days longer and do my advanced divers course- I may as well, seeing as its significantly cheaper than in Canada, and really I've got nothing but time.
I'm totally stoked for our two dives tomorrow, and the days to come!