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Published: August 10th 2006
Well, Pam and I have spent the last few days scuba diving, and it's been great. As I mentioned in my previous entry, we had arrived in Koh Tao with high hopes for some of the best diving in the world. We arrived by speedboat (1.5 hours from Chumphon, which was an overnight busride from Bangkok), and checked in to Easy Village, just a few mintues walk from the pier, at a pretty good price. We gota fan room (i.e. fan, but not A/C) which was fine because it wasn't too humid and it was not too hot at night (well, relatively). But it was raining on and off that whole day and the next, so we decided we shouldn't stay on the island too long. We booked a slow boat (overnight) for monday night to Surat Thani, but found out later that the boat wasn't scheduled to run Monday - we had to choose Sunday or Tuesday, and opted for the former. Of course, we spent all day Sunday diving, and Saturday morning, too. But Sunday the weather had started to clear up - too bad we already booked our way out. But the visibility under water was only mediocre because of the storms, so I wasn't too bummed. Plus I was getting tired of all the people really quickly. Not the natives, just all the tourists.
I don't know if I still like white people - I'm kidding of course, but it did feel good to get away from all of them. We took the overnight boat, then a couple of mini-buses from Surat Thani to Hat Yai and from there to Sungai Kolok. On our first minibus (really a van) had some sort of trouble on the way - I think it was a flat, because we kept stopping at tire places, but I wasn't really paying attention since I was deep into reading Harry Potter (the 5th one). If you know me well enough, you know that I tune out the world around me when I'm reading. Still, we managed to make it to Hat Yai only about 30 or 40 minutes late, just in time to catch our connection to Sungai Kolok (which is the border crossing with Malaysia on the eastern side). We walked across the border, then took a taxi to Kuala Besut. There we spent a night at Nan Hotel, one of the few around, and booked our boat to Pulau Perhentian. I hopped on the back of the motorbike of the man who worked at the travel agency so that he could take me to where they sold SIM cards. I figured out that it's actually cheaper for me to dial internationally to the USA than to make a domestic local call. Weird.
We got up early the next morning (again) and took the boat out to Pulau Perhentian Besar, where I knew of a dive center that I stumbled across online back in January when I was planning for this trip. I'm glad I knew about it, too, since it wasn't on any of the maps or in any of the tour books. It's called Bubbles (www.bubblesdc.com) and it was all alone in a little cove on the big island of the Perhentians. It was nice that we saw almost nobody the entire time we were there (two nights, three days) except the people we were diving with. And the diving was fantastic. We did four dives with our divemaster, Ronnie, and saw all sorts of really cool fish, including puffers, sharks, rays, and a bunch more, plus neat corals and nudibranchs. The only two complaints I had about the place are that 1) because we were isolated, there was only one place to eat, and 2) the large spiders that kept inhabiting our bathroom scared the shit out of Pam - one time I was on the beach reading and she came screaming out of the shower running down the beach wearing nothing but a towel until I came and killed the spider that had run into the shower while she was there. But otherwise it was great.
Now we're in Kota Bharu, and tomorrow we'll be trekking in the jungle before taking an over-night train to Kuala Lumpur. I haven't taken too many photos recently, because we've spent so much time on the beach and underwater, so not much of interest to see. But even the ones I did take I still can't upload for now.
If you want to reach us in the next couple of days, my phone number is 011-60-12-954-6156. (Since some of you didn't realize that + means 'country code' and that you need to dial 011 to get international, I thought I'd make it more obvious this time.)
Also, I've decided that I will definitely be back in the States before Thanksgiving, which I would like to host at my apartment, wherever that may be. You're invited, of course.
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